E3 2016: EA Media Briefing Impressions

e3-16-ea-media-briefing
E3 2016 unofficially opened on Sunday afternoon with EA Play. The event started with CEO Andrew Wilson stepping on stage to welcome everyone to the brand new style of show. The hour led to many games being playable on site immediately after the show.

EA Play is a ‘global experience’, as Wilson showed by passing over to Peter Moore, Chief Competition Officer, live in London. He gave an overview as to what to expect from the publisher, including Star Wars, Mass Effect: Andromeda, EA Sports, Battlefield 1, and Titanfall 2.

Vince Zapella, CEO of Respawn, came onto the stage to discuss Titanfall 2. Vince brought up the fact that the franchise makes its debut on PlayStation 4 with this release. The trailer was then shown, highlighting multiplayer action with mechs and a new grappling feature, with a multiplayer technical test taking place later this summer.

Vince made a joke about the earlier leak, and officially confirmed the single-player campaign, which will delve into the story of the Titanfall universe. Titanfall 2 will release on October 28, 2016, and the single-player trailer was presented.

The fact that Titanfall 2 is coming to PlayStation after the first game’s Xbox exclusivity is exciting, but autumn brings several games, and shooters specifically, so we’ll see how it fares. The trailers were certainly pretty though.

Titanfall_2_WM_D

A Madden 17 trailer followed, with in-engine footage. Moore briefly discussed this year’s new features such as more balanced gameplay, deeper franchise mode and new commentary. E-Sports will also be a focus for EA Sports, as Moore discussed new competitive modes in all their franchises.

Madden will have three: Community, Premier, and EA Major, and a video was shown to support this. The first of the EA Major events will be a Madden NFL 16 Championship this week. In addition, there will be a Championship Series, in which players will play for a $1 million prize.

Madden is a cash cow for EA and its placement here reflects that. The trailer looked good, but the focus on E-Sports isn’t my cup of tea. This may be the year where the gameplay improvements actually matter, so I look forward to checking that out.

BioWare GM Aaron Flynn came to the Los Angeles stage to talk about Mass Effect: Andromeda. Players will travel to Andromeda to search for a new home and there will be more freedom in this game than any other previous BioWare game. This will be a whole new adventure, with a new cast of characters, building off of the previous ultra-successful trilogy of games.

Powered by the Frostbite engine, you can check out the trailer here. The excitement for Mass Effect: Andromeda is palpable, and the footage shown looks beautiful. As Tom Petty once said however, “the waiting is the hardest part”.

Flynn came back on stage to transition to EA’s commitment to existing games. In addition to supporting their current lineup, EA will have a new initiative, called Give to Play, focusing on playing to donate to charitable organizations.

This will initially center around games like Star Wars: Battlefront and FIFA 16. You can check out our more detailed write up here. Anything being done for charity gets high marks from me.

FIFA17_XB1_PS4_JOURNEY_HUNTER_OFFICE_3_WM_tif_jpgcopy

Back to London, where Moore begins discussing EA Sports’ global cornerstone, FIFA 17. On screen was ‘Alex Hunter’ talking about wanting to be a football (soccer) player all his life. A gameplay trailer then follows centered on ‘The Journey’, which will be FIFA 17‘s story mode, surrounding protagonist Hunter.

Moore comes back to discuss the power of the Frostbite engine, and to introduce the inclusion of real life managers for the first time in a FIFA game. Humorously, Peter brought up three specific managers, when a fourth, Jose Mourinho, came on stage for some witty banter.

FIFA producer Aaron McHardy then spoke about the innovations players can expect in this year’s iteration, and yet more footage was shown. This seemed to me to be an overly long section, but I am not into the sport, while a large segment of the international audience appreciated the FIFA love.

Patrick Söderlund, EVP of EA Studios, brought up the success of Unravel, which was revealed at E3 last year. This led to a discussion of EA’s new initiative, EA Originals, which will be focusing on small developers and working with them to publish their games.

EA_SPORTS_ANNOUNCES_MADDEN_NFL_17_FRANCHISE_NEWS_AT_EA_PLAY

Klaus Lyngeled, from developer Zoink Games, introduced their game Fe, which is the first being published through this initiative. Fe is a game set in a forest, and offers you no direction as you create your own experience.

You will be an animal cub in opposition of the Silent Ones, and all animals, as well as the environments, have their own distinct song. The trailer and more information are available here. Fe looks very intriguing, and the EA Originals initiative could be a boon to smaller developers.

Star Wars music blasts through next. Jade Raymond of Motive Studios, stated that there are already three games out under the Star Wars umbrella, and many more are planned for the future.

DICE’s Star Wars: Battlefront will be receiving new content – characters, planets, and environments – some of which is from the upcoming films. Visceral will be giving us the Amy Hennig-developed game in 2018.

Respawn is working on a third-person action-adventure game, with some lightsaber motion-capture shown, as was early in-game footage from Hennig’s Visceral game. All this and more can be found here.

This was the centerpiece of the show for a lot of us. While getting people excited for Star Wars doesn’t take much, what was presented here gave us a lot to look forward to. The video is fantastic, and the special peek into Hennig’s games’ visuals was fantastic. It was definitely the high point of the presentation.

BF1_EA_PLAY_04_BEHEMOTH-TRAIN_WM

To close, Battlefield 1 took center stage. We got a very short teaser, after which they stated there will be a call back to the longer version. Jaime Foxx and Zac Efron were shown from the players area, where they led teams of 32 in a best-of-three series after the show.

The Frostbite engine once again made its presence known, as Battlefield 1 is also built on it. We are promised intuitive destruction and dynamic weather to ensure no two battles are the same. In addition, we are going to get the largest player-controlled vehicles in a Battlefield game.

Called “The Behemoths”, they are the Armored Train, the Air Ship, and the Battleship. Early access was announced for Battlefield insiders this summer. The full trailer was then shown. I have to admit, I am not a fan of the World War I setting, but there were great ideas presented. The Behemoths piqued some interest.

Peter Moore wished us farewell from London, and Andrew Wilson signed off from Los Angeles with “Time to play”. Overall, I found the presentation to be plodding and it failed to truly engage the audience in many moments, though the new format should be a good decision going forward.

Written by John Payant

John Payant

Playing games since the late 70s, before the word “gamer” even existed! PlayStation since US Day one 9-9-95. I hope I write better than I play :).

Twitter Digg Delicious Stumbleupon Technorati Facebook