E3 2017 Impressions: EA Play

EA is trying. Which is more that can be said of them in recent years. It was interesting to see them double down on sports games reveals this year, whether that’s because they want to push the games or they lack more content beyond their usual yearly games is up for interpretation (I think it’s the latter).

They kicked off the show with a drumline sporting Patriots jerseys (not a great way to get people on your side), and introduced a specific feature they harped on a lot today: story mode. Madden Longshot is a continuation of EA Sports’ efforts to bring storytelling into their games, we saw this later with The Journey in FIFA and The One in NBA Live. It’s interesting to see this specific feature expanded throughout all their games, it never seemed like a part of any of the games that people wait for. Perhaps a lack of new features forced them to add more content to distract from similar gameplay, or maybe they’re just trying to round out the games. Nothing wrong with that.

What seems wrong is the sheer amount of time they spent announcing these games. Few things are certain in the gaming industry, but one of those certainties is that there will be a new Madden, FIFA, and NBA game every year. Those games are going to sell, too, and a majority of E3 fans were probably waiting for the new Bioware I.P. or Battlefront II. It was a strange choice to spend so much time trying to sell to what is already an easily sold player base, but I’m sure the minds at EA have their reasons.

Need for Speed Payback E3 2017 EA Play

We all suffered through whatever went wrong with “Youtube Content Creator” Jesse Wellens. He either didn’t get that he had to talk off the top of his head, or straight up forgot his lines, and when it was over we finally got to see some footage of Need for Speed: Payback. It came in the form of an in-game chase, complete with crashes, explosions, and wipe-outs. Yet, while it looked fun, it seemed very much like filler content, and besides the superficial, not much else was shown to us.

This was the first real gameplay we got, and it was 23 minutes into the conference. That’s probably the best indication on how the conference went as a whole.

The EA Originals reveal was a bit of good news to come from the conference, as it shows EA is committed to embracing the more indie games. The first announced game from EA Originals is A Way Out, a split-screen action-exploration game from the creator of Brothers: A Tale of Two Sons. Perhaps making their way into indie games will earn the company a little more goodwill than it currently receives.

Anthem BioWare EA E3 2017

I get that Anthem is a new I.P. and we’ll get more in the Microsoft Conference, but I still wish we could’ve seen more from it. What we got was a very Attack on Titan-esque vibe, with humanity hiding behind walls from giant monsters on the other side. With the recent debacle that BioWare’s name has attached to, EA can’t rely on hype alone. Fans need a real reason to get behind BioWare’s new project, a reason I hope we get tomorrow at the Xbox Conference.

And finally we get to the finale, “30 minutes” of Battefront 2 gameplay.

Here’s my question: Who cares? Alternatively, why do you care? Battlefront was bad. Astronomically bad. Static gameplay, repetitive maps and game modes, not to mention, you know, all that paid DLC. And no single player campaign! Why would anyone have any sort of expectations for a sequel? Why are they making a sequel?

What I got from the press conference was this: “Okay, so we know we messed up the easiest game to possibly mess up. Here are the reasons why it was bad and how we’re not going to mess up again.” What it seems like is Battlefront was a $110 open beta, and now they’re making the actual game. And you have to spend another $60 on it.

Star Wars Battlefront E3 2017 EA Play

In all fairness, the game does look much better than Battlefront I. A real single player campaign will help it sell, as well as the fact that they’re pushing it as “an essential Star Wars story.” Free DLC helps too, better looking maps and characters, and more options when it comes to going into battle all help too. Still, much like its predecessor, it simply looks like Battlefield: Star Wars. From ground-based combat to aerial fights, nothing seems to make Battlefront II its own game.

So the question is, does EA have what it takes to convince people to drop $60 on the follow up to a poorly received game? Personally, I don’t feel they’ve done enough.

EA is obviously trying to connect with their player base. Unfortunately, they’re doing it in the most executive-boardroom way possible, with streamers, youtubers, montages– and more importantly– not gameplay. EA needs to realize that all gamers want is to see their games. Not as cinematics or teaser reveals, but gameplay. There just wasn’t enough of that in this presentation, which should have been an hour shorter.

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