The Road to E3: EA 2017

As we get closer to the biggest show in gaming, with all the major players confirming their press conferences and games that will (and sometimes won't) be appearing at their shows, I thought it'd be cool to take a look at each company's press conference and talk about the games most likely to appear there, and perhaps even discuss a few rumors and the likelihood of them actually being true.

I'll be releasing these every Friday in the run-up to the actual show, with a release schedule matching up to what days the individual press conferences come out.  So this week is EA since they moved and got a day of their own, next week will be Microsoft & Bethesda, the week after will be Ubisoft and Sony, and the final week will be Nintendo.   And if I manage not to screw all that up, the final week before E3 will be my own personal picks for what I hope to see/am most excited for.  With that all out of the way, let's get started with EA's press conference!

This year EA has all but broken free of E3 altogether for their pre-show press conference, starting their show on Saturday, June 10th at 12PM Pacific, 4PM Eastern.  Arguably it makes the most sense for them to move--they're a bigger company than everyone except the "big three" so they can afford to move without much complication on their part, and they probably want a news cycle to themselves.

Last year, EA Play was roughly an hour long and showed off about a dozen titles--and even though half of them had "Star Wars" in front of them, that's quite a few games for a publisher that's as pared down as EA has become over the years.   This year if I had to guess we likely won't see as many titles, but that's fine since the ones they have coming are some real heavy hitters.

NBA Live '18/FIFA '18/Madden '18/UFC: EA's the sports company.  There's a 20-25 minute portion of their program devoted to sports every year, we all know it's coming, and we just hope it's painless and not another interview with Pele.   If it were anything else I'd say lead off with it, like Ubisoft should always lead with Just Dance, but really they've got so much in the way of sports that it's probably better if they pepper it throughout their conference.  Either way, no matter how much we complain, these evergreen titles will continue to put up numbers so big its a wonder EA does anything else, so we might as well get used to this.

Need for Speed 2017: The sequel to 2015's Need for Speed was confirmed a while back, and just recently more information about the title surfaced, the biggest tidbit being that the sequel will be playable offline, addressing one of many players' biggest concerns about the previous installment.  Add on to that the return of cop chases, high levels of customization, and a massive open world to burn rubber in and hopefully Forza finally has some competition for once.

Star Wars: Battlefront 2: It's slightly unfortunate that with so many companies working on Star Wars titles over at EA (at least seven, by my count) that the first new Star Wars game to appear in two years is just Star Wars Battlefront 2, but here we are.  The last Battlefront released to tepid reviews but incredible sales though, so it's not exactly a surprise. And for what its worth I have faith that this game is going to be much better than its predecessor--featuring an actual campaign that's meant to span all three major eras of the Star Wars universe, plus a much larger world that's meant to have triple the content of the last game, hopefully this manages to keep what everyone loved about the original while correcting all the flaws and giving Star Wars fans a shooter they can keep coming back to for the next couple years.

Star Wars: Visceral:  "Star Wars: Visceral" is not the title of this game, Visceral is just the name of the studio working on the title. The brainchild of the folks who brought you the Dead Space trilogy combined with the creator of the Uncharted franchise Amy Hennig, this game is set to launch sometime in 2018, which means we should get our first real look at it this year to get the hype machine going.  Though everyone's been assuming this will be a linear adventure that's basically Nathan Drake in space, certain job listings and the fact that by the time this title released it will have been in development for over five years point to this more likely being something of an open-world title with light RPG elements.  Not exactly the worst thing in the world, particularly when BioWare just had to shelve their open-world sci-fi RPG franchise.  Speaking of that...

BioWare's New IP: Supposedly BioWare's answer to Destiny, this "live service" title is codenamed Dylan.  I hope that's describing how hot fire this game is, because in a lot of ways this feels like BioWare's last shot.  With the company having just shelved Shadow Realms a couple years ago, Mass Effect being deader than a doornail for at least awhile, and fan reaction turning on Dragon Age: Inquisition just barely a few months out from release, they've had more back to back L's than Meek Mill.   And considering this game went from having a firm release date of March 2018 to being shifted to "somewhere in the next fiscal year", it's hard not to wonder just how big a deal is this game's success to the company's continued existence.  Is that move to ensure the game being of high quality or a last-ditch effort to keep the title from being a critical bomb?

Honestly, I sincerely hope it's the former.  Not just because BioWare employs a ton of people, but also because I was genuinely beginning to like their work--despite what people said about it in hindsight, Inquisition was easily my GOTY of 2014 and I was looking forward to the fourth title in the franchise.

Star Wars: Respawn: The creators of the Titanfall franchise have a project dealing with Star Wars in the works.  From the looks of things, it'll be a Jedi-focused game (in comparison with Visceral's title which looks more like a Han Solo/bounty hunter type deal) set in the distant past.  I debated putting this one on the list, considering that anything Respawn is working on is going to need at least another two years in the oven before being ready, but then I remembered this is EA we're talking about.  The same company who forced BioWare to talk about Mass Effect at two separate E3s when they had literally nothing they wanted to show.  The same people who showed off Criterion's now-canceled "Beyond Cars" game when it was literally nothing but pre-production artwork and the earliest of CGI work.   EA is a company that's utterly, completely comfortable with showing you some level designer's desktop with  open and promising that what they're working on is one of the best games you haven't played yet, and so I have confidence they'll find a way to get Respawn to talk about their Star Wars game.  Will they actually show us anything concrete?  Ehhhh....

And there we are, nine titles that I'm willing to bet we'll see coming out of EA this E3.  Obviously this wouldn't include any surprises but to be honest when it comes to EA, there usually aren't that many.  Aside from smaller titles like Unravel or Fe, which are likely saved to be announced on big stages so they can get the most attention on them, there aren't that many tightly-held secret projects.  Even something like BioWare's Project "Dylan" is something you'd never know existed until it was officially revealed at most other companies.   It's actually somewhat refreshing to see them treat their products like an actual business would, instead of every game being the equivalent of a wrapped present underneath a Christmas tree, not to be looked at until a "special" day even though we still have to pay upwards of sixty dollars for them.

Anyway, that's it for this week's installment.  Join me next week when we look at what'll probably pop up at Microsoft and Bethesda's conferences.


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