Today EA streamed their all digital livestream version of their annual EA Play Summer event, and it sure did not disappoint for fans of games published by EA. To say that EA has a divisive reputation among gamers is a bit of an understatement. For every controversy, every Anthem or Battlefront 2, EA manages to deliver some amazing hits amoung amazing gamers. Development teams like Respawn Entertainment are in no short thanks to the rising reputation of EA with hits like Apex Legends and Jedi Fallen Order, two of our favorite games from 2019. Below is the biggest announcements from EA Play Live 2020.
Massive Apex Legends News
Apex Legends was definitely a big star of the show as EA's golden child. Apex Legends is beloved by fans where as major installments of other big ticket EA franchises have had bumps in the road in recent years. Apex Legends not only received a reveal of its "collection event" aka mini mid-season event with map updates and new cosmetics and LTE's. Season 5 is no different in this Collection Event, "Lost Treasures" brought a host of new content. In addition to the Collection Event we got a look at other major Apex news.
1. Apex is coming to Nintendo Switch and Steam
No word on performance specs yet for the Nintendo Switch version of the game, but if I were to make a prediction I would guess 720p 30 fps as that is pretty on par with a lot of the big AAA console ports.
2. Cross Play is coming to Apex Legends
Cross-play means the ability to play with whoever you want. Right now I have some friends I have never been able to play with because they play Apex on another platform, so I will admit this is exciting news. During the stream they specifically used the term "play where you want" which alludes to the feature I want just as much, "cross-progression". We don't have official word yet on whether or not players will be able to sync their cosmetics and stats across platforms. This is a huge feature that I think will be a huge disadvantage against Fortnite if they leave out. Players might be less inclined to try the Steam or Switch versions if it means starting from scratch. I ripped into Blizzard for having the audacity to launch a 3 year old Overwatch on Nintendo Switch with no cross-progression; so I hope Apex doesn't make the same mistake. Live service games that their entire economy revolves around cosmetics, those cosmetics should follow a player wherever they log in. Epic Games and Hi-rez do this perfectly, and Respawn/EA need to follow.
3. Lifeline is getting the huge Rez buff fans have been asking for
She can now leave her drone to do the Rez and keep fighting. This is a much requested buff that finally makes the only healer in the game the best at reviving fallen team members. This was much needed because of Mirage's buff allowing him to cloak during revives made him one of the best Legends to revive.
4. Mirage is getting his Heirloom, and no it is not a pork-chop.
5. Crypto gets a map town takeover
As with each collection event, a map town take over occurs, this time celebrating Crypto.
Star Wars Squadrons gameplay
A while back I wrote an article titled "10 Star Wars Games that need to be made" and one of my picks was a space battle / star fighter focused game. As much as I love how well Battlefront 2 ended up being by 2020, its space combat always felt like it could be more. I will admit, Squadrons is not the game I described. I want to be able to leave a battle on the ground, take off from the planets surface, and join a battle in orbit. I want to be able to then proceed to land on an enemy capital ship and get out of the starfighter and fight on foot. I admit what I describe is probably more "Battlefront 3", but that being said a straighter only game will still be awesome. Some of my favorite Star Wars gaming memories of the years were from the plethera of starfighter centric games. I will give EA props in that they seem to be starting to learn what Star Wars fans and gamers in general want from games. Star Wars Squadrons is described as a "complete" game meaning it is not a live service. All the cosmetics and game modifying progression elements are all unlocked via gameplay. It will have a multiplayer focus, but will feature a singleplayer campaign. Considering how the game is described as "multiplayer focused" and the game is only going to be $39.99, I imagine the single player story will be short. I am predicting in the 4-6 hour range. However, one thing I am excited is that the story campaign takes place from both the Empire and New Republic's perspective. That was one of my biggest complaints about Battlefront 2's story is that it was heavily marketed as being from the imperial perspective, but that lasts only briefly in the beginning before becoming a rebel focused story. I also am excited that this game takes place during the official New Republic era. Outside of 5 minutes of Mandalorian and Force Awakens, very little is seen or known about the New Republic despite having lasted longer than the actual Empire before being defeated by the New Order in Force Awakens. EA promises guest appearances from known characters along with the ability to customize your pilots. Other cool supported features include VR support on PC and PS4, and flight sim controls on PC. Squadrons releases October 2nd 2020.
I will admit the thing I dread about EA Play each year is how much I couldn't care about the sports filler. I understand they have their massive followings, and it is a huge part of EA's revenue, but I couldn't care less about Sports games. If you do, check out the trailer above.
EA really really wants to take on Fortnite. Apex Legends isn't enough. While it may satisfy the Call of Duty and Battlefield fans who want more from EA, EA still can't stop staring at that Fortnite pile of money with $ symbols in their eyes. They want the kid friendly mass appeal cartoon game that everyone plays. Rocket Arena is a 3v3 rocket launcher battling multiplayer game that comes with that recognizable Fortnite-era cartoon graphics. While not explicitly said in the reveal, I expect it to be a free to play live service with cosmetics and battlepasses. That being said, it did look fun and I look forward to trying it out.
Untitled Skate Game
There were two games trending in the chat during the livestream were Mass Effect Trilogy Remaster and Skate 4. Technically, neither of these showed up as EA oddly refused to title this announcement. Despite insane demand for "Skate 4" by fans of the franchise, this announcement was only that "a new skate game was coming". While this is exciting for fans, technically leaves the door open a bit. With the Spider-man Miles Morales "controversy" right behind us, EA should learn the importance of being clear on game announcements. Is it a true sequel? If so, why not just call it Skate 4? If not, what is it exactly?
Next-gen "Sizzle Reel"
The biggest disappointment from this event was that for weeks the rumor of Mass Effect Remaster has been circling heavily leading up to this event. With all the rumors and leaks we know it is coming, I really wish EA had just confirmed it was in progress! Give us a logo tease or a cinematic tease. So many people are convinced its coming they need to confirm or deny. Anthem 2.0 or Anthem 'Next" is also under development as EA has BioWare work to reboot and relaunch the disastrous Anthem, BioWare has been radio silent for so long, it would have been great, (I'd argue necessary) to have BioWare there with an update on their progress to remind gamers this is still happening. Another disappointing part was several of the biggest game franchises under EA were alluded to in the "next-gen sizzle reel" but it would have been nice if at least some of them got a real trailer or logo reveal. All we got were a few (admittedly beautiful) screenshots of unnamed next-gen games. We know new installments of Battlefield, Dragon Age, Mass Effect, Need for Speed are all in development, but there were all no shows. Even if all of these are 2021 or later, it would have been a good show moment to have at least a cinematic trailer for at least one of them. This is EA's equivalent of an E3 show, and needed one or two more of their heavy hitter franchise to get a new reveal. At the end of the day, (with the exception of the previously leaked and revealed Star Wars Squadrons) there wasn't much in the way of AAA level franchise reveals in this event.
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