E3 2016: EA Still Doesn’t Know How to Deliver A Good Press Conference, But At Least Titanfall 2 Looks Great

EA just kicked off E3 for its first time in history. It opened the week with a more than one hour long presentation that it had been working on for months. Viewers were ripe with anticipation, especially after Geoff Keighley shared that he believes this year's E3 line-up is the best in history.

With EA's role as the Olympic Flame of E3 2016 came great responsibility. Unsurprising to anyone who has been watching E3 press conferences for the past few years, EA didn't capitalize on the opportunity. It spent a significant portion of its presentation introducing celebrities who would come out and speak for several minutes, eating up the clock while gamers stared waiting patiently to see gameplay.

Gameplay would arrive, but it was seldom fulfilling. Some of the videos shown had leaked prior to the event, which certainly softened the excitement. However, that wasn't the real issue. What left such a poor taste in mouths of many was that everything shown was pre-recorded and lacking in detail. In a world where "downgradeation" is a serious concern among consumers, and pre-release material never seems to line up with final products, EA's video delivery style felt archaic. The gaming community at large wasn't impressed.

Among just over a half dozen game debuts EA had a single saving grace: Titanfall 2. Although the game was expected to be announced, and its single-player campaign trailer leaked ahead of the event, its multiplayer trailer left a strong impression with the audience. What was shown of Titanfall 2 was concise, exciting, and beautiful. Expectations were high given the extraordinary reception of the new IP more than two years ago. Even then it was a satisfying debut.



The demo began with a familiar scene where several pilots were shown inside a helicopter before deploying onto the battlefield. Following a quick transition featuring Respawn Entertainment's logo, a player leaped high into the air before strapping himself into a Titan. It became clear that the engine has seen some refinement with improvements to visual fidelity. For the next 90 seconds pure gameplay was shown including Titan battles, melee combat, and the same active parkour that the franchise is known for, albeit with some attractive additions such as mid-air hovering.

The trailer achieved the elusive task of making many of its viewers actually want to play the game. If not to play multiplayer with friends, first-person shooter fans at least appreciate that they can play the game alone in the series' first ever campaign. It was a bright yet brief highlight among a presentation that could have been so much more.

Maybe expectations were too high. Many were expecting a reveal of at least one of EA's upcoming Star Wars titles, or a full-blown gameplay debut of Mass Effect: Andromeda. Instead we got the usual from EA: brief videos showing very little. Instead of including anything that could even be remotely considered a surprise, it spent more than 20% of its presentation talking about FIFA 17.

It's all very strange when you consider that EA is currently the third largest video game publisher in the world. It had everything it needed to be able to create a strong E3 opener, but it didn't. It's more about the formatting and delivery than anything, as demonstrated by Bethesda at its first dedicated press conference last year. As much as you could argue that these press conferences are supposed to be built to satisfy shareholders, what shareholders care more about anything is positive hype leading up to the release of upcoming games. Positive hype isn't generated by showing off celebrities who ramble on stage, that's for certain.

E3 2016 might not be off to a great start, but we still have Bethesda, Microsoft and Sony press conferences to look forward to. Stay tuned for more.