E3 2018 Day 1: EA Press Event

By Shamus Posted Sunday Jun 10, 2018

Filed under: Industry Events 77 comments

Streaming is always a complicated process. You’ve usually got about six different bits of technology all strung together. My usual setup is Open Broadcaster + a webpage for chat + my webcam feed + ManyCam Studio + a AAA videogame. Add in the challenge of balancing multiple audio sources, keeping FPS reasonable, all the technology on Twitch’s end, and the capricious nature of Windows, and it’s a miracle I can do it at all.

All of this is to say I didn’t get it just right this time. The audio gets a bit wonky in spots and there’s that mishap in the middle. Whoops. I’m sure I’ll get the hang of this just about the time E3 winds down.

Below are my thoughts in text form, for you non-video types.

Link (YouTube)

Battlefield V:

Man, the destructible environments in this game never fail to amaze me. I love the period detailsBattlefield V is (somehow) a sequel to Battlefield 1, which is based around World War 1.. Too bad this game isn’t in a genre that interests me.

Apparently these games have a single-player component that gets tons of development resources but nobody ever talks about it. It might be fun to get the game for that, but it would probably be annoying to review. I’m sure Battlefield fans will insist that reviewing the vestigial single-player campaign mode is missing the point.


Obviously not my thing. So let’s talk about the chairs:

If you watch the video, somewhere just after the 16 minute mark we cut back to the convention hall and see the audience is sitting on what appear to be fold-out wooden chairs. Madness. How can a place THIS high-tech have such savage chairs? It would be agonizing to spend an hour on one of those things.

Then again, maybe they’re not as brutal as they look. The particular shape of the frame and the white remind me of rickety old folding chairs leftover from the 70’s. They got used a lot in public venues where cost was valued over comfort. They wobbled slightly, they made creaking noises, and they had no cushioning whatsoever. They were painted regularly, probably to protect the sitter from splinters. They hurt even when I was a kid.

It’s entirely possible that these chairs have the same outline but are actually modern chairs with some cushioning. It’s hard to see since 1) It’s dark. 2) The chairs are occupied. 3) Video compression has not been kind to these pixels. I dunno. I realize this is a strange and random thing to worry about, but the shape of the chair evoked a childhood memory and this is where it took me.

Let’s go back to talking about videogames…

Origin Access

So… they’re offering access to a library of 100+ titles for $5 a month, or $30 a year? I don’t get it. This sounds way too good to be true. I’ve been saying for years that EA needs to do something with Origin to lure people away from their massive Steam libraries. And yet year after year, they seem content to offer a smaller library for higher prices on a more limited platform with a smaller userbase.

But this Origin Access thing is a pretty big deal. I’ve read the sales pitch and I can’t find the catch. The yearly price is about what you’d pay for ONE old game on their platform. They’re even offering a 7 day free trial.

I’d jump on it now, except it’s EA and it sounds too good to be true. What’s the strategy here? Will the available titles rotate from month to month like Netflix? Are they going to crank the price up after the first year and make it hard to cancel? I don’t know.

Very interesting move though. I’ll probably check it out once I have time to dive in.

STAR WARS: Battlefront

I like how the main selling point is that the game isn’t driven by lootboxes. Still not for me though.

Unravel Two

My computer crashed during this segment, so I missed most of it. I know I was only offline for a minute or so, but even once the stream was going I was distracted with behind-the-scenes stuff, trying to get the show working properly after having all of my carefully-balanced audio levels scrambled. Arg.

Anyway, Unraveled is a cute indie platformer and I discovered a long time ago that 2D platformers are not my thing. Looks cool though.

Sea of Solitude

Wow. I know she’s quiet in the stream, but her talk is pretty amazing. This talk feels less like a concept for a game and more like some trauma the designer is trying to share with us. EA lets her talk about the horrors or loneliness and isolation for about four straight minutes before we see any game footage. She’s not a slick presenter. She nervous and shy and has something big on her mind and I can’t believe EA gave her five minutes of their stage time. I’m glad they did, but coming so soon after Andrew Wilson and Battlefront this feels like a totally different press event.

Basketball & Football

Sea of Solitude got 5 minutes of stage time. The basketball and football games SHARED a 5-minute segment.

Who are you and what have you done with EA?!?

