EA E3 Conference Thoughts

June 15th, 2016 by Caleb Cajthaml

EA elected to kick off E3 this year with their EA Play press conference. Unfortunately, due to family matters I couldn’t watch the conference live, but that didn’t stop me from watching the show altogether. I went back and watched the conference skipping all of the boring parts. And what I found wasn’t too surprising, spoiler alert, EA really likes to talk about their games without showing too much of them. And while ultimately disappointing, I was able to come away from the show excited about what’s next for EA, and in the end that’s all I can really ask for.

Titanfall 2 was a great opening for the conference and actually had me somewhat interested in the game, something I didn’t expect coming into the show. The gameplay looked great as always, but I was blown away by how the addition of the grapple hook made the fastest shooter even faster. Its use in traversal seemed to open up plenty of new doors, not just from a player perspective, but also in how the developers could create some pretty rad maps with that in mind. Its use in combat on the other hand added another layer of physicality to the game, and I’m interested in seeing how high level payers will use it in close quarters and beyond.

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But I’ve never been into multiplayer, I just don’t get the same satisfaction from an epic kill-streak as I do from a well written story beat, so Titanfall 2’s new focus on single player had me genuinely excited. I’m interested to see if the campaign will be more similar to your standard five hour Call of Duty campaign or if it’ll resemble something more akin to Bethesda’s new Doom. I’m thinking they’ll lean towards the five hour experience, but something a bit longer and in depth would definitely perk my ears.

Next up were Madden and Fifa, and while I genuinely really enjoy those games, because I wasn’t watching live I elected to skip that portion of the conference. Oh the power of on-demand video. Somewhere in the middle of those though was Mass Effect: Andromeda, I only realized this after the fact, but for the sake of this piece I’ll talk about my thoughts now.

Mass Effect: Andromeda didn’t have a weak showing by any means, but I don’t think I’m alone when I say I expected more. I had this game pegged as an early 2017 game, but I guess I expected too much, this game seems to be much farther out than I expected. We didn’t get any actual gameplay, and I was genuinely disappointed, but that isn’t to discount what they actually showed. Bioware really seems to be pushing the idea that as the player, you are a pioneer. Nobody has ever been to the Andromeda galaxy and you’ll be the first to explore these planets. “Everything is new. New planets. New species. New technologies.” That line really stuck out to me. Not only is the prospect of a whole new galaxy exciting, but as someone who’s never played a Mass Effect before, it definitely alleviates a lot of the pressure coming into this game as a first time player. I play games to explore, and Mass Effect: Andromeda, at least from a conceptual level, seems to be put that at the forefront of its design. That makes me excited, even if we didn’t get to see any gameplay.

Then came the announcement of EA Originals, EA’s sort of way of tapping into indie-style development. I love that these big third-party publishers are giving these smaller developers a chance to make the games that they want to make. Not only is it a great way to get some unique and often innovative experiences, but it also inspires a ton of good will towards these big companies often imagined as the greedy and money-hungry titans of the industry.

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Fe, the first game of their EA Originals program, had me feeling all sorts of mixed emotions. While on one hand the game is gorgeous and definitely inspired a Spyro sort of feeling, I wasn’t too into the games singular color pallet. I love the concept of a game about discovering our connection with nature, but color is such a big factor in games for me. Now, don’t get me wrong, the game was gorgeous, but I feel like solely due to the color pallet I’ll tire of the game all too quickly. It’s a real interesting conundrum, but I’m definitely excited to see more of the game, to say the least.

And then came their Star Wars presentation. Oh boy. This was supposed to be it. This was supposed to be when we’d finally get an in depth look into what Amy Hennig’s Star Wars game was supposed to be. But, alas, here we are and in true EA fashion they talked a lot about their Star Wars projects, but we came out of the show knowing almost just as much as we knew coming in. Where Microsoft usually just straight up announces games, and Sony announces their games very early alongside a lot of promise, EA just likes to make a bunch of promises. That isn’t necessarily a bad thing, but I really just wanted to see a new Star Wars game.

They discussed Battlefront, Galactic Heroes, and the Old Republic, before moving to Respawn and then Visceral, and while it was really cool and interesting to hear those developers talk, it’s still awkward in comparison to the rest of the E3 pressers. Respawn talked about what it was like to develop a Star Wars game over some actually pretty neat b-roll of lightsaber fighting motion capture, but the real focus was on Visceral. Amy Hennig was the star, she talked first and everyone that followed talked about what it was like to work with her. It was nice to see her receive the treatment she deserved, even if we didn’t see her game too much. What we did see of the game though was impressive. The three seconds of footage featured our protagonist walking into a sort of desert planet plaza, while tie-fighters and Star Destroyers populated the atmosphere. From just the three seconds we saw, this appears like it could be the Star Wars game I’ve wanted from Amy Hennig and her team. Also, on a side note the protagonist appeared to be a man of color too, so that’s kind of rad.

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Lastly, the show ended with Battlefield 1, which looked very, very impressive. Where on one side of the shooter market we’re getting Titanfall 2 and Call of Duty: Infinite Warfare this fall, Battlefield 1 is taking the exact opposite approach and is set during an alternate look at World War 1. Rad. It’s not to say that Titanfall 2 and Infinite Warfare look bad by any stretch of the imagination, Battlefield 1 is simply the game grabbing my attention. The setting just happens to be what I want right now. Sci-fi usually interests me, but I’m kind of tired of futuristic shooters, in an era where almost every shooter features wall jumps and power slides, it was awesome to see what a step backward would look like developed today. Surprise! The same classic Battlefield sense of scale mixes well with a World War 1 setting. I can’t wait to get my hands on this one in a beta, hopefully sometime soon.

It might not have been exactly what I wanted, but the way EA talked about their games had me interested. I’m excited to see all of the games they have coming out this year, so it must not have been that bad of a conference.


 

Caleb Cajthaml is a 15 year old who set dreams so large he needed to get started on them now. Passionate about making people happy Caleb loves to write about all things entertainment. You can find him on twitter @Caleb_Talks tweeting about the latest happenings in the Star Wars cannon and why the Vikings are the best team in football.