E3 Pre-Show Thoughts: EA
Part Four of my E3 Pre-Show Thoughts. (Go check out Parts One, Two, and Three if you haven't.) EA's a lot less interesting than some of the other companies. Most of their games aren't even a surprise anymore--they just flat out announced the vast majority of what we'll see at EA Play, their pre-show conference. Still, I'm not mad. For two years in a row, EA's had the worst pre-show press conference possible. In 2014 it was basically just Dragon Age, sports games, and titles that were so woefully unready they were legit showing concept art. And last year? ...Pele. I don't think I need to go into anymore detail. Fortunately, that ends this year as EA's potential showing for the year is actually quite impressive! If they fuck it up this time it's all on them. Last year they had about a dozen games on deck for a show that ran about 90 minutes. If you presume they've got about the same for this year, then it should look something like this:
At both the 2014 and 2015 shows, BioWare was chosen to lead things off, and there's a good chance they won't break the tradition this year. Not with Mass Effect being one of the most popular new IPs to come out of last gen. And alhough Mass Effect: Andromeda won't hit until Jan-March of next year, there should still be more than enough work completed on the game to show off in the same way we got a quick overview of Dragon Age's world back in 2014. Plenty of information about the game is leaked so whatever we see will likely confirm most of it, followed by a firm release date since it's already confirmed to hit by the end of this fiscal year.
After that, they'll start to focus on the games they have coming out this year. There's Titanfall 2 from Respawn, a game that doubtlessly will capture the internet's attention in the same way the original did. Having finally gone multi-platform *and* added a single-player campaign, hopefully Respawn is treating this like their second chance at making a first impression. There's every chance this will be a smash success...y'know, so long as they have the sense to outside of the months where Infinite Warfare and their own Battlefield 1 come out.
In a perfect world, they've added a third-person mode too so I can join in...but most likely, it'll just be Titanfall 1 with more robots and a campaign, which will be more than enough for it to compete with the heavyweights.
Okay, if you're excited for Star Wars anything, this is the part where I'm going to tell you to pump your breaks. Y'know, unless you're a big fan of MMOs. The Old Republic has done an expansion pack every year for the past three so they might sneak that in, but other than that the games being worked on right now are all a year or more away.
Battlefront 2 is 2017, Visceral's Star Wars project is confirmed 2018, and Respawn's project just got confirmed as existing so unless it's the third-person game they've been talking about since late 2014 it should be even further out than Visceral's thing. The only way we see anything Star Wars-related this year is if there's either a surprise game we don't know about, or they try and force an early reveal on games that aren't ready yet. Unnecessary, but obviously not anything EA's afraid of doing.
At some point, they'll drown us in all the upcoming sports games that will be releasing in the months following E3. Madden, NBA Live, and FIFA at the least, another Golf game and a hockey game at the most. I'd guess this will take up no less than 10-15 minutes of the conference, though hopefully this year they don't drag things down with a 20 minute interview of a sports legend that, while interesting, belonged on a Youtube channel rather than a live presentation.
This is always the most puzzling part of the show to me. These games sell more than anything else EA's going to release--they're evergreen titles that appear in the Top 10 year-round as opposed to your favorite title which is in Top 10 for the month and then vanishes the month after. But...that's got very, very little to do with what happens at E3. Everyone's already well-aware of these titles and when they come out. The people who buy these for the most part aren't watching E3 and the enthusiast crowd absolutely doesn't care. I've come to the conclusion that this just has to be for the purpose of not ignoring the work of your money makers. Yes, "no one" cares, but really everyone cares so they're going to be here.
Hopefully at some point during the show we finally find out what Criterion's doing with that Beyond Cars project. They revealed it back in 2014, showed some of it off in 2015, and since we haven't heard much about it while information on multiple other games has surfaced, I'm guessing it's a 2017 project...but that doesn't mean they can't show us what it IS this year--with a proper title and release date.
Finally, for the first time in two whole years, EA has another Battlefield game on deck: Battlefield 1, where the popular FPS is set in an alt-history version of the World War 1 era. This is the game I see them capping the show off with. It's their big, tentpole title for the year and this is their big chance to show off gameplay and exactly what separates this from a "normal" World War 1 shooter.
Of course, all of this is without any possible new projects the company could have. I've only named 8 titles and they usually like to bring 10+. They could go the easy route and reveal more about the Absolutely Not Ready Star Wars games, or there might be some surprise titles they've kept under wraps. There's even a chance that EA has some more EA Partner-type deals where we see a game from a studio they don't own, but are publishing for. Either way, I'll be absolutely shocked if EA pulls off another Worst Performance Ever.