Command and Conquer: Rivals

So they’re trying to make a competitive RTS esports game… for mobiles? It looks a bit like a turn-based game, a bit like a MOBA, and a bit like an RTS. The one thing it doesn’t look like is Command & Conquer.

I doubt it will have enough depth to support esports and I imagine that its existence under the C&C name will be annoying to longtime fans who’ve been waiting for a proper sequel, but it’s an interesting experiment.

Wilson’s Unpology

Here we get some words from EA CEO Andrew Wilson, of lootbox fame. I think I accidentally called him Peter during the show, possibly because a recent EA CEO was named Peter?

This was really annoying. Wilson comes out and announces that their entire worldview on gaming is exactly the opposite of what their recent behavior says it is. Does Wilson think we’re stupid? Or is this an apology without the “We’re sorry” part? Maybe he wants to let shareholders know what they plan to do differently, but he wants to do so without admitting they made any mistakes in the first place.

Then to cap it off, he announces they’ve given some money to charity. This is the most insincere gesture I’ve ever seen at E3. The attempt at redemption is so shallow, so small, and so obviously timed within the talk, that it has the opposite of the desired effect. He’s talking to a room full of reporters. How short does he think their attention span is?


Having said that, it will be interesting to see what they do with lootboxes in the coming 18 months. It seems like they’re backing away now, but maybe they plan to try again but with some basic attempt at subtlety. I seriously doubt they’ve “learned” anything. I mean, if they were going to learn then they should have done so with Dungeon Keeper, or SimCity 2013. The current leadership is not equipped to understand the market they serve, and throwing some money at an anti-bullying charity isn’t going to change that.

Okay, enough waiting. We all know we’re here to talk about…


The world is changed and darkness is coming and fulfill your destiny and only ONE MAN can save us and stuff about walls and look at that, I just won at movie cliche bingo.
The world is changed and darkness is coming and fulfill your destiny and only ONE MAN can save us and stuff about walls and look at that, I just won at movie cliche bingo.

The good:

  • It looks fantastic. Yes, I’m sure they’re cheating their asses off with the rendering quality and the final product won’t look like this. But even if we take that into account, these designs are really good. BioWare may have bled away their entire superstar writing staff, but they’ve evidently replaced them with a really strong art team.
  • Yay new IP.
  • The ability to fly is really cool. It looks fun to navigate this world.
  • The robo-suits are novel and look fun.

The bad:

The story looks and sounds so very un-BioWare. They could have shared some lore, backstory, or characters with us. And yet all we got was a chain of cliches and completely utilitarian dialog.

They’re promising us that this will be a co-op shooter but that it will still have story and choices. This has never, ever worked. You can’t blend Destiny with Dragon Age. The needs of an in-depth, high-concept world with with lots of story and characters and choice are at odds with the needs of co-op multiplayer shooter. A proper story-driven game needs to do worldbuilding, foreshadowing, and character development. The writer can’t do those things while the players are chattering to each other about school and work.

This is exacerbated by Casey Hudson’s absurd adherence to the “The player is the chosen one” design philosophy. When combined with multiplayer, it amplifies the dissonance within the world. I’m the chosen one and best friend of Admiral Growly Exposition. So are all the other people on my squad. They’re all the chosen one too. So is MunkeyDude420, who is hopping around the scene while I’m in town. So is everyone on MunkeyDude’s squad, who are currently standing around the shopkeeper doing dance emotes. So is this AFK chick who’s been idling at the spawn point for an hour.

When I’m playing Left 4 Dead with friends, I don’t want gameplay to grind to a halt so someone can do dialog stuff with an NPC. While I’m playing Mass Effect, I want to be able to stop and take in the scenery. I want to be able to pause the game. I want the story and gameplay to be woven together. I want to be able to listen to dialog I find interesting, click through dialog I’ve heard before, and I want to mull over my dialog choices for a minute before making a selection. I want to have a long conversation about backstory stuff without worrying that I’m making the rest of the team wait for me.

This is yet another case of EA trying to shove a square peg in a round hole, and it’s going to lead to a frustrating and compromised design. We haven’t seen the game yet so we don’t know what form that compromise will take, but based on this demo this looks like it’s going the Destiny route where the “story” is just a bunch of random noise and cliches that condescendingly claim like the player is a messiah while simultaneously bossing them around like a child. You’ll be a CHOSEN ONE with no sense of agency, and I’ve had about as much of that nonsense as I can tolerate.

