One of the biggest concerns coming into the EA Play conference to kick off E3 2017 was how the company would be able to surprise us. Every year for EA comes with the notable baggage, with a slew of sports games plus extras. This year however, EA has added a few new superstars to the roster, such as Star Wars Battlefront 2, and a new Need for Speed game. The question now: Could they deliver?
Kicking off the 2017 EA Play conference was Madden NFL 18. Right off the bat it was announced that this year’s annualized football installment would pull some tricks from its FIFA counterpart and introduce an all new story mode. The new campaign, titled LongShot follows a similar story to that of The Journey’s Alex Hunter, working your way through the struggles of minor league and collegiate football in hopes of becoming an NFL prospect. Other than that, there’s nothing else of news worth expanding upon. However it’s nice to see EA takes shots at news ways to keep players engaged and interested.
Up next was EA DICE, returning again this year to unveil the next portion of their Battlefield 1 DLC expansions. The newest expansion, titled In the name of the Tsar, will be adding six brand new maps to the Battlefield playlist, along with 11 new weapons, vehicles, and playable female characters as part of the Women’s Battalion of Death. Additionally there will be a new game mode being added (Supply Drop) and two additional maps coming in July for those who currently own the Battlefield 1 Premium Pass.
The next title to take the stage was FIFA 18. This year’s FIFA single player campaign will be extending upon the initial story of Alex Hunter from last year. Any information that could have been given for the Nintendo Switch version of this year’s FIFA was left absent, those there were details brought to light during the conference’s showtime.
Earlier this month, the newest Need for Speed was officially announced and confirmed to be making an appearance at this year’s E3. The newest installment, Need for Speed Payback, will see players having controller of three different characters throughout the story pulling off heists and in conflict with dangerous enemy cartel. The gameplay presented during the conference showed off both the open world canyon settings players will be able to venture around, and how players will transition between characters in mid-mission. Something else to note about the mission demo is that the vehicular combat and visuals skewed much more towards that of a Burnout game as opposed to classic Need for Speed. EA also noted that the customization options for visuals and performance are the largest of any Need for Speed game ever made.
The past few years for EA have seen a greater push towards supporting independent developers through the EA Origins program. This year, EA announced a partnership with new founded Hazelight Studio to introduce their new cooperative game, A Way Out. This was my personal favorite game of the show (sorry Star Wars). A Way Out put players in the shoes of either character Vincent or Leo, both prison inmates who end up having to work together to help each other escape. The most notable feature was mentioned by Hazelight Studios founder Josef Fares, announcing that the ENTIRE game is only playable cooperatively (with a little extra emphasis on couch co-op) before departing the stage.
Bioware then made a brief appearance to show off the first teaser trailer for their new IP that is set to launch in 2019. The sci-fi trailer looks to portray a world of advanced technology and catacalysm. Not much else was shown off, but the prompt at the end of the trailer for fans to look for more information at the Microsoft press conference suggests that there’s some type of exclusivity with Xbox going forward. Possible Project Scorpio tie-in???
NBA Live is coming back. Doesn’t matter, play 2K in September….
Last but certainly not least, we finally got our first multiplayer reveal for Star Wars Battlefront 2. While most of the information presented by actor Janina Ganavakar (playing as the game’s protagonist Iden Versio) was more reiteration of details previously presented to us, actor John Boyega jumped in to announce that both his character Finn and Captain Phasma will be playable heroes as part of the game’s first free expansion in preparation for the new Star War Episode VIII film coming this December.
After the cold hard details were given, things shifted towards the first multiplayer gameplay reveal for Star Wars Battlefront 2. Of course the purpose of the multiplayer recording was for us to get our first look at what new additions are coming with the new game, and on first impressions it look as though EA is delivering and listening to community feedback. The online class and character progression systems are much deeper than the first Battlefront game (2015), and the amount of action going on while the Battle of Theed was taking place was higher than anything we’d seen from the previous game, yet still felt contained and organized. New heroes such as Darth Maul and Rey made an appearance, while Boba Fett and Han Solo had a nice return to action.
And that caps off EA Play from E3 2017. Most stuff such as the sports games and Battlefront 2 were predictable. But to see a game such as A Way Out or even Need for Speed Payback make sharp enough changes are good signs for the company going forward.