Aaaand, first up to bat, opening the official presentations for E3 2016 were EA and Bethesda. EA opened and Bethesda gave a convincing second half. Please forgive me my personality flaws and read this with my tongue planted firmly in your cheek. I fail to write up things without my twisted personality shining through and if I offend you by not really liking a game please assume it’s intentional.
Andrew Wilson, CEO of EA came on with very little fanfare and a lot of applause and pretty much went straight into a composite video of EA’s development plan. When over, he explained how EA’s presentation was actually a Simulbroadcast with Peter Moore, Chief Competition Officer in London with a bunch of hardcore EA fans at the Hammersmith Apollo. (If only I’d known… Five minutes down the road, I’m sure I could’ve blagged a seat!) Moore said his hellos and handed back to Wilson in LA. Wilson promised that the next hour would see future Star Wars titles, Mass Effect, Battlefield 1, FIFA, Madden NFL 17 and Titanfall 2.
He handed over to Vincent Zampella, CEO of Respawn Entertainment for the Titanfall 2 reveal. The trailer, as always looked gorgeous. Personally, I never played the original Titanfall due to it’s lack of single player campaign. I know people say it had a loose story but that wasn’t enough to make me want to hand over my cash for what was/is effectively an arena based shooter with a twist and great graphics. I’m not that much of a competitive player and only just competent at arena competition shooters.
But. Titanfall 2, while being more of the same also builds on the first and adds a few important bits and bobs, like, a single player campaign with a real story. A boy (Jack Cooper) meets mech (BT7274 (BT for short)) and wins the day type story. The story mode plays offline so people in remotest Namibia if they have a generator can now play Titanfall. No more conspiracy theories that Titanfall was released with online only playability so that the camera could beam info about you straight to MI5 and the NSA if you were wearing a head cloth and playing with C4 and a bunch of wires and mobile phones. To be honest, the single player campaign sounds generic enough if you’ve played video games for more than three years but compelling enough at least to hand over my cash to see what all the Titanfall fuss is about; the mech’s pilot has died and this time round the mech and pilot form an emotional bond to easier work with one another. Enter stage left a ‘Rifleman’ who gets assigned the pilotless mech and together they learn to work with one another and probably save the world from some kind of global annihilation. There will be six new mechs, more player and mech customisation. But. The biggest and best reveal for me personally, was that this time around it isn’t Xbox One exclusive and us PS4 owners (and PC geeks) can play too. Yep, PS4 Titanfall! Expect a release date of October 28th 2016 to be pushed back! Sorry, expect this game to hit the shelves on October 28 this year. Trust me, I’m a Mech!
The end of the Titanfall 2 trailer segued perfectly? into the trailer for Madden NFL 17 for PS4 and Xbox One which at first glance seemed more of the same but glossier than last years with an obviously changed roster as teams and players shuffle positions but no. This year is all about competition and EA have revamped their competitive play. I honestly wish I (A) liked video sports games apart from Wave Race and SSX Tricky and (B) Understood American Football. Moore went on to explain that at the heart of EA’s games was competition whether playing professional E-Sports or kicking back with your team in FIFA or Battlefield. To that end EA have revamped their online competitions and added 3 new ways to compete with yearly and weekly challenges across the board: Challenger, Premier and EA Major tiers.
Challenger more easily allows players to participate in, and host their own events. Premier are large scale events hosted by EA and partners from within and without of the gaming industry. Finally, EA Major are live, marquee, global events hosted by EA for the elite amongst the elite with a $50,000 cheque waiting for the winner. Infact, for the Madden NFL 17 championships there is a total of $1 Million in prize money across the competition. Moore hands over to Aaryn Flynn, the general manager of Bioware. Any guesses as to the next game my friends?
Mass Effect Andromeda. Due Early 2017, it’s aim is to sever the ties with the previous trilogy with you (as the alien) in the Andromeda Galaxy. Expect new species. new environments and new technologies as you set out to find a new home for Humanity. Powered by Bioware’s new Frostbite engine there’s no doubt it looks amazing. I know many people love the original trilogy but this time round I’m seriously considering boarding the Mass Effect ship and seeing for myself what all the fuss is about.
Back to Wilson who explains that ‘Play’ (I think EA wish they could trademark the word) is at the heart of EA’s mission statement. Now, with the introduction of ‘Play to Give’ EA hope to benefit the community too. Specifically five charities; the UN HeForShe initiative, the National Centre for Women and Information Technology, !Special Effect, Code.org and Code 2040. To this end there are five ‘charitable’ challenges set across the EA multiverse; Battlefield, Star Wars: Galaxy of Heroes, Star Wars Battlefront, FIFA 16 and Madden NFL 16. At the end of the challenges over a set time EA will donate $1 Million to their aforementioned charities.
