E3 is inching closer and closer to double digit days—closer and closer to the apocalypse. Okay, fine, the end of days is unrelated to video games (it’s definitely coming, though, because we have a big wild animal in a major seat of power), but it’s a sure sign of a breaking point. E3 is amidst a transition period as they commit to opening up to the public, and this tortuous—if still exciting—dilation is emblematic of that incomplete shift.
Hence EA Play, Electronic Arts’ branded mishmash of fans and industry folk. Their open-to-the-public Fan Fest starts and ends entirely before E3 even begins while their press conference unceremoniously injects an additional negative countdown into the marathon week. (Day 0, Day -1, and Day -2! That’s as many actual days the E3 floor is open.) A schism is coming. Whether it’s violent or graceful or just plain ol’ sloppy, fans and press/marketing/developers/purchasers aren’t going to be able to intermingle for much longer.
And that signaling starts this year with EA Play, a competent but unexciting and predictable starters pistol. What’s Good Games cofounder Andrea Rene has taken the hosting reins this year and did a terrific job, but the material backing her was a bit lackluster. Let’s get into it.
E3 bingo starts out strong with battle royale blasting off right out of the gates. Not a surprising announcement considering, well, it’s EA and they have eyeballs. (Apparently to the chagrin of fans.) What is surprising, however, is that we don’t know anything else. No player count, no gameplay changes, nothing. Just the usual placard of more vehicles, destruction, etc.
Look for it on October 19, 2018, on PlayStation 4, Xbox One, and PC.
Actually one of the bigger announcements was tucked away in the FIFA 19 segment: EA has taken control of the official Champions League license after 10 uninterrupted years of Konami and Pro Evolution Soccer. Pretty cool for the folks that care, but it was generally smothered amidst Battlefield V footage, Command & Conquer rage bait, and the inscrutable Anthem talk. (We’ll get to the latter two soon.)
It releases on September 28, 2018, on basically every platform you could possibly still have plugged in.
Streaming Games…for Money!
This is another step in an emerging trend among publishers to get people used to the idea of not owning games. It’s all short-term licensing under the guise of facilitated access, which to their credit is true. It’s the way the Internet has been pushing us all with Netflix, Hulu, all your mobile games in the App Store and Google Play. This is just EA’s own push into the space following their acquisition of GameFly’s streaming tech last month.
Star Wars Jedi: Fallen Order
Well, we have a name, I guess, so that’s fun. We’ll probably have more news between now and its holiday 2019 release.
Star Wars Battlefront II Clone Wars DLC
Design director Dennis Brannvall calling Battlefront II‘s launch a “rough start” is pretty much all you need to know about corporate control. I guess we’ll just never mention again how EA fucked it up sooooo bad that the government almost put its boot on the industry’s throat, huh. That’s fine. That’s totally fine.
Man, fuck that bird. But I’m super glad Coldwood Interactive is getting another chance at Yarny. That first outing was kind of rocky, failing to capture much of what made people so interested in this earnest little tale to begin with. But throw a buddy in there and three years of introspection and I’ll mix it up with them again.
It’s out now on PlayStation 4, Xbox One, and PC.
Sea of Solitude
That presentation took a turn. Really cool, but gosh was no one expecting it to get that real. This is a fraught indie game about how isolation transforms people and how it frames life as more of a crucible than anything else. It’s a bold and cool project for EA to embrace with its Originals program.
Look for it early next year on PlayStation 4, Xbox One, and PC.
NBA Live 19
How dare they open on a shot of an outdoor cage court and not let it be a new NBA Street game. That’s, uh, that’s all I’ve got.
It releases on September 7, 2018, on PlayStation 4, and Xbox One.
Madden NFL 19
Somehow I have even less to say about this game. It comes out on the PlayStation 4, Xbox One, and PC on August 10, 2018.
Command & Conquer: Rivals
What a brutal reveal. People unabashedly love Command & Conquer, but they reservedly endorse Clash Royale. Smash them together and you’ve got…a really angry fanbase? Those like/dislike ratios are getting rough on YouTube, and the general Twitter temperature isn’t much better, so we’ll see how this resolves once the initial knee-jerk reaction is over.
There’s no release date, but a pre-alpha test will be coming to North America soon.
What an unbelievably confusing set of trailers. The above cinematic is continues to sell us on what we’ve already seen. Namely, Iron Man space suits in an alien jungle. That’s cool, but we need more. (More besides a very…odd decision to chop and screw Muse’s “Uprising.”) And here comes this bit.
It looks like an incredibly aware and blissfully unaware combination of things fans have vocally said they’ve loved and hated from BioWare and recent games of similar ilk. Like, look at those numbers pop off those enemies! That’s some good Destiny stuff.
But BioWare has never been known for its gunplay, whereas Bungie built its name on that. And without any mention of story and romance—from the studio that made the choice to smooch the choice to make in video games—they seemed to have arrived at the complete wrong conclusion following Andromeda. And really, after that game, it’s pretty much do or die time for BioWare.
And for that, we get a visually uninteresting set of mech suits punching and shooting monsters where apparently only one class will get cool powers. There’s a lot of squinting discernment happening across the Internet right now.
It comes out on the PlayStation 4, Xbox One, and PC on February 22, 2019.