E3 2017 kicked off earlier today with EA’s self-hosted presentation, EA Play. Here we caught a glimpse of the company’s future as both a developer and publisher, from expected sports titles and Star Wars: Battlefront II, to smaller surprises like A Way Out.
How’d it go? Let’s find out.
Madden 18 gets a story mode trailer for its new single-player mode, Longshot, as well as some high-resolution screenshots of the game running on Project Scorpio.
I was a big fan of FIFA 17’s new story mode, The Journey, despite knowing fuck all about soccer. I’m far more familiar with the NFL and, as a result, looking forward to checking out Longshot whenever Madden 18 releases. Much like Sony’s PS4 Pro presentation, the Scorpio’s high-resolution screenshots didn’t do the game any favors for anyone not watching along on a 4K-supported monitor/TV.
With Madden being one of EA’s flagship series, I was surprised by the lack of details given about this year’s gameplay changes, modes, etc., and found it a bit confusing that they’d open up their presentation with a game they’re showing in more detail during tomorrow’s Xbox conference.
Battlefield 1 is getting two night-themed maps in July, 6 new maps in September, and women fighters.
EA will continue to support Battlefield 1 with two night-time maps, Neville Nights and Prise de Tahure, coming in July. From what I’ve gathered, these maps will be available earlier to Premium members. A DLC pack dubbed In the Name of the Tsar will land in September, offering six new maps, a female battalion, new weapons, and new vehicles.
Battlefield 1 did incredibly well for EA and I’m always happy to see games get continued support, despite not being interested in Battlefield as a whole.
FIFA 18 continues The Journey of Alex Hunter and mo-caps new moves with Cristiano Ronaldo.
Again, I know dick about soccer (as you can tell by my America use of the term “soccer”), but I’ve enjoyed playing FIFA’s newest iteration over the last two years. I was a big fan of The Journey last year and I’m positive I’ll pick up FIFA 18 in some capacity to continue Hunter’s legacy.
A watered-down version of FIFA 18 will release for the Nintendo Switch, but will not run on EA’s Frostbyte engine nor will it include The Journey’s story mode. With that in mind, it’s more likely I’ll be renting the PS4 or Xbox One version to play through the story mode, then picking up the Nintendo Switch version for FUT (FIFA Ultimate Team) on-the-go. Maybe I’ll grab both versions, who knows?
NBA Live isn’t dead, with NBA Live 18 showing off its new career mode, The One, and weird stick-waggling gameplay.
NBA Live hasn’t been relevant in quite some time, with the NBA 2K series’ quality drastically outpacing EA’s paltry offerings. The footage shown didn’t look very impressive, particularly the unflattering analog stick play for dribbling and defending. The One seems like a step in the right direction, though, with your created player rising through the ranks either in street ball or organized leagues.
If they can get the gameplay to a point where it doesn’t feel like hot boiled garbage I’d love to see a FIFA/Madden-style story mode in NBA Live’s next iteration — even as someone with no interest in basketball. However, I do think the series is forever tainted by its horrendous showing over the last few years and it’s unlikely consumers will take the risk when they’ve already been given a quality, consistent product from NBA 2K.
BioWare’s new IP is confirmed as Anthem, but EA does very little to hype it.
The core team at BioWare has been hard at work on Anthem for a good while (I’m guessing), but whether the same folks were responsible for Mass Effect: Andromeda or not, BioWare is still BioWare in the eyes of the average consumer. For EA to show a brief CG trailer for Anthem and quickly punt it off into tomorrow’s Xbox conference showed a lack of confidence.
I get that Microsoft probably worked out some sort of marketing deal (this is EA, after all) and they want to premiere Anthem running on the Scorpio, but EA showed less of Anthem than any other game in the presentation.
It’s BioWare, I’m excited to see what the game even is, but it could have benefitted from a “THIS is what BioWare can do!” moment and given at least a glimpse of gameplay.
