It’s my favorite time of the year again! E3 is the week where all of the games are teased with shiny trailers and bits of gameplay. Every year, it happens earlier and earlier, and this year is no exception with EA jumping to be first to showcase. On top of that, they eschewed a huge conference for a more “modest” livestream format.
Star Wars: Jedi Fallen Order
EA brought a fifteen minute preview of Respawn’s new Star Wars title to the show. Releasing on November 15th, Star Wars: Jedi Fallen Order tells the story of a Padawan that survived Order 66. Check out the gameplay below.
A fly in the ointment
With the general information out of the way, I want to take a minute to delve a bit deeper into what Respawn showed at EA Play. From the moment Jedi Fallen Order was teased at last year’s E3, I’ve been worried about what this new game was going to be. After watching the fifteen minutes of gameplay, I can confirm that my concerns were well founded.
I’ve played a great many Star Wars games over the years and can safely say that Jedi Fallen Order brings nothing new to the table. If anything, it looks like a mash of a bunch of other games. All watered-down versions, at that. The climbing mechanics are straight from Uncharted/Tomb Raider. Lightsabers and force powers look like pale imitations from The Force Unleashed or the Jedi Knight series.
Even more fly
Of course, this sounds like nitpicking, but I (and all the other fans) expect a lot from the first single-player Star Wars title EA is putting out. But it was almost painful to watch the gameplay showed at EA Play. The visuals were muddy and the effects looked terrible. Even The force Unleashed – as old as it is – featured stuff like lightsaber marks on the walls and floors wherever the blade touched. Even Jedi Knight: Jedi Outcast II featured better body damage/dismemberment from lightsaber strikes.
The footage shown was labeled as being from an alpha build of the game, but that’s worrisome considering it releases in November. That isn’t much time for improvement. And I can think of more than a few games that showed alpha footage this close to release only to deliver a final product that wasn’t much better.
I still hope that Star Wars: Jedi Fallen Order is a fun, interesting addition to the Star Wars universe, but I feel like fans are being set up for another big disappointment.
EA is spending a lot of resources keeping up with their shooters, and they had a lot to announce this year at E3.
Respawn is ending season 1 with the Legendary Hunt event. There will be challenges for cosmetics, an elite queue (for anyone who has finished in the top five), an XP and Battle Pass loot, as well as a Legendary Hunt Challenge. The latter will reward players with unique skins to show off heading into season 2. The Legendary Hunt Event starts on June 18th.
Season 2 – named Battle Charge – will start on July 2nd. It arrives with a brand new weapon, the L-STAR. This fully automatic plasma weapon is only available in care packages and described as OP by the developers. There will also be a change to the battle pass in season 2 that makes progression challenge based rather than time based. This should allow players to level easier and will provide enough crafting materials to put together a legendary skin at level 100.
There will also be a new ranked mode. With six tiers stretching from Bronze to Apex Predator, it will offer rewards at the end of each season.
To top everything off, Respawn is adding a tenth legend into the mix – Wattson. She’s a defensive character designed for planning ahead and adapting to the shifting landscape of a battle royale. She’s capable of putting out barriers. Her ultimate is a permanent deployable that intercepts grenades and speeds recharge of her other skills as long as it hasn’t been destroyed.
I think the additions to Apex look interesting. I haven’t played the game in a while, but all the new stuff they’re adding makes me think about reinstalling.
Battlefield V is EA’s other competitive shooter and the developers had just as much to announce. The game is getting two new maps – one based in Greece (video below), the other in Northern Africa – on June 27th. They’re also increasing the max player rank from 50 to 500 and adding a bunch of extra goodies to go along with the grind (company coins, rank icons every fifty levels, and dog tags). Finally, they’re making private games available this September.
Chapter 5 will kick off later this year in the Pacific theater. They’re adding three new maps (including Iwo Jima), new weapons, gadgets, vehicles, and amphibious combat. Overall, the addition looks to be absolutely intense, and I can’t wait to see more.
Players will have access to play on Origin Access Vault June 8th and on PS4 when it releases later this month.
FIFA 20 and Madden 20 were announced at EA Play. As usual, each game looks to take last year’s formula and improve upon it.
Street soccer finally makes an appearance in FIFA 20 via Volta football. The game features all new game mechanics EA is calling “Football Intelligence”. The general gist is that this game will give players a bevy of new gameplay mechanics to make it feel more authentic than ever. This new flow will give more time/space to the dribbler, will focus on user-controlled defense, and completely update how the ball moves. Spin affects trajectory and the ball will behave in a more realistic way when it deflects off of players and bounces off of surfaces.
Players excited about the new iteration will be able to get their hands on the game September 27th.
This year, Madden adds five major new features. First, there’s the “Face of the Franchise” story mode that allows players to create a quarterback and take them from college playoffs to NFL super-stardom. They’ve added a scenario engine that features dynamic challenges. New playbooks, including over 200 RPO (run pass option) plays. There are ultimate missions now, though I’m not really sure I understand what they are even after hearing the description. All signs point to a streamlined version of missions that have been in previous version of the game. Finally, players now have X-factor abilities that make them even more explosive on the field.
The changes sound significant and should be exciting to followers of the series. There will be a closed beta June 14-16th. Stay tuned to EAs “social channels” for chances to score codes.
The Sims 4
EA finished out the day with the announcement of a new Sims 4 expansion – Island Living. This Polynesian-themed island features a seamless transition from land to water, mermaids, new homes and furniture, dolphin pals and anything else a player could want from an island paradise.
Most interesting, however, is the conservationist career that accompanies the expansion. Players who decide to care for the island will see it become more lush over time, but ignoring the environment will have a negative impact on the surroundings. Though it isn’t clear how pronounced the changes will be, it’s an interesting design choice that could prove very interesting to see in action.
There were a few other announcements as well. A partnership with “It Gets Better” will see the addition of pride clothing and gender neutral bathrooms this summer. A Sims 4 Moschino stuff pack is coming this summer. And the next gamepack, Realm of Magic, is coming this fall.
It’s (not) in the game
Overall, I’m disappointed with EA’s offering for E3 2019. Considering the fiasco with Battlefront 2 and Battlefield V last year, and Anthem’s poor reception earlier this year, I expected more. Instead of coming to E3 with some really exciting stuff, EA decided to play it safe. They stuck with their yearly franchises and gave a bit more details about the Star Wars game they awkwardly teased at last year’s conference. There was no talk of Anthem or it’s non-existent road map. There was no hint of the next Dragon Age game that’s currently in the pipeline.
I really feel like EA’s conference set the tone for E3 2019. While there are a few announcements that have me absolutely pumped (Baldur’s Gate III, Halo Infinite, Cyberpunk 2077), I expect most of the major conferences to play it safe (barring any insane announcements that may have been kept under wraps).
All pessimism aside, I can’t wait to see what Bethesda and Microsoft will present tomorrow. Maybe they’ll surprise us all? Stay tuned!