EA Play’s 2018 conference was somewhat underwhelming, but unlike last years onslaught of endless sports titles this year did turn up some indie gems and exciting announcements for Anthem and Battlefield 5. And yes, of course, there was a Battle Royale mode.
We’ve condensed the biggest announcements and new titles into one newsfeed, so you can find the most important release dates and platform updates for 2019.
Battlefield 5 gets a Battle Royale Multiplayer Mode
EA began with new information on Battlefield 5: the newest game in the Battlefield series which is to that will be set in World War 2 and include both male and female soldiers in its main story. EA announced that the game will have a battle royale-style multiplayer game mode that they’re calling ‘Royale’. And, as part of a running theme at the conference, EA confirmed that Battlefield 5 will have “no loot boxes, no season pass”, although that doesn’t rule out some microtransactions in the game, it’s a positive step forward in terms of EA monetization policy. Battlefield 5 will be released on October 19th for PC, PS4, and Xbox One.
The UEFA Champions League is coming to FIFA 19
Not one to disappoint soccer fans, EA announced that the UEFA Champions League will be coming to FIFA 19, coming this September 28th. You’ll be able to play through the UEFA Championship with your own team, including having the choice of countries that didn’t qualify and dream player picks to let you draft even the most unlikely teams, all to fight your way to the UEFA trophy. And if you can’t wait to kick off, FIFA 18 is now running a free trial for PC, PS4, and Xbox One, where you can play through the World Cup Finals and live your football fantasy.
Battlefront 2 make amends with Clone Wars DLC, and Jedi: Fallen Order is Announced
Without giving away too much, Respawn announced that they have been working with George Lucas on their next Star Wars title, Jedi: Fallen Order, coming sometime in the holiday of 2019. They then passed it over to Dennis Brannvall who had the unenviable job of making amends for Star Wars Battlefront 2. The team acknowledged that they “didn’t get it quite right” at launch, and announced that a new Clone Wars DLC will be coming to the game along with General Grievous, Obi-Wan Kenobi, and Count Dooku as playable characters. It seems a little unfair to ask the team’s design director to take the hits for Battlefront 2’s disastrous monetization scheme when it was more likely pushed by EA as the game’s publishers, but despite this Battlefront 2 seems to be treading water, powered on by the Star Wars brand. Across the board EA attempted to signal that they have learned their lesson when it comes to lootboxes and pay-to-win content, hopefully, they mean it.
Unravel 2 gets a Surprise Release
In a surprise announcement, Unravel 2 was released for PC, PS4, and Xbox One live from the E3 stage. This sequel to the EA Origins indie title ‘Unravel’ features a new friend for Yarny, turning the side-scrolling platform puzzler into a two player game: playable as either a multiplayer co-op, or a singleplayer switcharoo. Coldwood Interactive wants its second game to feel “inspired by the spirit of optimism”, something “friendlier, and more challenging” than before.
EA launches Origin Access Premier
EA announced their plans for Origin Access Premier: a paid subscription via your Origin account that will grant access to all EA titles as soon as they’re released. The Premier membership costs $14.99 a month or $90 a year, and is a step above basic Origin Access membership (where you can play demos for upcoming games, and have access to the Origin Vault of past titles). Origin Access Premier will include Madden NFL 19, FIFA 19, Battlefield 5, and Anthem, so if you’re already planning on pre-ordering titles Origin Premier may be a good option for you. In addition to all this, EA announced that they are currently testing a service that will allow players to access their games from any device, anywhere. It’s good to know player-friendly movements are somewhere in the works, and hopefully EA will continue platform expansion – there’s certainly room for some EA Original titles to head onto the Nintendo Switch…
Sea of Solitude, an Indie Game of Monstrous Loneliness
Sometimes the best moments of E3 come from the smaller games, with developers who are genuinely overwhelmed, but excited and passionate about sharing their game. That was the case for Sea of Solitude, an indie title from Jo-Mei games coming to PC, PS4, and Xbox One in early 2019. The single-player adventure game seeks to explore the feeling of loneliness, in all its forms, as you follow Kay’s journey across a flooded city, alive with shadowy monsters and imminent danger. In S.O.S., loneliness turns people into monsters, and the game promises to follow an introspective battle of the soul, to overcome isolation, and to reach out to the world again. Jo-Mei are hoping to truly connect with gamers, and to explore how games can help us deal with the complexities of emotion.
