E3 Recap | EA Play
Jedi: Fallen Order was the L-STAR of the show
Deciding to ditch their usual press briefing, EA took a new approach with their pre-E3 show, EA Play, by hosting six half hour stream for six of their biggest IPs.
We saw gameplay from Star Wars Jedi: Fallen Order for the first time, the new entries to FIFA and Madden NFL , and the latest expansions and seasonal updates for Apex Legends, Battlefield V and The Sims 4. That was kind of it, however.
While the show was devoid of any big new announcements, there is still a lot to share if you’re a FIFA fanatic, an Apex Legend or waiting to get your hands on some Star Wars Jedi action.
Star Wars Jedi: Fallen Order
Headlining EA play was, of course, gameplay of Respawn Entertainment’s third-person action game, Star Wars Jedi: Fallen Order. A 15-minute unabridged demo showed off some of protagonist Cal Kestis’s lightsabre moves, force powers and his adorable explorer droid companion, BD-1.
Game director Stig Asmussen said the demo was around three hours into the game and sees Cal, now beyond the level of a padawan, helping the rebels and wookiees as they disrupt the Empire’s operations on Kashyyyk.
The demo showed a great mix of the fluid combat and traversal techniques that Respawn is known for thanks to Titanfall. Kicking off the demo we see Cal force pulling a vine and then swinging on it to cross a large gap, followed by some wall-running, jumping and climbing to reach a squad of rebels to start his mission.
Other environmental obstacles required the use of the force to get around. Mangled metal doors can be blasted open with a force push, and there is a part where Cal uses a new force power, force slow, to almost halt a spinning turbine that would have otherwise turned him into Jedi juice.
Combat appears to be much in the same vein as Sekiro but certainly not as punishing. The demo features a few instances of Cal facing off against a new entry to Star Wars canon, the purge trooper, a Jedi-hunting trooper wielding an electrostaff. The essence of melee combat appears to be about breaking the opponents guard so that you can deal that lethal final blow, with blocking, deflecting and dodging being essential to overcoming tougher enemies.
The demo was also keen to show off as many of Cal’s other combat abilities as possible. Throwing his lightsabre, pulling in stormtroopers for a quick execution, pushing enemies away and the force slow ability were all prevalent. This variety in attacks seems to allow players to get creative and combo their force and lightsabre powers together. One fight shows Cal force slowing a blaster bolt, pulling in the trooper that fired it and then moving him into the path of the bolt to finish him off.
Once the dust settles and all the stormtroopers are defeated, Cal’s shoulder-perching droid companion, BD-1, can administer a stimpack to heal Cal. BD is also able to hack doors, display the level map and scan items around the environments to unlock lore entries to flesh out Fallen Order’s world.
On the story of the game, Asmussen and head of Respawn Vince Zampella were tight-lipped about the specifics. We already know that the game takes place a little after the events of Revenge of the Sith and the Jedi purge as a result of Order 66. The demo did show Cal working with a rebel squad, led by Clone Wars veteran Saw Gerrera, to help free the wookiees imprisoned by the empire.
Asmussen also confirmed that there would be no chance for players to choose their allegiance to the light or dark. “Cal is authentic, and he has to fill a certain role so he can be used in other places,” he said with Zampella adding: “This is a Jedi story.”
Star Wars Jedi: Fallen Order will release on 15 November later this year on Xbox One, PlayStation 4 and PC and more will be shown at Xbox’s E3 press briefing.
Apex Legends: Season 2
After a content drought in Season 1, Respawn have been hard at work and actively listening to the community to improve the battle pass for Apex Legends Season 2: Battle Charge which launches on 2 July.
In brief, Season 2 promises plenty of new content and updates to Apex Legends: a new legend, a new weapon, a restructured battle pass, two new character skins, two new weapon skins, ranked mode, a new map event, meta changes and two new weapon hop-ups and more to be revealed.
Firstly, a new legend. Wattson is her name and electric fences are her game. Engineer and quantum laser mechanics aficionado, Natalie “Wattson” Paquette is the latest legend to enter the arena despite having been in it almost her whole life. Her father was the lead electrical engineer for the arena so having spent so much time with him, she’s well acquainted with the competitors, and was eventually called in to build the shrinking containment ring seen in the arena.
