E3’17 – EA Conference

Electronic Entertainment Expo 2017 (E3 for those of you in the know) week has unofficially kicked of with the Electronic Arts presentation today. EA decided to hold their own conference and game demonstration this year some 30 minutes away from the official E3 convention hall, enabling them to get a head start on the rest of the developers and publishers. And while I could have done without the majority of the stage presentation, the games have a lot to offer.

EA started the show with DLC announcements for their current juggernaut, Battlefield 1. Gamers are still very much enjoying the multiplayer experience that Battlefield 1 has to offer, complete with settings, weapons, and vehicles not normally found in its current counterparts. The upcoming DLC will expand that experience further by not only adding unique night maps, but also maps that bring the battle to the eastern front. The announcement is not likely to bring new players to Battlefield 1, but is certainly good news for fans of the game. The new DLC will be appearing in June, July, and September.

EA presented a couple of their next sports franchise iterations as well. FIFA 18 was first and, as a non-FIFA player, looked very good. EA is doing a lot of work with animation updates in the game in an attempt to make it feel like you are on the field. They have enlisted the help of household name Cristiano Ronaldo for both motion capture and as an adviser for gameplay. EA is also continuing the story mode found in the last game, which sounds like a positive in the eyes of returning players.

Also presented was NBA Live 18. I hate to say it, but the entirety of this game fell flat. There was just something wrong with the animation in the game. I appreciate that the players were shown moving in a fluid motion, but only if they were not changing direction quickly. What’s more, the faces of the players did not change at all. This gave each of the close-ups a very creepy feel as each player just stared straight ahead. I’m sure the game will play well and the “Choose Your Path” feature will appeal to many, but the trailer did not win me over.

Next up on the presentation front is Need for Speed Payback. I am a big fan of the older Need for Speed games with Underground being the pinnacle. This new entry brings all of the customization I loved about underground and adds every bit of a Fast and Furious action movie. The trailer showed during the EA presentation showed an action sequence with Uncharted/Tomb Raider like character sequences in addition to Burnout style crashes. In addition, it was mentioned on stage that players could find wrecked cars in the world, fixing and modifying them to their heart’s content. All in all, a very promising start that may return me to the franchise if it can live up to the hype.

Almost as a side mention, EA presented a new IP from industry favorite BioWare. The short teaser trailer revealed a new games called Anthem that appears to be set in a war torn future. Only small pieces of the game concept were shown in the teaser, but the shots of a city protected by a surrounding wall and a suit of armor opening a cockpit like pod certainly gave an impression of Destiny mixed with Titanfall. The teaser said more would be revealed at the Microsoft conference on Sunday.

In what will easily be the most intriguing game of the EA presentation, A Way Out by the developers of Brothers: A Tale of Two Sons is a cooperative only story driven game about two convicts escaping from prison. The entire game must be played with someone else, either online or in couch-coop play. The game also is always presented in split screen format, even if played online. This allows both players to see what is happening with the other character as you are not always together and allows the developers to tell an engaging story with screen placement. At the end of the EA presentation, I immediately received text messages from many friends with great interest in A Way Out. If the developers can live up to the trailer presentation, then there could be a lot of sales coming early 2018.

Finally, the EA conference concluded with a 30 minute (yes, 30 minutes out of the hour and 20 minute presentation) segment dedicated to the upcoming Battlefront II. EA spent the first segment of the presentation almost as a mea culpa regarding not having a single player campaign in the first Battlefront, ensuring future players that the campaign in Battlefront II will make up for the oversight. They then followed with a live playing of an entire multiplayer battle. Now I did not play the first Battlefront (because of the aforementioned lack of a campaign), but the multiplayer sequence shown on the stage floor looked very good. There appeared to be action everywhere, from the skies to the ground, from stormtroopers and droids to tanks. The chaos of traditional Star Wars weapon sounds and explosions really enhanced the excitement of the gameplay. I will certainly continue to pay attention to more news on Battlefront II, set to release in November.

That was it for the EA conference. There were several missteps throughout the stage presentation that were painful at best, but it was well worth seeing at least a few games that will remain on the watch list for the foreseeable future. And, of course, this is only the beginning of E3 week. Stay tuned for more as the week progresses.

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