EA Play 2019

EA Play 2019: Geek Errant E3 Reports

EA Play 2019 was the first big show of E3 2019, and they promised new info on their highly anticipated Star Wars title, as well as updates to all their existing games. So what did we see?

Star Wars Jedi: Fallen Order

Set between Prequels and Original Trilogy

Gameplay Mission is set on Kashyyk, against imperial miners. On Xbox One.
Nice looking opening menu, made up of the Jedi logo and brass circles.
Third person action game. Platforming and swinging, using force powers to grab vines. Respawn, so there’s wall running and a fun robot friend ( The fun robot friend will die at some point. This is very likely) Forest Whitaker’s character, Saw Garrera from Rogue One and Rebels is also there. Striking against the empire.

Lightsaber being used as light source, which is fun. Force powers used for traversal and double jumps. Deflection of bolts. Time slow. Saber toss. All your favourites.
Bot friends hacks doors. Melee combat and skill points but no limb chopping.
Purge Fighters are actual challenges, compared to battling grunts with vibro weapons. Blocking and Parry based combat ending in takedowns. Droid is also your heal system and health bar. Limited healing. Story wise, BeeDee is your companion. Robot companions in a Respawn game. Who’d have thunk?
Variety in enemies is mostly their weapon variety, e.g. flamethrower meaning you need to attack from the side. Or they show natural alien fauna battling everyone on the imperial or rebel side.


Main character does not seem to be overly interesting, which does explain how no one noticed him all this time of Jedi being hunted.

Exploring for secrets and audio logs in the form of force echoes.
Able to combine abilities. Slow down time to stop a bolt mid air, pull the opponent into the way if the bolt. Very cool.
Third person combat, Not clear how much is your own movement vs built in animation. Freeform according to the developers, but not clear.
Skill abilities feed to the force abilities.
Light or Dark, there’s no option to go dark. This is not Knights of the Old Republic.
Appearing further at the Microsoft conference.

Roundup – The gameplay looks like competent action adventure platforming, with parry and dodge based combat. This is fine, but not too inspiring. We’ve had a lot of third person combat games with magic powers in the last few years. Looks pretty though. Still not fussed on the main character. Where is the innovation and excellent design work that made Titanfall 2 such an amazing experience? Show me that.

Apex Legends

At EA Play 2019, we were promised info on Season 2, a new legend, a new weapon and improved battlepass. Did they deliver?


Opens with the trailer for the legendary hunt event. Currently ongoing with top 5 players getting to be in the elite queue. This allows top tier players to get out of the way of us trash tier players.
Double XP weekend from June 7-9.

July 2nd launch for Season 2: Battlecharge

Map events, new weapon, new legends, meta changes. New Weapon is L-Star, care package gold weapon with no refillable ammo. Energy based light machine gun. Can open doors too.
Hop up changes – two new ones that won’t be announced. Mozambique getting upgraded to usable – Direct Quote
Season one didn’t launch as well as they hoped. Taking in data on what people actually looked. Challenge based rather than time based. These stack over time. Badges and stat trackers are gone. Three new content type which will be on show later. Get enough crafting materials through the pass for a legendary weapon skin
Skin game being upped significantly. 2 character and two weapon. Octane and Caustic skins, one spitfire skins and two R301 skins.
New ways to play – competitive core, so ranked mode coming. 6 tiers of ranking, special matchmaking so longer matchmaking times at higher ranks. Rewards depending on season ranks.


New Character – 10th Legend. Wattson.

Inventor, Genius and built the circle that encloses Kings Canyon with her father. Wattson is a trap character building defence fields. She’s built to allow for the defensive plays as opposed to the offensive bangalore/aggression based meta we have right now.

Tesla coils on her back, and rubberised gear to avoid electricity. Wattson is the first character where they’re going to build the lore further. She’s a support character to the rest of the legends as she helped build the arena itself.

Her ult stops all incoming artillery/grenades/abilities and boosts her tactical as well as her teams shields. Her tactical is a placeable slowdown forcefield that does minor damage. Ally can get through her force fields after being placed, but opponents get slowed down. Ult accelerants give her full charge immediately. This allows her to play real offensively.
And the final tease is a massive dragon with an eye bigger than a flying Pathfinder and also some smaller dragons.

