EA at E3: Gaming Conference or Sports Commentary?

EA at E3: Gaming Conference or Sports Commentary?

EA at E3: Gaming Conference or Sports Commentary?

1 comment 📅12 June 2016, 18:39

E3 kicks off this Sunday afternoon, and we were first greeted by none other than EA’s Chief Executive Officer, Andrew Wilson to start the first major press conference of video gaming’s largest annual trade fair. Despite EA being roughly ten minutes late to their scheduled 1:00 PM Pacific Time slot, E3 is officially here!

To start things off, EA is showcasing Titanfall 2, which is set to release on October 28th of this year, as revealed prior to EA’s conference in a leaked trailer of the game. This segment of the show is led by Respawn Entertainment’s co-founder Vince Zampella, with a nice introduction in which he welcomes and invites all PS4 players into the universe of Titanfall. A big step for the developer and franchise, as the first installment of the series was not available on Sony’s current-gen platform.

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A short gameplay/cinematic trailer waz shown, and reveals some new mechanics to the mildly successful first-person-shooter, including new abilities as a pilot and Titan alike. Interesting things such as a Call of Duty-esque “Glitch” ability, grappling hooks to close distance on enemy players, impactful melee combat and refined shooting elements are all present in the trailer. The trailer looks promising, but perhaps the biggest reveal is Titanfall’s seemingly interesting single player campaign mode. Zampella says “there will be a single player, offline playable campaign, telling the story of the unique bonds between pilots and their Titans, allowing the player to dive deeper into the universe of Titanfall.” The presentation of the game was ended with yet another trailer, this one much more cinematic with some narrative of a Titan mech, giving new and interesting perspective that was not explored in the previous game. Overall, the game looks promising, impressive, and surely an improvement over the franchise’s previous game.

Following the exciting showcase of Titanfall 2, the conference took a bit of a strange turn for the next 30-35 minutes, showcasing EA’s annual sports games, starting with Madden NFL ‘17. EA’s Chief Competition Officer Peter Moore was on stage in London, and a part of the show via satellite video. Moore gave some new information regarding competitive events surrounding Madden NFL ‘17, explaining that more opportunity will be presented for competitive play and new possibilities for the games relationship with the realm of E-Sports. They had a little gathering on stage with some professional Madden players, and emphasized the company’s want to delve further into their support for competitive gaming. This segment was interesting enough, but largely underwhelming as these sports games are showcased each and every year at EA’s E3 conferences.

Oddly enough, the presentation of Madden NFL ‘17 and EA’s emphasis on competitive sports gaming was uncomfortably segued into a brief and underwhelming showcase of Mass Effect: Andromeda, arguably EA’s most image.imganticipated game that is slated for a Q1 (January-March) of 2017 release. Disappointingly, this segment of the conference was painfully short and had no gameplay to showcase, which many fans and critics alike were expecting.

The only real information given about the massively anticipated franchise’s next installment is that it will be powered by Bioware’s Frostbite engine, among other non-impactful details. Bioware’s General Manager, Aaryn Flynn says “there will be new planets, new species, and new technologies… you must be among the most courageous, and most daring to go on this journey. Because this is a galaxy where you are the alien.” Of course, Flynn is referring to the setting of the game taking place outside of our own Milky Way galaxy, and into our neighboring Andromeda galaxy as the game’s title suggests. “The Mass Effect trilogy is a huge part of our history, and the lives of many of our fans,” Flynn continues. “…this is a whole new adventure. We’re building on the things you love about Mass Effect: amazing stories and gameplay, and now we’re letting our imaginations run wild.”

Flynn then introduces a short cinematic/behind-the-scenes trailer for Andromeda, and at its core is nothing but a tease. No actual gameplay was showcased, only a few snippets of cinematics and an ending in which a woman (presumably the player’s character) wakes up in a space ship exclaiming “we made it.” This segment of EA’s show was roughly 3-4 minutes long and left us wanting more, and a feeling of disappointment as virtually no meaningful new information was given.

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Following the huge letdown of a short showing of Mass Effect: Andromeda, EA went right back into the sports game discussion, this time with FIFA ’17. They showed some new and innovative story-telling elements in FIFA, with cinematics included in the single player portion of the game, starring (what I assume is) a fictional character named Alex Hunter, who seems to be modeled after an actual person who was on stage during the game’s showcasing. This mode was dubbed “FIFA ’17: The Journey,” and seemed interesting as most sports games tend to have lackluster campaigns and single player experiences. This story seems to follow the character of Alex and his journey and climb to the top of Premier League football.

