Our impressions of EA Play 2018

Emanating the the Hollywood Palladium Theater in Los Angeles, California, Electronic Arts leads off E3 2018 with it?s annual press conference, dubbed EA Play (see the replay right here). Will EA play it safe and stick to it?s tentpole sports properties (Madden, FIFA, NBA Live) or will dig deep into their pool of IPs and present something that we have not seen in a while. The event starts with a montage of titles from their catalog, games that are represented include Madden, FIFA, the Sims, Star Wars Battlefront and a bit of Anthem thrown into the mix. Once the montage is completed we are shown the large monitor on their stage where an augmented reality scene is played out where a person in an armored suit faces off against a towering monster before escaping the scene. We then hear the voice of the event?s emcee Andrea Rene. The former host of Gamestop TV and founder of the online outlet What?s Good Games introduces herself and confirms the augmented reality scene which just played out before our eyes featured characters from Bioware?s latest title Anthem. EA Play is more than just a conference, but rather a festival where gamers can try out EA?s latests wares. EA hopes that those who partake in the event will share their experiences with audiences across the internet. With the pleasantries completed, the first title to be featured at the conference will be Battlefield V.

Battlefield V

Coming onto stage to discuss Battlefield V are General Manager Oskar Gabrielson and Senior Producer Lars Gustavsson. Gabrielson acknowledges that the response to the reveal trailer has been positive and the community has lots of questions. Gameplay and customization were some the biggest inquiries the team saw so today?s presentation will look to answer these questions and show that Battlefield V is the most immersive entry to date. One of the new features highlighted is the ability to jump through windows as a means to surprise enemies. Artillery can be attached to vehicles and moved so that players can adjust defenses on the fly. Environments are still destructible and players can customize their characters, weapons and vehicles. Single player focuses on what Dice describes as untold stories of the war as told through the eyes of people that shaped the world forever. EA will share more of these war stories at tomorrow?s Microsoft conference. The title will launch in October and will not feature loot boxes and premium passes. The duo also announced that a new mode will launch shortly after release dubbed ?Royale?, however it will come with a Battlefield twist. Additional details regarding Royale will revealed later in the year. A trailer is then shown featuring a night time skirmish with the skies painted with the colors of an aurora borealis. The fight wages in this winter landscape as chaos and destruction ensues. The segment ends as they tease Nordlys War Story, the feature which will debut at the Xbox E3 briefing.


FIFA 19 | Official Reveal Trailer with UEFA Champions League

A video with a Portuguese voice over begins as we are treated to a montage soccer action with a dramatic orchestral score. We see a figure walking through a stadium tunnel, eventually revealing it is Neymar, a member of the Brazilian national team and the person who was speaking earlier in the video. More soccer action is shown as the music picks up in tempo and rapping is added to the mix. Champions Rise is the tagline shown before we are treated to a slow zoom into the UEFA trophy. Konami recently lost the license to UEFA league and it seems that the license landed with EA, thus giving EA yet another monopoly on a major team sport. Joining the trophy on the stage are executive producer for FIFA, Aaron McHardy and senior producer for FIFA, Lina Ingvarsdottir. McHardy announces the UEFA license then thanks Hans Zimmer and Vince Staples for contributing the score to the trailer that was just shown. Ingvarsdottir says the addition of the UEFA league has been a frequently requested addition and now that they have it the league?s presence will be felt in all of FIFA 19?s modes. This includes a tournament mode where your club can attempt to win the club, FIFA?s story mode will feature Alex Hunter once again as now he can chase the championship. FIFA Ultimate team will also have UEFA content, so Xbox Live account thieves will have content to look forward to as well. Gameplay is touched upon although briefly only alluding that feedback sessions were done with both beginners as well as pro players. Details regarding gameplay changes will be shared in the upcoming months and the title will be released on September 28th. McHardy then seamlessly transitions for the UEFA cup to the other major championship in soccer, the World Cup. To celebrate the start of the World Cup, FIFA 18 has been updated on all the platforms was released on. Simulate the tournament as it will play out in real life or take a fantasy route and take a team that isn?t actually competing to win the cup in your game. Not wanting to exclude everyone from the feastivities, FIFA18 will have a demo with all it?s World Cup content for a limited time on PS4, Xbox One and PC. After this event a mini tournament featuring content creators will take place (I will not be covering that?).

