E3 2018 – EA Conference

Well, here it is folks, E3. The annual gaming conference that is like Christmas for gamers and games journalists alike, as companies show off the games to be released in the coming year or so. The first conference on the schedule: EA.

The show kicked off with some sort of 3D hologram snippet from Anthem as a giant monster throws a figure in Iron Man armour out over the audience. It then flew around before being joined by another figure and they both flew off. It was pretty impressive, right up until the host yelled “How cool was that!?!?” as they camera switched to them. It was then I was instantly reminded why I usually skip the bits in between the trailers: they’re usually pretty cringy…

Up first was a quick look at Battlefield V. If you follow me on any kind of social media you’ll know Battlefield 1 was one of my most anticipated games and is still one of my favourites. Battlefield V is no exception. As a massive history nerd, a World War 2 game which promises to look at lesser known areas of the war and to tell stories that don’t normally get told. The trailer showed Allied paratroopers landing in what I think is Norway and fighting their way through a town. Character customisation, a bigger destruction system and whole new gameplay mechanics were all promised. Then they said something surprising: no lootboxes and no premium pass. Given the controversy behind Battlefront 2 and the microtransactions, EA seems to have learned from this mistake and are changing things up. Colour me skeptical, yet intrigued. They also announced a Battle Royale mode, which I guess is my one issue Battlefield V. Is it really necessary? I enjoy Battlegrounds a lot and play it regularly, and dabbled in Fortnite for a bit too but I just don’t understand why every game developer seems to be jumping on the bandwagon.

Straight into a trailer for the new FIFA game next in which pre-rendered players kicked a ball around. Forgive me if I don’t side excited for this, but my experiences with FIFA have been few and far between. I think the last game I played was a close loss for me, and by that I mean it was 9 – 1. They’ve added a new way to play, the Champions League, where you can take your club to victory. They’ve also added a free World Cup mode to the current FIFA 18 for fans to enjoy. Not much else to unpack here, no gameplay or any other big news was announced.

Next up, the Star Wars section of the show. First they gave us a small teaser of Respawns new game Star Wars: Fallen Jedi Order due for release next year. No trailer or art yet, just confirmation that it exists and that it will be set in between Episodes 3 and 4 and will be a dark game. Over to Battlefront 2 now, in which the presenter single-handedly apologised for the disastrous launch of the game last year. New game modes were announced as well as new downloadable content for the game set during The Clone Wars era. If you’re a Star Wars fan, this is amazing news and the promise of being able to play as Obi Wan Kenobi, Anakin Skywalker, Count Dooku and General Grievous is probably music to your ears. I felt sorry for the presenter, who apologised twice for the state of the games launch and announced all this news to a seemingly disinterested crowd.

Unravel: two was the next game announced. The original Unravel followed the adventures of a small red figure made of yarn, who went on an adventure to reclaim how creators lost memories. It’s such a sweet and simple game, and is up there as one of my favourite games. The sequel sees you team up with another blue yarn figure who helps you along on your adventure. The game can be played co-op or single player and combines platforming and puzzle solving with a great soundtrack. It’s always great seeing indie developers up on the stage, they seem more honest and passionate than most others and it’s great to see what this means to them. Even more exciting is the news that the game is available now.

Another indie game up next, Sea of Solitude, a game about loneliness. The game is about a young girl who has become so lonely she has turned into a monster and must travel a post apocalyptic flooded world to find out how to become human again. The game has a really unique looking art style and an important message so I’m looking forward to seeing more of it before it’s launch next year.

After two trailers for NBA 18 and Madden 19 it was on to a rather cringe filled segment in which two players played a new Command and Conquer mobile game which was commentated on sports style by two others. It just wasn’t entertaining to watch, and it was given about ten minutes of screen time.

The EA show finished off with a final look at Anthem. Teased at last year’s E3, Anthem is a new game from Bioware which allows players to suit up in power armour and fight monsters in an open, dynamic alien world. With a system called “our world, my story” the game is both co-op and single player, with players sharing the same open world, but with sections tied to the story being single player only. There was a short Q and A with the developers then some gameplay. The game itself looks gorgeous and being able to switch between flying, swimming, running and fighting seems fluid and very satisfying. Personally, I’m excited to fight giant monsters in a customised suit of power armour but hey, I’m easy to please.

That’s it for EA this year and it was a bit of a mixed bag. Battlefield V, Anthem, Unravel: two and Sea of Solitude all look great and I’m really looking forward to all of them. It’s good to see EA learning from their mistakes and changing up how DLC and loot boxes work and there was a section on how EA and the gaming community help charities and can be used as a force for good. The downside for me, was their time management. Ten minutes dedicated to a mobile game, more time than was given to the “crown jewel” of the conference, Anthem. Both sporting sections dragged on for too long and felt like they announced nothing, and every time I thought something was cool I was instantly robbed of that feeling by the presenter yelling “how cool was thaaaaaat!?!?” at every given opportunity. What do I want to see next year from EA? More indie games, for a company that prides itself on its independent developers they only showed two this year. Less time on pointless gimmicks and more on showing games and gameplay.

Oh and Mass Effect: Andromeda 2… pretty please?

By Matthew Roud

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