EA’s E3 Showcase – My Verdict
Not content to be stuck between pressers for Microsoft and Sony, Electronic Arts were desperate to head off proceedings this year, kicking off E3 with its #EAPlay event.
EA’s party piece this year was a simultaneous press event in London, with much crossing between LA and England for no real reason. Perhaps the show wouldn’t have been ten minutes late if it were all just in LA, but then we wouldn’t have our token EA surprise sports star cameo. We’ll get to that later. Heading up the show this year was Andrew Wilson, former big shot with the EA Sports brand, with long-term EA guru Peter Moore playing second fiddle in London. Perhaps it’s just me but it is really weird hearing an Australian accent on an E3 presser…
Opening the show was Titanfall 2, marking the franchise’s debut on PlayStation. The big new addition to the originals hybrid on-foot and bipedal-mech first person shooter action seems to be grappling hooks, allowing you to smoothly dodge incoming mechs, get access to friendly mechs more quickly, and catch other players in the face with a grappling hook before booting them in the stomach in mid air. What interested me much more was the introduction of a full featured single player campaign, building on what’s apparently a nice little dab of lore in Titanfall. I’ll admit this caught me off-guard.
And then came the dreaded sports games. Madden was first up, toting a renewed focus on building its budding esports scene. The game’s EA Championship Series is set to get a fresh investment of prizemoney to the tune of $1 million.
Then came possibly the only reason I was bothering to watch this presser; Bioware showing off more of Mass Effect: Andromeda. Only they didn’t; it was a pre-recorded behind the scenes video showing very little of the game. We got short snippets of combat, a close look at one of the new supporting characters, and a very short reveal of the new player character, but at this point I expected more. Especially considering what was to come.
One of the more interesting parts of the presser were the industry initiatives launched by EA that night. EA Play To Give, for instance, collaborated with several games dev support charities to create specially designed in-game content for a number of its big titles, with all proceeds going towards helping people get into games development. As bad a rep as they have for being company killing overlords, EA know how to at least appear socially responsible.
Oh hey look, another sports game. Peter Moore took the presser to London to debut the latest edition of FIFA to the world, making use of the new Frostbite engine for better graphics, it wheeled out all the usual EA Sports approved buzzwords, AI aggression, smoother controls, all that jazz. Then EA did something unexpected by introducing a story mode; players would take on the role of Alex Hunter, a rookie soccer player with the world at his feet, looking to make it big in the English Premier League. The whole thing is sort of reminiscent of NBA 2k16’s recent venture into narrative, a Spike Lee Joint, which got mixed reviews.
The second big social responsibility ploy EA had for the night was EA Originals, a process through which EA supports an independent studio through the development of a title, before taking it to market and returning profits back to the indie creator. While it’s good in theory, EA doesn’t exactly have a proud history when dealing with smaller companies. Let’s see how this goes.
The first such EA Original is Fe, a stylized nature focused adventure title which sees a young creature under your control exploring the world around him, connecting with other life nearby through song, and driving away a mysterious enemy by any means necessary. The game wastes no time with tutorials or instructional dialogue, and leaves the player free to do as they please; a refreshing change of pace for a modern game.
EA took its sweet time getting around to bragging that it still had the Star Wars license, announcing a couple of new projects and teasing at a legion of other development houses working on their own EA branded Star Wars titles. In the near future a new edition of Star Wars Battlefront can be expected next year, with an all-new Star Wars title expected the year after. Again, no details on anything specific this time around, with EA preferring to break the news through carefully edited behind the scenes style documentaries instead of actual gameplay.
Lastly we get to the show’s centerpiece, Battlefield 1. Infinitely more gameplay of this game was shown than EA’s other anticipated titles, showing off new weather effects and destructive environments and promising that no battle is ever the same. The show closed with a 64-man team based best-of-3 contest, featuring a great deal more celebrity cameos, including Zac Efron, Jamie Foxx, Terry Crews and Snoop Dogg.
So How Was It?
For me the EA presser focused on the wrong things. I wanted to see more Mass Effect Andromeda, seeing as I’m still on the fence about it, instead I got sports, sports, Star Wars and Battlefield. I have to admit I was a little surprised at what Titanfall 2 had to offer, but I’m reaching for positives here. Overall it felt like a much more conservative show; it had big hits but refused to use them, instead playing it safe with the usual EA line-up.
Was I Right?
It was worse than I’d feared. I was bang on about sports sports sports, guest sports people (Man United manager Jose Maurinho was a guest in London, spruiking the fact that FIFA would have authentic EPL managers in-game), and such, but didn’t expect regular celebrities to show up too. No mention of future content for Mirrors Edge: Catalyst is a real shame, as the game hasn’t been received well by players from early reports. The show was also missing developments at Maxis; only last week EA was promoting a big patch for The Sims 4, and it seems strange that EA would opt not to talk about it when the eyes of the world were watching. And why didn’t Mass Effect Andromeda get more time, damn it!?
Final Grade: D