When was the last time EA had a recently good E3 show? 2013? 2014? Guess what? They had a brilliant show again for the first time in years!
Just kidding, it was still bad.
This is not your usual Star Wars game
A year after that sort of weird announce of its name and date, we finally got our first look at Star Wars: Jedi – Fallen Order from Respawn Entertainment. It was EA’s marquee game of the entire EA Play event, this time consisting of individual shows for each game that was being presented rather than one whole press conference in a change to the format. In fact, it was the game that started everything off.
For the lack of a better term, it was fine, but also underwhelming? Let me explain better here.
Graphically, it looks great and storywise, it’ll fit in the canon of Star Wars, taking place after Episode III/Order 66 and where you’ll run into one or two familiar faces in the franchise, including Forest Whitaker’s character from Rogue One, Gerrera. And this is Respawn Entertainment, who’ve made three of the best shooters games in the past five years with both Titanfall games and Apex Legends (I’ll get to the latter below). You’d be absolutely stupid to underestemate Respawn (and I say that as someone who has in the past with Titanfall 2).
But this felt like a very typical by the numbers video game. And that’s not a good thing. For one, when you play a Star Wars game, you expect the gameplay to be frantic and fast-paced. Here, it felt slow and very methodical. At the start, that made no sense. But as the demo went on, it actually clicked that this felt more in line with the gameplay of the Souls games/Sekiro. And that is, in theory, very interesting. However, for a demo presentation that lasted fifteen minutes, it was not as enticing. Maybe when playing it, that opinion will change. But for a fifteen-minute video demo, it didn’t sit well.
It also doesn’t help that it has the most basic and dull protagonist that’s been in a game for a good while. And that cover too.
Like I said, I’d be a fool to doubt Respawn, especially when it has God of War III director Stig Asmussen on the team, but as first impressions go, it was fine. But for a Star Wars game, fine doesn’t exactly cut it. You need to be wowed. And that didn’t quite happen (except, admittedly, for a moment where you force pull a Stormtrooper towards you and you kill it by force pushing it back towards a plasma it fired a second earlier – that was cool).
It also has spiders. And my arachnaphobic ass screamed out NOPE the second I seen them bastards.
FIFA Street lives on
FIFA 20’s key feature for this year is the return of FIFA Street.
And we’re done here, thanks for reading, goodnight. Oh wait, there was more. Right.
Look, I snark, but the FIFA Street games were legitimately good fun games. Not games that’d set the world on fire, but were games that were fun enough to play with friends (ha, friends… *All By Myself plays whisper quietly in the background*).
Now, EA’s bringing it back not only as a feature as part of the numbered FIFA franchise, but under a new guise: Volta. I was looking up what the meaning of the word was in conjunction with football and it turns out it’s – surprise- a buzzword created by EA to call street football or futsal a different name. Which is weird? Okay, not that weird considering who it is, but still.
The developers of the game also batted up the fact you can create your character as male or female, citing the latter as an innovation and right, fuck that noise. You say it’s an innovation, but it shouldn’t be an innovation as much as it’s a basic thing. It was a bad play by EA to trumpet that as a key thing when it should be a standard thing. And no mention of women’s football at all, especially as the Women’s World Cup has just gotten underway too when it was a big thing for the game a year or two ago is incredibly disappointing.
There was no big extended gameplay blowout, otherwise. For the most part, it was about Volta and three key differences to gameplay mechanics this year: on the ball, off the ball and the ball itself, as well as newly revamped free-kick and penalty systems. Feature wise, there’ll be more to talk about, including Volta and FIFA Ultimate Team, in August (so its traditional slot of gamescom, then).
FIFA is a yearly tradition and I’m obviously picking up FIFA 20 on September 27. But a whole lot of its first showing outside of Volta didn’t scream ‘enticing’ when the presentation was happening.
– Apex Legends rolled out the first details of Season 2 as it looks to make up for the disappointing Season 1. And it was actually the best-presented game throughout the entire event. Called Battle Charge, the new season will see new weapon L-Star (the plasma-fueled EMG from Titanfall 2), new legend Wattson, a new way to play with a ranked mode with ranks based from bronze to Apex Legend and a map event that was teased at the end of the presentation. It legitimately looks enticing and I’m sorta tempted to hop back into the game a few months out. Needless to say, this looks like it’ll be a better season than Season 1.
– Battlefield V unveiled its roadmap up through to Autumn. Four new maps coming as part of Season 4 – Morita, Al-Sunden, Lofoten Island and Provance plus the inclusion of tighter maps that allow for close-range combat and close-quarters-combat (CQC). DICE also announced a brand new map called Operation Underground, similar to the map Operation Metro in Battlefield 3. Finally, Season 5 was confirmed to be based around the Pacific Theater as the US and Japan enter World War II. That’s dropping this autumn.
– Madden NFL 20 is a thing. I’ll let this tweet do the talking for me.
– The Sims 4’s new expansion is Island Life and it’s coming out on June 21 for PC/Mac and a month later on July 16 on PlayStation 4 and Xbox One. It has mermaids and dolphins. Also, at one point, they talked about how the island can be affected by the climate crisis and it’s on you to sort it out if your Sim is a conservationist. For me, that felt very icky for me to use the current climate crisis as a marketing tag. And while I get this is a fucking seriously emergency, at the same time, using it as marketing for what is otherwise a video game just rubbed me the wrong way. It also announced on stage a partnership with some YouTube person (no clue who they are, sorry) that they’d be bringing Pride-related items to the game as part of a collaboration with the It Gets Better project. And if nothing else, that is something that can be absolutely appreciated. The next game pack is called Realm of Magic and launches this autumn.
– There were no big game reveals during the event. Like, we don’t know anything on EA’s plans for Early 2020. And there was a lack of EA Originals too, including the game that stole EA’s show last year, Jo-Mei Studios’ Sea of Solitude, which is coming next month. And that was disheartning.
– Anthem got a quick two-minute thing between main presentation games and I don’t know what that says about the game. As freelance writer Jay Castello put it best in a tweet, the most embarassing thing about its appearance is either not appearing on the main stage or just getting a quick two minute slot.
EA Play’s three hour event wasn’t great. It legitimately felt like a slug towards the end to the point where I was wishing for the press conference to return next year. Not to mention, there wasn’t a whole lot of new games to reveal besides FIFA 20 (but that was expected for obvious reasons). This year’s Need for Speed game was already confirmed to be unveiled for later in the year ahead of its autumn release, but it could have been done here frankly.
It’s obvious now that EA’s holding onto the big guns for next year as we begin the countdown to the next-gen transition, something that will truly begin in earnest tomorrow at the Microsoft press conference if the rumours hold up. And that made this year’s show suffer as a result.
Then again, even if that wasn’t the case, EA’s shows are usually very drab and boring. It was the same thing this year, but just extended. Things weren’t exactly helped by the somewhat lackluster appearance of Jedi – Fallen Order.
I’d encourage EA to pick it up for next year – and by right, considering what will happen next year, it should – but even I don’t have it in me to do that. See you all again next year for the dullness.