E3 2017, EA — I’ve Never Seen a More Boring Conference

Yes, I’m late on this. But I’ve been busy-ish and getting ready for my Masters and, well, procrastinating. But I want to give my thoughts on the E3 conferences that I watched, and also have a reason to finish watching them. Because I do like E3. It’s a celebration of video games, when companies use some showmanship to get you hyped for their coming releases. Sure, I approach it with skepticism and like to watch people snark over it (Totalbiscuit this year), but I appreciate the idea of E3. Anyway, here are my thoughts on EA’s 2017 E3 conference.

madden18brady

We start with… football. We had some team of drummers on stage and then a story trailer, which I give zero fucks about. It looks like a fairly average Sports movie and the only thing I tookn away from it is one of the guys looks a bit like Mahershala Ali. Madden NFL 18 is due for release August 25, 2017. Also, when did the naming scheme for these games change? I still thought it was doing the [FRANCHISE] 2K18 thing.

Battlefield-1-DLC-2-Tsar

We then got lots of Andrew Wilson babbling some generic speech before we cut to the “creator cave” and some focus on Battlefield 1, and holy fuck, apparently companies really did want to copy the cringy Let’s Play commentary from last year’s Sea of Thieves gameplay, because they opened with people I don’t know shouting about crap. What’s actually happening is some night time DLC. I do not care about this game, but I can already barely see who I’m shooting in military FPS games. This is all coming in the In the Name of the Tsar DLC, which will also include an “iconic” female death squad. I don’t care. Next.

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We then got some eSports focus and announcements about FIFA championships that almost put me to sleep. I don’t even care about eSports for games I understand, never mind eSports based on games I don’t understand based on other games I don’t understand. But we do indeed get a non-insult in the sizzle real, when a player *gasp* doesn’t shake his opponent’s hand! The sheer scandal of it all!

Next up was a FIFA 18 trailer. I, again, give no fucks. Then some soccer comedy and commentators and, again, I give no fucks. They brought on the Men in Blazers, some famous soccer commentators who apparently don’t know their name sounds like an indie band’s. They talk about the fictional story mode character, Alex Hunter, like he’s real. Then they got other people, some Let’s Players and probably some famous football people included, to do the same and I cringed. FIFA 18 is due for release on 29 September 2017. Next!

payback

They then got some random guy who was either more unprepared than I am for public speaking or who was high. We got some focus on Need for Speed Payback (what the fuck happened to colons?!). It will feature an open world mostly set in the ass-end of the world, because deserts are fun I guess. There’s three characters who all come across like generic action movie characters. There’s also now a focus on car combat, Burnout-style, where you ram enemies. It’s basically a playable Fast and Furious movie. It looks nice, and at least more interesting than most racing games, but the guy they got to play kinda sucked. Also, in an attempt to be cinematic, every crash causes slow-mo and the camera even pulls off your car and focuses on the crashed cars, cutscenes and prescripted stuff. So… that’s gonna be distracting as fuck. Also, I think the player car is invincible, which takes away some of the tension of it all. Also, the enemy cars seem to be remarkably easy to knock off the road, with some wonky physics that, I think, is trying to make literally every crash look cool even when you just nudged them. Payback looks alright, but annoying focused on cinematic visuals with typical Need for Speed try-hardiness. It’s set to be released on November 10, 2017.

wayout

Next up is a new game from the creators of Brothers: A Tale of Two SonsA Way Out is a game about two guys — one of whom reminds me way too much of Wolverine — who break out of prison. It has some split-screen that shows the perspectives of the two characters. The game’s director then came out, and was basically this year’s Unravel stand-in. While not as awkward, he’s an indie dev in the monolithic EA conference. He was a charismatic dude, but I didn’t really care about this game. It has co-op — which is surprising given how Brothers worked — with a focus on couch co-op. In fact, it’s always played in split-screen, even if you play online, until points where both characters share the screen. There’s a focus on the two characters being able to move separate from each other, such as one moving around while the other is in a cutscene, which will make for some nice puzzles. The splitscreen feature also reminds me of the LEGO games, since the amount of screen and how it’s split (vertically or horizontally) alters between scenes, though I’m not sure how dynamic that is since it happened between cuts. It’s a far cry from the quiet sentimentality of Brothers, but it looks alright. I’m not really excited for it, but I hope it’s good. It’s coming early 2018.

