E3 2018 – EA Conference

Electronic Arts really needed to come out swinging this year after the scandal that was Star Wars: Battlefront II and its horrendous micro-transactions. Unfortunately this conference did little to impress.

The hallmark of EA conferences over the last couple of years has been to showcase the teams and people behind their games. This is always a nice note to see game creators and let them showcase the passion behind their art. This year however these sequences felt drawn out and made the conference feel like it was padding for time.

That’s not to say these segments were bad, just not well placed it what should feel like a showcase of the great games for the year to come.

Unravel Two showed well, and actually looks far more interesting to me than the first game ever did. The mechanics of swinging around and puzzle solving with a friend seem really fun and rewarding. And it is available today.

The highlight of this conference for me was Sea of Solitude from developer Jo-Mei, the concept of a world where emotions have physical consequences seems fascinating, and the speech that was made on stage shows how much thought the developers have put into the story and world they have created.

Battlefront II had a small showing, where they tried to humble themselves and admit to their mistakes (without really saying it), and announced that they are bringing the Clone Wars, Geonosis, General Grievous, Obi-Wan Kenobi, and Anakin Skywalker into the game. All of which feels far too late.

Vince Zampella revealed that his team is working on a new  game titled Star Wars: Jedi Fallen Order, which is set between Episodes III and IV while the Empire is hunting Jedi that survived Order 66. He also revealed that it should release around the holidays in 2019.

Anthem was intended to be EA and Bioware’s big showpiece for this conference and for me it fell flat. Again the showing wasn’t bad but it didn’t really show much of anything different from last years game-play demo. We got a bit more information about the world and why players need to use the Javelin power armor but there wasn’t enough of this to really get me excited about a game that I hope will be a competitor for Destiny when it releases on February 22 2019 (If it doesn’t get delayed).

It doesn’t help that from this showing I don’t have a clear idea about what the game entails. It seems story focused which is great coming from Bioware, and we were told that it can be played solo. But they also mentioned co-op with friends, which seems to be calling them into your game or joining a summons sent out by someone else. Which is just like the system used in Monster Hunter, rather than encountering random players like you do in Destiny. And I very much prefer the later, as when done well it makes the world feel lived in.

EA also showed off a little bit more of Battlefield V and dropped the announcement of a “royale” style game mode to be introduced after the launch of the game, which will have no loot-boxes or premium pass.

Of course they also had the usual assortment of sports games where they anounced a UEFA mode for FIFA 19, and a World Cup mode for FIFA 18 (which is free to play for a short while). As well as a (for some reason) shoutcasted match of a new Command and Conquer mobile game, which currently has a beta in the google play store for Android phones.

In the end this conference would have been served much better as a cut down and edited digital only presentation in the style of a Nintendo Direct, or much like Bethesda’s conference from last year. And I hope that we find out more about Anthem as the week of E3 continues and more people go hands on with the game.

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