E3 2018: EA Conference Summary & Impressions

E3 2018: EA Conference Summary & Impressions

EA just kicked off E3 with the start of the major conferences for publishers & developers that we are expecting to see over the next couple of days.  If you didn’t have a moment to catch the conference which ended moments ago, continue to read on for a recap of everything followed by my impression of the conference.

Battlefield V led the charge with a multiplayer showcase.  Essentially, it was more of what we already expected from the title that was just announced several days ago.  The team made sure to help us understand that the gameplay is only going to get deeper from here.  New Battlefield gameplay innovations such as diving/smashing through windows, tanks being able charge and crash through buildings, and customizable vehicles are all playable features in Battlefield V.  Perhaps, the most interesting new mechanic in this title is the ability to use vehicles to tow various heavy-duty artillery weapons around the battlefield.  If a major target falls out of the player’s field of view using an artillery weapon, no problem.  Just grab a vehicle to tow the weapon to a more accessible vantage point.  Additionally, the developers made sure to stress that there will be absolutely NO LOOT BOXES and NO PREMIUM PASSES with this outing.  All gameplay additions post-launch will be free to players.  And lastly, DICE teased a Battle Royale mode that will be executed in the style of a Battlefield title with all the vehicles, weapons, and expansive terrain that we’ve come to know from the series.  Not much else regarding the mode was shown here.  For a look at Battlefield V’s campaign debut of Nordly’s War Story, be sure to check out Microsoft’s conference tomorrow where this will debut.

As always, EA provided a healthy look at it’s continuous sports line-up including FIFA 19 which will be released on September 28th as well as Madden 19 which is hitting shelves August 10th.  While FIFA 19 will continue the traditions of it’s most recent iterations including a single player ‘Journey’ mode, the developers have promised an increase in the quality of gameplay.  There was no real mention of exactly what that meant, but you can now check out additional footage from game courtesy of the E3 showcase.  Additionally, to celebrate this year’s World Cup tournament, FIFA 18 will be receiving a free World Cup experience that will be available on PS4, XB1, PC, and Switch.  To add to that news, FIFA 18 is now available right now on all platforms as a free trial.  So if you’re interested in giving the series a go, be sure to check it out.

EA also touted it’s plan for a streaming subscription service called Origin Access Premier.  The jist is that games will be available to be streamed in HD from the cloud across multiple devices such as phones, tablets, and laptops.  More details will be heading our way in the coming months.

So what about Star Wars?  With multiple games rumored to be in development at various EA studios for quite some time, did we receive any news on this front?  We absolutely did, but in a rather anti-climactic manner.  The host of EA conference, Andrea Rene, sat next to Respawn head, Vince Zampella, in the audience as he shared the title of the Star Wars game the studio has been working on.  The title is Star Wars Jedi: Fallen Order.  The only information he could divulge is that it takes place during darker times within the galaxy as the jedi are hunted in an event that takes place between Episodes III and IV.  He did confirm that light sabers will be a featured gameplay element of this title and that the release window is set for holiday 2019.  No screenshots, teasers, or gameplay were shown.

With more on the Star Wars front, we were treated to a look at some new content for Battlefront II.  Han Solo content is inbound next week with the Kessel environment from the new Solo film being made available.  This will also mark the return of the extraction mode from Battlefront.  Also, before the year is over, Battlefront II will be receiving new content from Clone Wars including new maps from Geonosis as well as the following playable heroes and villains: General Grievous, Obi Wan Kenobi, Count Dooku, and Anakin Skywalker.

EA also takes pride in it’s indie projects.  Unravel Two was announced and also is available today for purchase.  Following in the footsteps of it’s predecessor, it promises to be a more fun, lighthearted concept involving two characters working together to traverse the world in this side-scrolling adventure.  The yarn that connects them will help the player solve puzzles/obstacles to progress.  These two stringy companions can be controlled by one player or as a co-op duo.  Additionally, Sea of Solitude was announced and will be available in early 2019.  This promises to be an engaging title that centers around the concepts of loneliness and darkness and overcoming those obstacles.  Check out the trailer online for a look at what’s to come.

The big discussion was Anthem which was saved for the end of the show.  Ultimately, we didn’t learn much more about the game than we already knew.  Some new gameplay footage was shown as well as a trailer.  Additionally, the developers answered a few questions from host, Andrea Rene, regarding the inner workings of Bioware’s newest title.  This game appears to be the answer to Bungie’s Destiny and Destiny 2 as it seems to operate much in the same way.  It potentially might straddle the line between online co-op and MMO similar to that of Destiny, while offering four distinct suits (javelins) that offer different gameplay advantages (once again, similar to the different guardians of Destiny).

EA, again, doubled down on the fact that there will be NO LOOT BOXES even for a title such as Anthem.  Obviously, this was a reoccurring theme from the conference as EA is still continuing some residual damage control from the fallout of last fall’s Battlefront II microtransaction fiasco.

Impressions

So how did EA fair at E3 2018?  To put it plainly, this was a rather uneventful and dull conference.  While Battlefield V started things off with some momentum, that momentum seemed to drop off rather quickly as the conference veered into entirely familiar and predictable territory.
The new footage of Battlefield V and Anthem were exciting, but hardly showed us anything we weren’t already expecting.  This seems to be the biggest problem EA suffered with this conference.  The stage time seemed to be wasted.  Any new details regarding Battlefield V and Anthem that we learned at this conference were very few and minor.  Even the battle royale mode coming to Battlefield V was expected as the developer already hinted that something was in the works there.  These sorts of things could have been left to sessions with press outside of a conference as most things were rather inconsequential.

In addition, the conference really lost my attention during the 10 minutes or more that was taken to show off the mobile game, Command & Conquer: Rivals just before the conclusion of the conference with Anthem.  Perhaps, this game is worthy of a mention and brief trailer during a press conference.  But, the display of two individuals battling each other on stage with this title had me dosing off.  Certainly there is a market for mobile games.  After all, mobile games take up the largest chunk of the gaming market share.  However, EA wasn’t necessarily playing to the particular audience that’d be watching a press conference.  Mobile games and gamers are fairly casual about the medium and probably do not seek out press conferences to learn of the next big thing hitting their iOS or Android devices.  Veteran gamers like myself looking for big console and PC announcements were likely lost or disconnected during this display.

The Respawn Star Wars game would probably have been best left not shared until there was footage or something to go with it.  Revealing the title just through informal dialogue from the seats in the audience was rather ham-fisted as if EA told Vince this morning, “Go ahead and mention it, but keep it vague.  Just so we can add at least one surprise to the conference.”

On a positive note, the display for the two indie titles, Unravel Two and Sea of Solitude were welcoming moments within the conference as they offered something fresh as well as a platform for the developers to share these unique experiences.  I absolutely love the attention that indie developers have been getting in recent years and hope to see that continue.

EA swung and missed in my book.  I have a strong feeling that the Ubisoft, Bethesda, Square Enix, Sony, Microsoft, and Nintendo conferences will cast large shadows over this one which is a shame.  EA has a lot of ground to make-up from the Battlefront II microtransaction mishap with his loyal gamers, and while reiterating that loot boxes are gone, the gaming giant didn’t do much to recapture the attention of those who may have written EA off or put them in the back corner of their minds.

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