Sage’s Gaming Corner – E3 2018: EA Predictions

by Sage Ashford

With E3 nearly here, it’s probably about time we start talking about what’s going to happen there. So over the next week or so, we’ll be going over each of the 7 (!) major conferences and discussing what’s most likely to be present. Now there’s nothing worse than someone claiming they’ve got a prediction list only to start talking about impossible wishlists, so there won’t be any KOTOR 3 rumors–just stuff that’s either confirmed, strongly rumored, or most likely. So, let’s get started.

Plants vs. Zombies: Garden Warfare 3: Plants vs. Zombies became a smash hit for Pop Cap once it hit mobile platforms in 2009, and it’s been doing respectably ever since, even on console.  The console version of the tower defense game last saw a release with 2016’s Garden Warfare 2, but an accidental leak has made it obvious EA’s planning a release of a third installment.  Now we’ve gotten a glimpse of EA’s fiscal plans for the current year, and there’s no plans for this, so expect a 2019 release.

Anthem: You’re going to see this a lot. BioWare’s magnum opus, the title has been in development in some form or another for about six years. It was the talk of EA’s show last year, and easily the most anticipated thing for their show this year. Set on a strange new world, you play as a member of a small group known as Freelancers, who leave the safety of the walled cities where humans live and explore the landscape.
But aside from looking like a cross between the best Iron Man game ever and a realistic Western version of Xenoblade Chronicles X, we don’t know much about this title yet. We got the initial showcase at Microsoft’s show last year, and EA’s been largely silent on it ever since. It was supposed to come out this fall, but it was pushed back to March of 2019 either to give the developers more time, position it in a season without as much competition, or both. Most recently, EA revealed a teaser for Anthem on Twitter, promising much more content when their show starts June 9th.  So far, they’ve confirmed a new story trailer, more gameplay, a deeper glimpse at the combat systems, discussion with the developers, and a look at concept and production art. Like we said: you’re going to see this, a lot.

SPORTS (Madden, NBA Live, FIFA): We all complain about it, but these are EA’s bread and butter.  You don’t have to like it, but you have to respect these games bringing in hundreds of millions of dollars. They’d be insane not to have time in their show for showing it off.  Last year they premiered footage for Madden’s new story mode, dubbed “Longhorn”, and it’s my understanding this was a success, so they’ll likely build on that and displaying what an improved version of that campaign could look like.
The best hope for those of us who aren’t fans of sports (at least in video game form, I’m absolutely pulling for the Warriors in six in the finals) is EA doesn’t make this too overbearing.   Long interviews with legends like Pele should really be kept to the EA FIFA YouTube channel.
They’ll also try to convince you NBA Live is worth buying over 2K.  Don’t fall for it.

Battlefield V: While Anthem is going to receive a large part of the focus, Battlefield’s going to be a big deal as well since it’s due out before Bioware’s title. After a reveal that already caused quite a bit of discussion, EA will go all in on their Battlefield V presentation. Typically this entails giving us a look at the story, a mention of pre-order bonuses, and often ending things with a look at the multiplayer.  It’s entirely possible over the course of an hour long show this will take up 10-15 minutes of the show, since it’s going to be their biggest fall game.

Unravel 2: Every year EA likes to sneak in one of these little surprises to throw us off guard. Last year it was the innovative multiplayer game A Way Out, two years ago it was Fe. But back in 2015, there was a cute little physics based puzzle game presented by a nervous guy playing a sentient piece of yarn (called Yarny!) known as Unravel. Developed by ColdWood Interactive, received mostly positive reviews and sits in the high 70’s on Metacritic right now.  PC Gamer reported EA had already signed an agreement to help ColdWood develop a sequel to the game two years ago, and now seems as good a time as any to reveal the title.

Star Wars: In theory, EA has zero reason to display anything Star Wars related for new games at their upcoming EA Play show.  But given the hilariously poor reception Battlefront 2 got from fans, it wouldn’t be the worst idea to show how they’ve learned their lesson. I suspect we’ll get something similar to the 2016 performance where we see everything Star Wars they’re working on in one solid Star Wars focused block. The real question is will they actually show anything in that block. EA has a nasty habit of collecting a bunch of developers to talk about how awesome and groundbreaking a game is…without ever showing us gameplay, which is why EA Play is typically the worst received conference every year.
Still, they’ve got four Star Wars games they could talk about: Respawn’s Star Wars game has been in the works since roughly 2015 and is likely the one up next fall. EA Vancouver’s got a game which is probably the reworked, open world version of what Visceral was supposed to come out with last year. BioWare’s still got a team working on Star Wars: The Old Republic, and the popular MMO is about due for an expansion of some sort. And lastly, there’s Capitol Games’ Star Wars: Galaxy of Heroes for mobile, which does exceptionally well and deserves at least a mention.
EA’s got the Star Wars license until like, 2022 so there’s plenty of time left for them to turn this tailspin they’ve been on since Battlefront’s launch in 2015 around. Let’s see if they pull that off.
….And The Rest: Alright, let’s cover a few other games in a lightning round.

  • People still want SKATE 4 (which if it ever exists will likely be called SK4TE), but there’s nothing concrete to suggest it’ll be present.
  • While ReSpawn has two teams and one’s working on Star Wars while the other is working on a sequel to the underappreciated Titanfall 2, Titanfall 3 is probably still a ways off.
  • Need for Speed just dropped last year, and they’ve done a biennial schedule for it so it probably won’t be present this year.  Look for it next year.
  • EA hired Assassin’s Creed producer Jade Raymond way back in 2015 to help them create a title in the one genre they don’t have anything major in: open world action titles.  There was a small bit of press earlier this year talking to the super producer about the title, which might indicate a willingness to show the title off for a release soon.  ….But don’t bet on it.  Games take longer to develop every generation, and new IPs can sometimes take five to six years to get to completion.  If she’s managed to get it to a showable state in only three years while working with DICE on Battlefield and with Visceral on Amy’s game before it got canceled, she’s not just a super producer, Jade might be an alien.  But who knows?  Maybe she brought some of that Ubisoft efficiency over.
  • Dragon Age 4 is confirmed not to be at E3.  And given there’s barely a skeleton crew on it right now as BioWare gets prepped for Anthem, I’d be surprised if we saw it before PS5 unless they were very far along on it before they had to prioritize their Destiny-like RPG.

Alright, that about covers EA. I’ll be going roughly in “order” of conferences so next up is Microsoft & Bethesda, then Ubisoft, Square-Enix and Sony, and finally Nintendo.

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