The Electronic Entertainment Expo media conferences for 2018 have started off. Electronic Arts is up first with their EA Play conference hosted by the internet’s Andrea Rene. Here’s everything that EA announced:
Battlefield V Updates & The Least Surprising Addition to Any Multiplayer FPS Shipping in 2018:
Oskar Gabrielson and Lars Gustavsson showed up from DICE to tell us about Battlefield V’s World War 2 multiplayer. They talked about how “…you’ll be able to dive and smash through Windows to surprise your enemies” which really just sounds like slightly improved vaulting. That previously stationary defenses can be moved by attaching them to vehicles. A video clip showed a tank pulling an anti-aircraft gun around. Gabrielson and Gustavsson also promised better destruction. This time the video clip demonstrated a tank driving through a building without much trouble. Customization is supposed to be improved, for both aesthetics and functionally for gameplay.
The BF V single player war stories are supposed to have “…real and relatable people facing the brutality of war” for that mode’s characters. The wacky gameplay of Battlefield has never translated to anything real or relatable in the past, so I’m not sure why anyone would believe that.
For their least surprising surprise, to which the audience emitted a tremendous sound as if they were shocked, Battlefield V will have a battle royale mode. They promise it’ll be a unique take on the mode with Battlefield’s destruction, teams, and vehicles.
BF V is out on October 16th and the developers once again promised “…no lootboxes, no premium pass.” The premium pass has split previous DICE multiplayer games by those with access to it who can join any server running any map and go literally to the front of the line to join any full server with a premium queue, and those who don’t have it who are forced to the back of the line if they can join at all.
The premium pass was always a bad idea, and somehow DICE made it worse by separating friends who couldn’t play together when they didn’t all have access to the same maps, and leaving some servers as ghost towns if they were rotating old maps. Of all the Battlefield games I’ve played Battlefield 1 the least because of the way it regressed in basic multiplayer functionality when I previously put hundreds of hours into 2, 3, 4, and the various spinoff games.
I don’t particularly care for going back to World War 2, it was tiresome and played out after Call of Duty: World at War a decade ago. Looking up the November 11th, 2008 release date for that game has now made me feel incredibly old. Despite the setting and all of EA’s missteps with Battlefield I’m still looking forward to BF V.
A soccer videogame trailer plays. Soccer balls whoosh by the camera in slow motion, in medium motion, in real-time motion. Video artifacts are interrupting the trailer as if it were a trailer from a decade ago. Is 2018 the return of sweaty closeups of sportsmen? “Yes!” chants the crowd of EA’s biggest fans and developers from the multitude of EA’s studios. Their chants grow louder. A man is frozen in FIFA’s phantom zone behind the game’s executive producer, Aaron Mchardy, and senior producer, Lina Ingvarsdotitr. This version will have the UEFA Champions League. It’ll be out on September 28th. Last year’s FIFA 18 game has been updated with a World Cup experience of some kind. There’s also a free demo version of FIFA 18 up on the Xbox One, PlayStation 4, and Origin, temporarily.
EA’s OnLive Garbage & Origin Access Premier in Andrew Wilson’s Soapbox
EA’s CEO Andrew Wilson shows up to bore us to death by talking about consumer consumption and how he regards the sole value of people as the things they buy and the method in which they buy them. Cloud gaming is mentioned. He wants people to subscribe to an online service to stream game video from a server to whatever device they have, having even less ownership of a game product than people do now and more latency between your controller or mouse and keyboard input and the output video and audio than ever before.
Also, remember DICE’s promise that lootboxes and premium passes are gone for Battlefield V? Forget all of that. It didn’t happen. Origin Access Premier subscribers get Battlefield V five days early and get 20 weekly “airlifts” remember, they’re not called lootboxes so they can’t be the same thing.
Origin Access Premier is an eye-watering $100 per year, or $15 a month. If you had subscribed to Origin Access, their previous subscription service on the Xbox One and Windows, you’re now on Origin Access Basic and it was $5 or $30 a year but apparently that wasn’t enough money. They’ll be prompting you to upgrade to the Premier service.
While both subscription service offered access to a collection of games, the original Origin Access only let you play brand new games for something like ten hours before you had to pony-up and buy the game (at a 10% discount) if you wanted to keep playing, this service will give you access to the game without a time limitation as long as you’re subscribed to the service. As before it also lets you play games a few days before anyone else, making it critical for game reviewers.
Can you imagine all of the services you can now subscribe to on an Xbox One? Xbox Live Gold to access multiplayer, Xbox Games Pass to get temporary access to Microsoft published games, and now Origin Access Premier to get temporary access to Electronic Arts’ games.
Why would you ever buy a game again when you can own nothing but have temporary access to everything. Your life is now entirely leased. Good luck sharing any games with future generations, they’re gone the minute that Microsoft needs to move on to a future platform and mark this version of their Xbox Live service as obsolete. Origin Access Premier will be a long-forgotten memory at that point.
The good news is that Madden 19 will be on Windows on August 9th, they haven’t had it on Windows in over a decade.
