ComicsVerse is at E3 2018! Throughout the week, we’ll be posting news, analysis, and press releases from the biggest gaming convention in the world. Today, we take a look at what EA Play had to offer.

It feels like E3 starts earlier every year. With every company trying to out-do the other,  it’s no surprise that EA Play began their conference yesterday. Here’s a quick rundown on what was covered, what you should know, and what we think about it.

1. BATTLEFIELD 5

EA Play
This looks legitimately cool, but they barely focused on it. (courtesy of EA)

The show began with BATTLEFIELD 5, one of EA’s most anticipated games. It started with an admittedly beautiful trailer showing what appears to be in-game footage.

Afterward, the developers described several new features coming to the game. BATTLEFIELD 5 will allow players to dive and smash through windows. Players can move around artillery using vehicles, allowing for more tactical play. The series is known for its destructible environments, and this feature is back in full force. Tanks will be able to plow through houses and other buildings, forcing infantry out of their hiding spots.

The game also boasts fully customizable soldiers, vehicles, and weapons. This isn’t much of a surprise, but it’s always welcome. According to EA Play, the game won’t feature any loot boxes or premium passes. While this is a welcome change, it was a bit cringy to hear them treat this as a “feature,” or something we should be thankful for.

Additional Modes

A lot of emphases was placed on the game’s singleplayer mode. It will focus on “personal stories of heroism” during World War II. Expect a character-driven, narrative-heavy campaign.

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And because this is 2018, of course, there’s a battle royale mode. It’s always a bit humorous to watch an AAA company hop on the latest bandwagon, but I can’t complain. Battle Royale games are popular for a reason, and I can’t fault EA for giving us a new game mode. Hopefully, it doesn’t feel like a tacked on afterthought.

2. FIFA 19

EA E3
If you’re into soccer, this may be up your alley. (courtesy of EA)

Early in the conference, we were treated to a rather melodramatic,  but still impressive, trailer for FIFA 19. The trailer featured music from both Hans Zimmer and Vince Staples. A strange combination to be sure, but it definitely worked.

Later on, they listed some features for the upcoming game. As is typical for sports games, we’re getting a story mode and a tournament mode. But the most interesting news is what they’re doing for the previous game, FIFA 18.  Apparently, they’re updating the game with a free World Cup mode. They’re also providing a free trial of the game for those with EA Access.

3. Origin Access Premier

EA Play
…Was this worth spending time to? (courtesy of EA)

It was at this point that Andrew Wilson, EA’s CEO, came onto the stage to announce Origin Access Premiere: a subscription-based cloud streaming service. All of EA’s new PC games will be available with Access Premiere, including MADDEN 19, which returns to PC for the first time in over a decade. The service will also include a feature called “the vault”: a library of games from EA Play and third parties.

Origin Access Premiere will be available later this summer.

4. STAR WARS: JEDI Fallen Order

EA E3
This should’ve been their biggest announcement, but this is what we got. (courtesy of EA)

During a rather strange interlude, we were given a brief teaser for what should’ve been the biggest announcement of the conference: a new STAR WARS game from Respawn Entertainment.

We didn’t see any gameplay, and the “reveal” didn’t even take place on stage. Rather, the announcer had a brief chat with a representative from Respawn, who delivered a charming, if stilted, presentation.

Apparently, this new game is called STAR WARS: JEDI FALLEN ORDER. It takes place between Episodes 3 and 4, in a time where the last Jedi are being hunted by the empire.

The game will release in the winter of 2019.

5. BATTLEFRONT 2

EA Play
(courtesy of EA)

You know you’ve had a bad year when you begin your presentation with an apology. Granted, after BATTLEFRONT 2’s loot box fiasco, something needed to be said. In short, the developers admitted they didn’t get the game “quite right,” and promised to do better in the future.

The BATTLEFRONT 2 presentation revealed several new features for the game going forward. There’s a new “squad system” which promises to make teaming up with your friends much easier. We’re also getting a new “starfighter mode,” focused on dogfighting with your hero-ships.

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Next week, they’ll be adding new content based on the movie SOLO, including Han and Lando heroes. But the biggest announcement is the introduction of Clone Wars content. From the planet, Geonosis to heroes like General Grievous, Obi-Wan, Count Dooku, and Anakin, fans of the Clone Wars are about to have a lot of toys to play with.

All in all, the entire presentation felt like one big apology, and we’ll see how sincere they are going forward. Still, I can’t help but be excited to play as Kenobi.

6. Unravel Two

EA Play
This is both adorable and beautiful. (courtesy of EA)

Suddenly, in the middle of the conference, we were greeted with a trailer. In it, a cute little creature made of yarn found himself shipwrecked on an island. We quickly learned that this was a trailer for UNRAVEL TWO.

Described as a game about “fresh starts and second chances,” UNRAVEL TWO is a side-scrolling puzzle-platformer where you control two characters at once or play with a friend. It’s a bit reminiscent of BROTHERS: A TALE OF TWO SONS, in that cooperation between the two characters, is vital to your survival.

We got to see some footage from the game, and it looks both beautiful and charming.

