E3 Coverage- Part 1: EA Play Conference

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While EA’s press conference wasn’t much to write home about, there were a few interesting titles, including the highly anticipated Anthem. Image from BioWare

Recurring readers of Electric Retrospective anxiously awaiting new posts are in for a slew of major news, as it’s time for one of the most anticipated yearly events of the gaming industry. Over the next few days, the blog will cover Electronic Entertainment Expo, more widely known as E3, and announcements made at major press conferences, starting with today’s EA Play conference. EA is one of the more predictable companies as far as conferences, typically showing trailers of annual sports titles and a few other major titles, and due to its reputation, even the interesting titles that do appear should be approached with cautious optimism. However, amidst EA’s usual lineup, a few games did stand out, including further details on BioWare’s new IP, Anthem.

The presentation began with the first gameplay footage of Battlefield V since the game’s reveal, albeit very little. The trailer showcased features such as destructible buildings, breaking through windows, and moving stationary artillery using vehicles. A story mode focusing on short stories about various characters will be shown later in the week, described as similar to Battlefield 1’s War Stories. The developers also confirmed that the game will include a royale mode and have no loot boxes or premium pass, likely due to the massive backlash against Star Wars Battlefront II’s loot boxes.

Speaking of Battlefront II, upcoming content was detailed for the next few seasons. As the game is currently in a season based on the recent Solo: A Star Wars Story, a map based on the mining planet Kessel is set to appear, alongside the returning Extraction Mode, a squad system in which players can more easily fight alongside friends, a new dogfighting mode, and a mode described as “large-scale multiplayer sandbox” involving capturing command posts on large maps. Following the Solo season, content from the Clone Wars era will be added, including a map on the droid factory planet Geonosis and characters like General Greivous, Count Dooku, Anakin Skywalker, and Obi-Wan Kenobi. In addition, Respawn Entertainment revealed the name of their upcoming Star Wars game, Jedi Fallen Order, but no footage was shown, and the game is set for a holiday 2019 release with news to likely come at next year’s E3.

The usual highlight of EA Play conferences is the EA Originals indie titles, such as last year’s A Way Out, and this year was no exception if Unravel Two is any proof. The sequel to Unravel lets the player control two Yarnys that travel together rather than just one, and the game can be played by one person controlling both characters or two people controlling one each. The two can hold together to move faster in quick-paced segments, but they can separate to solve puzzles. Since the two are tethered together by a decently long string, solutions focus on teamwork, such as having one character distract an enemy while the other sneaks around the other way. Unravel Two released on PC, PS4, and Xbox One immediately following the presentation. In addition to Unravel Two, footage was shown for another EA Originals title, Sea of Solitude, in which the player visits a flooded village where humans turn into monsters.

EA’s major title this year is Anthem, a shooter RPG which was revealed at E3 2017. Set to release February 22, 2019, Anthem takes place in a world abandoned by the gods that created it, leaving behind the tools used to make it. To protect themselves from nature’s wrath, players use Javelins, which are four types of exo-suits with unique class abilities. Javelins can fly through air or sea, use heavy artillery, and be customized in color and geometry. While there are cosmetics for sale, the developers stated no loot boxes will be included and all ingame purchases will be clear with what the player is buying.

Unfortunately, that’s about it as far as reveals, which is par for the course for EA. There were reveals for annual sports games like FIFA and Madden, with the latter returning to PC for the first time in a decade, but while there’s certainly an audience for those franchises, they don’t make for exciting reveals given each yearly installment is very similar. The other reveals, ranging from a summer launch and free trial for the Origin Access Premier streaming service to the real-time-strategy mobile title Command and Conquer: Rivals, just didn’t have the appeal to make most of the presentation engaging. Furthermore, even the few interesting titles shown off had very little footage at best and absolutely no footage at worst, which makes for an overall bland conference.

Unravel Two, Sea of Solitude, Anthem, and the unseen Jedi Fallen Order gave the EA Play conference a few positives to talk about, but overall, there wasn’t much to the presentation. A lack of footage and redundant reveals made the show feel like a slog to watch, and when a lack of loot boxes is what gets the most applause from the audience, that speaks volumes about EA’s reputation. However, while it isn’t starting off with a bang, major E3 conferences for the next three days will likely have bigger reveals.

Tune in tomorrow for coverage of Sunday’s conferences, those being presentations from Microsoft and Bethesda, as well as the second Devolver Digital Big Fancy Press Conference video.

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