Tuesday, 14 June 2016

E3 2016: EA Play

The first conference of the event and it's not even in E3 proper! Yes, EA's got their own conference in LA and London simultaneously, a day before E3 and we got news about Star Wars, Titanfall 2, Mass Effect, Fifa, Madden, Indies and of course, Battlefield 1 with a 1-hour live stream of the pre-alpha. I'm going to be rounding off the live stream's news as well as giving my own opinion on the games in question

Titanfall 2:
Get ready for titan fall. The first game on announced was Titanfall 2, the sequel to Titanfall, coming to PS4, Xbox One and PC on October 28th, 2016. The trailers showcased improved multiplayer and finally an offline single player telling the story of the connection between Mech and Pilot. That is, of course, if you didn't see the leak which happened a couple of hours before, a subject the developer talking, Vince Zampella, was quick to mention. In multiplayer you now have a grappling hook which can be used to either get to places on the map, get to titans on the map, or even move to another player mid-air, ready for a roundhouse kick. Titans have been upgraded too with 6 new, unique Titans, all with new weapons including lasers and fire-based weapons and Pilots also have a few more tricks up their sleeve (besides the grappling hook), with weapons that freeze enemies, allowing for easy picking, a teleporter allowing for stealth kills and more . The graphics and animation have been improved as well with lovely grass and smooth transitions in and out of Titans as have the customisation and progression systems. Also, all future maps and modes will be free.

Singleplayer, as mentioned previously, involves exploring the unique bond between Pilot and Mech. With the aftermath of Earth's destruction (it looks like), you follow the story of BT7274 a Titan who's original pilot was killed in action and to survive, had to link up with you, the player, otherwise known as Jack Cooper. More cinematics followed where they outlined some of the story and Titan protocols (link to the pilot, uphold the mission and protect the pilot). We saw some gorgeous landscapes and environments as well as a sword-wielding mech. The overall continuity doesn't seem to fit with the multiplayer as the story explores the bond between one mech and pilot while the multiplayer just allows you to keep calling down Titans - of course, when does the multiplayer ever completely fit the storyline?

Multiplayer beta stress test: sign up at Titanfall.com

It's the year of the grappling hooks! First, Just Cause 3, then Uncharted 4 and Overwatch and now Titanfall 2. Not that I'm complaining of course because grappling hooks are awesome and should be able to add even more to the fast-paced gameplay of Titanfall. The new weapons are also nice and seem to offer more inventive playstyles than the run-and-gun we're used to seeing. It will be interesting to see how the multiplayer holds out, especially given that it's being released a week after Battlefield 1 but given the game now also has a proper single player mode, it shouldn't be too bad.

The singleplayer is what really excites me and hopefully should be able to bring up some great spectacles. I'm expecting there to be some sort of conflict between the Titan and Pilot, for example, the Titan get's hacked and goes rogue or the Pilot thinks he can do things by himself. Also, that Titan sword fight was awesome!

Favourite moments of reveal:
Mid-air grapple takedown
Stealth pilot kill
Titan saving Pilot

See Activision this is how you do it - make a realistic shooter for your hard-core fans AND a fast-paced futuristic game, don't mix them!

Madden NFL 17:
I'm not going to pretend I know much about Madden but the game, as stated in by the presenter, looks great with fluid movement, detailed players, and cinematic replays. New commentary team, improved balance to the gameplay and new ways to play in franchise mode. Coming to PS4 and Xbox One sometime in the future.

Looks great, although I'm not too sure about the legs - is it just me or did they seem a bit jerky? They didn't release too much more information on the game as it was really just an intro to my next topic.

New competitive modes and weekly online contests for EA's biggest franchises. Three new types of events: Challenger: gives the community ways to be able to host and run their own tournaments easily, Premier: EA hosts live tournaments with partners from inside and outside the gaming world, EA Major: the best players competing on a global stage. After the Madden NFL Championship 2016 series has been completed (final on Tuesday, 13th June), the 2017 Championship will start to be prepared, with a 1 million dollar prize pool funded by EA. The Championship Series involves 4 EA Majors, with more events being announced soon.