EA Cloud Gaming and Origin Access Premier

Origin Access Premier: Official Reveal Trailer, EA PLAY 2018

EA CEO Andrew Wilson enters the stage and thanks folks for attending the 3rd annual EA Play. Wilson mentions that the biggest trends in media consumption is streaming and subscriptions, with that he announces an Israeli team has joined EA to help them enter the cloud gaming field. Images of players playing EA titles on a TV, mobile phone and laptop are shown. A demo of their cloud gaming platform will be available at the EA Play event allowing you to stream EA titles onto various devices. So solid launch window is presented, as Wilson declares this is just a sampling of things to come. Subscriptions is the next thing Wilson brings up and he announces Origin Access Premier, which is likely a service for PC and doesn?t affect EA Access on Xbox One. Origin Access Premier will be similar to Xbox?s Game Pass meaning you will have access to all first party titles moving forward on PC, which will include this year?s iteration of Madden, which has not had a PC version in over a decade. Members will also have access to the EA vault with over 100 titles from EA and their partners. This service will launch in the summer of 2018 and those who want a sample of the service can enjoy a free trial of Origin Access during the course of the weekend.

Chatting with Respawn?s Vince Zampella

After a promotional video for Origin Access Premier is completed the voice of Andrea Rene beckons you to join her in the crowd as she chats with Respawn?s Vince Zampella. Zampella alludes to a number of projects Respawn is working on but reiterates nothing is ready to be shown. However that doesn?t prevent him from sharing details regarding the Star Wars project that they are attached to. Star Wars Jedi Fallen Order is the title of the Respawn Star Wars title. Other details include the playable character will be a Jedi during the Jedi Purge (Post-Episode 3 and Pre-Episode 4) or as Zampella puts it ?The Dark Times?. Those looking forward to the title will have to wait until Holiday 2019. However that is not all the EA Star Wars news we?ll be getting as we go back to the stage for some details on content for Star Wars Battlefront 2.

Star Wars Battlefront II

Design Director Dennis Br?nnvall takes the stage. In a shocking moment of honesty, Br?nnvall acknowledges the game?s launch wasn?t the most smoothest affair and chances were made to ensure they were putting out the title that the players wanted. This included revamping the player progression model and adding cosmetic items for players to collect. One of the makegoods was Hunt mode, that allowed you to play as some of the non-human factions that Star Wars has to offer. Han Solo content is shown and with that content comes the Extraction Mode. In the summer, a squad system will be introduced so it will be a lot easier to join your friends and play together. Several other modes are mentioned including a mode with starfighter dog fights and large scale multiplayer sandbox experience which involves taking down capital ships. Clone Wars content will be coming and characters such as General Grievous and Obi Wan Kenobi. The segment closes with the design director reiterating EA and Dice?s continued support of the title and thanking players who have been playing so far.

Unravel two

A boat is shown in rough waters, an interior shot shows Yarny trying to right the ship to no avail. As the boat capsizes Yarny is tossed overboard. Hanging onto to dear life Yarny?s string is snapped and a spark shoots into the sky. Fade to black and then we are joined by Creative Director Martin Sahlin. If you remember back in 2016, Sahlin also was on stage to talk about Unravel, his nervousness charming some of the viewing audience. Still showing some signs on nervousness, Sahlin talks about how yarn is used as a metaphor for love and the bonds between people. In the sequel that yarn is torn apart and Yarny loses everything, including his spark. However hope is always around the corner and we are introduced to another yarn creature, this one constructed of blue yarn. Unravel two can be played as a single player or a co-op experience. Since it is a co-op experience, Coldwood Interactive wanted to add more action sequences to add thrill and danger to the title. The demo shows the two yarny being chased by a wild bird. The two jump, grapple and distract their way out of that sticky situation. Sahlin thanks the team at Coldwood before exiting the stage. Patrick S?derlund of EA Originals then gets on stage, expresses his excitement to play this game with his children and announced the game is available now.