According to the official Anthem Twitter bio, the game is scheduled to release in fall 2018.
Need for Speed: Payback looks like Forza Horizon with a dash of Burnout.
The new Need for Speed was shown with a mix of narrative cutscenes and gameplay. It looks like any other fast-paced racing game, but adds the slow-mo crash cam of Burnout. The folks presenting the game were totally awkward and clearly had teleprompter issues, but the game itself looks quite pretty and exciting. Will I play it? No. I have no attachment to racers or the Need for Speed series, after all. But just because it’s not for me doesn’t mean it’s trash.
A Way Out is a co-op required prison escape game from the developer of Brothers: A Tale of Two Sons.
Perhaps the most interesting game shown during EA Play (from my perspective) was A Way Out. It’s a co-op experience where two players work together to escape prison in a retro 50s-era setting. Unlike Brothers: A Tale of Two Sons, A Way Out requires a second player, either locally or online. Whether you’re on your couch or gaming online, the entirety of the game is shown in split-screen so each player can track the other’s movements and plan accordingly. Each scenario presents multiple approaches, which should increase the game’s replay value significantly.
I loved Brothers: A Tale of Two Sons, but the thought of relying on another person to even play the game is a huge turnoff. It’s a game I’d love to watch groups like Kinda Funny and Giant Bomb play together as a spectator, but the likelihood of me purchasing it is slim to none.
Side-note: I loved the developer’s enthusiasm while presenting his game. While clearly nervous, I could tell that he was extremely proud of what his team has accomplished and was just thrilled to have the opportunity to show their smaller game on such a grand stage.
Star Wars: Battlefront II features a canonical story mode, spans all three eras of films, contains 3x the content of the original, and forgoes a season pass to provide all consumers with future updates free of charge.
The Battlefront II presentation started off by addressing a common complaint with the original title — its clear lack of content. EA appears to have listened to fan complaints, as Battlefront II is making some serious changes.
For starters, the game will include a canonical story mode that’s mandatory for any Star Wars fan looking to keep up with the series’ lore, as it bridges the gap between Return of the Jedi and The Force Awakens.
As expected, there was a huge focus on the game’s multiplayer mode which spans all three eras from the films, awards players skill points that can be used to spawn into vehicles or hero characters like Darth Maul, Boba Fett, and Yoda, and refines the weapon system dramatically. EA showed off a live 15-minute match with some of the best Battlefront players in the world, which showcased the game’s breathtaking visuals, intense dogfights, heroes, and gameplay changes — and likely bored anyone to tears who isn’t interested in Star Wars or Battlefront’s brand of gameplay.
That’s fine. Repeat after me: “I am not every game’s target market.”
I love Star Wars and I’m super excited to dive into the game’s new story mode, but it’ll likely be a rental since I have little interest in multiplayer gaming. It could end up being the next Overwatch or Rocket League for me, though, where my disinterest in competitive games is no longer a deciding factor. The lack of a season pass is also a huge selling point.
Battlefront II has incredible potential and will no doubt be one of the year’s hottest selling titles.
Overall, I always feel that EA’s conference caters to very specific audiences and this year’s EA Play was no different. If you’re not into sports or Star Wars there was little to grab onto, and BioWare’s new IP Anthem was barely glanced over. A Way Out was a nice breath of fresh air, like last year’s Fe, but the co-op requirement is tough sell for those us who enjoy gaming on our own. I know I’m not every game’s target market and I truly hope A Way Out finds an audience looking for a unique co-op experience.
I’ll admit I’m a little bummed that we didn’t hear anything about the next Dragon Age title or the elusive Mass Effect trilogy remaster, but I never expected to see them to begin with.
What EA did show was visually appealing, but they did little to draw a new audience into their ecosystem. Nothing looked bad or boring, but you definitely have to be into their specific lineup of games to care about the company’s future releases. Hopefully Anthem impresses during the Xbox presentation.
What about you, folks? What did you think of EA Play 2017?