By Stephen Petite
Fe-fi-fo-fum EA Play showed little to none—except for the reason behind this incorrectly spelled hopefully clever nod to Jack and the Beanstalk that I will address in a bit.
EA went away with traditional E3 fodder to deliver an L.A. to London cross-continental stream dedicated to showcasing their upcoming games. Opening with Titanfall 2 in L.A., Vince Zampella of Respawn Entertainment unveiled a refined multiplayer mode, and more importantly, the single player trailer. The takeaway from the trailer: “Man becomes best buddies with machine.” It was one of those fake trailers that showed rendered cutscenes rather than level design and mission structure. Regardless, I’m really looking forward to Titanfall 2 as it is in my opinion that Titanfall was the most enjoyable first person shooter since the first Modern Warfare. Unfortunately, Titanfall didn’t have legs, and EA is apparently going to chop off the sequel’s limbs before it has a chance to fester. It is set for release on October 28th, sandwiched between Battlefield 1 and Call of Duty: Infinite Warfare.
Over in London, Peter Moore took the stage to talk about sports games. There was a curiously long bit on competitive Madden and eSports, and then the predictable inclusion of narrative in the FIFA 17. These two franchises are both major moneymakers so it shouldn’t be farfetched that they spend inordinate amounts of their presentation on their yearly cash grabs, but yet it continues to baffle. Madden and FIFA are long running franchises with massive installed fanbases, but I’d wager that the type of gamer tuning into E3 isn’t watching for the latest news on sports games.
They closed with Battlefield 1 which provided no new information to the recently announced WWI-centric war shooter other than a reminder that it still has possibly the worst title for a game ever. Still, I’m looking forward to turning back time in a war shooter again, and I hope it lives up to expectations.
In between it all, EA went back to developer diary style trailers with Mass Effect Andromeda and a trio of upcoming Star Wars titles. Mass Effect is still largely mysterious, but we do know that it really has no ties to the trilogy as it is set in a completely different galaxy. I’m cautiously optimistic for it, but I fear that returning to the Mass Effect universe will not bring back the same intoxicating feelings as the first time around, especially since the bad taste of Mass Effect 3 still lingers. As for Star Wars, it was the low point of the event which can basically be summed up as, “This is what it means to work on a Star Wars game to me: [insert excitingly vague answer here].”
For all of the underwhelming content, there was a silver lining. The announcement of EA Originals, a project where EA helps small studios create innovative experiences that can reach large audiences, was a refreshing reminder that a studio as big as EA can still be devoted to delivering on unique and novel experiences.
The first official EA Original is Fe out of a twenty person Swedish studio, Zoink. Fe, which translates to “fairy” in Swedish, is a 3D platformer following the story of a young cub who wakes up in a world he does not recognize. A game without words, Fe is heavily rooted in music, as each animal and piece of nature has their own song which will reportedly help guide the cub to finding out who he is and how he fits in the world. The game looks gorgeous, stunning even, and the concept is most certainly different.
Overall, EA’s show was lackluster and bland, focused too much on things we already knew and other things that shouldn’t have been mentioned at all. Fortunately, EA Originals and Fe offers some hope that Electronic Arts is slowly transforming into a less predictable studio.