EA is the first conference of E3, so what better way to kick off proceedings with a slightly late start. 8 minutes past the announced start time a live countdown starts with the camera panning past a full audience. Loud dance music fills the room with various buzzwords filling the screen, all of them revolving around “Play”. This is probably the most EA way that EA could have ever started E3.
Andrew Wilson walks out and tells the crowd how cool it is to be part of something new. He talks about how this conference is unlike any other and EA are trying something completely different. It’s at the point that the audience is introduced to a second audience in London, hosted by Peter Moore. This second conference is being broadcasted from the Hammersmith Apollo in London, which also features an impressively large crowd. Suddenly we’re back to Andrew and he’s listing some of the games coming up during the conference: Star Wars, Mass Effect, various EA Sports titles, Battlefield, and Titanfall with the last two both playable at E3 and in London.
Vince Zampella - Titanfall 2
Vince Zempella takes the stage to talk about Titanfall 2 and jumps straight into a multiplayer trailer. The game is already vastly superior to Titanfall with the environments and foliage looking far more detailed. Titanfall 2 looks to expand attack abilities and places emphasis on more destructibility in the environment, by the looks of it. There are six new titans to play with, expanded pilot gameplay and a deeper level of customisation. Most importantly, there’s an awesome looking tether that let’s players traverse the environment far more efficiently whilst also doubling as a melee weapon.
Suddenly we’re back in the room and Vince makes a quip about Titanfall 2 leaking earlier in the day, before going onto announce that the game is launching with a single player mode. This is a pretty big deal as one of the biggest complaints about the original Titanfall was the lack of single player, which made the game feel very thin. The single-player story will dive deeper into the lore of the universe and features a sentient titan that follows the player through their quest. Just before Vince leaves the stage, he announced that the game will be launching on the 28th of October. Oh, and the game is also coming to PS4!
Peter Moore - Madden NFL 2017
Sport franchises are what EA love, so it’s time for Madden NFL 2017. A short trailer shows us some men throwing footballs around and running really fast - while loud dubstep plays over the top. Now it’s over to Peter Moore in London. Peter talks us through what’s new in Madden, mentioning balanced gameplay, franchise mode and a new commentary team. The focus is then shifted to eSports. The next Madden will feature a much more eSports compatible list of features, as will all other EA Sports titles going forward.
There are three new competitive modes:
- Challenger events with easy tournament hosting for players of all levels
- Premier events aimed at highly skilled competitive players
- EA Major Events conducted on the world stage for large prize pools
The competition starts this weekend in Los Angeles, EA have committed $1 million dollars to a prize pool. Eric ‘Problem’ Wright and Zack ‘Serious Moe’ Lane spoke about the competitive side of Madden, and they will be playing in the tournament as well. EA are really pushing the competitive aspect of Madden here, announcing that the competitions can be watching via YouTube, Twitch and ESPN.
Aaron Flynn - Mass Effect: Andromeda
Aaron Flynn from Bioware is here with what is likely one of the most anticipated segments of the conference, Mass Effect! Straight away he dives into the story of Andromeda. The story follows a new protagonist as humanity seeks to leave the Milky Way Galaxy. Players will have a new galaxy to explore with new alien races and technologies to discover. The game will build on all the things fans love about the Mass Effect series whilst giving them a whole new level of freedom. It is also announced that Andromeda is going to run on Frostbite (This seems to be the theme of EA’s conference). We are then treated to a short video showcasing footage of Andromeda, although it’s unclear if it is pre-rendered or not. Considering it’s been three years since the game was originally revealed, it’s actually a little bit disappointing that we didn’t see more, hopefully Bioware shows us some gameplay at Gamescom or at a later conference.
Andrew Wilson is back on stage and talking about EA’s commitment to the community, mentioning how many of the EA titles are constantly updated. EA are also making the EA Access service free for a week, and they’re adding additional titles to the line-up. Andrew goes on to talk about a new program called Play to Give, mixing in-game achievements and charitable donations. The charities currently involved are the He For She Initiative, National Centre for Women & Information Technology, Special Effect, Code.org, and Code 2040. Several games will feature community-based goals in which players must work together. Battlefield 4 and Hardline’s task will involve helping teammates in need. Star Wars has goals celebrating female heroes in Star Wars Galaxy. The challenges in FIFA will result in special FIFA Ultimate Team cards being rewarded. EA are donating 1 million dollars towards these charities.
Peter Moore - FIFA 17
We’re back in London again and Peter Moore is trying far too hard to pretend he likes football - mentioning England’s unfortunate result last night. We are then treated to a short montage of past FIFA games and their progression. It’s at this point we find out FIFA 17 runs using the Frostbite Engine (I told you this was the theme). We cut back to the room and “Alex Hunter” (whether this is his real name is unclear) is on stage talking about balls. He tells us that we don’t know who he is but we soon will as we begin the start of his journey. He enthusiastically shouts “ AND YOU’RE ALL COMING WITH ME… Well, we haven’t got much of a choice have we?
