Despite being one of the top publishers in the industry in terms of revenue success and possessing a wide portfolio of quality intellectual properties, EA hasn’t always captured the most attention at E3. Sports has been an area of focus for the publisher for a while and I think a balance can be struck to make the most of their presentations.
EA won’t “officially” be attending E3 proper but they’ll be hosting EA PLAY at The Hollywood Palladium not far from the conference grounds. So in reality, come on, they’re at E3! I’ve said this plenty of times in the past and I’ll say it again: I’m excited for what EA has to offer. I’m excited for what all the publishers and studios have to offer. E3 is a moment where creators take pride in showing their hard work and I’m always so happy to witness that. Love it.
I’m hoping that some lessons were learned in terms of presentation format over the last couple of years. There were many moments where I feel an overly prolonged focus was on EA Sports’ offerings. Sports titles are a major driver in EA’s business success and it’s perfectly understandable that they’d want to showcase some of those key games for investor purposes. E3 is still officially an investor tradeshow after all. At the same time, I think EA needs to realize that the biggest audience that tunes in to these conferences is that of the fans.It’s known that a new FIFA, Madden, PGA and so on and so forth are in development and coming each year. That’s well and good. I think trailers and updates on what these new installments bring are welcome for sports fans. I just hope they’re not dedicated to 30 minute segments (Pele anyone?).
I think the vast majority of consumers tuning in to EA’s conference will be those “core” players. I don’t like using that term all that much but it’s a description for the type of fan interested in more story driven titles, unique ideas or creative experiences. They want to see what EA can do with all those great IPs under their belt. I expect a ton of attention to be placed on Star Wars: Battlefront II. That’s obviously not surprising in the least. While I had a good time in the original reboot’s multiplayer offerings two years back, I longed for more original content.
Star Wars: Battlefront (2015) lacked a single player story and DICE has certainly listened to feedback. I’m so excited to see where the studio takes the campaign given that we’ll be playing as Iden Versio, commander of an Imperial Special Forces unit. Playing from the perspective of the Galactic Empire opens up a ton of narrative potential and unique possibilities. The Empire has always mostly been seen as this machine with soldiers as robotic as they come. I can’t wait to see the intricacies of the Empire’s functionality and how stormtroopers interact with one another ‘behind the scenes’ [bonus for Luke and Kylo gameplay].
Though DICE is handling the overall development of the game, I’m also looking forward to seeing the fruits of EA Motive’s first foray into a game as a studio. Fingers crossed for a nice campaign demo!
Since we’re on the subject of Star Wars; there’s been one little studio quietly toiling on something. Visceral Games has been tasked with developing a major AAA game in the Star Wars universe since 2013. While little has been said about this new game, we do know some things. Amy Hennig (of Uncharted fame) is at the helm as creative director and it’s seemingly a story driven action adventure experience. Beyond that? Not much. Giving this game large exposure at the show could take away attention from Battlefront II so I don’t expect anything incredibly substantial. I do hope that after almost 4 years, we at least get an official title and trailer.
It’s also understood that Respawn Entertainment is in a similar boat, coding away on another original Star Wars game. Given how busy the studio’s been with Titanfall and the recently released Titanfall 2, I don’t anticipate any news on that front any time soon. Take your time guys.
I do anticipate something else though. A need. A need for…okay, yes, Need for Speed. This is obviously a no-brainer considering EA directly stated as much. With a release date for this Fall, we should definitely expect a slew of footage and information. As a Need for Speed fan myself, I’m interested in the changes being brought to the table. Need for Speed: Underground and its sequel are still my favorite in the series and I feel the 2015 reboot from Ghost Games was a solid foundation to build on. It brought me back to that nostalgic street racing scene with over the top spoilers, hood scoops, neon kits and campy live action video.
I missed that a lot. I want to see larger car variety, more customization, real-time day and night cycle, cop chases, and a story that’s implemented better. As explained in a recent official blog post, a constant connection to the internet no longer being required is a welcome first step to improvement.
There’s also a major elephant in the room by the name of BioWare. As a multi-team studio, there’s a lot going on. BioWare Edmonton (KOTOR/Dragon Age/Mass Effect) is under the microscope this time around, specifically. The team has been hard at work on a brand new IP since its original pseudo announcement way back in 2014. Taking place in a fresh universe, the studio has said the game employs a “clean sheet design” in terms of creative vision and new gameplay ideas. It’s also envisioned to bring players together per EA CEO Andrew Wilson.
I’d say an appearance of this mysterious new game is to be expected. Whether fair or otherwise, BioWare will be under an extra scrutinizing microscope from many players after the recently released Mass Effect: Andromeda. I hope (and expect) to see an official title along with a proper trailer or gameplay demo. This is the studio’s first brand new IP in almost ten years. We got some of the best gaming franchises in recent memory the last time this happened (Mass Effect/Dragon Age) so suffice to say; no pressure! I have confidence that the seasoned team comprised of KOTOR and Mass Effect veterans as well as new blood will bring something fun and unique to the table.
So what else is there besides all those big hitters? An EA ‘original’ title perhaps? You remember Unravel don’t you? Could a possible sequel announcement be in the cards? It’s possible considering EA officially confirmed a sequel in development last May. The publisher also expressed a willingness to tackle game ideas similar to Coldwood Interactive’s side-scroller. With this in mind, seeing a smaller scale title from any studio isn’t out of the realm of possibility and I fully welcome that.
If you asked me what dream announcement would throw me off my feet I’d tell you it’s none other than a Dead Space game. The likelihood of that happening is a million to one, but again, “dream” announcement baby. Dead Space firmly remains one of my favorite franchises from the last generation and I sorely miss it. It’s hiatus status is a shame and I genuinely hope that EA returns to that special horror universe in the future.
In all I feel that EA has a chance to grab some real attention if it balances the on screen time of its software portfolio. Demo a meaty Battlefront II segment, show Need for Speed and your sports games, let us in on Visceral’s game along with BioWare’s new IP and sprinkle some smaller, original titles here and there. I’ll be looking forward to it.