EA Play 2017: Sports, Space, Shooters, Speedy driving and Surprises!

For the second year in a row, EA has put on its own standalone event alongside E3, and this time it’s even bigger and better. Company CEO Andrew Wilson explained that – basically – things went so well last year they saw no reason to change things too much!

One thing that was changed was immediately obvious. Rather than tucking it away in the middle somewhere, this year, EA put Madden NFL 18 right at the front – complete with a live drumline performance – to showcase the all-new story mode for the game. Subtitled “Longshot”, this looks pretty heavily inspired by “The Journey” from FIFA 17, which followed a young footballer trying to make a name for himself in the Premier League. It’s something pretty different for a Madden game, but it’s an exciting new development.

More exciting new developments are on the way for Battlefield I: Last year’s wartime FPS has not been forgotten, with some brand new night-time maps on the way as early as this month… but even more new content is due in September, with In The Name of the Tsar, the “most extensive Battlefield expansion pack so far”.

Andrew Gulotta from DICE introduced the new content, set to bring the game’s epic battles to the Eastern Front for the first time – including 6 maps, the Russian army, new vehicles + weaponry (including a new stationary weapon), a new gameplay mode, new operations and a “richer gameplay experience”.

The Lupkow Pass map is being shown off in Hollywood today, so we’re expecting a good look at that one by the end of the week – if you want to jump in sooner rather than later though, you’ll need a Premium Pass.

Moving right along though (remember, we were promised eight different games fit into the hour-long presentation), Patrick Söderlund from EA Worldwide Studios stepped up to introduce the brand new FIFA 18. Again, this one looks like a decent case for the “if it ain’t broke” treatment: The game itself has enjoyed the usual upgrades, tweaks and polish that comes with an extra year in development, but essentially it’s the same Beautiful Game you know and love.

For the single-player fans, the team has heard the comments and feedback about The Journey from FIFA 17 and has changed a few things. This year, you are invited to step into the (now sweaty) shoes of Alex Hunter one more time, and try your luck at the Premier League – again.

Bucking the trend just a little, EA threw YouTuber Jesse Wellens in front of the camera to show off Need for Speed: Playback. After a particularly stilted introduction where the nervous streamer appeared to forget the name of the game he was promoting, producer Marcus Nilsson stepped up with some details about the upcoming racer.

On one hand, this looks like one that will absolutely delight fans of the Fast and the Furious franchise (which is all of us, right?). On the other… why couldn’t they just give it the Burnout label and be done with it?

…but while we were all scratching our heads over that, Patrick Söderlund came back and re-introduced us to EA Originals, and the brand new project: A Way Out.

A Way Out is an experience from Hazelight Studios, a brand new studio from Josef Fares. He’s the man behind Brothers: A Tale of Two Sons, and he’s taken the co-op gameplay ideas of his earlier project to all new heights – and this definitely looks like one to watch.

No matter how exciting this jailbreak might seem though, and even though we were given more than two and a half minutes of trailer plus developer commentary plus excited hype that only Josef Fares could deliver… the next, 53-second teaser stole the show.

Whoever told you BioWare would not be at E3 was plainly lying.

If you’re a BioWare fan, you’ll know that – typically – these teaser trailers are followed by months if not years of radio silence… but that’s not the case for Anthem. We will have more details in literally 24 hours from now, with the game set to take centre stage at the Microsoft E3 Press Conference held at 2pm PT June 11.

Before that happens though, there’s still more sportsball. EA has two games left to show off from its eight-game roster, and next on the list is NBA Live 18, which – believe it or not – is getting a single-player story mode as well, called “The One”.

This time, NBA Live 18 is headed to both The Streets and The League, making sure all bases are covered as you choose your own playstyle, traits, tattoos, gear and abilities.

If you’re intrigued, stay tuned – you’ll be able to try out The One in August, with a free NBA Live 18 demo released for console.

…and while we thought 30 minutes of Star Wars: Battlefront II gameplay would be enough, actress Janina Gavankar was escorted onto the stage by a number of Storm Troopers to explain what’s going on with the game’s story mode.

Simply put: There is one (thanks in part to John Boyega).

More detailed: It will be canon, and officially designed to fill the gap between Return of the Jedi and The Force Awakens.

Even more detailed: The game will feature the Assault on Theed, as seen in the film Episode I. The character roster seems ever-expanding, and covers both sides and all three Star Wars eras. Darth Maul can face off against Han Solo, Yoda vs Kylo Ren, even Rey vs Boba Fett…

We were treated to 30 minutes of live gameplay (thanks to an assembled cast of YouTubers and streamers) – and it looks every bit as good as you want it to.

Star Wars: Battlefront II is due out in November, so if this has whet your appetite, you don’t have long to wait.

We’ll keep an eye out for more news from EA Play this week – hopefully it won’t be too overshadowed by the juggernaut that is E3, happening just a few miles away.

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