E3 2019 – DAY 1, SATURDAY JUNE 8TH – EA CONFERENCE

E3’s press schedule started witha bang, as EA Games showed off several highly anticipated titles. EA had dedicated time slots for each title, and scheduled them with the intention that you, the audience, might tune in during the times that held the game you had an interest in knowing more about. Here at Nerd News Social, I look at all the info so you don’t have to!

Let’s jump right in!

First up on the docket is Star Wars Jedi: The Fallen Order

Head of Respawn, Vince Zampella and Director of Star Wars Jedi: The Fallen Order, Stig Asmussen were there to give us the downlow.
Star Wars Jedi: The Fallen Order is a single player action adventure game, set post-Order 66 (for the uninitiated, this was the clone protocol that labeled all Jedi as traitors, causing the clone troopers to turn against their Jedi Generals). You play as Cal Ketsis, who is on a mission to restart the Jedi Order. The game takes place on Kashyyyk, where the Wookies have been enslaved by The Empire, who is syphoning the planet for resources.

We had the honor of watching 15 minutes of gameplay where we get to see all the cool new animations and abilities in action. The look and feel of it honestly reminds me a lot of Rise of the Tomb Raider. Jumping, wall running, swinging to ledges with vines, climbing up walls, generally linear. I just hope it’s not as short! One of my favorite game additions is the cutest fucking droid on the planet. BB-8 who? Our little BD-1 can show you holographic area maps, slice doors and computers, and tons of other stuff that I’ll get into at the end of this section. The lighting mechanics also got a bit of an upgrade. The way lights interact with your surroundings seem a lot more organic, as you can use the lightsaber to light the path ahead of you in dark areas.

In-combat force abilities look pretty awesome. You can use reflect with the lightsaber, slow down time (which is used a lot for puzzle solving to get to new areas), “force flip” which is a double jump, and force move to shove, grab, draw closer, or even throw enemies into their own blaster’s fire! This is pretty similar to your combat abilities in past Star Wars games, with the exception of Slow, but the process seems smoother in execution. They referred to the combat as “thoughtful combat.” These are not canned animations. Everything is freeform and natural. You can go back and replay with different looking results. The enemies react to your moves, to each other’s moves, and to the environment you’re in.

New additions to the Star Wars universe include the Purge Trooper, who has a goal of taking out the Jedi or at least softening them up before the Inquisitors arrive. Fight the giant bugs of Kashyyyk, use skill points to grow your abilities, sense the echo of dead storm troopers to find out what happened during their last moments and follow clues.

Some of the other thoughts I had during this demo were:
“For a Jedi, you kill a lot of people!”
“Wow, the Wookies can’t even seem to catch a break!”
And “That’s a big damn spider!”

… and BD-1, the cutest goddamn droid yet. BD-1 (Body Droid-1) is an Explorer Droid who can slice doors and computers, scan items, enemies, and creatures in your environment to help you learn lore, give you stim packs, and other stuff. Is Watto in it???? No firm answer. That’s really all we care about. More info will be at the Microsoft conference.

Apex Legends

Community Manager Jay Freshette and Executive Producer, Drew McCoy talk about the new weapon, new mode, new battlepass, and a 10th Legend!

As far as Season 01 goes, Apex Legends is hosting a special event, starting this weekend and running until June 18th. Benefits include the first ever Double XP weekend (From June 7th through June 9th), and brand new skin and weapon cosmetics. For a limited time, Legends who place Top 5 will earn the right to join the Apex Elite Q where they can play against all the most talented players. Additionally, Legends can complete Legendary Hunt challenges and earn skins and weapons. During the event, all Battlepass owners will get an exclusive legendary weapon skin; the Honored Prey R-301. If you hit Level 15 on your Battlepass, you’ll also earn the Night Terror Wraith Legendary Legend Skin. Another cool addition is the ability to earn a full Battlepass level for your first Top 5 win of the day.

Season 02, coming July 2nd, is called Battle Charge. We can expect with this new season a new Legend, a new weapon, a new way to play the game, and maybe a map event.

The new weapon is the gold-rarity Plasma-fueled EMG, L-Star, which features a 60-round magazine and full auto-fire. It seems really powerful, and as such, is only available via care package and has no additional ammo on the ground, so use it wisely. It shatters doors like wet paper, so make sure you’re the first one to that air drop!

The new Battlepass will give you daily and weekly challenges that stack, so you can come back after a while and try to knock them all out at once to level up really quickly. Badges and stat trackers are going away, and being replaced by three new battle content types. You’ll also get enough crafting material to make your own Legend by the time you hit Level 100.

In Season 02, you’re going to also see Ranked Mode, which has you progress through 6 tiers that go from Bronze to Apex Predator. It uses special matchmaking for each tier, and you’ll get a special reward based on what tier you land on by the end of the season.

