E3 2016 PC Gaming Wrap-Up – Day 1 – EA

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If you’re a dedicated PC Gamer who just wants the news out of E3 without sitting through hours of being spoken to like a child, from people who’d say anything to get your paycheck… this is for you. This is an editorial; a curated list of interesting, PC-specific information and trailers to come out of this year’s events, from a skeptical/pro-consumer approach.

Titanfall 2

They’ve confirmed a Single-Player Campaign [ Trailer ] this time around, touting a unique bond between the pilot you play and his full voice-acted Titan. The Multiplayer trailer below showcases fast/erratic play and a number of new mechanics, powers/abilities, and 6 ‘new’ classes of Titan. Abilities look to include a grappling hook (THE gimmick of 2016 it seems…) that can launch you toward seemingly anything, a time reversal (like Tracer), and a throwing star that spawns a black hole (like Zarya).

They have claimed that all future maps and modes will be free, to be funded by micro-transactions, which is pro-consumer only under the condition that they follow in Overwatch’s footsteps keeping it cosmetic only. They’ve said “we’re doing this for the community” and that it wouldn’t entail any “pay-to-win stuff”… The problem with that is that my definitions of pro-consumer and pay to win are often very different from the executives. Touting “a deep progression system” during the presentation, that alone is an offense in a competitive multiplayer title (as it was in the original, Battlefield 3/4, and countless other titles), but seems ripe for abuse (again very much like BF4/Call of Duty’s “Battlepacks/Supply Drops”). The game itself looks like a great time, and a genuine step beyond the original and the recent Call of Duty titles that have taken inspiration from it… just don’t go in expecting true competitive balance or consumer respect until they give more clarification on how this model of their’s works. Releases October 28, 2016.

Mass Effect Andromeda

Being the first Mass Effect built in Frostbite, it looks incredible, though that’s not to say you should believe everything you see… Mirror’s Edge had “in-engine” 30FPS pre-rendered cutscenes included in the final release. While the trailer shows almost nothing, what is there hints at their primary bullet point; much larger environments and freedom of choice for how you traverse and where you go. I get the feeling that instead of warping in and out constantly, we might be spending more prolonged periods exploring these environments between the more explicit objectives. Slated for March 2017.

Fe and the EA Originals Program

This felt a little too reminiscent of last year [ Unravel ], where a sweet little Swedish man walks out on stage to present their heartfelt indie platformer and cute voiceless non-human mascot. Nothing against the developers of course, but seems EA saw the positive reaction last year and tried their hardest to recreate it.

To make this more of a regular occurrence, they’ve started EA Originals program, focused on publishing “unique, gorgeous, innovative and memorable” titles from small developers. They claim “100% of the profits go to the studios”, but I question whether or not that factors in the cut taken from sales on the Origin storefront, what percentage of the subscription they’re looking at if they’re included in Origin Access, etc… If they are truly passing along 100%, what do they get out of it after all the funding and development assistance? Who owns the IP? Are the exclusive distribution rights permanent or timed? How does any of this effect future titles from the studio?

Battlefront 2 & More New Star Wars Titles

Along with the remaining 3 expansions of Battlefront‘s season pass (The Cloud City of Bespin, Deathstar, and the final TBA location) up through till the end of the year, they’ve already announced a sequel to release sometime in 2017. Few details other then that DICE would be partnering with the newly formed Motive Studios who seem to have been put together specifically for this purpose, headed by Jade Raymond of Assassin’s Creed fame. Raymond claims very vaguely that Motive is working primarily on “a big new component to Battlefront”, and that they will be incorporating content from the new films, The Force Awakens and possibly Rogue One?

Motive will also be working on another Star Wars title with Visceral Games and Amy Hennig; a 3rd person action adventure (teased at 2:13 in the video above) roughly scheduled for release in 2018. After wrapping up with Titanfall 2, Respawn Entertainment will be at work on a title of their own under the same genre; no release date.

Battlefield 1

We got a new gameplay trailer, and it looks incredible… What scenarios depicted aren’t really representative of real online play, the overall use of color and theming of it is very promising. A single 64v64 map is playable at the event, showcasing terrain that fades from a bright green England hillside town, into non-distinct grey mush and trenches, while a massive player-controlled zeppelin looms overhead and biplanes dogfight around it; a standard yet very impressive scene.

Some who have played it have passed it off as a “reskin”, but from what I’ve seen of it I’d argue a few things. Battlefront would have been a vastly better game as a reskin of Battlefield… It’s lack of ADS, restricted flight, lame mode offerings, and overall extreme casual focus were what ruined that game. I’d call this a good reskin, in the sense that the core mechanics and play structure is maintained, but the time period and theme is so radically different (from BF3/BF4) that it actually seems fresh, unlike Battlefield Hardline which could have easily been (and would have been more successful as) map packs for BF4. And finally, of the environments they’ve shown, I feel confident that it won’t be the most interesting of what’s eventually on offer. Horses chasing an armored chain through a desert, dense cities, tropical forests, etc. You can see the currently announced Maps and Modes on the official website, along with some information on the various Classes and Weapon types.

Some details for returning players: The game will feature strong dynamic weather effects with various auditory/visual hindrances. Long scopes don’t black out the peripheral and use a single render (good for performance), but mimic the dual-rendered look with blur around the scope. I’m unsure if there are any maps that let you take off in a plane from the ground, but what i saw as very Battlefield. You can jump out onto the wing and parachute down, there are tons of odd vehicles to drive big and small, and while confirmed, nothing of the naval variety has been shown yet. The UI is the minimal/translucent approach they took with Battlefront. Micro-transactions (the progression skipping “Battlepacks”) have been confirmed, and unlike the move they’ve made with Titanfall 2, the game still entails the standard $50 Season Pass (“Battlefield Premium”) as usual. Releases October 21, 2016.

For full disclosure, I have no stake in any of the games or companies mentioned and the opinions shared are entirely my own.

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