EA Play: Thoughts and Predictions Ahead of EA’s Convention
Electronic Arts will be in Los Angeles during the week of June 12, but not at E3. One of the largest video game publishers is taking their show down the road to the Novo by Microsoft in the form of EA Play. On June 12, EA will hold a press conference for the media from 1-2PM PST where they will roll out their upcoming slate of major releases. Following the conference, the media will have the show floor for demos and inside looks to themselves from 2-4PM before the public will file into the hall formerly known as Club Nokia at LA Live until 10PM. Monday, June 13 will be open to the public once again, running twelve hours from 9AM to 9PM. Tuesday, June 14 will shake things up, permitting entrance to members of the industry as well as E3 attendees that make their way down from the Los Angeles Convention Center. A satellite EA Play will also be held in London, England on June 12 for the press conference and a two-hour player session.
There are a number of implications that can be made from this development. It points to the slow death of E3 as a major video game convention as more juggernaut publishers and companies take their shows to other events like Gamescom, PAX, and Tokyo Game Show. Electronic Arts may be the first and most important company to have their own convention outside of hardware developers like Sony, but never has one run against E3 in such a way. It is interesting to note that the four alternative conventions list above are open to the public, and E3 is traditionally not. Recently, E3 has begun to make strides to widening its admittance, but it does not point to whether this will be a positive change for the typically industry-centric convention.
EA Play will have to be grander than the company’s usual effort at E3 because it is a show dedicated to one publisher’s games. The press conference will be the same length as their annual E3 appearance, but the show floor is all theirs. The event will be streamed on EA.com for those who are unable to attend. I have been wondering what we might see from the games publisher, seeing as they will have no one to compete with under the same roof. It leads me to believe EA will have to bring out their big guns to justify a show of their own.
I have certain thoughts and predictions about what EA will show off at EA Play. Some are obvious statements while others are deeper opinions. Of course, much of this is speculation and leaps to conclusions based on the publisher’s present status and releases.
EA and developer Respawn Entertainment announced Titanfall 2 with a brief teaser in April. There have also been a number of leaks with art and conflicting details on a release, ranging from late Summer 2016 to Spring 2017. With all of this in mind, I believe it is safe to say that EA Play will feature both a full cinematic trailer to emphasize the inclusion of a single-player campaign as well as a gameplay demo on stage. It will focus on new gameplay mechanics like the teased Titan sword, possible Titan wall-running and some new Pilot abilities like traversal upgrades including a rumoured grappling hook. In addition to these features, I predict that EA will reveal a release window similar to Battlefield 1 that will cement an early launch on November 15 for those willing to pay and a full release November 18.
Star Wars: Battlefront
Star Wars: Battlefront hit the shelves in November 2015 with a guaranteed four expansion packs to be released within the following calendar year. The second pack,Bespin, is scheduled to hit this summer, the third, Death Star this fall and the fourth in the holiday window. EA Play will surely bring gameplay and update features for the second pack as well as specific details on what an expansion on the Death Star will look like. More boldly, I believe that EA will take this opportunity to show off a teaser for the fourth expansion that will be entirely devoted to Rogue One: A Star Wars Story content ahead of the film’s December release. Fans, myself included, felt cheated by the entire lack of The Force Awakens content in Battlefront. However, it is understandable that EA meant for Battlefront to remain within the original trilogy era. That said, Rogue One fits the aesthetic and design of Battlefront and would be an appropriate addition to EA and DICE’s multiplayer shooter. There won’t be Rogue One themed gameplay, but a few familiar skins may appear in a teaser to cap off the game’s time slot.
EA Visceral Star Wars
After something old, EA will probably bring out something new in the way of Star Wars. Amy Hennig’s Star Wars game has been in the incubator for a couple years, and it is time to bring it into the light. Hennig’s experience on the Uncharted games as well as other hires at Visceral point to a third-person action game in the Star Wars line. I predict that Hennig and Visceral’s Star Wars game will not be Star Wars: 1313 in full, but it will be something founded on the base of that cancelled LucasArts Boba Fett game. It will have a cinematic teaser and maybe a quick glimpse into how the game would look while played, but it will not come packed with more than a release year.
EA Motive Star Wars
After EA locked down the Star Wars license, it was quite clear that a large portion of their release slate would come from that property. EA Motive in Montreal recently revealed that they are working on a Star Wars title and it is currently in the early stages of development. EA is known for showing new games through development documentaries, and EA Motive’s work will probably be debuted in this format following the excitement of Visceral’s full reveal. I predict that it will be described as a Star Wars role-playing game, not that dissimilar than the Knights of the Old Republic Bioware RPG with improved visuals more in line with The Old Republic MMO. In addition, it may also detail a minor partnership between EA Motive and a Bioware studio that will provide the former with assistance on the RPG. Bioware Montreal is busy with Mass Effect: Andromeda, but they may send over some support following the post-production and release of that title.
It is already confirmed that Madden NFL 17 and NHL 17 will released on schedule, presumably hitting in August and September respectively. As usual, EA will demonstrate the updated gameplay and features in these two titles in their press conference. FIFA 17 will most likely appear as well, given that it is one of their best-selling games. As for some of the lesser IPs, I predict EA will drag NBA Live out of hiding once again with yet another attempt at delivering a basketball game that can rival the more successful NBA 2K series. There will be no MLB game as EA still does not publically hold a license for the league, and the struggle with Rory McIlroy PGA Tour title will most likely lead to another year off from the golf game.
Mass Effect: Andromeda
Mass Effect: Andromeda is one of the easier titles to speculate and predict for because EA has been rather transparent on their premiere science fiction RPG as of late. EA Play will debut proper gameplay footage and possibly a show floor demo. Most importantly, there may be a little more story information as well as a clear cut release date. Mass Effect: Andromeda has suffered delays for a while now, and that makes a release date announcement a little less trustworthy, but they need to identify their window. With relative ease, I predict Mass Effect: Andromeda will release in February 2017.
Criterion’s New Game
At E3 two years ago, EA showed off Criterion’s extreme sports and racing game that included ATVs, motorcycles, wing suits and other crazy features. I predict that it will be fully titled and demoed at EA Play. This may be a cop-out but I have two separate predictions that suggest “if not one, then the other.” Criterion’s game will either release quickly in September 2016, or it will wait until spring 2017. If it is held until next year, it will come with primary VR features for PlayStation VR and PC, becoming one of the early third-party console exclusive titles. When it was first revealed, Criterion’s new title seemed like “Go-Pro: The Video Game” and what better way to deliver that than on VR?
Battlefield 1 was announced via a cinematic trailer that suggested the footage was made in-engine. It set expectations high for some and made others hesitant as to what the game would really look like. EA Play will finish their conference with a campaign demo as well as multiplayer features that set their World War I shooter different from all the others coming out this fall. A small multiplayer demo will be on the show floor at EA Play, and maybe at E3 in Microsoft’s booth. In addition, a different campaign trailer will appear in Microsoft’s E3 press conference to continue their recent partnership. Battlefield 1 will be EA’s biggest title at the show aside from more distant Star Wars games, and they will want to shine the spotlight on their fresh, but risky, new shooter.