The 10th Legend is Wattson, a young genius who can use the environment to create strong defenses and bring a more strategic element to Apex Legends. Wattson and her father invented the arena, and she grew up in the ring as they were building it. Down the road, you get more story from playing, like maybe who The Syndicate is. Because she hung out in the ring, all the Legends like her (including Caustic).

Jay also mentioned that there will be some huge announcements coming soon, so stay tuned!

Battlefield V

Community Manager, Adam Freeman, Producer, Ryan McArthur, and Producer, Lars Gustavsson say that we can expect lots of new maps for the next update!

Map, Marita. An infantry-focused map in Greece featuring beautiful mountains and a quaint town where Allied forces are making a last stand to hold off the Axis army sweeping through the region. Coming in July as part of Chapter 4.

Map, Al Sundan. Set in an African desert on a lush desert coast. Camps, radar tower, and air base. This huge, open map will be great for air and land vehicle combat, and will be optimized for multiplayer combat. Take advantage of the large distances and battle across ranges. Al Sundan will be the first map with Chapter 4, and will be available on June 27th.

Map, Operation Underground. A close-quarters map with lots of flanking routes that takes place in a subway station, an open courtyard, and a shopping mall. This will come in October, between Chapters 4 and 5.

Core gameplay updates: We’ll be increased in max rank from 50 to 500. With every 50 ranks, we’ll get a rank icon and a set of dog tags to show off our skills. And finally, we will see private games!

Keep an eye out for more info on the many new maps later in Chapter 4, which should be announced closer to August!

Chapter 5 takes place in the Pacific, with the US vs Japan. Reimagining of Iwojima with the Frostbite engine. Take part of the US invasions on Japan, using new amphibious units. Two other maps, new vehicles, and new weapons will all be coming with Chapter 5. There’s a lot of island-hopping in this chapter, which means underwater battles! The Pacific theater chapter releases in the fall.

FIFA 20

A new way to play, and new updates are coming to FIFA this year!

New way to play: Volta football takes FIFA to the streets. Whereas before, in the FIFA games, you could pretend to have made it all the way to the big game and play your favorite players, now you get to pretend you’re on the streets playing with your buddies.

Fulham Ladies forward, Chelcee Grimes talks about how the culture of street football inspired FIFA 20’s new Volta gameplay. You can play in a London cage or a rooftop in Tokyo. You can play pretty much anywhere. Take advantage of the style, using a combination of technical skill like bouncing the ball against the wall to get around competitors, or bouncing the ball over your head, and really just express yourself in this smaller ring game with your flare and style.

Another big innovation in the game is the customization of the players in the game. Male, female, clothing, how your look, skin color, personal style, tattoos, trainers, etc. They wanted to be diverse, authentic, and cultural. A lot of that is how you represent yourself in the game.
Lead Gameplay Producer, Sam Rivera
The developers interviewed over 3000 players of various skill levels to see what needed improving. Among the things mentioned were shooting inconsistencies and AI defending, which led them to develop a new feature set that comes together as “Football Intelligence.”

Three features that improve the gameplay of the maps: On the ball (enhancing the 1:1 moments by giving you attacking and defending tools), Off the ball (more time and space on the ball), and the ball itself (brand new ball physics system). New features also include composed finishing, which is a more clinical and consistent shooting when you’re in a 1:1 with the goal keeper. The time finishing mechanic tweaks will offer you a more satisfying shooting experience whether you time your shot or not.

On the ball: The strafe dribbling mechanic was reinvented, giving you more precise control of the ball when dribbling, and can be used to lure the opponent in, so you can use your skill to defeat him.

Off the ball: The control tackling system uses the sophistication from the Active Touch system from FIFA 19, and will improve your player’s tackling ability to ensure you win possession back more often. Penalty kicks aiming mechanics are more accessible. You’ll have full control of the spin you apply to the ball, based on how you swing your right stick.

The ball itself: The brand new ball physics system gives a more authentic feel to the game. Rewrote the ball down to every contact and bounce, and how spin affects the trajectory of the shot, so you’ll see more realistic interactions and deflections. The FIFA experience will feel fresh with the new ball mechanics system.

FIFA 20 is releasing Sept 27th. If you have EA Access, you can play on Sept 19th. More great news! EA Access is coming to PS4, so PS users can also take advantage!

There’s more info coming soon. You can check out pitch notes and deep dives on stuff like gameplay (mid-July), career mode and pro clubs (end of July), Ultimate Team and Volta (early August).

Anthem’s Live Service Lead Producer, Ben Irving made a quick drop-in to announce a new update on the test server called The Cataclysm. Most of their time at E3 this year has been around talking to the test players to see what can be improved. The test server is available on PC right now, so feel free to jump in and play The Cataclysm!