Wattson’s tactical ability, perimeter security, allows her to place up to 12 electric fence nodes at once. Placing nodes close to each other links them together with an electric grid that hit and stuns enemies like an arc star; vision and movement become impaired and they’ll take damage too. Thankfully, teammates can pass through the fences without any issues as the electric beams will briefly deactivate as they pass through.
This perimeter can be combined with her ultimate, the interception pylon, to create a sturdy defensive position in the arena. The pylon can intercept any ordnance including, arc stars, frags and even Gibraltar’s defensive bombardment. If preventing arc star spam wasn’t enough, it will also slowly charge you and your squad’s shields and supercharge Wattson’s tactical ability cooldown when she’s near the pylon so that she can place more nodes much faster than usual.
As if her ultimate wasn’t already incredibly functional, Wattson’s passive ability, spark of genius, allows her to fully charge her ultimate ability with a single ultimate accelerant. Apex Legends game designer Griffin Dean said one of the goals with Wattson was to shake up the aggressive legend meta. Planning, map knowledge and teamwork are essential to getting the most out of Wattson’s defensive abilities. Lifeline mains can rejoice as they won’t be the only ones force-fed accelerants once Wattson becomes available.
Next in Season 2 is a new weapon. Making a return from Titanfall 2, experimental plasma machine gun, the L-STAR, will be a new addition to the Apex Legends armoury as a gold care package weapon along with the Kraber and Mastiff because it’s “so OP”, according to executive producer Drew McCoy. The weapon also packs such a punch hat it can open doors.
Unlike in Titanfall however, the L-STAR in Apex Legends will have a limited ammo supply. Three magazines of 60 rounds to be exact, and sustained fire will still cause the weapon to overheat. A new weapon also means it will come with a suite of skins which we saw a glimpse of in the trailer, including a deep red skin with ornate gold trim.
McCoy also mentioned that the team have learned a lot from Season 1 and have made some big changes. The new battle pass will be challenge-based with daily and weekly challenges, and it will be much easier to reach max rank. Players who take a break from the game will still have a good chance of reaching the end as challenges can stock up. The battle pass will also do away with badges and stat trackers from the levelling and will be replaced by three new unannounced types of content.
“I think our skin game is being upped pretty significantly,” says McCoy. Caustic, Octane, the Spitfire and the R-301 will be getting the legendary skin treatment, with the R-301 getting a bonus gold version too. The battle pass will also give out enough crafting metals for players to craft a legendary item of their choosing.
McCoy also announced the arrival of a ranked mode in Season 2. Comprised of six tiers (Bronze to Apex Predator), players will also be rewarded on their ranking at the end of the season. Season 2 will also bring balance updates to shake up the meta and two new mystery hop-ups, one of which will make the memeably bad Mozambique “useable… perhaps”.
Finally, at the end of a Season 2 recap video from the stream, a lone legend can be seen dropping in with some small dragon-like creatures nearby and a giant monster eye taking up the background. Could this be the new map event that was mentioned? Details about this event will likely follow after Season 2’s launch on 2 July, including a new battle pass, Wattson, the L-STAR and more, so keep your eyes peeled.
Battlefield V: Chapter 4 and 5
Battlefield V’s Chapter 4: Defying the Odds is on the horizon and it’s going to deliver a lot infantry focused combat and player-requested changes. Five new maps will be coming over the course of Chapter 4 with the first, Al Sundan, arriving on its launch on 27 June. Al Sundan takes the North African desert landscape from the Under No Flag War Story and repurposes it for all out land and air combat. The scale of this map makes it suited to vehicle combat and includes a strategic airfield which, when captured, can massively help a team dominate the skies, and a small village will also be the proving ground of infantry units. It’s a classic Battlefield experience.
Next, the battlefield will be headed to Greece in Marita, which arrives in July. This map is an infantry-focused map set on a large mountain ridge and in a narrow old village. August will introduce two smaller maps made purely for boots-on-the-ground combat into Chapter 4. With the popularity of smaller modes such as Squad Conquest, the Battlefield V team listened to player demands and will be letting them take to the Axis-occupied streets of Provence, or an explosives factory in the Nordic archipelago of the Lofoten Islands.
