Electronic Arts didn’t bring a ton of new, unannounced projects to its EA Play press event this year, but the publishing giant did have a few surprises, including a unique cooperative adventure and a new project from role-playing developer BioWare. The star of the show, however, was Star Wars: Battlefront II, which is shaping up to be a massive improvement, in both quality and scale, over the first game. Here is everything you need to know about the press conference.
Battlefield 1 has been played by more than 20 million players thus far, and its community has continued to keep the game thriving with “wow” moments only possible in a Battlefield game. The In The Name of The Tsar expansion pack coming in September will take the war to the eastern front for the first time, with six new maps, the Russian Army, and the introduction of the Russian women-led “Battalion of Death.”
More content will be arriving this summer, as well. The map “Prise de Tahure” will arrive this summer, as will the game’s first nighttime location, “Nivelle Nights.” A third map, “Lupkow Pass,” will be playable at EA Play for the next three days.
Need for Speed Payback
2015’s Need for Speed reboot disappointed, with a cheesy story mode and an online-only gameplay experience, but Ghost Games’ Need for Speed Payback looks like it will put the series back on track. In a gameplay demonstration, we saw a massive car chase that looked like it came straight out of Burnout, with collisions sending vehicles flying off the road as our three protagonists made their way to a truck transporting a Koenigsegg Regera supercar. As vehicles are hit, the camera briefly slows down and pans to the side, showing the carnage of each fiery wreck.
A Way Out
Perhaps the most interesting game on display during the EA Play event was A Way Out, a cooperative action-adventure game from Brothers: A Tale of Two Sons developer Josef Fares and his studio Hazelight. The game tells the story of Vincent and Leo, two criminals who work together to escape from a prison and then survive once they return to the outside world. Designed for split-screen play primarily, there isn’t a single-player component to the game, and both players can see their partner’s screen at all times to allow for creative solutions to missions — while Vincent distracts a guard with mundane chat, Leo can sneak past and wreak havoc elsewhere. A Way Out releases (from prison) in early 2018.
BioWare’s new intellectual property, Anthem, was very briefly shown during the EA Play conference. It appears to be a science-fiction game, and we briefly see a humanoid character wearing armor that looks similar to Destiny, as well as a monster that resembles King Kong. A narrator in the game’s teaser describes a giant wall as “our armor,” which suggests that there is an enormous threat that could otherwise wipe out humanity — or possibly another species — completely.
FIFA 18 appears to be offering incremental upgrades over previous installments, with particular effort made by Electronic Arts to fine-tune famous players’ particular animations and play-styles. Cristiano Ronaldo, who graces the game’s cover this year, personally recorded his animations using a motion-capture suit using a technique the company is calling “Real-player.”
Alex Hunter, the protagonist from last year’s story mode, returns again, and his tale in FIFA 18 appears to focus on his struggle with fame and his uncertainty surrounding his current team and whether or not he wants to move onto greener pastures — full-motion video seems were also included in the trailer, though it’s unclear if they’ll also be included in the final game.
Madden NFL 18
FIFA 18 isn’t the only sports game getting a story mode this year. Madden 18 introduces us to Devin Wade in a mode dubbed “Longshot.” The coming-of-age story follows the quarterback’s attempts to finally break into the NFL and features performances from Oscar-winning actor Mahershala Ali, Friday Night Lights star Scott Porter, and legendary quarterback Dan Marino. The tone of the footage shown reminded us of Fight Night Champion, which included a similar story mode.
Project Scorpio will be officially unveiled during Microsoft’s press conference on June 11, but we also got a sneak peek of player models running on the console. They look as detailed as anything we’ve seen from the Madden franchise before, and it could be a big draw for the upgraded console.
NBA Live 18
NBA Live 18 won’t be getting in on the story-mode action this year, but Electronic Arts’ basketball game looks substantially better than anything we’ve seen from the franchise in years. Players can now use the analog stick to fine-tune their stars’ ball-handing skills so they can catch opponents off-guard. Additionally, “The One” is a new mode that has you earning respect for your player-character by performing in games on the NBA court as well as famous street locations like Venice Beach. Rules are different between the two types of basketball, as are the methods you can gain more respect.
Star Wars: Battlefront II
The biggest game of EA’s press conference, by a considerable margin, was Star Wars: Battlefront II. While we didn’t get a look at campaign gameplay, star Janina Gavankar did provide us with more details on the single-player experience. It will tell an “essential” story to help bridge the gap between Return of the Jedi and The Force Awakens, and it features cinematic moments that look similar to the set-piece, explosion-filled cut scenes of the Call of Duty series. For those interested in playing more of the first game’s cooperative “Skirmish” mode, it’s also making a return.
Multiplayer has been completely redone to allow for a deeper experience in both the moment-to-moment gameplay and character progression. Battlefront II employs a class system, with each one using a variety of special abilities to protect themselves from enemy fire, take out a group of hostiles quickly, or set traps to ambush unsuspecting droids. Gone are the collectible ability tokens of the original game — they have been replaced by a “battle points” system that will earn players vehicles and the ability to play as famous heroes and villains like Boba Fett, Darth Maul, or Rey. Additional characters Finn and Captain Phasma will be arriving for free this holiday season, and the game will be supported in the future with free content packs containing new weapons, vehicles, and maps.
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