I do love a bit of competition but only if some things are dealt with first: hacking the leaderboards and game in general needs to be stopped, rookie leagues need to happen and cross-platform play would be great as until recently I didn't have a PC capable of running new games so bought everything on the PS4 and some of my friends did the opposite, so none of us can play together unless one gives in and buys the game again for the other hardware.

Mass Effect: Andromeda:
In the game, you are part of an expedition to travel to the Andromeda galaxy in search of a new home. The idea of the game is first, how far will you go and second, that you are the aliens in this galaxy. The game is now in the Frostbite engine and will take place in the aforementioned Andromeda galaxy with a new cast of characters and will offer more freedom than before. The game offers fluid animations as shown in the behind-the-scenes video, including mo-cap animation. Vehicles are back and the enemies seem bigger and more brutal than ever.

Ah Frostbite, don't you make games look pretty. And after watching the behind-the-scenes video of the game, the detail the designers put in it is astounding! Not much gameplay was announced in this trailer but with more information coming in autumn, it might be time for me to finally delve into the Mass Effect universe, a universe I've never actually ventured into before!

Favourite Moment:
Seeing the game acted out in mo-cap
The attention to detail the game's graphic designers have

EA Play:
Free trials including The Outer Rim expansion for Star Wars Battlefront, EA Access (Xbox One)/Origin Access (PC) with over 20 free trials of games, and more content updates for EA's most popular games.

Always nice to have free trials and more content updates but hopefully the games will be finished at launch instead of saying content updates are coming!

EA Play To Give:
Supported partners: HeforShe, National Centre for Women and Information Technology, Code, Code2040 and Special Effect.

5 events in EA games set to celebrate and help others, for example, Galaxy of Heroes has an event where you can only play female characters for a chance to get gear and shards and Battlefield Hardline/4 have events with the objective of helping other people.
Other games that support this event: Star Wars Battlefront, Madden NFL 2016 and Fifa 16

At the end of EA Play, EA will donate $1 million to the charities mentioned above.

Love the idea of supporting charities and players alike with this event and it's interesting that regardless of what the players do, EA will still donate $1 million. Good on them.

Fifa 17:
Powered by Frostbite, and it looks so good that I wasn't completely sure the man introducing the next item I'm going to be talking about was real or not, the transition was so smooth (he was real by the way).

The next item is the new story mode in Fifa, The Journey, where your choices on and off the pitch affect the game and your player Alex Hunter. Premier League managers are also in the game with them being swapped out in weekly updates depending on whether or not they stay in real life.

New updates to the game:
Set Piece Rewrite - allows for more control on dead balls
Physical Play Overhaul
Artificial Intelligence System
New Attacking Techniques

The idea behind The Journey is nice and keeping you as one character allows for more impressive commentary and animation without having to go full Fallout 4 but it's a shame you won't be able to take your own character on The Journey, especially as NBA 2K has been offering that for years.

Favourite Moment:
Not sure if live-action or CGI

EA Originals:
Small indie developers can be funded, marketed and published by EA to give them a level of security in which to push the boundaries of creativity in video games with help as well to develop their games to their fullest potential. A few indie developers will be scouted and hopefully partnered with each year. All the profit will go back to the developers.

Good on EA for helping indies - of course, depending on the amount of control they give them.

A personal narrative about our relationship with nature, the game has no words but instead each species of animal has their own song. You are a young cub and throughout the game, you can learn other animals songs to help you interact with them and try to get to new areas, in a quest to learn the secrets of your own kind.

The Silent Ones are the enemies of the game, corrupters of the forest and silencers of the songs of the animals. You can evade them using stealth or use other animals abilities to beat them. There will be little to no tutorials in this game or quest markers - you're entirely on your own. You can fly, jump and run on your own, and singing your song allows you to interact with the other animals. If they have been captured by The Silent Ones the animals seem to have a purple orb around them, destroy it with your song and they will help you.