Roundup –
Wattson is all about Map Control and ult cancelling. She is therefore my jam. Another Gold gun isn’t that exciting, but high tier players in their own matchmaking means I’m no longer dying immediately. I’m probably not getting involved with the Battlepass, but the changes sound like improvements for those who do. Otherwise, just show me what those dragons are.

Battlefield V

New maps, new updates, surprises for Battlefield V at EA Play 2019

Marita

Gameplay up first. The battle of Greece continues as allies defend against axis on an autumnal mountain slope and rural town. Allies control the town proper, but axis are pushing in. Infantry focussed, on sneaky flanks and vertical gameplay on the steep environment. Colour palette is properly gorgeous. Browns, reds and Greys. Dice LA built Mercury and also Marita. Want each map to feel unique. “Banana” shaped – narrow channels that people want. Marita is coming in July.

Al-Sundan

North African desert. Lush desert coast and harsh environments. Axis have fortified with many outposts. 6 flag conquest map. Under no flag with air and land vehicle combat as a focus. Freeform vehicle fights or fights in outposts with infantry. This is a classic battlefield map. Seems to have a lot of ability for fortifications to control points. Map is out on June 27th, day one of chapter four

August –

Close quarters. Requested by players. Provence and Lofoten Islands. To be given more info at a later date. Players really like the smaller maps, numbers show that people love squad conquest in particular. Working with Dice LA, to tailor smaller maps. Oddly no mention of the datamined 5v5 mode here. Supposedly that’s what the maps were originally planned for.

Max rank being increased, as previously discussed. Going from 50 to 500. Grind train, and rewards will be adding company coin, plus milestone rank icons and dog tags. August for this to be rolled out.

Private Games:

Baseline package is free for everyone that plays the game. Let’s you create your own experience. Coming in September, but will have more to come as it develops.

Operation Metro is being redesigned with flanking routes for Operation Underground. Big open street and into the subways.

Coming out in October between Chapter 4 and 5.

Chapter 5

Going to the Pacific. Wake Island concept art. Iwo Jima promised. Footage of the team capturing real environments. M1 Garand model shown off. BAR shown off. Amphibious units and more promised. US and Japan forces coming in chapter 5. More to be announced later in the year. 3 maps coming initially. Capturing the experience of island invasion and amphibious warfare. A return to the sandbox nature of land, sea and air.

In a blog post, they’ve also confirmed that Firestorm will be getting further map and gameplay changes, including an Apex like respawn system and further improvements to loot and matchmaking systems.


And finally, the game is now available for free in the Vault, for EA Access basic subscriptions, and will be available on PS4 when that launches in July.

Roundup – Not so much going on with Battlefield that I didn’t already know about, but those concept art shots of the pacific look excellent. New maps in chapter 4 look like they fulfill good niches as well. Metro with flanking too! Overall pretty positive, if not surprising. Though I do wonder where that 5v5 mode is. By the sounds of things, DICE LA are now in full production mode on those maps, which should helpfully speed up the pipeline for the players to see the work being completed.

EA Sport Fifa 20

The whistle of the Volta arena (Cage football matches) was present throughout the whole outdoor broadcast of EA Play 2019. So the fans there clearly enjoyed themselves.

Street being added back in as a side mode to the main game. Volta Football. Inspired by street football and cage football (but not Fifa Street) I suspect Volta is a brand they’d like to have IP rights for. Professional players usable in the game mode. Intergender matches, with customisable players.

Gameplay updates and improvements –

Community played a role in the changes. Talked to over 3000 players to get a feel for how they thought the game should be changed.

Football intelligence. Improves on the ball, giving new attacking and defending options

Off the ball – computer controlled players, re-architected gameflow to create more one on one setups. Making defence more relevant to the players themselves. Designed to make the player feel more successful without their ai teammates dragging them down.

New ball physics system to make the game more consistent and realistic.