I wish BioWare would return to their story-based roots. Barring that, I wish they’d stop messing around and embrace their identity as a shooter mill. Trying to split the difference can’t work and won’t make either market happy.

“Shamus, it’s not fair to judge the game so harshly! They only showed us a tiny bit and there’s almost nine months of development time left.”

I’m just judging based on what EA showed us. That’s what E3 is for. Anything less than honest appraisal makes you part of the EA marketing machine, and those people do not deserve our fealty.

I’ll be back later today with the Microsoft event, followed by Bethesda:

* Microsoft: 1 PM Pacific / 4 PM Eastern
* Bethesda: 6:30 PM Pacific / 9:30 PM Eastern

Hope to see you there. I’ll start streaming about 10 minutes before the show.



[1] Battlefield V is (somehow) a sequel to Battlefield 1, which is based around World War 1.

From The Archives:

77 thoughts on “E3 2018 Day 1: EA Press Event

  1. baud says:

    I can’t watch the video. But thank you for the rest of the infos!

  2. Nimrandir says:

    I, too, appreciate the text opinions. My son would much rather I get back to playing Final Fantasy X than stare at my tablet for the length of a press conference.

    1. Echo Tango says:

      The text-based opinion is really good, even for people who read slowly like me; It allows me to skip over sections like the sports-ball, which I don’t care about! :)

      1. Mistwraithe says:

        Ditto! Read the text, and it was good!

        1. John says:

          Thirded. Even if it were convenient for me to watch streams, reading the text summary is so much more efficient that I don’t think I’d bother.

          1. Liessa says:

            +1 to this, though I did watch the stream as well.

            1. Zekiel says:

              +1 (fifthed?) – thanks for writing out the text Shamus!

              1. Bubble181 says:

                Sixthed. No option to spend that much time in one go to watch a whole thing, and certainly not with the sound on.
                Text, especially Shamus-text, 4TW!

                1. Dev Null says:

                  Seventhed. Both because I appreciate the text, and because I want to see how many nested comments Shamus’ theme can handle…

                  1. Daniel says:

                    Eight Head

                    We come to his blog to read stuff, right?

  3. Grimwear says:

    Video doesn’t work for me either. It says it’s unavailable and using the direct link to youtube brings up a black square with a giant exclamation mark on it.

    1. Shamus says:

      Whoops. I’d scheduled it to go live at 6PM instead of 6AM. Fixed now.

      1. baud says:

        Thank you!

      2. Grimwear says:

        Perfect! Thank you!

  4. Caal says:

    Anthem looks like a slower less fun warframe with a ginormous budget.
    Warframe’s even attempted the whole choice (very old bioware style with good/bad/middle ground options) story thing but it looks like they wont be following through with that in their future quests.

    Actually warframe at less than half the speed plus lacking parkour skills sounds like Destiny.. well, FTP Po-tay-to
    Pay to be allowed to pay future micro-transactions po-tah-to
    Not sure i could ever justify 69.90 + expacs (and probably a #2 release to just continue the.. probably lackluster story) for this. Looks shiny.. and slow, and like EA’s trying to be “current” with that games as service thing.

  5. Daemian Lucifer says:

    They’re promising us that this will be a co-op shooter but that it will still have story and choices. This has never, ever worked.

    What about divinity original sin?

    1. MarsLineman says:

      Not exactly a shooter

      1. Agammamon says:

        Not just that, but there are still tons of people who play MP and then complain when their choice isn’t picked.

        1. Joshua says:

          Didn’t work that well for my wife and I honestly.

    2. BlueHorus says:

      Yeah….I remember the choices in Divinity OS 1. When the two characters disagreed, it made you play goddamn Rock, Paper, Scissors, and whoever lost got ignored. Man, that system was bad.*

      Also, a very different type of ‘multiplayer’. I’ll play the Divinity games with a friend who’s into RPGs (or more than one), but can you imagine that game if you were randomly assigned ANAL_DESTROYER_6969 to play with?

      *Fun fact, if you’re playing single player, you can program the AI so you partner just disagrees with you all the time on principle! Oh the fun!

      1. Daemian Lucifer says:

        I’ll play the Divinity games with a friend who’s into RPGs (or more than one), but can you imagine that game if you were randomly assigned ANAL_DESTROYER_6969 to play with?