Sea of Solitude

Sea of Solitude: Official Teaser Trailer | EA Play 2018

After confirming that Unravel two is available now, S?derlund goes and gives a little bit more color to EA Originals and how it?s goal is to find independent developers and help bring their titles to market. Josef Fares and the team of Hazelight is brought up and the ?Fuck the Oscars? moment at last year?s VGAs was alluded to. A Way Out?s performance was talked about and how the success of the title enabled Hazelight to expand. So this year?s EA Original highlight is a title from Jo-Mei games titled Sea of Solitude. Representing Jo-Mei games is Cornelia Geppert, creative director. Keeping with tradition the person on stage for EA Originals is often the person that shows the most personality. Geppert starts the presentation extremely flustered and takes about a couple of seconds to compose herself. The pitch of this title is loneliness turns people into monsters (this immediately reminds me of the heartless in kingdom hearts). The player controls Kay as she tries to return to her human form after turning into a monster. A trailer is played showing the game?s unique visuals and it?s extremely waterlogged environments, no release window is shown.

NBA Live 2019

A disembodied voice wax poetically about basketball. Locations of the courts include American arenas as well as Parisian streetball courts. Branded sneakers are shown rapid fire and eventually the video ends with a parade of people saying ?they are the one? and closes with ?this is my squad?. The end card shows that NBA Live 2019 will release on September 7th. The game is given zero stage time as we move onto the next video package

Madden NFL 19

We finally see the words ?It?s in the Game? as we are introduced to Shay Kivlen aka ?Young Kiv?. We are given a recap of his journey to his victory in the 2018 Madden Bowl. After the video is over Young Kiv enterst the stage with Pittsburgh Steelers Wide Receiver Juju Smith-Schuster, both men are dressed like they just walked off a set of a music video. Smith-Schuster does an impromptu interview with Young Kiv on how he got into the Pro-Madden Scene. Kiv proclaimed he was always competitive, playing sports until an injury caused him to switch to esports. He recalled the sacrifices he had to make for his competitive dreams, opting to ?chase that money? instead of attending his own graduation. Clearly those sacrifices were worth it as Kiv possesses the championship belt. Smith-Schuster then announces the trailer to Madden 2019 will debut at the EA play event and challenges Kiv to a rematch before the two walk off the stage.

Command and Conquer: Rivals

Michael Martinez of Westwood Studios and shoutcaster Nathanias are. They?re looking to do something different, so different that they don?t even bother telling you the title of the game, hoping that the viewing public can piece together what games Redwood Studios did to infer the name of this title. They explain the rules of this mobile game and we are introduced to the players. First up is iNcontroL playing on the blue side (according to a required google search he?s a former pro-starcraft player turned shoutcaster who happens to not be South Korean), his opponent is nickatnyte (insert obligatory vintage sitcom cable channel joke here). If you?re into watching RTS matches I?m sure you?re able to derive some entertainment, unfortunately for me I am not one of those people. I took this opportunity to go get lunch. The match ends after two communally available nuclear missile is secured and fired at the opponent?s base by a player (I?m pretty sure naturally occurring nuclear missiles don?t exist?). Mercifully the match ends with iNcontroL in control. After the players and the shoutcaster leaves stage, Martinez finally reveals the name of the title. Command and Conquer: Rivals will be available for both IOS and Android. Android users will be able to access the beta. A trailer is then shown ending with a digital appearance from Command and Conquer staple, Kane whose role in this title will be to prod you to make in app purchases.

EA Cares…I guess

Andrew Wilson returns to discuss some how EA?s goal is to make great games and entertain people. He then segways into the charitable efforts the company is partaking in with the company. Hoping to further remove the ?worst company in the world? stigma which it has garnered in the past (unfairly, mind you.), he mentions that EA?s Play to Give program now in its 3rd year took place last week and through the program help contribute over 1 million dollars to 3 charities. These charities include He for She, National Bullying Prevention Center and Ditch the Label. Wilson thanks the viewers for the privilege of making games to entertain you and then presents the finale of this press conference.


