EA Play 2018 Recap
On Sunday June 10th I attended the EA Play 2018 Fan Event that took place before E3, and had the opportunity to play the new Battle Royale mode for Battlefield V, see some of the first footage of Anthem, play the new Solo DLC for Star Wars B2ttlefront 2, Unravel Two, as well as Command and Conquer: Rivals, and hear two of the developers from Anthem discuss the creative process behind the game. Below we will go over each section one by one, starting with…
Star Wars Battlefront 2 Solo DLC
There isn’t much to discuss on the new Solo DLC, as it is currently available right now for download. What is new is a brand new level for Arcade, Blast, Hero Showdown, Heroes vs Villains, and Extraction taking place in the Kessel Mines featured in Solo: A Star Wars Story. Playable at the event, the level is a faithful recreation of the location from the film and is a very tightly spaced environment with lots of sneaking spots and choke points perfect for fast-paced and chaotic action.
In addition to the new level is a new mode, playable on the Kessel Mine map at the event, called “Extraction” which should be familiar to fans of the 2015 Battlefront as well as Overwatch, as it is an “Extract the Payload” mission. Which the Kessel level is perfect for, as you are moving the payload along tracks in a mine cart.
In addition, Jetpack Cargo mode returns on Yavin 4, Lando’s Millenium Falcon is available and acts as a faster version of the previous Hero ship, and the following new skins are available;
- Corellia Escape Han – Legendary
- Beckett’s Crew Han – Legendary
- Professional “Sportsman” Lando – Legendary
- Raconteur Lando – Legendary
- Vandor Heist Chewbacca – Epic
They are all great recreations of the costumes from Solo. The June Solo update is available right now on PS4, Xbox One, and PC.
Battlefield V’s new Battle Royale Mode
Since every game is seemingly required to have a Battle Royale mode, DICE wasn’t far behind Call of Duty with its announcement of its Battle Royale mode, titled “Operations Mode”. Operations Mode can support up to 64 players and represents 2 in-game days of siege warfare. Day 1 sees players working together to take out Anti Air guns to let air support land, and Day 2 sees players defending points on the map in a Capture the Flag format. If players were able to take out the AA guns in Day 1 they will have an advantage in Day 2, but players can still get overrun and may even be forced to retreat.
Now although this was an early version of the mode, it presented a lot of problems. There are no clear objective markers and no clear indications of where players should go or what they should be doing. Myself and my 20 or so teammates spent most of our time wandering around the map randomly stumbling into objectives. What little direction we were given before the demo started seemed to be more focused on making sure we knew basic FPS controls rather than the specifics of the mode. I think it was safe to say most of us there knew how to aim down iron sights and fire a weapon, and were more concerned about how to proceed within the specific mission parameters. There were multiple instances of conflicting information as well. There were several times where the screen prompted that I was the “last surviving squad member” (I tend to stick more towards sniper classes, and therefore stayed out of direct combat), but I could clearly see several other squad members running around the map. Without much direction, much of my time was spent wandering around the map looking for objectives and getting shot in the face by someone a mile away. It was a very frustrating experience.
As opposed to games like Fortnite where there is a distinct art style, everyone looking like “generic soldier man” in Battlefield leads to confusing encounters. While all your squadmates have blue icons above their heads to indicate their status as your allies, there is no such indicator for enemies. No red marker, just nothing above their heads. In close encounters, it takes a good second to recognize if the person in front of you is friend or foe, and more likely than not, you will already be dead.
Also, while not experienced by myself personally, other players spoke of bugs in the demo, such as iron sights aiming moving unprompted and affecting aim. While this is to be expected in a demo, it should be noted regardless and hopefully these various bugs will be squashed before release, which I feel confident DICE will do.
We were told that there were crafting elements in Operations Mode, but whether it was available in the demo I couldn’t tell you because the lack of overall direction made it impossible to tell whether it was usable.
My team and I wandered around the 20 or so minute demo, picking off enemies where we could with no idea how well we were doing. One minute the in-game Commanding Officer was telling us we were on the verge of defeat, only to tell us a mere minute later that we were on the cusp of victory. Our team won the skirmish but I honestly couldn’t tell you how or why as we took off our headsets in befuddlement at our own victory.
Operations Mode adds nothing to the already crowded Battle Royale genre, simply using elements already long established in other Battle Royale and FPS games, in what appears to be an attempt to simply join the crowd rather than dominate it. Without a unique art style or creative drive, Operations Mode leaves much to be desired and may see play for the first few months of Battlefield V’s release, but I struggle to see it lasting longer than that outside of the most die-hard Battlefield players.