Madden NFL 20

The newest iteration of Madden NFL will showcase new x-factor abilities, among other things. According to Madden Community Manager, Israel Cruz, we can expect lots of cool new features and additions. For one, Pro Bowl is back!

Since the draft, they’ve been asking fans what they want. One of those things was the ability to create a quarterback and follow his career. In Face of the Franchise, the new career campaign, you can do just that. Create a superstar QB and compete in the college football playoffs.

We’ll also get to see the scenario engine, which brings dynamic challenges to help you improve your player and ratings from week to week, tons of new playbooks, RPOs, new formations, Ultimate missions, and X-factor abilities.

With X-factor abilities, you have new Zone abilities and Superstar abilities. Zone abilities need to have a prerequisite objectives completed, like completing x number of passes without getting sacked, to get you “in the zone” before the ability becomes active.

Alvin Kimera has new abilities like Matchup Nightmare, which allows him to make sharper cuts, and frequently win contested catches when covered by linemen and linebacks. Juju Smith-Schuster’s zone abilities include Double Me, which increases his catch rate when he only has single coverage.

You can check out the closed beta from June 14-16. Tune in to the Madden social channels (@EAMaddenNFL on Twitter and EAMaddenNFL on Twitch) and Juju’s social channel, to try and get some beta codes! The EA development team will also be distributing codes on Twitter throughout the community. MUTHEAD and Reddit (Madden Ultimate Team) will also offer fans an opportunity to get codes.

Senior Gameplay Designer, Clint Oldenburg jumped on stage to talk in a little more detail about some of the above. He mentioned Mahomes and Donald will have some pretty intense abilities. Using these abilities in Madden 20 will make the game seem a little closer to a chess match. Knowing your opponent and what they can do is going to make or break your match.

Mahomes’ abilities: Mahomes has a Zone ability called Bazooka, which allows him to increase his max throw distance by 15+ yards.

Donald’s abilities: Donald has a Zone ability called Fear Monger , which allows him to apply pressure penalties to the QB even while engaged in a block (which only typically occurs in a free rush, unblocked to the QB).

New signature animations are in the game, where the developers went out and captured the players’ signature passing animations. They currently have 6-7 players, and will add more throughout the year. Animations and throwstyles, celebrations, etc, will help you feel closer to your players.

We’ll also see new gameplay mechanics, like a new scramble mechanic that gives you the ability to pull down the passing icons on a passing play with a button press and become a ball carrier with full access to all the spin moves, jukes, ball carrier moves. You can bring back your icons with the same button press. A new pump fake mechanic allows you to pump fake to a specific receiver on the field.

New plays, delivering 220 RPOs (Alerts, Peaks, and Reads). Will be updating the playbooks all year long, to keep everything fresh.

Check out the Grid Iron Notes blog for more info throughout the year.

Sims 4: Island Living

Executive Producer, Lyndsay Pearson, and Senior Producer, Michael Duke talk about the new Island Living expansion pack, after we watch the trailer… which features MERMAIDS?! There was also a nice showcase of island fashion, the ability for Sims to walk right into the open water, enjoy open water gameplay, snorkel, swim, float, and use aqua zips to get places faster. You can also make friends with the local fish friends. New jobs, as well. You can do part time stuff to balance your work and fun. You can become a conservationist to keep the island clean, be a lifeguard, be a dive instructor, a fisherman, etc. The island changes over time, as well. If you take care of it, it becomes more lush and bright and has more butterflies. There’s an ancient spirit elementals that pops up from time to time, and reacts according to the environment. He’s happy when you take care of the island, and not happy when you hurt it.

You’ll also find that there are new traits! If your Sims are super in touch with the land, they can unlock some new behaviors. Sims 4: Island Living was inspired by Polynesian cultures, and the developers went through lengths to make sure that the world was immersive and authentic.

Mermaids have cool powers, but the producers wouldn’t get into much detail around them, saying that mermaids need to keep some mystery.

Producer and Content Creator, Joey Graceffa announced the upcoming partnership with the It Gets Better project, releasing pride items in game in Sims freeplay, mobile app, and Sims 4. There’s even a gender neutral bathroom!

On June 18th, pride content will come to Sims 4, rolling out to Sims free play and Sims mobile a little later.

Other announcements include a Moschino Stuff Pack, which is coming later in the year. This pack adds new fashion items and for the first time ever, a Stuff Pack will add a new career! A part time job as a freelance fashion photographer, so you can capture all your best looks.

Also announced was the next game pack for Sims 4: Realm of Magic. More info about what this means will be coming later this year, but the pack is coming this fall.

Check out Sims social channels for more info and launch dates.

So that was a lot of really great stuff from EA Games, today! Tons of highly info on highly anticipated titles. I’m really excited for Star Wars, and those mermaids might just draw me back into Sims 4 after years of not playing. What are you excited for? Leave a comment!

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