E3 Show Daily

Electronic Art

“You don’t know me, but you will.” This line, delivered by Alex Hunter, the hero of FIFA 17: The Journey, could well be Electronic Arts’ motto for 2016. As CEO Andrew Wilson made clear during Sunday’s press conference, EA’s goal for the coming months revolves around making its players as big as its games.

To that end, the company took a direct approach with a series of short, candid game presentations bookended by co-hosts CEO Wilson and Chief Competition Officer Peter Moore (on stage from London via satellite). The two touted the exponential growth of the game audience over the last 10 years—200 million to 2.6 billion—and EA’s goal “to help the world play.”

Vincent Zampella, CEO of Respawn Entertainment, introduced upcoming multiplayer FPS Titanfall 2. On October 28, the bone-crushing run-and-gun saga rolls out its first single-player offline campaign, and becomes available not only to Xbox One players, but to PlayStation 4 and PC players as well. The campaign explores the bond between pilot and titan, and offers six new titans, expanded pilot gameplay, a deep progression system, and even more customization.

Keeping within the sci-fi arena, BioWare’s general manager Aaron Flynn next talked about the latest in the Mass Effect series, Mass Effect: Andromeda. Leading-edge role-playing goes even further this time, thanks to EA’s new Frostbite engine and BioWare’s “How far will we go?” attitude. The game sends players on an intergalactic expedition to find a new home for humanity, and introduces them to a range of new companions. Using a sizzle reel showing developers at work and stunning shots from inside the new game, Flynn said that the developers at BioWare “let their imaginations run wild” in order to give gamers more freedom than ever. How this all plays out will be revealed sometime in 2017, when Andromeda is released for Xbox One, PS4, and PC.

Last in EA’s galactic array were Star Wars: Galaxy of Heroes, Star Wars: The Old Republic, and Star Wars: Battlefront. Jade Raymond, group general manager of Motive Studios and Visceral Studios, discussed plans for adding new content to these games—and working with various external development studios to create new ones. To start, the collaboration between DICE and Motive Studios brings fans a new installment of Star Wars: Battlefront in 2017, which will include content plucked straight from the new film trilogy. From there, Raymond announced that EA’s own Visceral Studios is hard at work on a new Star Wars action-adventure set for a 2018 release, and EA partner Respawn Entertainment is also working on a third-person action game set in the Star Wars universe. Though specifics about these games are limited to date, EA made it clear that Star Wars fans have much to look forward to.

Shifting focus from the stars in space to the stars here on Earth, EA’s Peter Moore took up the thread to discuss how its sports game, Madden NFL, is making armchair quarterbacks into celebrities. Referencing the growth of e-sports, Moore highlighted Madden’s competitive focus by introducing eight of the world’s best Madden players (including Eric “Problem” Wright, and Zack “SeRiouS MoE” Lane) and announcing that they would be duking it out live at E3 for a $50,000 cash prize.

Looking forward to next year, Moore next announced Madden NFL 17, and revealed EA’s plans to “make stars out of all gamers.” Among these plans are new events hosted with partners both in and outside the game world, and a new Madden NFL 17 Championship Series that gives players the chance to compete for $1 million in prize money. Would-be competitors can practice once Madden NFL 17 becomes available for Xbox One, PS4, Xbox 360, and PlayStation 3 on August 23.

The football madness next took a decidedly European turn with the advent of FIFA 17: The Journey. On September 27, football (or as Americans say, “soccer”) fans will embark on their own rise to sports world glory, with FIFA’s first-ever single-player story mode. As aspiring soccer hero Alex Hunter, gamers will navigate the shark-infested waters of professional sports and experience the drama, both on and off the field. Along with the exciting new narrative, players will enjoy various soccer-related innovations—including Set Piece Rewrites, which make every dead ball situation more interesting; Physical Play Overhaul, a new shielding system that gives gamers more control; Active Intelligence, which lets gamers better define space; and New Attacking Techniques, that gives gamers more ways to finish in front of a goal. If this wasn’t enough to draw in wannabe soccer stars, the game also introduces real-world Premier League managers like Jose Mourinho.

Moving from the sports field to the battlefield, DICE general manager Patrick Bach laid out plans for progressive World War I title Battlefield 1. After introducing two trailers, Bach announced features like natural destruction and dynamic weather, which forces gamers to change their tactics on the fly. The amazing-looking game also includes a variety of new weapons and vehicles—most significantly, behemoth-class vehicles like armored trains, battleships, and airships. Bach announced a summer open beta for Battlefield 1, and an October 21 launch date. He then went on to excite Xbox One, PS4 and PC gamers by announcing the game’s first-ever livestream, taking place post-press conference, in which film stars Jamie Foxx and Zac Efron were participating.

Having covered the big franchises, EA VP Patrick Soderlund took the stage to drum up showcase the stars of tomorrow. Inspired by last year’s sleeper hit Unraveled, EA is moving to support more independent developers through its EA Originals program. Looking to help indies manage the business end of things and hold onto their profits, EA is partnering with developers like Sweden’s Zoink Studio, so that games like the dreamlike, eco-conscious Fe can come to life under the EA Originals label. Finally, along with giving life to new games, EA is also “playing to give.” The company’s new Play to Give initiative is donating $1 million to charitable organizations like HeForShe and CODE, when players complete associated challenges within games like Battlefield 4 and Star Wars: Galaxy of Heroes.

This year’s press conference made EA’s new agenda perfectly clear: The company is delivering on a promise to make stars out of gamers and games.

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