Command & Conquer: Rivals comes to Mobile
Frankly, on a more depressing note, EA remind us that it’s not always a good idea to leave good franchises in their hands. But perhaps that’s just me. Command & Conquer is getting a new release, this time as a mobile game: Command & Conquer: Rivals. Build bases, command units, and overwhelm your enemy. C&C: Rivals plays out as a Clash Royale style game, and if you’re interested in playing a new mobile game you can check out the beta now on all Android devices. Command & Conquer: Rivals will release in the summer of 2018.
NBA Live 19 gets a Basketball All-Stars Trailer
EA’s Basketball series, NBA Live, will be releasing NBA Live 19 on September 7th for PS4 and Xbox One. We got a glimpse of the first trailer showing off the match highlights of the game’s career mode, as well as real basketball legends to pick for your times, and an ambitious promise for ‘Real Player Animation Technology’ bringing smoother gameplay and thousands of new animations.
Madden NFL 19 launches on PC for the first time in a Decade
Perpetuating the British confusion between Football, Soccer, and Rugby, EA also announced that their American football title Madden NFL 19 will be releasing on August 10th. Madden now runs on EA’s Frostbite engine and hopes to create even more lifelike motion technology. What’s more, Madden 19 is not only coming to PS4 and Xbox One, but will also launch on PC via EA Origin for the first time in a decade, which follows EA’s promise to push more titles to more platforms – a view that’s hard not to agree with.
Anthem gets a Release Date and Gameplay Details
Finally, EA closed with their strongest title, Bioware’s newest franchise: Anthem. We heard a lot of good news about the game’s decisions regarding microtransactions: there will be no loot boxes, and no way to pay-to-win, or pay for advantage. The only microtransactions in the game will be cosmetic, which is arguably the best position Bioware could take, albeit for what will likely be a $60+ game. On the downside, EA also confirmed that the game won’t have PvP at launch, and you will need to be online to play. It’s a mixed bag. Worse yet, the game won’t have romancing.
It’s hard to say whether Anthem can achieve its ambitious vision of an open world action-roleplaying game. The game seems stuffed full of content from stronghold building to skill trees, but it may also be turning into something too huge and with too broad an appeal to really nail tight core gameplay and a succinct story. Anthem looks to follow the legacies of Dragon Age: Inquisition and Mass Effect: Andromeda, so let’s hope Bioware have learned from both games issues with overwhelming content and gameplay optimization.
Anthem touches down on February 12th 2019, and we’ll be excited to see whether Bioware can pull off their ambitious world and storytelling, and start a new chapter for Bioware gaming.
Overall the EA Play managed to save some face for EA’s future. They’ve made it clear that they want to move away from lootboxes, and promise players a fairer, less aggressively monetized future for gaming. The line-up was mixed, with exciting titles like Anthem and Battlefield 5 still in the works, EA’s usual troupe of sports games on their way, and indie gems Unravel 2 and Sea of Solitude, hand in hand with beloved franchises-turned mobile games, and apologetic reparations for Star Wars Battlefront 2.
EA was lacking on new and exciting announcements, they looked back on some of the year’s successes, and forward to new platform-pushing movements, but failed to expand their portfolio of titles as much as we might have wanted. Let’s hope this means the titles released this year, and in 2019, will have solid launches, thought-through pricing policies, and polished gameplay to boot.
We’re still looking forward to the rest of E3 2018’s gaming news, so keep an eye out for our coming coverage of Bethesda, Square Enix, Ubisoft, Microsoft, Sony, and Nintendo. Was the EA Play conference everything you expected? Tell us your predictions, and follow along for all of our E3 wrap-ups.