Again, the showcasing of sports games during an EA press conference is expected, but the showing of FIFA seemed to go on for way too long. After the introduction of Alex Hunter and the new story-telling elements in FIFA, the segment was focusing on the involvement of real soccer coaches being apart of the FIFA games, namely Manchester United’s manager, Jose Mourinho, who joined Peter Moore on stage and gave some insight to the Premier League and the world of the sport. At this point of the conference, I couldn’t help but think “is this a show about video games, or sports commentary?”

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Luckily, once the FIFA segment was over as well as all the sports game showcasing, EA’s Executive Vice President Patrick Soderlund took the stage and started reminiscing over last year’s E3 show, and the unveiling of a little game called Unravel, a relatively successful indie game made by Coldwood Interactive, boasting an average of 78/100 on Metacritic. Using Unravel as a segue into a new indie game being published by EA, Zoink Games’ CEO Klaus Lyngeled takes the stage to introduce their new game entitled Fe.

Screenshots and pieces of gameplay are quickly shown to describe, in part, what the game is all about. It’s immediately reminiscent of games like Journey and Ori and The Blind Forest, in its stunning artistic visuals and beautiful simplicity. It’s a game about nature and animals, in which the player controls a small cub (of which type of animal is not specified) and seems to emphasize exploration and unique gameplay mechanics, such as different characters in the game communicating through “strange and beautiful music,” as described by Klaus. The narrative of the game, as well as a trailer ending the segment is accompanied by beautiful, eerie and melancholy violin and cello focused music, making the game seem to be a must play for fans of Journey, Unravel, Child of Light, and other indie masterpieces. The game looks great.

Nearing the end of the press conference, EA showcased a short documentary type video of all the developers involved in making new Star Wars games, but few real details were given other than which studios are involved in expanding the Star Wars universe in gaming. Most notably was the video’s short visit to Visceral Studios, and Senior Creative Director Amy Hennig emphasizing the studios focus on story-telling in the Star Wars universe, as well as the reminder that Bioware is currently producing another Star Wars RPG (Role Playing Game). Here again, however, no distinct information was given on any of these games, likely due to the fact of many titles behind as far out for release as 2018.

In closing of the opening press conference to E3 2016, the highly anticipated first-person-shooter developed by EA DICE, Battlefield 1 was showcased. A short cinematic trailer opened the segment, showing intense battles and beautiful graphics, after which DICE’s General Manager Patrick Bach tells us a bit more of what to expect in the rendition1.imgupcoming shooter. “A dynamic experience, where no battle is ever the same,” Bach explains. “Epic multiplayer matches with up to 64 players. Through the power of Frostbite, intuitive destruction, dynamic weather and a variety of weapons and vehicles makes this the most immersive and dynamic Battlefield game ever.”

Bach continues to discuss how destruction is “more intuitive and natural than ever before,” and leads us to believe that the “Levelution” features of Battlefield 4 are to make a return… we hope. He also states that the dynamic weather of Battlefield 1 will cause players to adapt to certain weather conditions, and change the dynamic of gameplay in general at random times during matches and throughout the multiplayer experience. What seems to be most exciting and new for the franchise is the inclusion of new types of vehicles, specifically the large J-type blimps shown in a screenshot during Bach’s exposition of the game. Even more notably is the possible inclusion of horseback riding in the game, and possible battles during this in-game activity. Nothing specific was said about this mechanic, but the trailers and gameplay footage shown here would lead one to believe it’ll be a feature in the game. Definitely exciting!

The Battlefield 1 segment of the show marked the end of EA’s conference at this year’s E3, and it’s safe to say that it’s being received as mostly disappointing. While the company is surely expected to talk about their annual sports games, ensuring that those titles get some of the spotlight and in turn succeed in sales, nearly half of the show being taken up by these games was underwhelming at best. This is likely due to a large portion of the industry news critics and fans expecting there to definitely be some gameplay footage of the long awaited Mass Effect: Andromeda. The way the title was sort of sandwiched in between Madden ’17 and FIFA ’17 felt like a huge missed opportunity for EA, and somewhat of a mistake.

While Titanfall 2, Battlefield 1 and Fe being highlights of the show, and substantial press material indefinitely, it’s impossible to ignore the missed opportunity with ME: Andromeda and their strange use of time for the sports titles. It is EA though (wink, wink) and luckily we have many more exciting press conferences to come, the next of which is Bethesda Studios scheduled to take the stage at E3 tonight at 7:00 PM Pacific Time. We’ll have a full recap of their show later tonight, as well!

1 Comment

  1. C. Mazza
    13 June 2016, 15:51 C. Mazza

    Very well written. Informative and thorough. Enjoyed the article.

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