        I can,but thats a different kind of role playing.

    3. Bubble181 says:

      I was going to say the same thing.
      I personally would never play those co-op, but I know people who had loads of fun playing and replaying D:OS 1 and 2 in pairs or small groups. One time with player A picking choices, one time player B, etc.
      I had fun reading their play-throughs, too, though I could never play it like that myself.

      Yeah, not a shooter, but still a story-based game done well in co-op.

      An alternative approach(ish) would be like Diablo III, where there’s a whole story based thing (ok, not a *good* one in this case, but still) alongside a whole non-story co-op version.

  6. The Rocketeer says:

    Where is the stream? I don’t see a link in the post.

  7. Husr says:

    You might also have called Andrew Wilson Peter because there was a very noteworthy governor of California in your day named Peter Wilson, Shamus?

    Anyway I skipped EA because it’s EA but after reading this I do think I’ll actually go watch the Sea of Solitude portion because that sounds so different.

    Single-player choice games can actually be pretty fun to play with friends as long as you’re in the same room discussing the game, with only one person holding the controller. When it becomes a properly multiplayer game that is totally anathema to world-building and more measured pacing though.

    1. Grygor says:

      Hi, Californian here, no one calls former governor Pete Wilson by the name Peter.

      1. Syal says:

        It’s how you refer to someone becoming more Pete-like.

  8. Jennifer Snow says:

    I also was seriously underwhelmed by the “story” stuff on display in Anthem. I love me a good story game, and I love me a good multiplayer game.

    I don’t love both at once. I don’t even ENJOY both at once. It’s one of the things I like about DDO–there’s just enough story to add some flavor without being annoying. And DDO actually hit the right note with how you interact with the story–you’re not the Chosen One. You’re a professional adventurer who does jobs (quests) for people, and they reward you. Sometimes the quest is of world-shaking significance, sometime it’s “rescue my dog”, but your character is always just an adventurer who happened to be there.

    Every time I see Anthem news I feel bad, because I’d LIKE to be able to like it and have a game to look forward to (I so rarely have a new game to look forward to). But nothing I’ve seen thus far has worked for me.

    1. Jennifer Snow says:

      It does occur to me that one way they could make the story/multiplayer thing work is if you’re only IN your team (and able to communicate with them) when you’re in the “adventure zone”, and the story stuff takes place in the “story zone” and mostly revolves around the people you’d have to interact with anyway, your crafter/bank/turn in people.

      If they did instancing the way DDO does it where one person can enter a quest instance and start it, and other people can freely join in progress–you wouldn’t have people WAITING on you all the time. A lot of multiplayer games do instances where you can’t even START the instance until you have your group all gathered and ready to go. In a game with time-consuming story beats, that would be EXCRUCIATING. But if the impatient people can start without you and you can catch up at your own pace, it wouldn’t be so bad.

      If I were making it, instead of having a single linear story, I’d salt the world with tons of “story hooks” that have a few different resolve conditions. They’d be largely independent, so you wouldn’t get together a team to all do the same story section, instead you’d get together a team to go to the same instance/location, but everybody COULD be working toward their OWN story goals–or even just farming ingredients or xp or whatever else there is to do.

      Aside from that, there’d be a large but not unmanageable number of characters who have their own stories, voice acting, etc. and basically how the story plays out just changes your relationship with that character.

      Of course, that kind of brings up the whole Romance thing, which Bioware generally does at least a little. I don’t think I’d have it that you can romance NPC’s, because, frankly, in a multiplayer game where EVERYONE can romance THE SAME SET of NPC’s, that would just get . . . weird. No. SWTOR did kind of an okay thing where at least you had your own personal version of the NPC.

      I kind of think it be cool if you could “romance” other PC’s. Something that would be really unique would be if they made it so that you can’t speak directly to other players in game. There’s no text party chat or voice chat or anything like that. You can initiate a conversation, but you get to pick from dialog options and canned responses like “wanna trade?” or “join my group for X zone?” and so forth. There’s nothing to prevent you from running, say, Discord or Teamspeak in the background if you wanna chat with your friends, but in-game other players are pretty much like NPC’s in how much you can interact *directly* with them. Basically, players would communicate in-game via canned dialog, things like:

      “Help me!”
      “Look at this.”
      “Thank you.”
      “Be careful.”
      “Watch your six!”
      “Enemy spotted!”
      “I’m coming!”
      “Flank them”
      “Engaging enemy!”

