E3 2016 is officially underway and if you’re like me, it’s one of your favourite times of the year. It’s gaming Christmas and the hype, as it always is, is real. Through these breakdowns, I will be talking about the biggest press conferences and discussing some of the biggest announcements, trailers and games to keep an eye on.
Electronic Arts chose to do their own press event this year, technically outside of E3 but let’s be honest, it was an E3 conference. It was an ok event, nothing particularly special stood out, though. We saw a few teasers and were reminded that EA Sports are the dominant force within their company. However, the announcement of EA Originals, a new initiative to help indie developers find a platform and publisher, is possibly the most noteworthy announcement from their show. Last year we saw Unravel take the stage, which didn’t fit with the normal EA style, but worked immensely, and it’s clearly this success that has fuelled EA Originals.
There was also a big focus on eSports, with Madden taking the centre stage here. It’s fair to say Electronic Arts have a good idea to focus on eSports, a new industry snowballing with more and more popularity, and it’s great to see such clear support by a big name developer and publisher. EA have a lot of titles that are popular within eSports such as Madden, Fifa and Battlefield, so it makes perfect sense for them to give it some backing.
One disappointment was the lack of gameplay footage. No Titanfall, or Battlefield or even any of the EA Sports titles and that is just… weird! This is the biggest gaming event of the year, and gameplay is arguably the most crucial part of gaming. I don’t expect every game to be shown with a demo, but the big names need it. I’m honestly sick of seeing the package videos EA love to show. It’s fantastic to know EA are working on numerous Star Wars projects but we got next to no information, and these are supposed to be exciting times, not just a “don’t forget we have the Star Wars licences now!”
That being said, let’s look at some of the games we did see at EA Play’s press conference.
Games of note:
Release date: 28th October 2016
Additional notes: I don’t see Titanfall 2 being the juggernaut EA believe it will be. I really do hope I’m wrong, but other than a new single player campaign, there isn’t much to look forward to. Pilots are getting abilities that should have been there from the first game, the single player should have been a feature in the first game, and it’s coming to PS4 this year, a sign that it failed as an exclusive. Don’t hold your breath.
Mass Effect: Andromeda
Release date: Expected early 2017
Additional notes: Mass Effect is EA’s juggernaut, and not seeing more of this game was painful, but in a good way! Bioware are currently one of the top gaming developers in the world right now, and the lack of information and release date shows they are really taking their time to get this game right. With RPGs I always feel this is the best thing to do, just look at the success and brilliance of Dragon Age: Inquisition. The trailer was amazing, and the rich history of Mass Effect gives this game the massive potential rating it deserves.
Release date: 27th September 2016
Additional notes: So we’re finally getting a story mode for a AAA sports title – this is long overdue. NBA 2K16 tried it and it looks like this success has paved the way for the most played sports game in the world. FIFA is a fantastic series but is arguably more stale than Call of Duty since it really is just the same game every year, with team updates, and a few gameplay tweaks. That’s worked for a long time and really, they could have kept it going and most people wouldn’t care, but this is an experiment many will love because of the drama that is football. The Journey, FIFA’s story mode, will be using the fantastic Frostbite engine, it’ll have a dialogue wheel, and from the sounds of things, a dynamic story that’ll change with how you play, dialogue choices, team choices… etc. Sounds like Bioware may have had a consulting session here. I’m all for this addition so long as the actual football in FIFA 17 is improved, as well as the normal Career mode. Bring back visible player ratings in the transfer market!
Release date: Unknown, expected 2017
Additional notes: It’s already being dubbed this year’s Unravel, and that is actually a good thing for Fe. Unravel was a wonderful surprise, and Fe is the next indie game EA are giving the big push through EA Originals. It has a fantastic look, and it’s certainly an interesting idea. There is no dialogue, but sound will play a big part in the game as we take control of a young cub in a forest of unique animals. There wasn’t much detail on a storyline other than that there is the threat of the Silent Ones in the forest, and that exploration and discovery will be important factors for progression.
Release date: 21st October 2016
Additional notes: The trailer was fantastic and I think it answered a lot of worrying questions fans had about the World War 1 setting – yes there will be destruction! The Zeppelin explosion was amazing, as are the graphics. I was surprised not to see any gameplay demos here, especially with EA making a big deal over the fact that it would be playable on the event floor. That’s suspicious of an unfinished product, and with only four months left before release, that could be worrisome for Battlefield fans. The idea of dynamic weather is brilliant on paper as well, it certainly would make a big difference in a real world battle, but let’s see how that plays out in the game before judging it. I think Battlefield 1 has the potential to the best game in the series for a while, but will it top Call of Duty this year? Sadly, I doubt it.