Another year, another E3. It’s a magical time of year where developers, publishers, and awkward celebrities take to the stage to present world premiere footage and in-depth looks at all the hottest upcoming video games. Electronic Arts kicked off the festivities this year, but with the Star Wars: Battlefront II debacle of last fall giving them an endless amount of negative backlash, were they able to finally win back their fans?
1.) Battlefield V
EA opened their show with Battlefield V, which was to be expected. It’s no secret that Battlefield is one of EA’s biggest hits, but was there really much more to show after the reveal event just a week or two ago? Well, that’s where things get tricky. The Battlefield fans are a very passionate community, and while the reveal event gave them a taste of what to expect with Battlefield V, there were still many questions left unanswered. Unfortunately, EA didn’t really answer any of those questions and gave an alarmingly disappointing look at the game during their press conference. Instead of diving deep into game footage, we saw another cinematic trailer (with a sprinkling of gameplay) as while as an announcement that more will be shown during Microsoft’s press conference tomorrow. Although I’m not the biggest fan of the franchise, I was still disappointed to see EA reveal this little during their own conference. E3 is the time to show off your game and grab the attention of players, not just tell them that “there’s more to see later”.
2.) FIFA 19
It wouldn’t be an EA conference without a healthy dose of sports games, so naturally FIFA 19 made an appearance. Although I don’t necessarily follow any sports teams or look forward to watching any games, soccer (or football, depending on where you live) has always been a sport I’ve appreciated. That being said, I thought what was shown during this segment was a nice little addition to the conference. A new trailer was shown with a heavy emphasis on the UEFA Champions League (complete with a musical score by the legendary Hans Zimmer), but it was actually information about FIFA 18 that was the most exciting. With the World Cup taking place in real life next week, they’re bringing the World Cup to FIFA 18. Taking things a step further, EA is releasing a free trial of FIFA 18 during this window so players and fans of the sport can jump in and experience competing for the World Cup firsthand. Hopefully this will tide over FIFA fans until FIFA 19 launches on September 28th, 2019.
3.) Origin Access Premier
Next up was the reveal of Origin Access Premier. Origin Access is a subscription service EA offers where you get access to a vault of over 100 PC games to download and play. I tried out the service earlier this year and found the selection of games to be well worth the price of $4.99 a month. With Origin Access Premier, EA is offering an upgraded version of their service that will include new releases such as Battlefield V, FIFA 19, and Anthem at an earlier date than everyone else. The service will cost $14.99 per month or $99.99 a year. If you play primarily on PC or plan on buying more than one EA game in the coming year, this price is hard to beat and appears to be a fantastic value.
4.) Star Wars: Jedi Fallen Order
Okay, this one hurt. As a huge Star Wars fan, I’ve definitely been looking forward to the new game by Respawn, but this was not how I pictured us finding out more about it. Instead of an awesome trailer, they just went into the audience to interview Respawn’s CEO Vince Zampella about the upcoming game. Although we got the name, Star Wars: Jedi Fallen Order, the only other information we learned was that it takes place between Episodes III and IV. No cinematic trailer, no gameplay, hell… we didn’t even get a logo. Making matters worse, this interview felt like a poor use of EA’s host, the ever lovely Andrea Rene. It’s painfully obvious that they had her working from a script, which is a shame, since it made this segment feel overly cheesy and scripted. Anybody who has listened to Andrea on the What’s Good Games podcast or any of the stuff she does with Kinda Funny knows that she’s an intelligent woman who knows her shit. I know nerves can play into this type of thing, but it felt less like a nervous person talking in front of a large group of people and more like a company just trying to hire someone for their looks and not their intellect.
5.) Star Wars: Battlefront II – New Updates
Everyone knows that Star Wars: Battlefront II released to one of the worst receptions in the entire history of gaming, but EA is looking to make it up to everyone by introducing a few new features. The current season of DLC is supporting the new Solo movie (which is really good and worth seeing on the big screen), but the announcement of their future DLC plans is receiving incredibly positive feedback already. A new mode focusing on capturing and controlling command posts (like the original Battlefront games) is releasing soon along with content from the Clone Wars era. This includes new maps (although only Geonosis was mentioned by name) and characters, such as General Grievous, Obi-Wan Kenobi, Count Dooku, and Anakin Skywalker. I don’t think this will fully remove the negative perception on the game, but it’s at least a step in the right direction.
