E3 2017: What's new from the EA press briefing

You got your sports in MY RPG. No, you got your RPG in MY sports.

Electronic Arts officially kicked off this year's E3 advert-a-palooza this afternoon with its EA Play press briefing. If you happened to catch the stream online, congrats: you had a much better view than most of the people in the audience.

It was an interesting setup this year though, as livestream celebrities congregated around three "circles of death" PC hubs for a 48-person live multiplayer match from the upcoming Star Wars: Battlefront II. Most of the spotlighted titles had already been announced (or were foregone conclusions, like EA's annual sports series), but we got a few surprises as well.

What's New

Anthem

We only saw a brief teaser for this brand-new property from Mass Effect and Dragon Age studio BioWare, but what it lacks in details, it makes up for in atmosphere. It appears to be a sci-fi action-RPG, a sort of fresh start after EA elected to bench the Mass Effect series earlier this year. We'll learn more during tomorrow's Microsoft press conference.

A Way Out

If you ever played Brothers: A Tale of Two Sons and thought to yourself: "Hmm, this could be better if it were edgier and grittier," then Hazelight's A Way Out is for you. All the local co-op you desire, plus you're helping greasy middle-aged dudes break out of prison.

What's Better

EA Sports Annuals

EA of course devoted a good chunk of its press conference time to three of its annual sports titles: FIFA, Madden, and NBA Live. You may remember that last year EA unveiled a new story mode for FIFA 17 called The Journey, starring fictitious soccer prodigy Alex Hunter. Hunter is back in FIFA 18, and the story mode is an actual continuation of last year's story arc -- a bold move, and one I'm personally really excited about.

FIFA's The Journey was apparently the test bed for EA's unfolding strategy to put dense, RPG-like single-player modes into all of their sports games. While NBA Live 18 hedged its bets with something closer to a conventional character creator with famous street courts and reputation points, Madden 18 is going the full-on The Journey route with Longshot, its own Mass Effect-style rags-to-riches tale of a recently-drafted player.

As an ardent fan of sports anime I can say this is definitely the best way to expand sports games to new audiences, I'm just saying. I got more hype for this than "new BioWare sci-fi" for crying out loud.

Battlefield 1

The World War I-themed shooter will be enjoying a new expansion, In the Name of the Tsar, with maps focused on the Russian front. DICE also continues to provide little pinches of history lessons with its Great War FPS: this expansion features the 1st Russian Women's Battalion of Death, which I didn't even know existed until today. Nice!

What's Star Wars

It should come as no surprise that EA would spend a significant portion of its press conference touting its exclusive Star Wars license, and this year the spotlight was on a new-and-improved Star Wars: Battlefront II. Ostensibly in response to a highly-publicized tweet by Star Wars actor John Boyega, Battlefront II features a fully-realized single-player story mode while continuing to beef up its multiplayer main course.

As with nearly any big-budget game these days, Star Wars: Battlefront II will have a bunch of downloadable extras, season pass content, and so forth. Among those extras are appearances from Captain Phasma and Finn, the latter voiced by Boyega himself. (But can we date him...?)

Oh And

There was a car game. It had cars crashing in slow motion. That was about it.