EA Play 2016 – Electronic Arts show us what they’ve got instead of going to E3!
This year, rather than attending E3, Electronic Arts (EA) decided to jump the gun, holding a simultaneous event in LA and London, to tease and taunt us with what we’ll be buying from them over the next year or so. EA CEO Andrew Wilson presented from Novo in LA, while Chief competition Officer Peter Moore presented from the Hammersmith Apollo in London. Both locations also had live audiences, who could try out the games on site.
The EA Play site promoted teasers for Battlefield 1, Titanfall 2, NHL 17, FIFA 17 and Madden 17 ahead of the show, making sure we had an idea what to look forward to!
Andrew and Peter talked about the philosophy behind EA Play, and the fact they have to keep on finding ways to keep the 2.6 BILLION (and growing) gamers happy. Play is about remembering that these are games, and we both want and need to play, meaning they announced the first livestream of Battlefield 1 after the event – 32 vs 32.
They handed over to Vince Zampella to talk about Titanfall 2. Firstly, he announced that Titanfall 2 would be coming to PS4 as well as PC and Xbox One (insert cheers). He then showed us some more gameplay – As you might expect, there were Big Mechs, Big Guns, Big explosions and many agile little pilots, alongside sequences showing pilots leaping over and about the scenery. There’s even a sequence of 2 pilots heading up the rope, and you use a cable to latch onto the other pilot and pull him close to finish him. Pretty nice, Vince! then he announces (“For the 4 people that didn’t see the leak this morning!”) a single player mode, to help players become more immersed in the game world.
Next came Madden 17, their American football franchise. After the new trailer, they talked not just about Madden, but about their new approach to eSports – Focusing not just on the high profile pro players, but giving everyone a chance to compete. They’ll be hosting Challenger, Premier and EA major events that allow ordinary gamers the chance to participate and qualify for the live finals and the prize money!
They talked about the first EA Sports Major Event, happening as part of the LA Play event – The Madden 16 Finals, with the top 8 players from a million people that started trying to qualify online. We met Eric Wright (“Problem”), and Zack Lane (“Serious Moe”), 2 of the players, and then all 8 finalists – Serious Moe had an arm in a sling because his shoe laces were left untied – Bad start there!! Next year, EA are putting up a total of $1 million in eSports Prize money to keep the fans playing online!
They followed Madden with Bioware’s next release – Mass Effect: Andromeda. Set after the original trilogy, it follows a mission to establish a new home for the human race away from the Reapers and other threats – The Andromeda galaxy! New challenges, new characters, new aliens and technology!
Now, in Andromeda, the Human Race, and YOU, are the aliens, discovering a whole new galaxy of challenges and threats. With tantalising glimpses of ships, aliens, planets and ground vehicles, it looks like it’s going to be quite a ride! they promise they’re keeping in mind the original games, while giving us something… More – We shall see!
Next, they committed to new content and updates for their existing games moving forward, and announced that for the week following Play, the EA Vault would have a number of free games accessible to everyone on Origin.
They also announced EA “Play to Give“, a new initiative to tie gaming activities to charitable giving. they’re supporting some good causes, including STEM education (Science, Technology, Engineering and Maths). they’re leading with events in Battlefield 4, Battlefield Hardline, Star Wars Battlefront and Star Wars: Galaxy of Heroes that can trigger donations to charity.
EA’s “Free Play Days” promotion was also mentioned, giving Origin subscribers the ability to play a number of games free this week coming, as if you were a member of EA Access.
The next part of the presentation looked at FIFA 17 – In production annually since 1193, it’s now the most popular sports game on the planet – That definitely has to upset some of the Americans…
We’re introduced to a young man called Alex Hunter in football kit on the stage, who talks about his hopes and dreams of playing football professionally, then we see a new trailer:
A big new part of the FIFA 17 experience is “The Journey” – A way to control and play your Premier League career off the field, as well as on. You’ll play AS Alex Hunter, and steering his life in the Premier League… and out of it?
This means that managers will be in the game for the first time, such as Jugen Klopp, Arsene Wenger and even Jose Maurinho, who they brought up on stage. Peter Moore, a Liverpool fan, didn’t pass up an opportunity to invite Jose to bring Manchest United to Anfield “To learn how to pay real football”. they then brought out the Line Producer from the Vancouver studio, Aaaron McHardy, to discuss the 4 biggest changes to on-pitch play:
- Rewritten set pieces
- Updated and improved physical play to improve it – Rewritten from the ground up!
- New Artificial Intelligence, to make the game more realistic and challenging
- New and expanded ways to create chances and score goals
All of which accompany the usual stunning graphics.
Next up, we were introduced to “EA Originals”, EA’s new program to support and work with independent studios to get their games to market. They say it’s part of their attempt to help these indies to innovate and develop new, exciting games – Apparently the aim is that they should also keep all the money from the games. I’ll be interested to see what happens next!
The first EA Original game was show, produced by Zoink from Sweden. It’s called ‘FE’, and in it you play a cub who awakes in a forest clearing with no memory, or knowledge of who you are. All the other creatures int he forest communicate in music. Even the plants have melodies. To discover more about yourself, you must explore the forest and learn the animal’s songs to communicate with them. Your enemy is “The Silents”, who still the music of the forest wherever they go, killing it. It definitely LOOKS cool, and I’ll be interested to try it!
Next we step into a Galaxy far, far away, as EA talks about their Star Wars franchise. With 3 games in release currently (Galaxy of Heroes, The Old Republic and Battlefront), they talked about making the most of the existing games, and also working with new studios to bring new and exciting takes on the Star Wars Galaxy.
Motive are working with Dice to create additional content for the games already out, including from The Force Awakens, Rogue One and continuing forward – We’ve not been forgotten! Meanwhile Visceral Games Are working on a new game – New characters, and a new setting in the Star Wars Universe. We got to see them doing Motion Capture for some dynamic Light saber combat. They also talked about the difficulty of telling an authentic Star Wars story, and how it’s more than just the setting. I’ll be interested to hear more about that!
Battlefront will of course continue to get new environments, characters and other shinies as the new films are released, and Galaxy of Heroes is confirmed to receive more characters from ALL the films, all eras, and beyond(?).
Finally, and with quite a reaction from the crowd, they came to Battlefield 1. They teased a little of the new reveal, before going back over the importance they’d put on community involvement with the new game – With over 60 million Battlefield players, they feel driven to do something new, but don’t want to let them down!
Their big emphasis is on uniqueness – No 2 games should be the same, even with the same people playing. Like almost all the games shown tonight, it uses the Frostbite engine to drive it – EA are definitely getting their money’s worth there! They want damage and destruction to be more ‘natural’, and dynamic weather to complicate issues.
On top of this, as well as many new vehicles, players will need to get to grips with the Behemoths!! With Battleships, Armoured Trains and, of course – ZEPPELINS!!!
The game will be out on the 21st October, 2016, and they’re committing to an open beta in late summer – Apparently Insiders get first dibs. After showing us the game, they made their goodbyes and handed off to the 64 player livestream, to show what Battlefield 1 could do with a full server.
Overall, they covered all the areas we expected, slipped a couple of surprises in, but largely reassured us it was more of what we have come to expect that we can look forward to over the coming 12 months and beyond! Not always a bad thing. Let’s just keep a copy of the videos and hop forward in time… See if everything adds up!
We’ll have lots more coverage still to come for E3, and for EA throughout the week!