Admittedly, I’m a little behind with this week’s article, mainly because I’ve been working on The Gamer’s Guide to the World Cup, but every cloud has a silver lining, and thanks to the delayed start to the construction of this week’s article, I’ve been able to sit through the absolute shitshow that was EA’s E3 2018 press conference so you don’t have to. And trust me you really don’t have to.
There’s other news too, of course, and we’ve had a ton of leaks and announcements during the week that meant it was quite difficult to decide what to leave out. I think I’ll be taking next week off, mainly because all the news will be E3 related and the site will have that covered pretty extensively, so let’s get this done and we can settle into E3 week together. Like friends do.
EA’s E3 2018 Press Conference Was So Terrible I Think it Gave Me Cancer
Good gravy, this was boring. Corporate Overlords EA further enhanced their evil, soulless image by starting off the world’s biggest annual gaming event standing around and patting themselves on the back about how great they are. The press conference was seemingly designed almost entirely for shareholders, with splices of an annoying YouTuber and some incredibly brief gameplay clips thrown in to distract real people from what was essentially 80 minutes of bluster and self-aggrandization. Goombastomp’s own Helen Jones has a more detailed roundup of the whole thing here, so for the lazy amongst you, here’s a snarky bullet-pointed rundown:
- Battlefield V – They said “Royale,” to be greeted by a noise that didn’t sound like cheers to me, and had no info or gameplay on it. It was just a word and a promise that they’ll talk about it later this summer. That’s apparently all games publishers think they need to generate hype now. Just say “royale” and leave.
- FIFA 19 – You know what I hate? In-engine trailers of football games that show the game in a cinematic style you will never experience when playing the game itself. Who is this for? They spent a bit of time talking about gameplay and said that they’ll talk about it later in the summer (yeah, again). They showed no gameplay. A man from America said that as a kid he dreamt of playing in the European Cup. Sure you did, bro. Sure you did.
- Origin Access Premier – I’m surprised they didn’t call this a “battle royale” of a games catalogue. I’m assuming it’s just a more expensive Origin Access where you get games that are actually relevant as well as the rest of their back catalogue.
- Battlefront 2 – is getting some new characters, some stuff from the Solo movie, and we got a sort-of apology. Nobody sounded like they cared.
- Unravel 2 – The nervous man from last time was back and was a little bit less nervous. The game is out now and he loves someone in the audience. Probably his accountant.
- A man said we all loved A Way Out. Shut up. Don’t tell me what I love.
- Sea of Solitude – was presented by an “excited” woman, but I am more confused than excited, mainly because I skipped through her incredibly pretentious spiel and watched a janky-looking trailer of a game I don’t understand.
- They showed a video of an obnoxious twat refusing to shake hands with people and then winning the “Madden Bowl.” An actual professional football player millionaire then asked him, on stage, about the key to his success. I think I missed something here. It was probably the cringiest thing I’ve seen since, well, EA’s press conference last year. They showed another cinematic trailer of a sports game that featured rap music and motivational speaking. There was no gameplay. Again.
- Command & Conquer Rivals – in a move seemingly designed to upset C&C fans worldwide, a terrible mobile version is out now. They presented it like an E-Sports match. I think one of the competitors was Ashton Kutcher. It was confusing, and actually featured the most gameplay of everything shown during the conference. Nobody cheered.
- Anthem – Had a 30-minute slot on the conference billing, and 25 of those minutes was talking. By the end of the discussion, people had stopped cheering whenever EA said they won’t have loot boxes in a game anymore. It was boring, it was self-important, and it absolutely missed the mark.
There you have it, a terrible start to E3 in the form of an incredibly misguided conference by EA. When you decide to remove yourself from the event proper and host your own conference before everybody else, you should probably have some games to show people – especially when you call it EA Play. To have at least two big games shown with the caveat of “we’ll show you this later this summer” kind of shows you probably shouldn’t have done a press conference at this point. But hey, gotta keep that market share, right? You don’t actually think Coca Cola needs to advertize any more, do you? Work it out.
‘Crackdown 3’ Delayed for the 194th Time
I suppose it’s promising to see that Microsoft refuses to give up on Crackdown 3, but it seems they also refuse to release the damn thing either. Having initially been unveiled at E3 2014, the game has been delayed from 2016 until TBD 2017, November 2017, spring 2018, summer 2018 and now, in a statement by Microsoft to Windows Central, February 2019.