A second trailer begins and it becomes quite clear that FIFA 17 now has a story mode. EA are not one to be outdone by 2K - who introduced a story driven campaign in last years NBA 2K16. The story mode gives players the chance to start at a premier league football team of their choice. The Journey, as it has been labelled, will follow players through the exhilarating life of football players, both on and off the pitch. Premier league managers are in the game now, adding another layer of authenticity to the experience. Pep Guardiola, Arsene Wenger, Jurgen Klopp are mentioned, and then from out of nowhere Jose Mourinho walks on stage. Some awkward forced banter happens and then Jose leaves, surprisingly underwhelming and incredibly cringeworthy.
Just when I thought we’d heard enough about FIFA, Aaron McHardy is now here to talk about FIFA 17.
He lists four big transformations:
- Set pieces have been redesigned, allowing more custom input
- The way the Physical mechanic works has been altered
- New ways to play in front of goal are mentioned, but not described
- A new Active Intelligence system will have AI players making smarter moves
This is followed by a quick talk about the importance of training potentially hinting that it might play a much bigger part than it has in previous iterations. We are then shown one more FIFA 17 trailer with lots of footballers and balls and footballers kicking the balls into the net. Balls, balls, balls.
Patrick Soderlund is here to talk about EA Originals, a program set up to support independent game developers.
Patrick describes the EA Originals concept using three basic principles:
- Taking first time experiences that are unique and bringing them to world.
- Supporting small developers through funding
- Offering them security on their projects.
He also states that all indie developers working on the EA Originals scheme will receive 100% of the profits from any game they release through it. Pretty big stuff for EA, especially considering their past. Patrick proceeds to introduce the first game and developer partnered with the scheme.
Klaus Lyngeled of Zoink Games - Fe
Klaus introduces Fe: a narrative based platformer around nature and the concept that everything is connected in the natural world. The game starts with a young cub and follows his journey through the world and the interaction the cub has with other creatures. Interaction is based around music, with each animal and living thing having their own individual song. Alternatively there are the Silent Ones attempting to corrupt the forest. Klaus tell us that Fe doesn’t ever help players and leaves them to find their own way through the world.
Jade Raymond - Star Wars
Star Wars is a pretty big property at the moment, and you know EA are going to take full advantage of that. Right from the off, Jade mentions Battlefront and that they have either DLC or a whole new game planned for it next year, though they don’t actually announce what the DLC is but do allude to the fact that they will be following the new movies. Jade mentions that both Visceral and Respawn Entertainment are currently developing Star Wars titles, both taking very different routes. The Visceral title, headed by Amy Hennig, is an original narrative within the universe of Star Wars and could well be pulling from Star Wars: 1313, although the gameplay doesn’t appear to be set on Coruscant. A short snippet of the game show a town inspired by the original trilogy, and could potentially be Tattooine.
Respawn Entertainment are also producing a 3rd person action-adventure game set within a timeline untouched by the EA Star Wars titles. The game will feature “A different style of gameplay”. There’s a short snippet of two men fighting in mo-cap suits using lightsabers. Could this be a reboot of the Jedi Knight series?
EA have saved the big one for last. Andrew Wilson returns to the stage one last time to talk about Battlefield 1. We’re treated to a gameplay trailer showing more shooty-shooty-bang-bang. This trailer is relatively short though, so it’s not long before we’re back with Andrew. He starts talking about the importance of the community and how EA wants them to be there every step of the way during development. He announces to the audience that an hour-long Battlefield 1 stream will begin after the show, played by real fans of the game. To prove his point we are then shown the presenter of the Battlefield stream stood with Jamie Foxx and Zac Efron, both just about managing to look like they’re interested.
The stream cuts back to Andrew who wants to tell us more about Battlefield 1. The focus seems to be on improving the already polished core mechanics of Battlefield, making them bigger and better. Destruction is more intuitive and natural, resulting in more varied gameplay opportunities. The weather system has been expanded and will act dynamically, so now weather can change during a game and will test whether players can adapt to the change in environment.
Andrew stressed the importance of weapons and vehicles, promising one of the most varied selections seen in a Battlefield game. For the first time we were also told about the epic vehicles, these include airships, trains and battleships. All of them adding variety and challenge to maps.
Just before the show ends we are treated to an extended version of the trailer shown only a few minutes ago. Straight from the off, the scope of Battlefield 1 becomes apparent. Vehicles and weapons are big and plentiful here: tanks, artillery and even zeppelins are seen throughout. The trailer ends with soldiers on horseback charging towards a train: the imagery is rather excellent providing a visual representation of humanities switch towards firearms - rather than horseback and sword.
Battlefield 1 will launch on October 21st worldwide, with a closed beta being held over the summer months for those that become a Battlefield Insider.