If you want to give this game a try, now’s your chance. It’s available today.

7. Sea Of Solitude

EA Play
God, this game looks beautiful (courtesy of EA)

In an interesting surprise, EA Play announced a new game from a small German studio called Jo-Mei. SEA OF SOLITUDE is a game about a young, lonely woman in a flooded world filled with dangerous beasts. The protagonist has turned into a literal monster due to her severe isolation. The game is about finding out why this happened, and how to turn her back into a human.

I have to say, this was the game that intrigued me the most. For all of EA’s faults, they’ve developed a reputation for giving small, talented studios a chance. They tried this last year with A WAY OUT, and that game was a smash success with critics and players alike.

But the thing that stuck out to me the most was the art direction. SEA OF SOLITUDE is colorful, playful, and outright beautiful. The environments look like a flooded version of our modern world, which only serves to intrigue me. How did this happen? Why is this woman alone? I genuinely want to find out.

8. NBA LIVE 19 And Madden

EA Play
The most American thing on Earth, hopefully without loot boxes. (courtesy of EA)

After a brief trailer for NBA LIVE 19, the MADDEN presentation began in full force. This was another awkward segment for EA Play. The presentation began with a video about the MADDEN 18 championship, with a brief biography on the winner.

The champion then took the stage with JuJu Smith-Schuster, a wide receiver for the Pittsburgh Steelers. The dialogue between the two was stilted and boring, but thankfully brief. You may be starting to notice a theme with this conference: a distinct lack of gameplay. Oh don’t worry, we’re about to get almost 10 minutes of gameplay. Just don’t expect to enjoy it.

9. COMMAND AND CONQUER: RIVALS

EA Play
This looks indistinguishable from any other mobile game (courtesy of EA)

This was by far the most awkward and poorly paced segment of the entire show. EA Play decided to spend 9 minutes on a mobile game so generic that no one knew what it was until they revealed the name at the very end.

Apparently, this mobile game is the future of the COMMAND AND CONQUER franchise, a well known RTS series. We saw some live gameplay from two gamers I’ve never heard of, and none of it was particularly impressive. Even the audience seemed bored, despite the zealous hype of the presenters.

Honestly, this whole thing went on for way too long. I never got a sense of why I should care about this game, or why they decided to put so much focus on it. Either way, you can play the pre-alpha today.

10. ANTHEM

EA Play
How did they manage to make this look mediocre? (courtesy of EA)

And now for the moment, we’ve all been waiting for. At the very end of the conference, EA Play presented us with a new cinematic trailer for ANTHEM. They followed up the trailer with a developer Q&A, where we learned some new details. According to Bioware, ANTHEM is not an MMO, but a living shared world.

A lot of people were confused by this distinction, but I assume it works a bit like the original GUILD WARS. In that game, you can choose to team up players or travel the world alone, and it’s not a persistent, shared experience for all players. According to Bioware, they plan on “adding story for years to come.” We hear this a lot from developers, but hopefully, they’ll add some meaningful content as time goes on.

A New World From Bioware

The interview focused a lot on both story and worldbuilding, my two favorite aspects of video games. According to the developers, ANTHEM takes place in a world a left unfinished by the gods, full of dangerous monsters and primal environments. The player is a “freelancer,” completing odd-jobs in this dangerous world with the help of a powerful mech suit.

The game features several of these suits, called “Javelines” which act a bit like classes. You can switch between suits depending on the situation, allowing for more tactical, free-form play. Each suit is based on a classic RPG class. There’s a ranger, a tank, and a “mage.” They also mentioned a fourth suit, “The Interceptor,” but details were scarce.

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According to Bioware, monetization will be limited to “cosmetic and vanity items.” Contrary to speculation, the game won’t contain any loot boxes. Unlike many titles from EA Play, the developers promised that the game would feel complete from the get-go. Like I said before, I hate the fact that this is considered a”feature” at this point, but it’s better than another loot-box driven Skinner-Box like BATTLEFRONT 2.

Finally, we were greeted with some brief gameplay. We got a quick showcase of each suit, as well as a short mission from the game. The gameplay was marred by some frame rate dips, but it still looked alright. The showcase ended rather abruptly, and the conference ended without much fan-fair. All in all, I still can’t say I’m sold on ANTHEM. Nothing they showed convinced me that this could be the next big franchise.

Either way, ANTHEM comes out on February 22, 2019.

EA Play Conference: Our Thoughts

This conference was lukewarm at best. Granted, they were some cool ideas here, and I’m looking forward to a few of these games, but some of the presentations dragged on far too long, and there were quite a few awkward moments. There was also a severe lack of gameplay on display, which left the audience feeling confused and disappointed. The entire experience was quite underwhelming.

We didn’t get any big surprises during this conference. It was a bit odd seeing them spend so much time on a rather generic mobile game, and it almost felt like they were trying to stall for time.

One consistent theme of the conference was an apologetic tone from EA Play. They seem determined to re-brand themselves and to present themselves as a more “human” company. Personally, I’ll wait to see if their actions match their words.

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