As seems to be the case with most of these games, it looks very pretty and as is the case with most indie games, the gameplay is very creative and I like the number of animals there that are variations on real-world animals.

Favourite Moment:
Breaking free a great beast, only for it to grab a Silent One and throw it around like Hulk.

Star Wars:
A new Star Wars Battlefront game to be released next year with content from The Force Awakens. It is a collaboration between Dice, who made the first game, and Motive. Criterion will also be contributing and the game will have new characters, new planets and new environments from different eras. A VR headset showing a spaceship view was also shown.

A new action-adventure game from Visceral, to be released in 2018. An original narrative, with new characters, are to be created.

A new Star-Wars game from Respawn Entertainment - it explores a different Star Wars era from the others and is a 3rd person action-adventure game. Mo-capped Lightsaber battles were shown.

Star Wars: Galaxy of Heroes from Capital Games will be receiving updates with new characters, including R2-D2.

Star Wars: The Old Republic from Bioware is expanding with more stories.

Visceral's game is trying to tell a unique story and we even got some early in-game footage of a desert town and a massive Star-Destroyer in the background.

Star Wars has so much potential to deliver awesome games and the new ones from Respawn and Visceral look particularly exciting - hopefully, you'll be a Jedi or Sith in at least one of them! Not completely sure about a new Battlefront game being released the year after the first one - it seems they only released the first one to tie in with Star Wars mania due to The Force Awakens, and while this is probably true, don't tell your fans that!

Favourite Moments:
Seeing R2-D2 in Galaxy of Heroes
Lightsaber mo-cap
Seeing the Star Destroyer in the sky

Battlefield 1:
Dynamic weather (fog can suddenly come over), up to 64 players in a game, better destruction and more variety in weapons and tanks mean no game is the same. Ultimate Vehicles are in with an airship, armoured train and battleship being included. These giant behemoths can turn the tide of battle in your favour while also giving a pretty good spectacle. Artillery and horses are also in the game and tanks are actually an entire class you can select which gives you special load-outs to help with tank driving/shooting

The vehicles also have different views, for example, a gun view where you're looking down the scope like you're actually in the tank and you can target specific parts of the tank, like treads to destroy. You can also self-repair in the tank but while doing so you can't move, shoot or get out. Spawning in takes place on a 3D map representation of the actual game, and you can now jump up onto cover or over fences as well as parachute in from blimps.

Talking about blimps, when destroyed, they fall down to the map, destroying players and buildings alike as well as leaving the carcass there to add new terrain. Bayonnettes are in the game, they allow you to charge people and if you run into them, to take them down but you can't do anything else while you're charging. You can also charge through doors instead of having to open them slowly or blowing them up.

Weapons and gear in the game:
Semi-automatic rifles - have to reload after each shot
Sniper rifles
Anit-vehicle grenades -  assault class
Rocket gun - assault - can be used in prone or set it up behind cover to use as a stationary weapon
Trip-mines - support class
Ammo bags - support class
Medic bag - medic class
Revive syringe - medic class
Signal flare - sniper class
Anti-vehicle rounds - sniper class

Battlefield Insiders get an open beta this summer.

The game really looks like it's captured the claustrophobia and chaos of WW1 with the new destruction mechanics and trench warfare. I watched some of the live-stream after the press conference and came away impressed by the scale and realism (mostly) of the game, with planes catching on fire and walls getting broken down by tanks. Some of the 'ground-breaking' additions like jumping onto cover though have been done before by other games so it will be interesting to see how Battlefield puts their own spin on it.

Favourite Moments:
Seeing the Ultimate Vehicles
Watching the creation of cover from explosives

Thanks for reading my round-up of EA's Play conference, comment your favourite game or highlight down below. If I missed anything also comment down below.


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