Command and Conquer: Rivals
After a long hiatus, the Command and Conquer series finally returns, this time to mobile devices. Although many fans were not pleased with the fact the series would be coming to mobile, I am happy to report that the series has made the transition to mobile surprisingly well. Rivals acts as a more simplified version of the original RTS games where two players (one GDI and one NOD) control a small map that fits on your phone screen. Resources automatically stock up over time and special units can be summoned to gather more by mining fields of green crystals located at the top of the screen. Players can summon units, vehicles, and other various tools of war to fight for control over 3 nodules on the bottom of the map. If your units occupy the space long enough they will gain control of it for your side, and your opponent can try and take it from you.
The purpose of capturing these points revolves around a giant missile stationed between both bases. As control wrestles back and forth between the two factions, the missile will point to one base or another depending on who controls the most of the nodules. When one team controls all 3, the missile will point to the enemy base and blow it to smithereens. Acting like a fast-paced game of hot potato, what units you summon and where you send them (using your phone’s touchscreen) will determine how well you do. It isn’t just about spamming the field with troops though. The units all have a rock paper scissors style dynamic where vehicles will take out troops, aircraft will take out vehicles, anti-air guns will take out aircraft, and troops will take out AA guns. This dynamic should be familiar to anyone who has played the original games.
The perfect example of this simple yet elegant strategy dynamic was on display when I played a match against the person in front of me in line. After choosing to play as NOD (Go Villains!) I started the match by deploying two units to gain resources, and my opponent summoned a pletora of troops to gain an early foothold on the nodules. While I was advised by a staff member to start with troops, I had my strategy already laid out. While my opponent did gain an early advantage taking the first module, I was able to gain resources at 3 times the rate he was. Using this I was able to summon more vehicles, troops, and eventually the NOD Cannon, a high powered cannon that took out anything that came near it. By placing it directly in front of the nodule closest to my base, I was able to make sure my opponent would have a very difficult time even reaching my nodule, let alone capturing it. Shortly I was able to overwhelm my opponent with my abundance of resources and capture all 3 nodules swiftly, sending the missile straight into their base.
Overall I was very pleased with Rivals and I look forward to seeing what the full game has to offer when it releases later this year. Players can pre-register to try out the game here. Pre-registering will allow you a chance to gain access to the early beta before release.
The most surprising treat at the EA Play event was tucked away in a small little corner away from the hustle and bustle of the main stage area, in a little game called Unravel Tw0. Available right now on PS4, Xbox One, and Windows, Unraveled Two is a cooperative adventure that can be played solo, but is much more rewarding playing with another person. I was paired with another solo player in line and we began our journey together. Each player controls an adorable creature called “Yarny”. Both Yarnys are bound together by a piece of yarn between them. Each Yarny can travel apart from each other, but the further you go the more you will, well, unravel. This encourages cooperation between players. You start the game lost in a forest, and being only a few inches tall, everything in the world presents a danger to you. Players must swing, climb, and move sticks, twigs, and other bits of the environment to try and get through the perilous land together. If one player isn’t as skilled as the other, they can intertwine their yarn together and let one player carry both of them for platforming sections that may be too difficult. Which is exactly what happened with my partner, and is a great way to encourage teamwork without making either player feel bad for not being skilled enough. You are in this together, literally.
The puzzle and platforming sections increase in difficulty at a smart and manageable pace, and require both players to work in tandem, to which having headsets is a great help.
There is no combat in the game, and while we did see bugs in the foreground and background, it is unclear what other creatures, including humans, we may see in the game, and if so how we will interact with them. Which is a good thing and adds an air of mystery to the game. Who exactly are the Yarnys? Where did they come from? Where are they going? These questions may not be answered, and if not that only adds to the air of mystery and whimsy that fills Unravel Two.
We completed the first level together, which ended with the Yarnys making their way into a lighthouse. Upon completion, my partner and I shared a crisp high five at a job well done. Unravel is very reminiscent of Journey in the best ways possible, and is a definite must for anyone looking for a fun adventure to go on with a good friend. Or stranger, if you so choose, as the game lets you team up with anyone. Unravel Two is currently available for $19.99 on PSN, Xbox Live, and the Windows Store.
Now the biggest game of the show was easily Anthem. We have a recap of gameplay shown at the event, as well as an interview given by two of the creative leads on the main stage to everyone in attendance. This being the case, instead of adding so much Anthem to the tail end of this piece we will have a separate article on Anthem up with all the information together for easy viewing.
The EA Play event was a mixed bag full of surprises and disappointments, and whatever was there that didn’t impress, there was something right around the corner that was more than likely to bring a smile to your face.