E3 is finally here, and to start things off, EA tempers the excitement with what will undoubtedly be the most uninteresting conference this year (though the rest of the lineup is welcome to disappoint me). EA proves to be the publisher that is the most accessible to the common man. All the music is pop or hip hop. No risks taken, no blemishes, everything polished to a mirror sheen. But when you polish and sand something done to make it shiny, you take away from it. An unsurprising and unchallenging scene, just like most years. The biggest, and really only, surprise was that Unravel 2 was out the day it was announced.
Nearly everything shown is exactly what you could have expected to see at an EA conference. FIFA, NBA, Battlefield and Battlefront, a dash of indie games, and capping it off with an extended talk about their most anticipated new IP, Anthem. E3 should be about exciting new features, games, and getting the customer base excited about the coming year in gaming. It could be EA was trying to play it as safe as possible given the controversy with loot boxes they were recently in, but regardless of why, the what is still bland and uninteresting.
Speaking of loot boxes, there was some back down happening throughout the conference concerning loot boxes. While it’s nice to see this change, make no mistake: EA will continue with the microtransactions. Anthem itself was confirmed to not have loot boxes, but it will have cosmetics you can buy for real money. The age of new skins and cosmetics being things you unlocked is over, even though loot boxes aren’t a big presence in EA games, if they’re to be believed, for the coming year. Microtransactions are dead, long live microtransactions.
The audience really spoke to the blandness of the conference, with tempered reactions and moments where it seemed like they were being cattle prodded to cheer for something they didn’t know they were supposed to be excited for (like the FIFA trophy). The rotted corpse of Command & Conquer was trotted out on the smallest screen, coming back as a mobile title. We learned a little about Origin Access Premier, and by a little I mean just that it will exist.
Somehow, most likely due to the 10-15 minutes of fluff-piece interview prefacing the gameplaying, the Anthem talk bored me almost as much as the FIFA and NBA stuff. Just like the rest of the conference, all the expected beats were hit, with nothing really new or exciting being shown. We know it’ll be a mix of multiplayer and single player, with the two walled off from each other. No loot boxes, but yes on buyable cosmetics. February will be the anticipated release date, and…well that’s it. We got to see a fair bit of gameplay footage, but none of it was new or surprising.
It’s a shame E3 has to start off on this vanilla note, and because EA had the honor of starting things off, their utter failure to do so with any sort of pageantry or interesting news means it loses points, taking it out of just-average and into below-average. It almost would have been better if they had an utter shitshow, because at least that would be interesting. D+
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