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E3 2016: EA Play conference recap -

There didn't seem like much point in actually watching the EA conference this year, given all the many, many pre-show leaks, but then I remembered that this was a video game conference, and as such it would probably deliver in unintended hilarity: the true mark of a good show. It didn't let anyone down.

Andrew Wilson kicked things off by saying it was a new kind of event, and that we'd get a taste of "a bunch of great stuff we have in development". I think he was describing Twitter. Anyway. Peter Moore then turned up, black-shirted and looming live via jumbotron on a satellite link from London, looking for all the world like the penultimate bad guy in a Steven Seagal movie.

Things quickly moved on, and Vince Zampella showed us a Titanfall 2: Titanfaller trailer. After making a quick joke about the trailer leak, he showed some MP footage and introduced the single-player mode, which promises a unique bond between the player and their titan. Filth corner. Anyway, this mode seems to be about a mech with attachment issues, with the robot spouting off some mad Robocop directives: uphold the mission, protect the pilot, all that nonsense. You get the feeling this whole section would have gone over a bit better had it not been plastered all over the internet in the hours before the show, which is probably going to be a running theme of this year's E3. That said, Titanfall 2 did look good where it matters: quickly running on walls and jumping into gigantic stomping things, and it was probably the stand-out game of the showcase.

There was then a trailer for impressive-looking brain damage simulator Madden 17, which got some polite applause before Peter Moore turned back up to introduce some new EA initiatives that everyone has already forgotten about. Something about prestigious live events and massive prize pools. The Madden NFL championship is one such of these, where some of the world's greatest digital NFL players will be squaring off. A promo package introduced us to two of the finalists: a brash player called Eric Wright, who goes by the handle 'Problem', which seems fitting as he plays video games professionally. His nemesis is Zack Lane, whose handle is 'Serious Moe'. Lane seemed a bit more magnanimous than Wright on the VT, but when he arrived on the stage in a sling it transpired that he had broken his collarbone doing... his shoelaces up. We'll leave it at that, shall we?

On that bombshell, Aaryn Flynn, GM of Bioware, then showed off some Mass Effect: Andromeda. For the first time, we're told, it's all powered by Frostbite. That's about it.

Andrew Wilson, returning to the stage, had to actually ask how everyone was doing, presumably because they'd all fallen asleep thinking about Problem vs ShoeLace Man. He talked about the community, how important it was to EA, and how EA was rolling out its biggest collection of content updates. He then briefed on Play to Give, a "big deal for [EA]". The new cause incentivises in-game challenges across its catalogue with charitable donations, with stated beneficiaries including He For She, Code.org, CODE2040, Special Effect, and more. He then stated that EA would be donating one million dollars to charity, which got absolutely no response from the crowd, because fuck all that noise, show me some more sequels you socialist.

FIFA 17 was up next, going big on its new mode The Journey, where you play as Alex Hunter, a young star who has to make a series of big decisions off as well as on the field. It looks interesting, even if the US-focused sports games have been doing it for a while, and it should provide a welcome distraction from the monotony of scoring the same goal in every single game. Wait, that's unfair. Perhaps with it being on Frostbite now it will be better. Let's hope so. To close things off Jose Mourinho turned up to chew out Peter Moore for interrupting the football, although this time he probably won't end up back in Croydon for it. After some awkward 'banter' between the two men, where Jose revealed he often hears his son making odd noises in his room after dark, we had a peek at the best-looking thing EA had on show: Patrick Soderlund.

Soderlund was showing off EA Originals, which promises to give smaller games a bigger profile, and we then saw a new title called Fe from developer Zoink. The game itself is something about cubs and forests and musical trees, but the highlight was the game's developer looking more nervous than an England penalty taker. He did well, though, and his obvious awe was a nice break from the dull slickness found in other presenters.

Some Star Wars chat followed, where we saw loads of earnest people talking about their love for the franchise (pro-tip: your games would be better if you had some critical distance). At one point a man looked into the camera and solemnly stated that "there's no point doing something in the Star Wars IP if it's already been done before". He was, of course, promoting Battlefront 2. Amy Hennig talked up Visceral's Star Wars game, which is due out in 2018, so we'll probably just see the exact same thing next year.

To close the show EA showed off some more of Battlefield 1, sexing up the most pointless war in human history with some talk about it being "epic" and that players would be able to experience "destruction" and "weather". Cool. Then, in what political wizards like to call a 'pivot', we were introduced to Zac Efron and Jamie Foxx, who were asked if they were excited about some post-show activity. To say their responses were unenthusiastic is an understatement: looking for all the world like two jocks at a bar, they could have bogwashed Andrew Wilson and still looked more into the things they were there to promote. What a way to close the show, eh?

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