“An Underwhelming War”

E3 2016 is officially underway. Kicking off this afternoon, EA took the stage to run through what the next few years will look like for the behemoth publisher. You wouldn’t be alone if this was a proposition that excited you, as hundreds of thousands of gamers worldwide gathered together to see the likes of Battlefield 1 and Mass Effect: Andromeda in action. Excitement surrounding this long anticipated week has manifested for many months now, and EA bared the responsibility of setting a precedent for the conferences to come. However, for as strong as Electronic Arts’ slate of upcoming games is in theory, their briefing severely struggled to encompass the potential of each respective project. Organizationally and tonally all over the place, EA’s show was stumble after stumble, with only a handful of redeeming highlights to be found. Titanfall 2 (Braxton Haugen) E3 2016One of those redeeming highlights was Respawn Entertainment’s Titanfall 2. Given both exciting multiplayer and single player specific trailers, Titanfall 2 was without a doubt one of the more compelling games shown during the briefing. Coming October 28th, the sci-fi shooter looks to build off its predecessor, interjecting a fair share of new mechanics and refinements to the original formula. A multiplayer beta will be held for the title prior to its launch, though specific dates have yet to be determined. Following Titanfall 2’s satisfying offering of promotional material, the rest of EA’s briefing took on a dull mentality, with a few glimpses of enthusiastic life here and there. The dip in quality was caused by the mundane presentation of Electronic Arts’ future regarding their sports titles and ambitions with esports. The entire section came with a heavy coat of awkwardness, with cringe-worthy corporate speeches and uninvolved audience reception, to boot. Things picked up briefly with an exciting trailer covering the progress BioWare has made with Mass Effect: Andromeda since we last saw it. New information regarding the upcoming action role-playing game was somewhat sparse, yet what was there was solid. More information is promised this fall, with an early 2017 release date in mind. However, considering just how little of Andromeda was shown at the briefing, I wouldn’t be surprised if the game isn’t able to hit that window.

Jumping back into sports with Madden and FIFA, EA spent a considerable chunk of time covering what fans of the genre can expect from this year’s annual installments. While I personally don’t enjoy EA’s sports games each and every year, I can say I have a lot of respect for them. That said, EA placing such a huge emphasis on those titles was a grave mistake. Not only did it show the publisher was seriously lacking games outside of the sports scene, but it completely tarnished the pace of the conference as a whole. There was way to much back and forth going on with the intended audience of the briefing, and in an attempt to cater to multiple types of gamers, it lost its grander appeal.

One of the show’s better moments was a video check-in with how all of EA’s new Star Wars games are shaping up. It offered an exciting update which featured a look into the games currently in development at Visceral, Motive, BioWare, Respawn, and DICE. You can rest assured Star Wars games aren’t going to be in shortage over the next few years. One of last year’s biggest surprises was the heartwarming reveal of Unravel from Coldwood Interactive, and this year’s briefing had an Unravel of its own. Fe–the game in question–is an aesthetically unique looking exploration game surrounding one’s bond with nature. The title is the first from EA’s new EA Originals initiative, a program that aims to support small developers with bold ambitions. Easily the highlight of the show in my eyes was DICE’s insane looking World War I shooter, Battlefield 1. We got to see the game in a somewhat more extensive light than the initial reveal trailer offered, providing a look at what we can expect come later this fall. The sheer spectacle put on display in Battlefield 1’s bombastic gameplay trailer was truly impressive, and gave the title the bump it needed to secure itself a spot as the best game EA brought to their show.Battlefield 1 (Braxton Haugen) E3 2016Below is the biggest news from EA’s E3 2016 press conference.

The Big Announcements

Putting aside the lackluster lineup of showcased titles, the presentation of the conference was a perplexing ordeal in and of itself. Transitions, monologues, and overall progression of the briefing felt painfully disorganized, as if cobbled together at the last minute. Sadly, there was a lack of genuine excitement and pride to be gleaned from those taking stage. The notable exception was the inspiring portion which geared its focus toward what the future holds for Star Wars games. Yet, even at that, EA’s briefing managed to leave me with a weak lasting impression that struggled to cling onto anything of major substance. Heading into the fall, I’m eager to see how Battlefield 1 and Titanfall 2 pan out. Both games embrace promising traits with the potential to embody greatness, yet EA’s presser didn’t convince me of that. In fact, the only real thing EA’s conference convinced me of–completely on its own merits–was that they can put on a worse show than last year. Here’s to hoping for a paradigm shift in quality this evening when Bethesda takes the stage.
Note: Be sure to check back everyday for continually updated and exciting content surrounding this year’s show.

To keep up with my thoughts on all things E3 2016 as they go down live, connect with me on Twitter @BraxHaugen.