Every year, it seems EA enters a time-loop where expectations are always low save for a title or two, and we get exactly what was predicted. This happened last year when everyone tuned in solely for Star Wars Battlefront and Mass Effect: Andromeda, and it happened once again as players attended another event which further emphasized how disconnected EA seems to be with gamers who watch E3.
The event opened with a gameplay trailer for Titanfall 2, touting its sci-fi multiplayer combat featuring a heavy emphasis on mech warfare, and special weaponry like gravity grenades and wall running. Though much of what is shown here we’ve already seen in titles like Halo and Starsiege Tribes, the combat and presentation seem to be of very high quality. A single player campaign was also announced, though whether this is a short 6-hour romp a full-fledged playthrough remains to be seen.
From this point onward we enter a near constant stream of mediocrity. Sports games take front and center starting with Madden 17. Considering how one of the announced improvements for the newest American Football title is a “new commentary team”, I believe it’s fair to say we can expect few differences from past releases.
What is different is Fifa 17’s announced ‘Journey’ single player story mode. It seems constructed similarly to that of a dramatic, biographical movie, though this could just be a result of the trailer shown. Regardless, no amount of football legends or guest stars can hide how cringe worthy it all was.
Throughout the conference, both Peter Moore, Andrew Wilson and just about every guest speaker mentioned all the features and games we would be playing. However, in stark contrast to their words, barely any was shown for all the remaining titles. At worst, we would get a behind the scenes, making-of interview with developers and at best, we were given short ‘blink and you’ll miss it’ trailers.
This issue began with Mass Effect Andromeda, where barely anything was shown. Visually it resembles the old trilogy, and we know it will feature different characters, races and locations as it’s set in another part of the universe. But so little was shown other than a few test modules, untextured locations or brief scenes that one would begin to wonder just how much progress was made since last year. Promises were made regarding its visuals and how it will run under the Frostbite engine, but with nothing tangible being shown, those words rang hollow.
An intermission was made to discuss EA’s creating ‘EA’s Originals’, an indie publishing branch for new and unique titles as well as the company’s commitment towards charities. All worthwhile endeavors but felt as little more than filler here.
This was followed by Fe, the first EA Original title, an indie action-adventure with a unique look. The developer explained it as a personal narrative of our relationship with nature. While I commend the game’s visuals and EA for introducing something new to the table, the lack of a video which properly demonstrated gameplay came as a stark contrast to last year’s Unravel, which showed clear gameplay.
As the conference neared its final topics, Jade Raymond walked on stage to announce future Star Wars releases. It begins with Star Wars Battlefront 2 which is coming in 2018, though once again, we were never shown any gameplay, only behind the scenes videos of developers smiling for the came and telling us how excited they are. This was followed by a video announcing more content for the mobile title, Star Wars Galaxy of Heroes, Star Wars: The Old Republic though never actually specifying anything. To say it all felt like filler was an understatement.
Finally, as the conference drew to a close, we were shown Battlefield 1, the newest game in the series which will be set in World War I. Graphically it looks stunning and the chaotic nature of what was shown seems incredible. Players can take control of almost anything from airplanes and blimps to slow moving, bulky tanks and even ride on horseback. Several live multiplayer streams were made available with paid celebrities playing alongside gamers… and suffering embarrassing losses to anyone with a modicum of videogame experience.
It’s sad to think we had to sit through an hour and a half of filler to get to the one game EA actually had something to show that gamers cared about. The vast majority of the conference felt like filler disguised as announcements and making of videos few people cared, all just so we could finally get a glimpse of Battlefield 1. More disappointingly is the fact Star Wars Battlefront 2 is still two years away and that Mass Effect Andromeda seems to be making slow progress.