Opening the floodgates as E3’s first official pre-show showcase, Electronic Arts chose to play it safe. Loyal fans of franchises like FIFA and Madden will find no cause for alarm, but players searching for innovation or surprise will be better suited elsewhere.
Regardless, we watched (and streamed) it all. Here’s our recap.
EA opened the conference with the official reveal of Battlefield V’s multiplayer. Developers spent time speaking about some of the game’s new vehicles (focusing specifically on the ability to attach Anti-Air batteries to them) and about Battlefield’s recurrent commitment to destructibility. Actual gameplay footage was scant, but a demo version of the game’s multiplayer is available on the E3 show floor.
Beyond the game’s typical multiplayer, Battlefield’s Devs talked about (but didn’t show) the game’s forthcoming Battle Royale mode. Unless the Battlefield Team has plans for a surprise floor reveal under wraps, we’ll have to wait to see their take on gaming’s most recent fascination.
Positioned beside the UEFA Champions Cup, the team behind FIFA spent some time on the conference stage to talk about FIFA 19, the next entry in its annual series. Neither speaker had much to say about the new game, and it’s not hard to imagine that fans of the series can expect the same changes and iterative improvements they’ve been accustomed to.
Mixed in with the team’s focus on FIFA 19 was the announcement of a free World Cup mode for FIFA 18. This summer, FIFA 18 players will be able to simulate the games of the 2020 World Cup qualifiers. Additionally, anyone interested in the experience who doesn’t already own FIFA 18 will be able to play a trial version of the game, though the content and restrictions involved weren’t disclosed.
Jedi: Fallen Order
The first Star Wars title out of Titanfall’s Respawn Entertainment had its announcement made in the form of an awkward audience interview with studio head Vince Zampella. Zampella and his team had little to say regarding the game and its content, and it’s left to us to wonder if this was the right time to make the announcement. So far, all we know is the title Jedi: Fallen Order.
Ignoring EA’s possible poor timing and planning, there’s no evidence the game will be bad (in that we know absolutely nothing about it), so we’re giving the game a pass.
Star Wars: Battlefront II
Based on the conference, the official position of the Battlefront II team seems to be an acknowledgment of past mistakes but intention to follow the plans laid out before them. The game’s design director, Dennis Bränvall issued a brief statement of regret about the game’s initial direction before delving into the content players can expect to see in the coming year. A forthcoming update is set to add maps and characters from both the in-universe Clone Wars and the recent Solo: A Star Wars Story. While I definitely appreciate the idea of playing as a blaster-wielding Donald Glover, I’ve never been one for Star Wars games, so there’s not much more for me to say.
Puzzle-platformer Unravel 2 leaked ahead of EA’s conference, but being unfamiliar with its predecessor, I didn’t know until the game’s creative director, Martin Sahlin took the stage. Though the gameplay shown on screen was fairly simple (with a minute-long ending montage providing the most compelling look at the game), Unravel 2 is one of few EA surprises, chief among its surprise factor being that it launched during the conference and is now available on Playstation 4, Xbox One, and PC.
Sea of Solitude
Another small surprise, Sea of Solitude’s reveal gave little in the way of gameplay, but its interesting setting and compelling theme of loneliness gave players something real to look forward to. While the game’s creative director, Cornelia Geppert, didn’t give us the surprise immediate release that Unravel 2 did, she opened her time on the stage with a deep explanation of the game’s focus loneliness and its effects on the protagonist. Sea of Solitude was trending on Twitter for some time following its announcement, and may have (arguably) been the breakout announcement of the conference.
Command and Conquer: Rivals
EA’s latest addition to their mobile catalog is Command and Conquer: Rivals, a relatively simple real-time strategy game designed for smartphones. The competitive game’s focus is on maintaining dominance over two of three base zones to build control over a nuclear weapon that can then be launched at the enemy base. Hit the enemy base with two nukes before they can do the same to yours and you win.
Rivals isn’t the most complicated or innovative gameplay, but it looks interesting and good for a few minutes’ fun at a time, and for a mobile game, that may just be enough.
The cornerstone of the EA conference, the best-for-last focus on EA’s answer to Destiny was met with mixed responses. While those steadfastly looking forward to the game may have found the trailer enough to keep them going for the next few months, some others (us included) thought the twenty-minute focus on the game left much to be desired.
The looping footage played during the conference’s finale showed neither story nor much gameplay. We were treated to an introduction of the game’s graphical style, but a developer panel and sporadic playthrough of one of the game’s first missions taught us little about what to expect. Ending near (but not after) a boss fight, we got a taste of EA’s next big IP, but not much of one.
Whether or not you’re a fan of EA’s offerings, I don’t think it’s overzealous to argue the company played E3 safe this year, as is normal. That’s not to say we should expect anything particularly bad in the coming year, but we’ll have to wait to see if we’ll be surprised.
We streamed our reactions to E3’s conference on the ExLudico twitch channel, and we’ll be back tomorrow for reactions to Microsoft, Bethesda, and Devolver Digital.