The final map coming to Chapter 4 is Operation Underground which is a passion project from the original designer of Battlefield 3’s Operation Métro. It’s a chaotic map focused on underground train tunnels filled with flanking routes. Producer Ryan McArthur described it as Operation Métro “reimagined”. Operation Underground will be out in October between Chapter 4 and 5.
New information regarding Chapter 5 also revealed a return to the Pacific theatre of war. Producer Lars Gustavsson said the return to the Pacific feels “feels like a homecoming”. Chapter 5 will introduce Japan and the US to Battlefield V along with new maps including a modern take on the classic Iwo Jima map, new amphibious units, an expanded arsenal featuring the M1 Garand and more.
After listening to more player feedback, the level cap for Battlefield V will be increased from 50 to 500. Every level will grant company coins and milestone ranks will award icons and dog tags. Finally, private games and the ability to set up servers for free will arrive in September.
EA Sports: FIFA 20 and Madden NFL 20
It wouldn’t be a year in the gaming calendar if EA didn’t release a FIFA and Madden game. Football of the association and American kind are getting new releases in the form of FIFA 20 and Madden NFL 20.
Starting with FIFA 20, its biggest new addition is Volta football, a new street football mode. It can be played in a variety of ways by the sounds of things. 3v3, 4v4, 5v5 and no goalies were all mentioned, and it can be played in three unique pitches; a London cage, a Tokyo rooftop and an Amsterdam underpass. Volta sees a greater emphasis on player skill with fancy footwork and use of the cage walls to outsmart your opponents.
Volta also aims to capture the culture through character customisation. The appearance of your player, including their clothes, hair and gender can all be changed, and matches will not be bound by gender so any virtual player can get involved in a game.
FIFA 20 also has a lot of adjustments to its gameplay systems. Ball physics have been completely redesigned to make player deflections and curve and spin more realistic. Penalties and free kicks have also been redesigned to give players full control over ball spin. Other changes include strafe dribbling, more one-on-ones and control tackling, giving players more powerful offensive and defensive plays on the pitch.
FIFA 20 launches on 27 September this year for PlayStation 4, Xbox One and PC and on 19 September on EA Access.
Jumping across the pond, Madden 20 also brings a new way to play in the form of Face of the Franchise, which lets players create their own superstar quarterback and ascend through the leagues, from college football to the top.
Madden 20 adds new plays and formations straight from real playbooks in the NFL and X factor abilities grant some of the best-known players unique abilities so that players at home can feel like an NFL superstar.
Madden NFL 20 releases 2 August this year for year for PlayStation 4, Xbox One and PC with an early access trial period available through EA Access and Origin Access.
The Sims 4: Island Living
Your sims can take to the seas in the new Island Living expansion which arrives on 21 June. This tropical expansion transports your sims to a pacific inspired island where they can go swimming in open water, ride jet skis, befriend dolphins and clean the beaches.
The way you treat the island will be reflected by the island’s appearance too. Ridding the beaches of plastic as a conservationist will make the island appear lusher and more verdant over time. And the dolphins will probably love you for it.
New fashion, hair, architecture and decor options have been added to reflect the Polynesian aesthetic of the new expansion. You can build a modern beach house or a classic stilt house. Maybe don’t spend too much time and money on your island paradise home as the active volcano on the island will sometimes spew lava bombs. Don’t despair too much though. Island neighbours are much friendlier and will sometimes help your sims when they’re in need. You’ll also be able to create mermaid sims with a range of unique customisation options, such as their fish tails.
Starting on 18 June, Pride-themed items will be rolling out across all Sims products. Items will include Pride outfits and gender toilets.
A Moschino Stuff Pack will also be released this summer and will include items from the real-life Moschino X The Sims Capsule Collection as well as a new career option to become a freelance fashion photographer. Finally, this autumn will let The Sims 4 get all fantasy as the Realm of Magic Game Pack will be released.
That’s all for EA Play but be sure to check out the rest of startmenu’s E3 coverage!