Composed Finishing – more clinical and consistent shooting, and more difficult shots will be more tricky. Tweaks to give players more satisfying timed shooting too.

Strafe Dribbling – reinventing the mechanic to give players better and more precise control to the player. Beat the defender through skill, rather than luck.

Controlled Tackling – improves your players tackling to win possession back.

Penalty and Free Kicks – new mechanics on aiming, with easier entry, but higher skill ceiling on putting spin on the ball.

September 27th release date, EA access gets in on September 19th. This also applies to the PS4 crowd.

Roundup – Not a word about the Ultimate Team system, the big focus here is on Volta. This seems like a big push to get players back on board with a “New” gamemode that is more about specific skill.

EA Sports Madden NFL 20

First look at Madden Gameplay, with a recap of five new features first.

Career campaign –

Create a superstar quarterback and compete in the college football playoffs.

Scenario Engine –

Dynamic challenges and quests that help improve your custom player as the season continues.

Ultimate Missions –

Challenges and content guide for Madden Ultimate Players.

X-Factor Abilities –

Superstar players get special abilities which will make them significantly more valuable in game.

Zone abilities too, which are in game benefits when you accomplish in game missions to bring your players “into the zone”

Superstars also have signature animations captured from the real person. To add verisimilitude.

Closed beta on June 14th to 16th.

Roundup – There’s a bunch of stuff going on here that i’m sure is fascinating to some people.

Anthem

Anthem was at EA Play 2019! For 3 minutes of a three hour show.

They’re working with their influencers and gamechangers to try and get the cataclysm out. What do the players want so that Anthem can change to match what they want?

Is there a future? Yes. They want to make the game better and want to work with the community to get there.

The Sims 4

20 years of the Sims. The fans at the EA Play 2019 announcements are delightfully excited.

Big reveal is the new expansion which leaked earlier this week. Island Living. Focussed on pasifika lifestyles, tourism and island living.

Available June 21st on PC/Mac and July 16th on consoles

Items being added include Island wear and clothing colouring, including a bunch of “island” hairstyles and the like.

Open water gameplay, swimming around, snorkeling and extreme sports. Also the island includes an active volcano. And lava bombs. Because of course. Can additionally make friends with dolphins and other sea creatures.

New career of Conservationist. Care about the world and make it a better place. Island changes over time, so the more care you put in, the better the island looks.

Also odd jobs like life guards, fishing and dive instructors.

Locals are friendly and helpful, and there are local traditions and festivals that are for the players to explore.

Elementals, spirits who reward or punish your sim according to how they judge your actions.

Inspired by Polynesian culture, not a real place, but inspired by them. Wanted to consult with EA staff around that culture, in order to make use of it. (Not entirely sure this is fully culturally appreciative since the focus was less on representing the culture but making use of it for profit)

Oh and there are mermaids, fully creatable and playable. They even have mermaid powers.

New architecture and assets. Lounge chairs and pasifika themed buildings, or a modern western beach house on stilts.

Sims partnering with “It Gets Better” to release PRIDE items in all the Sims games, up to and including a gender neutral bathroom in The Sims 4. Considering The Sims has had same sex attraction literally from the first announcement, this is nice. Now they need to make sure they just don’t charge for it. Coming out June 18th and will roll out from then.

Real world items inspired by the Sims, partnering with Moschino, and now all those items are being brought into the game in a Moschino Stuff Pack. This will include a part time career as a Freelance Fashion Photographer.

Next game pack will be the Realm of Magic, bringing magic and wizards back to the game. It will be coming this fall.

Roundup – Honestly, this seems like a good set of updates for the game. I’m interested to see whether the Native Island stuff is handled sensitively, but I think generally the focus here at EA Play 2019 has been on making sure gameplay is clearly the priority. The LGBT gear, if it’s not monetised, will also be lovely I’m sure.

Final Roundup

EA Play 2019 didn’t really have that high a bar to clear to beat 2018’s show. What we saw was not terribly inspiring though, effectively being a big push on all their ongoing live service games. I’m not disappointed with anything I’ve seen but it’s very clear EA want to make their focus the games they have in the consumer’s hands right now.

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