Segue back again to Moore in London for some FIFA news. Moore introduces us eventually to Aaron McHardy, FIFA’s Producer. Oh, and more of the same but glossier than last year with an obviously changed roster as teams and players shuffle positions but no. This time around, and as a first, there is a campaign mode. This time round I almost honestly wish I (A) liked video sports games apart from Wave Race 64 and 1080 snowboarding and (B) Understood Football. (There are actually girls that can explain the offside rule better than I EVER could). That said, FIFA is the most popular sports game on the planet.
You follow (play as) Alex Hunter from league to premier league football with four big transformations to the way the game plays. Better ‘dead ball’ control, a new attacking mode, active AI intelligence has been improved and new finishing moves have been added. I hate football with a passion and haven’t played a FIFA game since 1956 but utilising the Frostbite engine I have to admit it looks stunning. One day, all premier league footballers will have a chip implanted in their heads and we’ll be playing ‘as’ them through the beauty that is VR. Total immersion!
Patrick Söderlund, EVP of EA Studios then came on to introduce this years big EA Indie game: Fe. Like Unravelled last year, EA are committed to find smaller developers with a passion for creating games with heart, and with stories to be told, under the EA Originals brand. Cooly enough, all profits go back to the developers so they can continue to create amazing but smaller games we might otherwise miss. Fe looks spectacular, an indie game that a lot of love has gone into producing from Zoink software in Gothenburg.
Fe is set in a world without words. A celebration of nature and our desire to be at one with the world around us. It reminds us that everything is connected and that we live in a world held in delicate balance. You begin the story as a young cub that connects with every living thing, plant and animal, through song. Ultimately the aim is to unite with your family but on the way you meet (and hopefully defeat) The Silent Ones, the bad guys of our tale, (the multinational corporations hellbent on destroying the planet and its ecology in the real world.) The game and it’s audio are lush. With muted colours and audio, the developers set the stage but through discovery, you write the story. Your journey will be different from everyone else’s. I’m personally hugely tempted to try this one.
As Fe fades out a familiar John Williams soundtrack blares out and you half expect a procession of programmers to slide diagonally into the screen to a vanishing point in the distance; a long time ago, EA paid an extortionate amount of dollar to obtain very lucrative publishing rights to an ever expanding galaxy of games…
Jade Raymond, General Manager of Motive Studios appears on screen to seemingly talk for every developer that EA are in league with; Dice, Motive, Bioware, Respawn, Visceral and Capital Games amongst them. There sure are a lot of Star Wars games in development it seems but Jade wants to talk about three; Galaxy of Heroes, Old Republic and Battlefront. But in 2018 Visceral will bring us a new game set in the SW universe, with an all new story and all new characters. Respawn are producing an all new Action Adventure game.
Galaxy of Heroes are adding something for everyone, new characters, new locations, in fact, a way to bring everyone’s personal Star Wars fantasy’s to life (except for maybe that sick and twisted fuck in Boreham Wood who’s fantasy is watching Jabba bone a naked Leia before Luke comes to rescue her and Han.)
Next year will come a new completely instalment of Battlefront adding content that we the players have asked for and the worlds of ‘A Force Awakens’ and beyond.
Lastly but so not leastly; Battlefield 1. The Battlefield community has grown to 60 million players around the world and I’ve only played one of the games for about two and a half hours. Terrible I know but I just love the simplicity of Call of Duty.
As we know Battlefield 1 is set during World War 1. I don’t know if I’m even comfortable with this as it’s only a year or so since the last enlisted soldier to serve in the UK’s army died. WW1 was brutal and Dice want to represent that with knives, shovels and other non-weapons used as weapons in the trenches. By all means let us fight future wars and play the good guy during current wars but to glorify the most brutal war man has ever fought? Personally, I don’t know. But anyways, back to the game and forget my moralistic ramblings…
Battlefront 1 will be epic in scale, 64 player multiplayer, dynamic battles where no two battles will ever be the same, dynamic weather, new dynamic destruction to allow more things to be destroyed than ever before and you’ll be able to control the behemoths in game: The airships in the sky, the battleships at sea, tanks, bi-planes, howitzers and horses. All of course in the new Frostbite engine for maximum high definition carnage. Let’s hope Dice have found a way to tell a story about war that teaches us of the horrors involved. In much the same way as ‘Valiant Hearts: The Great War’ by Ubisoft Montpellier did with approximately a millionth of the budget.