Electronic Arts’ EA Play E3 2018 Press Event Notes

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.


FIFA 19

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.

Screaming as loud as you possibly can but nobody can hear you

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

Battlefront II
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.


Unravel Two
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.

Madden 19
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.

Anthem
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.

Overall
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.

Burnout Paradise Remastered on March 16th for Consoles

Electronic Arts announced a remastered version of Burnout Paradise coming to the PlayStation 4, and the Xbox One on March 16th for $40. The Windows version will be on Origin “soon” but  doesn’t have a release date yet.

This version will include all of the original Paradise’s DLC, like the Big Surf Island expansion and cars that look like close to famous rides (KITT, Ecto-1, and more) from movies and TV. Big Surf Island and all were never on Windows before, but you can still get another version of Burnout Paradise on Steam (or Origin) for $20. The Xbox 360 game is also backwards compatible on the Xbox One.

Paradise is a fine game, and this version’s mainly boasting about updates to the graphical fidelity with a 4k resolution and 60 frames-per-second on the PlayStation 4 Pro and Xbox One X, but I’ll always miss a real crash mode from the older Burnout games. It’ll be good to read impressions once this update is out.

Battlefield 1’s Announcement Trailer

It’s difficult to write about today’s Battlefield 1 announcement. What DICE showed today was a completely computer-generated trailer. It does promise new biplanes, airships, sea ships, horses, multi-position bombers, flamethrowers, swords, and slap flights with shovels. But without any gameplay footage, it’s hard to say what we can actually expect from the finished product when it arrives this October 21st for Playstation 4, Windows, and Xbox One.

That said, I enjoyed watching this trailer more than the new Call of Duty trailer.

Electronic Arts’ E3 2015 News

Here’s the news from the EA E3 press briefing:

  • The new Mass Effect has a name, it’s Mass Effect: Andromeda. “Discover a new galaxy.”
  • Need for Speed. No subtitle. Customization, what a surprise. “A new narrative.” with five ways to play. November 3rd. Looks good. I’ve been playing a bunch of Wreckfest lately and getting back into arcade racing.
  • Star Wars: The Old Republic has a new expansion, Knights of the Fallen Empire. October 27th. Free to paid subscribers, free 2 play players are left out I guess?
  • “…next two original IPs…” STOP SAYING “IP”
  • Unravel. A cat made out of yarn called Yarny. Puzzle-platformer. The yarn that Yarny is made out of unravels while you move. It’s nice to have a completely different tone to this than the extreme bro-ocity of Need For Speed.
  • Of course we have to revisit Plants vs Zombies: Garden Warfare 2. A zombie walks out on stage in a super hero outfit. The Zombie is ushered offstage while a joke, “You can’t take Zombies anywhere.” is delivered flatly and received by the audience with no reaction. Excuse me while I take a 5 minute power nap. Zombie co-op mode called Graveyard Ops. Local split-screen. A timer on-screen reminds us that it is only 35 minutes to Star Wars: Battlefront. Garden Warfare 2 launches spring 2016. Free content updates are promised.
  • NHL 16. Lots of Tim Hortons advertisements on the boards.
  • PGA Tour.
  • EA Sports Ultimate Team. It’s the same dumb card game thing.
  • NBA Live 16. “Rooted in self-expression.” Hoop God is here to show us how to do stuff. Face scanning. Face scanning is the stuff Hoop God is here to show us how to do. September 29th. Phone app for the face scanning. Apparently it’s spelled THAHoopGawd. “Up your swag.” No, up your swag. Dude only has one tweet.
  • Here’s a little secret between you and me, I didn’t even know that the Golden State Warriors were a professional team and I’ve been in Oakland since 2011. I thought they were a college team.
  • Star Wars: Galaxy of Heroes collectible card game for phones.
  • Minions Paradise. I’ve never see any of the Despicable Me movies. This awful game has two currency systems on screen already.
  • Pelé is on screen talking over a montage of football video. Now he’s on stage. The crowd rose to all take cell-phone photos. Nobody think about the current FIFA scandal. Nothing is wrong in the world of football. Pelé is here to make you feel better.
  • FIFA 16. “Tons of innovations in our game.”  We’re once again reminded that it there are only 15 minutes until Star Wars: Battlefront. “Women’s teams are in the game. Okay, that’s legitimately innovative.
  • What would life be like if we willingly gave up our privacy?” I don’t know, is Eric Schmidt up next to tell us about how we’ve been doing that for years? Oh, never mind. It’s Mirror’s Edge: Catalyst. “She doesn’t need any guns.” Correct, Faith doesn’t. Please don’t ruin Catalyst with them. In-engine footage. February 23rd, 2016. Awesome. The game looks like they’ve been inspired by the lens-flares of Mass Effect.
  • Madden 16. Some dude from ESPN 2. I just hear the trombone sound of the parents from Peanuts speaking. Draft Champions is helpfully on-screen because I had forgotten what they were talking about. Fantasy football. That’s what they were talking about. I’m checking on my Fallout: Shelter on the iPhone.
  • Fuck the timer, the Battlefront trailer is already on YouTube:
  • Peter Moore is speaking about Star Wars: Battlefront but not showing the trailer.
  • They’re finally playing some Star Wars music in the background and trying to convince us how much they care about Star Wars.
  • Multiplayer and AI battles for singleplayer.
  • They’re still not showing game footage on stage. They just keep talking.
  • They’re finally playing the exact same trailer that is on their YouTube channel. The view switches between first and third-person. The schwartz is strong with this one.
  • No Battlefield 5 mentioned during this one. Did they not want to confuse people or what?

That’s it.