The EA Conference started late, but once it got going, it was full-speed ahead with great games and some new initiatives from this games publisher. Andrew Wilson, CEO of Electronic Arts, told the audience that they were going to just get a little taste of the games they have in development. He also encouraged everyone to play the games and give them feedback, because they care about their players. The conference was also unique in that they were having another one in London simultaneously, and they kept going back and forth via satellite feed.
The first game of the conference shown was Titanfall 2. The CEO of Respawn, Vince Zampella, announced that the game would be available to PS4 players for the first time ever, and confirmed that they are introducing a single-player campaign to the game. It will focus on the bond between a pilot and his Titan. The trailer had some unique enemies, detailed landscapes, and a voice-over that hinted at the story. He also showed footage from the multi-player mode, and I could tell that the gameplay will be fast and action-packed.
The next game discussed was Madden NFL 17. EA spent the majority of the hour focusing on their sports franchises. From what I could see, the graphics are amazing on this game, and fans will be excited to learn that there is a completely new commentary team AND you can take your team all the way to the Superbowl. They then focused the attention to the players of Madden NFL, and announced that the company wants to focus more emphasis on E-sports for everyone. They will have weekly online contests for the players, and will help communities hold their own tournaments. The conference then focused on two of the top Madden players in the world, Problem and Serious Moe. The focus was on the tournament happening later on in the conference. We really did not get a lot of footage or focus on the new game itself.
The next segment was what I have been waiting for FOREVER! The General Manager of Bioware, Aaron Flynn, came onstage to briefly talk about Mass Effect: Andromeda. The game focuses on a completely new cast of characters traveling to our neighbor galaxy in search of a new home for humans. There will be new species, planets, and technologies introduced, with more freedom to explore. I am a HUGE Mass Effect fan, so when they showed off some footage from the game, I was freaking out. Is that the rebuilt Citadel? Is that a MAKO? The ship looks like an updated version of the Normandy! The sound and graphics were amazing, since the new game will be powered by the Frostbite engine. I cannot wait until this fall when they reveal more details. Can it come out already?
Andrew Wilson took the stage again, this time to announce that EA will be releasing even more game updates this year than they did last year. He also revealed the Play to Give initiatives, which I think is wonderful. EA will have certain challenges in their games that players can complete, and EA will donate money to a handful of charities, like HeForShe, Special Effect, and Code2040. I am impressed with their generosity and work towards equality for women and STEM education.
The conference moved to London for the reveal of FIFA 17. London really loves its “football.” I put that in quotation marks because I’m American so I think of it as soccer. Yes, we love to be different. Anyway, I don’t know that much about soccer or FIFA, so a lot of it was over my head. The graphics looked amazing though, with this game being powered on the Frostbite engine. What most impressed me was the first time ever Story mode called “The Journey.” The trailer for it looked like a preview for a BBC drama series. It focuses on a player named Alex Hunter, getting signed to the premier league and working his way up the ranks. The producer of FIFA, Aaron McHardy, came onstage and talked about the four aspects of the game they have improved: a set piece rewrite, a physical play overhaul, more intelligent AI, and new attacks. I may not know soccer, but any fan of the FIFA series must be excited about all these innovations.
The next segment introduced the EA Originals program to help small, indie developers. EA plans on investing time and money into small game developers so that their game will reach a broader audience. They will help with development, marketing, and publishing, all while giving the entirety of the profit to the developers so they can keep making the games of the future. They introduced their first Original, Fe, from a small Swedish studio. The game looks absolutely magical. It has new words, only music, and is about our relationship with nature. The player plays as a young cub, trying to find his way through the forest to his own kind. The animals and plants communicate through song. The artwork was original and inspiring, with dark and light contrasts. What a unique idea, and good on EA for bringing it to the masses!
Next up was the segment entirely devoted to the numerous Star Wars titles in the works at EA. Galaxy of Heroes, Battlefront, and The Old Republic are available right now, but more are on the way! Dice and Motive Studios are working on a new Battlefront game, incorporating all the feedback they have received from the players. There will be more characters, more environments, and content from the newest film included in the next game. Visceral is working on a new narrative game that will be released in 2018. All we got to see was some concept art, but any new narrative-based Star Wars game is music to my ears. Respawn is developing a third person action-adventure game. The video package had the studios talking a lot about their new games, but not really any game footage. I believe it is too early for that, but Star Wars fans should get excited for all the new gaming experiences EA has planned!
Last, but not least, was Battlefield 1. Dice Studio showed off their unique take on WWI through lots of game footage. The game is powered by the Frostbite engine, so the graphics and the audio was super realistic. The developers improved destruction so it is more intuitive, and the weather will randomly change so you have to adjust your tactics. There were dogfights in biplanes! Huge airships being blown up! Armored trains and battleships! I am not a multi-player gamer, but even this game looked awesome to me. The player can join in battles with up to 64 players. There will be an open beta later this summer, but for those who could stay after the conference, there was a 64 player demo of gameplay, led by Jamie Fox and Zac Efron, of all people.
Overall, I felt the conference focused too much on their sports franchises, but was impressed by what I saw. I also love that they are introducing programs that help out gamers and non-gamers alike. EA may be a huge company, but they are using their power for good.