Electronic Arts had a very up and down year in 2017. From March’s extremely underwhelming Mass Effect Andromeda which actually had content cancelled after the fact. to the shutdown of Visceral and their much anticipated in-the-works Star Wars project, all the way until the lootbox tied progression atrocity that was the Star Wars Battlefront II launch – nothing seemed to go their way.
And though some speculated that this year’s E3 – Electronic Entertainment Expo – would help the large company right itself, many think their presentation did nothing to stop the decline.
Using an AR visual from Bioware’s newest project Anthem to kick the conference off did not set a good tone for things to come.
The hype reel showing most of the games that would be talked about helped better set the mood and Andrea Rene really helped things break away from the normally cooperate feel EAPlay typically has.
But that didn’t last long however, for once Rene was off some of the team at Dice – GM Oskar Gabrielson and senior producer Lars Gustavsson – came out to talk about Battlefield V which will release October 19th this year.
This began an onslaught of producers, directors, and other various workers coming out to speak about their games or projects – most of which failed to engage or brought about many funny tweets about not caring or being disinterested from the viewers not in the theater (and maybe a few there too).
There were a few breaks from the pattern, some good and some awful.
Dennis Brännvall speaking about Star Wars Battlefront II and all the changes being made as well as the new content being added was very straightforward and went over well with the crowd. Fans were happy to hear that not only were fixes for squads that will make it easier to play with friends are coming, but the Clone Wars will also be added to the eras represented in the game.
Similar reactions were given to both EA Originals titles that were shown.
Unravel two showed that the vision of the original game was not a one time thing as Martin Sahlin talked in depth and showed game play for the newest title in the small franchise. It was also announced to be available immediately – so you can purchase the game right now on PlayStation 4, Windows PC and Xbox One for $19.99.
The next title from the EA Originals is a brand new game called Sea of Solitude from indie studio Jo-Mei Games that will be touching on loneliness and other darker emotions in a way that can be played by those looking for a fun game and people looking to dive deeper into the subtext.
The sports titles were not as concise and genuine however.
FIFA 19 will be the first of the franchise to host the Champions League license and spent a good chunk of the conference talking about slight changes that went on for what seemed like forever. This can be overlooked since this franchise is one of the best selling every year and releases in September.
The other titles have no excuse for being so long.
A brief glimpse of the next NBA Live title was shown and gave almost no information on what would be added, changed, or improved on whatsoever. It was almost pointless having it in there, but it is releasing this Summer so it had to be represented.
Madden 19 on the other hand got just as much accomplished in almost triple the time. Wide receiver for the Pittsburgh Steelers (waves Terrible Towel) JuJu Smith-Schuster and Madden 18 champion Young Kiv both came out on the stage, shared some awkward banter, and then exited with the only real information shared being that the game would be coming to PC for the first time in a decade.
Outside of that, the big title they focused on was Bioware’s Anthem which will release February 22, 2019 (with the rumored February 19, 2019 date likely being some sort of early play for people who preorder the game).
We got a deep dive into the character classes for the mechs – now known as Javelins – that showed off some of their unique powers and various playstyle differences, a look at how the gameplay will work when playing solo or with friends, and confirmation that lootboxes will not be included in the game (though there will still be cosmetic microtransactions).
The game looks great and the team behind it keep trying to let fans know that story will not be pushed aside because of the multiplayer focus – which can hopefully only lead to better results than previous games as service models.
There were a few other announcements; Command & Conquer Rivals – a neat looking mobile game -, Star Wars Jedi Fallen Order – the name of Respawn Entertainmen’s Star Wars title that will be coming next year -, and EA Origin Access – a new streaming service that will launch later this summer.
EA had a real chance this year at surprising everyone with a good conference, but instead it required viewers to slog through countless unnecessary portions to get to what they wanted to see. And even then, they didn’t let Anthem or even Battlefield V come out with any real kick or hype.
In the end it was likely just another conference that will go down as the worst of the show when all is said and done.
… but at least we can all play Unravel two instead of dwelling on it!