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For the first time ever, the 2017 Electronic Entertainment Expo is open to the public. First stop for fans? Electronic Arts' EA Play, which was less press conference, more celebration of gaming.

Caption by / Photo by Josh Miller/CNET

EA did have a press conference, though, and it started off with a boom -- a drumline marched in to beat a warm welcome for Madden 18, and its new story mode co-starring Mahershala Ali ("Moonlight," "House of Cards.")

Caption by / Photo by Josh Miller/CNET

Speaking of marches: Stormtroopers!

Caption by / Photo by Josh Miller/CNET

This particular Star Wars Imperial Platoon is here to celebrate Star Wars Battlefront II, and it's led by Janina Gavankar, an actress who'll be playing the lead role. She's an Imperial agent who wields blaster rifles and flies TIE fighters with equal aplomb.

Caption by / Photo by Josh Miller/CNET

If she looks familiar, perhaps you've seen her in "True Blood" or "The League," or heard her voice in Halo 5: Guardians.

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In one of the game's early missions, she takes down Corellian Corvettes and even a Mon Calamari battle cruiser in a skirmish at an Imperial shipyard.

Caption by / Photo by Josh Miller/CNET

The last 30 minutes of the press conference were all about Star Wars Battlefront II. These pods were filled with players demonstrating the game's giant multiplayer battles live.

Caption by / Photo by Josh Miller/CNET

Outside the venue, however, lines of fans are beginning to form.

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Security is tight: metal detectors, bomb-sniffing dogs...

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Stormtroopers, of course...

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...and a giant Titan, the intelligent robot suits from Titanfall 2, overseeing the festivities.

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It's a life-size Titan, all right.

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EA's DJ spins some hip-hop, trance, and -- yes -- a little bit of Taylor Swift.

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The lines are long.

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Really long. Particularly if you want to play Battlefront 2.

Caption by / Photo by Josh Miller/CNET

Thankfully, there's some entertainment from the Madden drumline...

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...and Janina is happy to sign your Star Wars Battlefront II poster. 

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Some attendees take photos with the EA Play sign inside.

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For some, it's a family affair.

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EA brought some fancy autos to celebrate Need for Speed: Payback.

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Food trucks help keep fans refreshed -- at $12 per burger or a crazy $4 per can of soda. Monster energy drinks are free, though.

Caption by / Photo by Josh Miller/CNET

Less of a line if you want to play EA Sports titles.

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What's this guy doing? Not sure, but he seems to fit.

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One last pic from EA Play. We'll be back next year!

Caption by / Photo by Josh Miller/CNET
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