Two Player: EA's E3 2016 "EA Play" Event

EA Play Titanfall 2

For the last few years, EA has kicked off its press conferences with some variant of the phrase “we like to do things differently.” While it’s standard corporate speak at this point, this year EA meant it more than ever. Aside from now being the first of the E3 2016 conferences, the company made the decision to not only show its wares outside of the Los Angeles Convention Center, but hold an event simultaneously in LA and London. So with all this change, did EA actually bring anything new and exciting?

Fans of EA’s sci-fi wares were well served…unless your sci-fi game didn’t feature grappling hooks or mechs shooting at each other, in which case you were treated to a sizzle reel of developers hard at work; apologies to all you Star Wars and Mass Effect fans. Titanfall 2 was given a proper showing, with all its mechs and grappling hooks. Respawn Entertainment’s Vince Zampella was on hand to not only welcome PS4 players into the fold, but to formally announce a single player campaign “for the four people who didn’t see the leak.”

FIFA 17 saw the biggest sports push at the conference. Aside from announcing the usual improvements (this year’s buzzwords include “Physical Play Overhaul” and “Active Intelligence System”) Peter Moore played to the London crowd by announcing several Premier League managers will be present in the game, including his homeboy (and yours), Liverpool’s Jüergen Klopp.

We were also introduced to Alex Hunter. Never heard of him? Don’t worry, no-one has; he’s the fictional Manchester United footballer you’ll be playing as in FIFA 17’s brand new story mode ‘The Journey.’ While Peter Moore wouldn’t confirm any 10 minute ghost monologues, he was quick to point out this is only possible because of the power of Frostbite.

By far the most interesting announcements at the conference weren’t for games, but for several company-wide initiatives. Peter Moore detailed more on the EA Competitive Division announced back in December. Aside from several types of championships and events, Moore announced the first big event in the EA Championship series, a Madden NFL 17 Championship with a $1 million prize. Moore affirmed that Madden is just the start, and that he will bring competitive gaming to the wider EA games family.

EA is also giving a million dollars to charity with its “Play To Give” initiative. The company is partnering with five charities around the world and donating money based on player competed tasks across their games. Winning the “Play to Win” cup in FIFA will not only score you a megapack of cards for FIFA Ultimate Team, but also a donation to charity. Finally, EA has given all of you a good reason to check out Star Wars: Galaxy of Heroes.

Following the acclaim and success of Unravel, EA Vice President Patrick Söderlund announced EA Originals. The initiative is based on three things: Finding unique experiences and bringing them to the world, supporting small developers and, most importantly, offering them security and funding. All of the profits from the program will go directly to the developers. The first title in the program will be Fe by the 20 person strong studio Zoink Games in Gothenburg, Sweden. The game looks to be the tale of a young cub, the relationship with we have with nature and our longing to be one with the world around us.

Closing out the conference was Battlefield 1. After showing 30 seconds of a trailer that would close out the segment, DICE’s Patrick Bach discussed the origins of the game and how no two battles would ever be the same, citing how dynamic weather and player controlled “Behemoths” (armoured trains, zeppelins) would achieve this, permanently changing the battle map mid-battle. And because you need it, here’s a gif of Snoop Dogg smoking a blunt whilst playing Battlefield 1.

It was a safe, but otherwise enjoyable conference from EA. FIFA’s attempt to take on NBA2K in the ‘sports game story’ attempt should prove entertaining, and Battlefield, even with its horrible musical choices in its trailers, looks the goods. While only one new game announcement is disappointing, the new initiatives look to be a fascinating step forward for the company.