E3 2017: EA press conference

Just like last year EA will not be a part of the main E3 show inside of the the LA Convention Centre choosing instead to hold their own event next door at LA Live. To further solidify their independence they’ve moved their own press conference forward a day to the Saturday before E3, essentially extending the show to nearly a full seven days – much to the chagrin of international travellers.

Also to the chagrin of internationals and I dare say locals, the conference beginning with a far too over enthusiastic, drum-line wearing New England Patriots Brady jerseys and their drums skinned in Madden ’18 graphics. This of course led into the introduction of the long anticipated story mode previously seen in FIFA now being introduced into the Madden franchise as “Longshot”.

Andrew Wilson, the Australian born, jeans & sports jacket wearing, CEO of EA then justified their reasoning to continue with “EA Play” (their independence from E3), putting the games into the players’ hands with some emphatic cries of “yeeeeee-ah” with as much muster as a teleprompted robot can.

Battlefield 1 was then introduced and it was announced that the new expansion would be coming for the game later in September. Entitled “In the name of the Tsar” it will include all new maps, vehicles and weapons for Battlefield 1s dedicated multiplayer community.

FIFA 18’s trailer was nothing short of impressive. EA’s tentpole sports title it likely accounts for over half their revenue so you’d expect it to look so. I’m not a big sports game guy but after seeing just how realistic in-game Ronaldo looks I’m keen to pull on the shin guards and take a dive this year. Contributing to the game’s realism is for the first time movement capture for modelling by none other than Ronaldo himself, FIFA 18’s cover star.

Interestingly instead of starting a new “journey” with a fresh face FIFA 18 looks to continue the story of last year’s introduced Alex Hunter as he embarks on the next chapter of his professional football career. I think it’s a great move on EA’s part and am more interested in playing FIFA for the story than the online multiplayer where I’ll undoubtably have my ass handed to me repeatedly.


 

Need for Speed Payback wins the award for most cringe-worthy introduction of E3 so far (it’s early I know) but there was either a failure of crowd enthusiasm of the poor wrangled in YouTube “creator” Jesse Wellens’ had a major teleprompter failure and just repeated his name over and over.

As for the actual game. Think Fast and Furious without the licensing deal to actually call it that. In what appears to be a series of scenarios that you could easily rip from any of the eight F&F films the game could definitely be a little fun for those wanting more arcade than racing sim.


 

EA Originals was EA’s new arm for small indie studios to pitch the company and potentially gain the help and wonders such a large publisher can offer. Last year’s “Unravel” was one of its first recipients and a big hit with many. This year it was oddly introduced saying that they’d received hundreds of submissions and great ideas but instead of talking about any of them we’re going to highlight another whom we actively pursued, Brothers: A tale of two sons creator Josef Fares.

A way out is the first game from Fares’ new studio Hazelight. Heavily borrowing from Brothers’ co-op mechanics it looks to be a much more beautiful and refined version of his original title with a much more fleshed out story that revolves around two men breaking out of a prison. The game is designed and meant to be played in local split-screen co-op but can be played online although Fares is very adamant that’s not how you should play it.

Does it really matter that its mechanics are something we’ve seen before? I don’t think so, and if Fares’ enthusiasm for the game and it’s development is even half as emphatic as the game it should be exciting to play. Brothers was a phenomenal game and with the detail shown in the trailer I’m really excited to give this a go.


 

It seems not even the gaming world can avoid the buzzwords of “deep learning”, “neural networks” and “disrupt” as EA revealed their own R&D team SEED: Search for Extraordinary Experiences Division. There was nothing actually shown from the group, it was all kind of weird to even bring it up other than to spout industry trends but they did pivot to some 4K Project Scorpio screen grabs that did look phenomenal.

Now we get a taste of what the main team at Bioware have been working on, a brand new IP called ”Anthem”. Many are expecting this to be Bioware’s answer to Destiny or Ubisoft’s The Division. More details are coming at Microsoft’s conference tomorrow and I expect to be a Scorpio exclusive for next year – or if we’re super lucky a day one release because we certainly know no one was really working on Mass Effect Andromeda were they.


 

Finally EA’s short but sweet conference was capped off with what everyone wanted the most, the November launching Star Wars Battlefront 2. In the answer to everyone’s prayers the new game will introduce a solo campaign to the franchise and will tell a brand new Star Wars story that takes place between Return of the Jedi and The Force Awakens.

The other large issue with the original Battlefront in game size is also being addressed. An addition 30% being added to the game across the board with new heroes, more worlds, more space battles, bigger progression systems and content from across all Star Wars eras.

Big news on the DLC front for Battlefront 2, all new heroes, maps and content will be free for anyone that owns the game. That’s pretty impressive and a great incentive to invest in the game (as if you didn’t have enough already).

Sadly there was no word on a VR experience for Battlefront 2. This could be simply because there isn’t one or….. it could be because Sony might have something to announce in their press conference in a few days. Time will tell.


 

In the end it was a good showing for EA. Not enough about Anthem, but clearly a deal with Microsoft is holding that one at bay. Zero about the Mass Effect franchise and the fact they dropped the ball – but that’s kinda to be expected.

I thought this years conference was a little more balanced than it has been in the past and thank goodness they didn’t go with the UK/US split of last year! Expect a lot more info to come out about the sports lineup and minute feature changes that are lacking wow factor but important to those committed to the franchises.

Reckoner had its humble beginnings way back in June of 2013.

Founded by James Croft, along with Peter Wells and Anthony Agius they created what would go on to become one of Australia’s most highly regarded and award winning independent tech blogs.

With its uniquely Australian voice Reckoner is committed to offering a “no-holds-barred” approach to its writing. Beholden to no one but its audience. Reckoner’s goal is to remain completely transparent and honour the trust it’s built with its faithful readership.

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