Jedi: Fallen Order
Respawn’s Vince Zampella vaguely discussed a new Star Wars game with Andrea Rene from the audience seats. He said the game would be out late in 2019
Dennis Brännvall, a developer from DICE, appears on stage to not-quite-apologize for the situation with the lootboxes in Battlefront II. Brännvall spoke about all the additions they’ve been making to the game and promised that they would add a Geonosis level, General Grievous, Obi-Wan Kenobi, Count Dooku, Anakin, and other stuff from the clone wars.
It’s like Unravel 1 but with optional co-op. Both characters are on screen either way. Kind of like the Lost Vikings game on the SNES. The developers from Coldwood played a short co-op section where their blue and red Yarny characters were being chased by a turkey. It looks like slightly difficult platforming. It’s out today and it looks like fun.
A Way Out
Patrick Söderlund showed up to talk about how successful A Way Out was and then segued into discussing their next independent partner…
Sea of Solitude
Jo-Mei Games’ Connie Geppert spoke about the game her team from Berlin is making, Sea of Solitude, she says “…when humans get too lonely they turn into monsters, this is at the core of everything you will see, hear, and hopefully feel while playing S.O.S.” Very interesting. Geppert says that it is about a person suffering from loneliness who turns into a monster and the trailer that plays is very reminiscent of Limbo and Inside. S.O.S. looks like a very interesting third-person adventure game, the trailer tells us it’ll be out early in 2019.
NBA Live 19
A basketball game trailer plays that seems to combine indoor, street, and professional basketball gameplay with lots of customization. It’ll be out on September 7th.
Madden NFL Challenge E-Sports Nonsense
A trailer plays telling us about a player, Young Kiv, who was competing in a football e-sports tournament that happened in April. This is June. He shows up on stage with Juju Smith-Schuster from the Steelers. They have some banter about Kiv skipping his graduation to go to a gaming tournament. Yikes.
A trailer plays for the game. It’s football and it’s so uninteresting they have nobody on stage to talk about it.
Command and Conquer: Rivals
The general manager from EA Redwood Shores, Michael Martinez, and the professional “shoutcaster” known simply as Nathanias show up to tell us about the mobile real-time strategy game and oh no there is an onstage competition between players called “iNcontrol” and “nickatnight.” The player known as “iNcontrol” wins. It’ll be on iOS and Android at some indeterminate point in the future. The game looks like a response to Clash Royale and other mobile strategy games, look forward to it shutting down if it doesn’t hit whatever internal target and the Command and Conquer name being dragged through the mud again the next time EA decides they want to compete with a strategy game. Of course this game could be good, but remember that they’ve laid off the team that made the game that people once cared about and this team probably features none of the original developers. A trailer that is about 2% actual gameplay footage plays.
Andrew Wilson’s Soapbox Part 2
Andrew Wilson returns to the stage to keep earning that boat money. He decides to insult the people watching the press conference by talking about how EA has reformed and the “grind” to earn things in games is gone. Wilson tells us that “We are always trying to learn and listen and strive to be better.” and then he proceeds to tell us how we should think and feel about games, EA’s games. Wilson tells us about the 1 million dollars that EA donated to three charities. Andrew Wilson received a salary of almost 20 million dollars last year according to Salary.com. Andrew Wilson could have personally tripled that donation and still bought several boats. The audience claps for Wilson when he talks about the 1 million donation as if it were a meaningful portion of EA’s profits.
A trailer plays for Destiny of Duty. There are jetpacks and robot suits with no meaningful story or reason. A giant boss monster appears before a late title.
BioWare’s Casey Hudson, Mark Darrah, and Cathleen Rootsaert appear onstage with Andrea Rene to talk about the game. It’s a worthless interview because it’s just an opportunity for the company to talk to itself with prepared questions and answers. It’s another insult to anyone watching it, but a fine example of why journalism and game criticism still have a real place in 2018. A company has nothing interesting to say when it’s this prepared. The people manage to sneak in a few thoughts about the game they’re talking about, but nobody cares about Anthem until they play it. Anthem is out on February 22nd, 2019.
Ultimately, I feel like this is a fundamental misunderstanding of the purpose of a press event. It attempts to reach press as well as players, but only truly succeeds at insulting press and players with faux-sincerity that Andrew Wilson can’t even maintain during his soapbox speeches as he delivers messaging that is just so completely out of tune with the game-playing audience. As much as Apple has fucked up lately, they still generally understand the purpose of their press events, to introduce products for use and criticism. The pinnacle of the ridiculousness at this year’s EA event was the e-sport play for the mobile Command and Conquer game that nobody knows or has had a chance to build enthusiasm for.
The on-stage Anthem interview was awful. The people participating on-stage at this event who don’t typically work for EA have no credibility because they have been co-opted by Andrew Wilson’s company to present a corporate message instead of legitimate critical thought and discussion that can’t really have a place on-stage during a press event.
Hopefully next year EA will show their products and keep Andrew Wilson off the stage because he cannot open his mouth without insulting everyone in the room who isn’t in the investor class of self-important assholes that don’t know why they’ve experienced success and can’t relate with any kind of real sincerity.