EA Play 2017: Hope You Like Star Wars!
2017 hasn't been a great year for 'ol Electronic Arts. Mass Effect Andromeda finally launched after a nearly five-year wait and ended up being so poorly received that EA has elected to shelve the franchise for the foreseeable future. Of course, it hasn't been all bad. EA has succeeded in their push to get their products more visible, thanks to a TV deal with ESPN to broadcast esports events for both Madden and FIFA. Now, you'd assume that EA would roll into E3 2017 with a purpose... to show just what they're going to do to make sure something like Andromeda never happens again. Well, if that's what you'd assume, then you may be disappointed with the actual results.
Madden Lines Up
EA opens their event in grand fashion with a drum line in front of their stage and the Madden 18 logo on the screen. We soon cut to the screen and see the first real innovation in the Madden franchise in years, the new Long Shot mode. Borrowing heavily from FIFA 17's “The Journey,” Long Shot will focus on a players journey from a prospect to the big time. It's an interesting idea and something that Madden needed, but I feel it would have been more refreshing if it was a new idea. If that were the case, the idea might come off more as genuine innovation and less like EA simply borrowing concepts from a more popular franchise.
Battlefield 1 Fights On
I expected the presser to stay on the topic of sports, but instead, they treated us to a look at the future of Battlefield 1. Revealing a new expansion, Rise of the Tsar, which will add the Russian front into the game, complete with new units based on the Russian military. Speaking further on BF1, they showed a teaser trailer for the expansion and mentioned that they'd be adding a new competitive mode to the game, with more details to come at Gamescom in August.
FIFA and Esports
As EA Play rolls on, EA takes some time to talk about their success with esports and the recent Madden 17 championship. They say that they are going to be doubling down on esports going forward because you never know which of their players is going to become the next esports star. Naturally, this goes into FIFA 18, where we see the next chapter of The Journey. Players will pick up where FIFA 17's story left off and have to decide the future of The Journey's star, Alex Hunter. This was all told to us through a painful segment featuring two British soccer commentators that couldn't have looked more out of place if they tried. After hyping of the involvement of soccer legend Cristiano Ronaldo, the two exit the stage and we move from “The World's Game.”
The Need and the Speediest
We cut to a YouTube personality to introduce Need for Speed: Payback, who has a deer in headlights look on his face. He is able to recover, and we get our first look at Payback, which seems to have borrowed heavily from the recent Fast and Furious films. The trailer shows a car chasing after a semi, while other cars attempt to ram it off the road. When the car gets close enough to the semi, a woman climbs out the window and jumps onto the semi's trailer to get at whatever is inside. However, I just can't bring myself to care, despite the fact that EA attempted to use this segment to get us excited for the game. Much like what preceded it, this segment left me bored and my mind to wander.
Following their example from last year, EA takes some time to pat themselves on the back for their support of indie developers through their EA Originals program. Of course, this Originals segment gave us the only exciting game we'd see during EA Play, and that is A Way Out. A co-op only game, this split screen adventure has you take control of two prisoners, who much work together to get out of the prison. Of course, your journey doesn't end there, as you must continue to survive. It's such an interesting and unique idea that I implore you to take a look at the trailer for the title because it's going to do far more for the game than I can.
As we wind down, we are treated to a quick look at what Madden will look like on Microsoft's Project Scorpio (or the Xbox One X as we now know it). It's brief, and we don't linger on it long, as we're quickly treated to a teaser of a new IP from Bioware. We don't see much of the game, but EA promises that we'll be seeing a full gameplay reveal during Microsoft's press conference. Finally, we see NBA Live 18. Much like Madden, it will have a mode similar to The Journey from FIFA called The One. They show some quick gameplay and offer a glimpse at The One before letting us know that a demo will drop in August.
More Star Wars Than You Can Handle
Promised since the beginning of the event, we now get to the segment that everyone had been waiting for, the gameplay reveal of Star Wars Battlefront II. This is normally all well and good, but seeing the amount of time that they're dedicating to this is a bit ludicrous. Do you really need to spend half of the conference on Battlefront II? All so we can watch a bunch of YouTubers get to play the game before we can? I don't think so.
I don't want this to come off as jealousy or envy at another person's perceived success. This just isn't the type of game that you can get the changes across simply by watching a bunch of people playing it, especially when they jump between different player feeds. Adding to this is the poor commentary over the gameplay footage. This whole segment came across as a waste and didn't do anything to sell me on the sequel to a game I already own.
The demo wasn't the only thing discussed, as we learned that there would be no season pass for Battlefront II. Instead, all of the DLC will be available to all players at no charge. John Boyega appears on screen in a taped interview letting us know that Finn and Captain Phasma will be the first DLC heroes and the game will also be getting the planet from The Last Jedi.
They wrap the show up by letting us know that EA Access and Origins Access will be free for E3 week so that people can try out EA's catalogue of titles. A nice cherry on top of what was otherwise a weak conference. I know I'm not the target demographic for EA, but ultimately this conference did nothing for me. It was a lot of flash with no substance, and the amount of time spent on Battlefront II was simply ridiculous. To me, this simply shows that EA has little going on right now. There were no big reveals, nothing earthshattering. They didn't even keep Anthem, what was easily their biggest reveal, on their own show. This was one of the weakest conferences I've ever seen in more than a decade of watching E3. EA did nothing to win anyone over, and it's no wonder that social media destroyed this thing after it was over.