Anthem

Next up was a new IP from BioWare with voiceover from someone who sounds way too much like Jennifer Hale. The setting has a wall that protects its inhabitants from the savage outside world, so basically beginner’s guide to writing sci-fi. It hyped itself as the beginning of a story, which is a good way to set say that BioWare’s building a new setting that’s ripe for different stories. And… that was it. It’s called ANTHEM, and that’s that. If I didn’t know it got expanded upon at Microsoft’s conference, I’d be pissed! Since EA didn’t bother to expand during their conference, I won’t expand on things here. I’ll give my thoughts when I do the Microsoft conference. Oh, also: that name is crap. Can we stop with the minimalistic bland sci-fi names? It’s gotten old. It’s coming Q4 2018.

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Next up was NBA Live 18, which has a gameplay director who looks like a younger Todd Howard. You can dribble and do basketball things. It seems to be somewhat turn-based or allow slow-mo too. It also has some good animation, except that the characters all have dead eyes. There’s also a mode called “The One” that I think is a campaign mode. Also, you can now play street basketball. Then we got another trailer (or the second part of the same trailer) that had rap in it. Well, it fits better than most sports games. It’s getting a demo in August which will allow you to start “The One” mode among other things, and will be released Q4 2017. Next!

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Next up was Star Wars Battlefront II, which was presented by Janina Gavankar, who plays the lead character in the new story mode. She was weirdly pissed off throughout, with this weirdly aggressive pitch and being way too intense. It doesn’t help that she seemed like she was reading a speech written by a robot. Anyway, Battlefront II (it’s not the second one, EA! you fucks! Video game names have lost all meaning!) will have a campaign, which we already knew because it was an idiot move to not give the first game (as in the 2015 game) one. It will also have three times the content of the first, which isn’t hard given that the first game had, like, zero content. It will have more heroes (the new trilogy characters are included this time (why weren’t they included in the first’s, given its release date?!), along with the prequel characters), vehicles, planets, space battles and starfighter assaults, with deeper progression and customisation. That last point is important, given the extremely limited options of the first game basically killing it for me (alongside shitty gameplay). Also, we get a co-op mode that supports splitscreen. We then got to see “the gamechangers” (Let’s Players) talk about how the game is so different from the first and… fail at it. It looks the same. They also said there’s a skill gap, which isn’t hard given how awful the shooting was in the first. Then we got a pretty trailer then Jon Boyega’s pre-recorded message. It’s also amde clear taht post-release content like characters and weapons will be free, meaning they don’t divide their playerbase horribly like the first! Also, pre-ordering gets you access to the beta and Yoda’s lightsaber mastery scar card… whatever the fuck that is.

Finally, we got some pretty multiplayer gameplay that looks just as boring and mediocre as the first. Why didn’t we get any singleplayer gameplay?! This stuff was commentated over by iJustine, Golden Boy and Paul Teslan (a DICE producer). The gameplay they were talking over looked as boring as the first, with overpowered heroes that make the game unfair, boring shooting that seems to require no skill and bad flying where the flyers are basically useless because the map is awful for flying. It was extraordinarily boring, and the casters were obviously struggling to make any of it look or sound interesting. Not at all impressed by this game, and it definitely seems like something I’d only buy with a price drop. Star Wars Battlefront II releases November 17, 2017.

The conference ends with… Star Wars Galaxy of Heroes… nobody cares! It’s a random pay to win game. The trailer didn’t even have sound at first! Oh, then it showed some gameplay of Need for Speed and I stopped caring. It had customisation. The end.

And here’s the rest that wasn’t worth talking about: EA revealed SEED, the “search for extraordinary experiences division”. It sounds weird and kind of like some high-concept sci-fi thing that Jonathan Hickman, Grant Morrison or Warren Ellis would come up with. I have no clue what it is. Also, Origin Access was free for a week, and I’m late enough that that week is over.

And that was EA’s 2017 E3 conference. And holy crap, was that boring or what?! I cared about nothing other than Anthem, which barely got shown. This conference just had such a misunderstanding of its audience, and had so little to show off that, even ahving not seen some of them yet, I can say this one is probably the worst of the year, Mediocre display, EA. Mediocre display.

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