6.) Unravel Two
It was during the reveal of the first Unravel in 2015 that everyone fell in love with Martin Sahlin. The way Martin came out and was so obviously nervous, but so incredibly full of passion and belief in his project instantly won over many people. With the sequel, Unravel Two, not only does Martin appear more confident, it looks like the game is going to be even more magical. Unravel is about a little creature named Yarny who is made out of, you guessed it, yarn. He uses his yarn to navigate the environment, solving puzzles in the process. In the sequel, you get to bring a friend along for your yarn adventure. Unravel Two looks gorgeous and stunning, but it also has a heart and charm that makes it look incredibly jolly. The best news? Unravel Two releases today digitally on PC, PS4, and Xbox One.
7.) Sea of Solitude
As the next game in the EA Originals lineup, Sea of Solitude looks incredibly promising. Calling to mind games like Papo & Yo and Rime, Sea of Solitude is an interesting exploration game that’s tackling a serious subject. The game is centered around the theme of loneliness and how it turns people into monsters. While the game itself looks promising, it’s the powerful speech by one of the developers that sold me. She talked about using art as a way to process your emotions, which is something I’ve always respected about creators of any kind. Opening yourself up and displaying your vulnerability is one of the hardest and most frightening things any human being can do, but the power that comes in doing so and the way it can help others is incredibly powerful. I know some might find the concept pretentious, but I love these types of “artsy” games and I’m looking forward to purchasing Sea of Solitude when it launches early 2019.
8.) NBA Live 19
I’m going to keep this one short. Sports games are the genre I’m the least familiar with, so I don’t have much to say on this one. Visually, I think the game looks great and that it has some very realistic and smooth animations, but that’s really all I can say about it. The game launches on September 7th with a free demo being made available on August 24th.
9.) Madden 19
Similar to NBA Live 19, I don’t have much to say about Madden 19. The most interesting thing about this game is that it’s receiving a PC release, which is the first time Madden has been on PC since Madden 08. It’s been a long time coming for Madden to return on PC, so I’m interested to see how it does financially when it releases August 10th. Will it sell well and lead to more Madden games hitting PC in the future? Or will it be a dud and prove it should stick to console? Time will tell.
10.) Command & Conquer: Rivals
In what was arguably the worst part of the entire conference, Command & Conquer: Rivals was revealed as a new mobile game. Fans of the franchise immediately took to the internet to express their concerns, with the main criticism being that it looks like a completely watered down version of the classic strategy series. This portion of the show saw two players play a full match against each other, complete with commentary from professional shoutcasters. Those present at the show and watching online were stuck watching a five minute showdown with little units moving all over a touch screen. It was a long and drawn out affair that would have been much better off being a simple trailer instead of an overblown gameplay presentation.
Anthem is EA’s answer to Destiny, which has never been more clear than after their showing of the game this year. We got another trailer showcasing gameplay and story elements, but the bulk of its appearance was in the form of a Q&A with members of the BioWare team. Here we learned that there’s a large focus on story and decision making, that the different suits of armor you wear can be customized and that you can change which one you take on a mission, and that the release date is February 22, 2019. There were some story details too, but they kept a lot of it vague, which I’m assuming is intended. While I’m still not personally sold on Anthem yet, I feel like we know a little more about it now and I’m hoping that the final game ends up being a solid release.
FINAL SCORE: 5/10
The free trial of FIFA 18, the announcement of Origin Access Premier, shadow drop of Unravel Two, and the reveal of Sea of Solitude were great, but everything else about the conference dragged it down and created a poor start for E3 2018. There were multiple games that didn’t reveal a satisfying amount of information, a poor use of a great host, and Command & Conquer: Rivals gave one of the slowest and most agonizingly boring segments to a press conference I’ve seen in years. I always try to find the positive side of everything, but EA has one again proven that it’s a hard task for me to do with their company. Here’s to hoping the rest of the conferences this week are better.
– Zack Burrows