Anthem Official Cinematic Trailer (2018)

Three members of the Bioware team join Andrea Rene for a deep dive regarding anthem. The panelists are General Manager Casey Hudson, Executive Producer Mark Darrah and Lead Writer Cathleen Rootsaert. Bioware is looking to create a dynamic experience with Anthem, Hudson declares Anthem is not a MMO, and it?s not a Multiplayer game with story bolted to its side. The phrase ?living shared world? gets thrown around during conversation. The game is also designed so that story elements can be added years after launch. The suit of armor finally gets a name, the Javelin. There are 4 types of javelin suits and they are Ranger, Colossus, Interceptor and Storm. Your character is a freelancer and can utilize the 4 types of classes depending on missions you want to take on. Questions from Twitter are eventually fielded, providing insights into player customization, monetization and the co-op gameplay. A short demo is shown and the mission that is being showcased is called ?Scars and Villainy?. The player is shown running, flying and swimming through a lush jungle environment, freezing enemies and then assaulting them with gun fire. The freelancers are successful in accomplishing their mission before being sidetracked and discovering a hideous creature. Hudson and Rene return to the stage to announce the release date February 22nd 2019 and a longer version of the video will be available at the EA Play event. Rene then closes out the show reminding viewers of the downloads and trials that are available now and then a closing montage is shown before the stream switches to the FIFA Mini-tournament (I?m still not covering it.)

Author?s Take

EA despite it?s wealth of IPs, isn?t an entity I particularly follow that closely. So I?m not even sure why I?m the person providing coverage for Gaming Age. With that said all the titles presented look very visually appealing, even if I have very to play them. I?d say the title which generated the most interest for me would be Sea of Solitude. Jokes regarding how this is a Kingdom Hearts Heartless spinoff aside, having played the other EA Original (A Way Out) and enjoying it immensely, I?m open to see if Kay recovers her humanity and to find out why everything is so wet in that world. Frostbite seems to be everywhere, powering several titles in the showcase. EA did quite the 180 regarding ingame purchases going out of their way to proclaim that titles will not have them and the only purchases are cosmetic only. The cloud gaming bit came out of left field but if this means I can play the old Genesis strategy game General Chaos I?m all for it. Origin Access Premier will unlikely move the needle for EA in the PC marketplace. Will Unravel two have a physical version which doesn?t include the game code in the box, rather the code is on the store receipt? Is Unravel Three going to have a yellow Yarny thus completing the RGB? Skate 4 still isn?t a thing and in fact the only old IP revived is Command and Conquer and it?s in a format that?s sure to incite some torch and pitchfork campaigns. It?s also surprising that details regarding the sports titles were deferred to a later date, with FIFA getting the most time (although the UEFA license acquisition and the fact that the world cup starts in a week were probably contributing factors). Also no Hockey, despite the fairy tale Stanley Cup finals we just witnessed. Also a note for those aspiring games writers, if you?re covering a conference, do not watch another outlet?s coverage of the conference. As much as I am a consumer of Giant Bomb and Kinda Funny, sometimes these talking heads will be screaming non-sequiturs during show causing you to miss important details. i.e. somehow both Jeff Gerstmann and Greg Miller were just a little too loud on their respective streams, so I missed the ?Royale?announcement during the Battlefield V segment.

So for me this is a rather slow start to E3 2018, tomorrow will be the first of the Big Three publishers, but my eyes are focused intensely on Devolver Digital?s event. Not only is their show usually weird, but this year they are teasing a game which I thought would never formally make it to America, despite it being bursting at the seams with Americana. I?m not going to allude to the title here lest I get disappointed tomorrow. But even if there is sligh disappointments I?m sure there will be a silver lining. Please stay tuned to Gaming Age as we will provide you with the coverage you need for E3 2018.