Sunday 12 June 2016

E3 2016: EA's Conference [Events]

Well, there is a case for change. One of my mottos of life has been to allow change to happen and review the results after. EA did change. I'm not exactly convinced on some areas though.
The first game shown was Titanfall 2, and the multiplayer looks absolutely great. Sure, I couldn't join in with the first game until last year, but I enjoyed seeing the game in action and I enjoyed playing the game when I finally got my hands on it. Titanfall 2's multiplayer looks bigger and better. And there's now a grappling hook. At the end of the trailer, this was shown to be used to pull the player toward another ejected pilot and gut him when in melee distance. Titanfall 2 will be on Playstation 4 as well, and the game has a release date of 28th October. The single player campaign is interesting, expanding on new ideas. We knew Titans could move and function on their own, but now they have personalities and act more human. The trailer for the single player showed that, as the Titan of the story [and even those in the multiplayer trailer] pulled melee combos and acted more athletic. I'm sure this will be a great game, as fluid and action packed as the first.

Now, I know sports games are an important part of EA's library - and they did a better job this time of not having every single one show up - but it still felt like they took up almost half of the conference. Even with just two!
The first one shown was Madden. This was mostly just talking about how Madden is an important part of eSports, and showing some stuff off related to that. They covered the Madden tournament that's happening at the EA Play event over the next few days, and barring a few gameplay snippets there was very little showing actual gameplay.
Mass Effect: Andromeda also suffered a bit from this. We did get a Behind the Scenes trailer that showed various worlds and action taking place within the game, but it would have been nice to see more than just snippets of each set piece. The details of the game are interesting though. We as the player explore new galaxy Andromeda, taking in all these new worlds, environments, and creatures. There's more freedom than before that allows exploration through the galaxy. The game being powered by Frostbite means the world can be felt more fully than before. All in all, this is a good one to look forward to when more information on it falls this... um, fall.

EA is unlocking Access for all people throughout this week. That means people on Xbox One and PC can explore the trials and full games on offer for the entire week completely free. With Mirror's Edge: Catalyst only just being added to the service, now might be a good time for those unsure about a purchase to try it for ten hours on trial.
After that small info drop, it was back to sports. FIFA is getting a new single player experience for its 2017 instalment. Called The Journey, you play as Alex Hunter on his rise to fame, meeting new people and getting to experience the full journey of a footballer. In part, it feels a bit like an RPG, in that you follow and influence the actions of one person. As part of this new mode, premier league managers are now included in the game. Well, four of them anyway. It was nice to see the retro throwback at the beginning of this segment showing the evolution of the game. Of course, the trailer at the end showed little gameplay, though did give information on new and improved systems.

EA, after the success of Yarny last year, now have a program called EA Originals. This is a program where EA will support independent developers and all money made from that game will be given to the developers. The first game from this program is simply titled Fe. It is a game about people and their connection with nature. Playing as a small cub, you explore the world and call out to nature and the creatures of the world to connect with them. This cub has only just awoken, so has no idea about where it is or even who it is. A group of animals have also just awoken, but these want to corrupt the world. The game itself is a 3D platformer with an art-style made mostly of black, blue, and purple. It's an interesting choice to go against the convention of natural brown and green, but I'm sure the darker tone will help the game with the connection it wants to feel. To get a personal experience from the game, it won't be a linear adventure, so you explore and interact with the world at your own pace and make it your own personal adventure. Just like with Yarny, I'm watching this one. Just like with Yarny, I'll run it through a trial with EA Access first.

And the thing I was most interested about is nearly non-existent. I'm talking about Star Wars, of course. They have said after the first Battlefront that they are listening, so content from the new films will be in there. I'm hoping prequel trilogy content will be as well DICE. Visceral and DICE are creating completely new experiences, though we won't be getting those until 2018 and beyond. We got a tease of each game, and a tease of the new Bespin content for Battlefront's DLC, but aside from that it was just talk of wanting to please the fans with new experiences. We will see.
Last thing was Battlefield 1, and with a small teaser of the full trailer they launched straight into the technicals. Dynamic weather will change the battlefield over play and even between plays. The destruction will be more intuitive and natural. Larger vehicles such as the blimp and battleship allow greater control of the battle from the land, sea, and air. They want this to be an epic, unforgettable experience. The community also has had a greater impact upon the game, and they get to show the first gameplay of the multiplayer. For an hour after the presentation ended, members of the community played the multiplayer to show it off. The last thing was the full trailer, and it showed quite a bit while being big and full of explosions. I haven't seen the multiplayer gameplay yet, but from what I know of Battlefield 4's multiplayer I expect it will be great.

So that was EA in full. Fe looks great, though I'm still unsure about it. Titanfall 2 looks expanded in every way from the first, and looks better for that. Aside from that, I can't say there's much to be excited about. There wasn't much there. Granted, they probably didn't have much to show. But in 2014 they showed concepts of games like Battlefront, Mirror's Edge, and even Criterion's new game. Even in concept form, the showing of such games allows that first look - even if it isn't finished. Criterion's new game is just a concept - yet they had enough of that concept to show to give people an idea of what to expect. Yeah, sure - it might fall out of the viewer attention over time, but it gets put back in the heads of the viewer when shown again as they remember that great concept they saw from the previous year. Or maybe they didn't much like that concept but find that in its new form it looks great. It was great to see the snippets of the new Star Wars games, but throughout the conference it felt like too much talk and not enough action.
Going back to what I said about change at the beginning, EA have. They have shown that they are willing to listen, and are willing to support developers. They are slowly trying to regain trust in their fans who, over the years, have been sceptical about them. But this conference showed that they still don't know the best way to showcase things. Going about different games in different ways. Sure, sports games don't need that much gameplay, but they can also benefit from both talks and trailers being together. Showing gameplay elements while talking about them. Sure, immersion. But what about streamlining? It helps to get information out, but breaking that up between numerous trailer parts to talk in-between them for large amounts of time doesn't help. Maybe it's just me with a disinterest in sports games, but there are numerous others who feel the sports go on way too long. Considering the internet jokes about it, it feels EA only changed half of how they do sports content. They needed to go the full way. This goes for other areas as well, I feel. Or maybe it's just that the conference itself felt empty that I'm thinking this. Maybe there's also another reason EA are tight lipped about upcoming projects, though that won't be founded in truth until Nintendo reveal the NX. Of course, it could also be exclusives for either the PS4 or Xbox One they're keeping back.

That was a look and my thoughts at EA's conference for E3. Tomorrow will be my thoughts on both the Microsoft and Ubisoft conferences. Tuesday will have no content, though I will be following what Nintendo put out. Wednesday will more than likely be the first Nintendo content update - giving my thoughts of Day 1 - followed by Thursday for both Day 2 and what will probably be a very short Day 3 with only one item for that day. Until all that, there's Bethesda's conference. It won't be covered in full here, though just like with Sony it will be featured in the post-E3 blog post. Just like me, stay tuned to gaming news sites like IGN and GamesRadar+, or format specific sites like Nintendo Life or Push Square, for all the E3 news as it happens.