As per Eurogamer, Microsoft’s statement explained, “Our fans’ response to the signature antics and explosive gameplay of Crackdown 3 has been incredible. To ensure we deliver the experience they deserve, Crackdown 3 will be launching in Feb 2019.” Apparently, more information will be revealed during the Microsoft E3 conference tonight, but I worry that the game will struggle to generate that much buzz anymore. Is it even still relevant? All the talk of the destructible world was significantly dampened at E3 2017 when the single-player demo on show didn’t have any, leading to confirmation that it’ll be in the multiplayer mode only.
I’ve referenced the old Miyamoto quote before about how “a delayed game is eventually good… a rushed game is bad forever,” but a game delayed by three years with little information is more of a worry than anything else. It’s already 12 years since people actually cared about collecting orbs and all that malarkey, so Microsoft has a big job on its hands to stir up interest in it again tonight.
‘Lords of the Fallen 2’ Has a Second Life
Hooray for slow Dark Souls! For those of you who don’t know what Lords of the Fallen is, just boot up Dark Souls and max out your equip load. Yeah, it’s that. For those of you who do know what Lords of the Fallen is but didn’t know it had a sequel in the works, well… neither did I. But apparently it did, then it nearly didn’t, and now it does again.
Initially slated to release in late 2017, the game has broken free of development limbo thanks to a new partnership between Polish developer CI Games and Defiant Studios; the latter a small studio founded by Avalanche Studios’ New York office following the release of Just Cause 3. As per Eurogamer, Defiant Studios head David Grijns said:
“Our team has been excited about the chance to make the next LOTF from the moment we started to work on our pitch for CI. We are particularly thrilled about the creative freedom that CI Games is willing to offer.”
If that creative freedom afforded to the new partner relates to “you have the freedom to make this game a less obvious rip-off of Dark Souls,” then perhaps all the delays and limbo might end up producing an end product that can stand on its own as a less cynical entry into the popular genre. That or it’ll be even more like Dark Souls, because Dark Souls is better than Lords of the Fallen, and Defiant Studios have been allowed the freedom to fully embrace that. I guess we’ll see soon enough.
‘Team Sonic Racing’ Gameplay is Disappointing
Last week, we discussed the Walmart leak of Team Sonic Racing, and this week it was no longer a leak, and is now a full-on reveal. YouTube channel ShackNews released a video with three minutes of gameplay footage that, personally, I think looks incredibly dull. Sonic & Sega All Stars Racing Transformed (fucking hell, that title is still terrible) was an exhilarating racer filled to the brim with Sega fan-service that worked hand-in-hand with a brilliant transformation mechanic to produce probably the best non-Mario Kart racer ever. This? This is just Sonic and some bellends copying Mario Kart again.
I’ve only seen three minutes but it seems slow, it seems mundane, and it seems really annoying. Listen for the bit where it sounds like Tails is saying “celery is exhilarating,” the fuckin’ dweeb. Sumo Digital, for me, struck gold last generation – creating a kart racer that actually had more ideas and fan service than Mario Kart does, and yet that’s all been scrapped now to try and entice children with shitty, brightly-colored critters that spout irritating nonsense. Oh yeah, and Sonic has to use a car because if he ran it would be unfair to the rest of the racers. That is now officially confirmed canon. That’s it, I’m done with this. I’m too angry, so let’s move on.
‘Hitman 2’ and ‘Just Cause 4’ revealed
We’ll finish off this week with a couple more games that were first leaked, and then reluctantly confirmed by their respective publishers. You’ve got to love the way E3 season really ruins the magic of the surprise, am I right?
Firstly, Hitman 2. Warner Bros. tweeted a four-second loop of the new trailer on Monday, with the promise of a full reveal of a new game on Thursday. This was after the official Hitman twitter account had already tweeted a not-so-cryptic message informing Agent 47 that his “profiles have been updated,” and began listing his next target before trailing off. Cue 72 hours of speculating before Hitman 2 was officially revealed with the below trailer.
It’s still unclear if the game will be episodic, but the last game was so good it probably doesn’t matter anymore, and after the initial cynicism died down, the Hitman episodes arguably allowed players more time to settle on each mission and replay them until all the secrets were uncovered.
Secondly, Just Cause 4 was confirmed thanks to early pre-order ads accidentally running on Steam Thursday, as reported by Kotaku. Clicking on the link doesn’t do anything except return you to the Steam home page, and you obviously can’t actually pre-order it yet, but this is about as clear a leak as you’re ever going to get.
Interestingly, it’s another game successfully predicted by that shoddy-looking Walmart Canada listing that was “leaked” back in May, after Rage 2 was announced a couple weeks back. If there was a chance to bet on what’ll be revealed at E3 (who am I kidding, there probably is), then all bets for Just Cause 4 are now definitely off the table.