With EA officially kicking off E3 (sorry Google but you don’t get to decide E3 starts two days earlier just because you said so) I jumped into their EA Play event curious at what I would see. For those unaware, EA decided to do something a bit different with their press conference by… well, not having a press conference. Instead, today’s EA Play event was 6 different segments all dedicated to 6 different EA titles. Well, according to the internet it went poorly last year when Sony tried to do something similar, but the question of the day is, did EA pull it off. Time to find out what the good, the bad, and the ugly were for EA’s E3.
EA Showing Support for (most) of Their Franchises
With EA giving time to Apex Legends and Sims 4 it was great to see the publisher give time to games that has a dedicated fan, especially the latter. as Sims 4 has been out since before Sims 3… you figure it out. So what’s new with these games? Well, at least with Apex, before you can know where you’re going, you need to know where you’ve been, and since Apex Legends’ release back in January, fans have been on a roller coaster of emotions: Excited, disappointed, bored, or as the Thesaurus would put it, the blahs. With the announcement of Season 2, along with the recent updates made to Season one, fans who found themselves disappointed with the lack of content the game offered are hopefully excited for what’s to come. Besides a new character, players should expect new weapons, more character skins, and most interestingly, map events. After having a really exciting launch, Apex may have stumbled a bit, but Season 2 appears to be getting the game right back on track.
As for Sims 4, the game is introducing Island Living which, for long time Sims fans, will give players a chance to leave the stressful neighborhood where you’ve got responsibilities like work, finding a partner, taking care of the kids, and making sure you don’t pee all over the kitchen floor. If you play Sims, you get it. Along with Island Living players can expect new jobs as well as new clothes. As I said earlier its just good to see EA sticking by their franchises, whether it’s one of their huge hits of 2019 like Apex Legends or something with a dedicated fanbase like Sims 4.
Old Dogs, New Tricks
One criticism that EA often faces is that their sports games are just yearly roster updates. As someone that loves sports games, I can concur that usually its best to jump in every other year to avoid the deja-vu that might come with playing every yearly installment of Madden or FIFA. This year though, give credit where it’s due.
While FIFA will be rolling out more information throughout the year, the newest addition to the game, a mode called Volta was shown off today. From what I understand people all around around the world play something called Fútbol and this sport is popular that people don’t just go to stadiums and watch it played professionally, they actually play it themselves in the streets. Well, with Volta, if you’re someone like me that knows there are cars in the streets, this mode looks to offer players a unique and different way of experience the sport by putting the sport in a smaller area of play and allowing customizable rules such as number players (3v3, 4v4, 5v5) or even no goalies. I think this new addition is a great idea. For older players, we all remember the EA Street series and though they were never able to give us the joy of the famous Backyard Sports series, it did come pretty close and I for one am very excited to see the Street series come back in a new and unique way.
Madden is my personal favorite EA sports title and I think I speak for every Madden fan when I say that we miss having college football games and though Madden 20 isn’t giving us the full experience of college, with their new career mode, players will be able to take a college Quarterback and compete in the college playoff before heading off to the NFL. Besides a new career mode, this year’s game is offering a lot more player scenarios where actual players will have to answer media questions, and my personal favorite new favorite feature, X-Factor Abilities. With this, top rated players in the league will actually have abilities that other players don’t. I think this feature is great because there have been far too many times when I’ve played against a legend like Tom Brady but not noticed any difference. With this new feature playing against the best in the sport will actually feel like it.
Star Wars… What Happened?
Perhaps I’m in the minority with this one, but I personally thought that one of the biggest let downs of the entire show was the gameplay reveal for Star Wars Jedi: Fallen Order. My disappointment isn’t that the game looked bad. After watching the reveal, I thought to myself, “I bet a lot of people are going to love playing an Uncharted-like Star Wars game.” While the force powers looked like fun, the game looked linear and that the main focus of the game was going to be more on the story rather than gameplay, and considering that developer Respawn is responsible for one of the greatest first-person shooter campaigns of all-time, I have the utmost confidence that they can deliver a great Star Wars story. For me though, I’m not really looking for a great story when it comes to a Star Wars game, I want great gameplay and this is where the confusion and disappointment comes in.
After EA presentation was over, Game Informer then launched their newest cover story which was, in fact, on Star Wars Jedi: Fallen Order. While I haven’t had the chance to read the cover, I did get a chance to listen to their 30 minute discussion about the game and it was after listening to their discussion that my confusion began to set in. Metroid Prime and Dark Souls are the two inspirations this game is taking from, not Uncharted. Um… huh? From players being able to jump back and forth between planets to find items that will help them unlock secrets on other worlds to enemies respawning after you reach a save point, the game that the GI crew described couldn’t have been further from what I saw at the EA presentation.
My where exactly is my disappointment coming from? Well, for me, and I understand that a lot of fans loved what they saw today, this is yet another example of EA doing one of their games a disservice. Fallen Order was one of my most anticipated games of the year and if it wasn’t for Game Informer’s coverage, I don’t know that I was even planning on buying it after what EA revealed.
The Best You Got?
Overall, other than the Battlefield 5 coverage, and that’s only because I don’t play that game, I enjoyed everything that was shown off today. The question I have though, is did the event really need to happen? If you’re someone that was able to go and enjoy the event live, perhaps you have a different perspective, but as someone who was watching at home, I just kept wondering, what’s the point. Everything shown could have just been individual videos released on EA’s youtube account. By announcing that Sims 4 was going to be getting it’s own spotlight during EA Play, my mind started wandering. What could be shown? While I’m thrilled that fans are happy about the new expansion, I was expecting more.
Something else that falls under the category of “more” was Bioware. Yes, I understand that the company is keeping their head down and working non-stop to make Anthem the game people hoped it would be and yes I’m aware that they put out an update video a week before EA Play, but with EA’s history of shutting down failing studios, Bioware not being on that stage gives fan pause. In my opinion, the concern of the fans could have been wiped away if at the end of EA Play, Greg Miller or whatever host they had at the time, comes out and say that they’ve got one more thing and it’s a new Dragon Age Trailer. Even if that game is intended for the Xbox conference or if it’s not suppose to be at the show at all because it’s not coming out for several more years, just showing fans that something new was still coming from Bioware would have gone a long way.
Overall Score: C
EA streamed a conference made for fans and I think that each individual piece of EA Play did it’s job by getting fans excited for upcoming projects. As a whole though, the overall future of EA’s game lineup is still in the air and showing fans just a hint of something new would have gone a long way. That being said, I play 4 of the 6 games mentioned today so EA is doing something right.