      This could be simplified by having some actions auto-fire a quick dialog alert, although you can do them manually if you like. And I suppose you could always give people a toggle to turn off the auto-comments. That way, you’d still be able to communicate with other players, but not to the degree that their nonsense could significantly pull you out of the game. And, if you want to, you can flirt with other players or be friendly with them, and if you agree to be “in a relationship” with another player, the NPC’s can acknowledge it, and that would be the “romance” part of the game–NPC’s making comments about your “relationship” with another player.

      It at least would be new and different.

      1. John says:

        Your proposal sounds very similar to the emotes Bioware put into Neverwinter Nights. You could communicate your mood by having your avatar bow, dance, shake a fist, or whatever. Some emotes included a vocal component, the exact nature of which depended on the voice you picked at character creation. The drawback of the emote system was that there were a lot of emotes and you had to pick them from a radial menu designed in such a way that it was hard to find the emote you wanted quickly. Or so I assume. I never used the emotes much myself because I only ever played single-player. There may have been hot-keys or programmable macros or something.

        Of course, Neverwinter Nights also allowed you to communicate by, y’know, typing. I think that the emotes were intended primarily as NPC animations and players’ in-game access was largely an afterthought.

        1. Jennifer Snow says:

          There were hotkeys for them, IIRC you’d hit V to start emote mode and then they all had character combos, so if you wanted to laugh, you’d hit something like VCK or similar.

          That’s why I suggested a smallish list of auto-emotes for stuff like “engaging enemy”. If it’s designed around a 4-person group, you could even have them give a sign-on, like “Fox 3 engaging enemy!” so you know who it is. If you want to be SUPER snazzy you can even have their map icon or directional indicator or whatever you have that helps you keep track of your team flash, so you REALLY know who it is.

          It’s been my experience with multiplayer that the hardest thing is getting people to communicate something USEFUL. Instead, people are always saying pointless crap like “I’m lost” or “where are you”. Dude, there’s a friggin map. USE THE MAP.

          I’m all for letting people turn that off if it annoys them, though.

          But, if you actually want to do a multiplayer game with strong story immersion, that’s what I’d look into. There are games that have done it, like The Journey, which got a lot of praise for originality if nothing else.

          1. Scourge says:

            Or if you want to be extra fancy you can either set a demanour for your character.

            The Absent Minded professor: “Oh, those are some fascinating species!”
            Ax Crazy: LETS MURDER THEM!
            Soldier: Incoming Boogies.
            Past Trauma: Never again. NEVER AGAIN!

            That kind of thing.
            Or if you want to be extra fancy then the demanour of your character can be influenced by the choices you do in the story.

            Kill everyone? Your character will be more bloodthirsty.
            Prefer to research stuff? More professor minded.
            You prefer sniper rifles? Cold Sniper or the warm sniper.
            Gatling good? Well, yeah.

            Of course if you are not happy with how your character reacts then you can just go with the previous option before to set their personality type.

    2. Liessa says:

      I know what you mean. I still have this lingering affection towards Bioware that makes me want to like and play their games, but there’s simply nothing about Anthem that interests me. Sure, it looks great and the visual effects are spectacular, but I’m just not into multiplayer shooters. The gameplay looks really dull to me and the story (or what we’ve seen of it, which admittedly isn’t much) sounds fairly absurd.

      Old-school Bioware games were slightly jankier in the production values department (animations etc.), but had so much more heart. Anthem… if I hadn’t known what it was beforehand, I’d never have guessed that it was made by Bioware. In fact, I’d never have been able to distinguish it from half-a-dozen other AAA shooter games.

      1. Zaxares says:

        Yeah, what you said is basically my own reaction to Anthem. It LOOKS very pretty, but there just isn’t any real DEPTH to it, near as I can tell. This is going to be the first Bioware game in years that I’m not going to purchase. (The other was SWToR, but I avoided that for entirely different reasons.)

    3. BlueHorus says:

      Yeah. I am so damn sick of playing the Chosen One and saving the world.
      It’s a neat little irony that something designed to make the player feel special and unique actually does the opposite – now I find that being ‘just some guy’ is much more special in a game.

      Also, to join everyone else: Chosen Ones and MMO mechanics just don’t mix. Anyone with half a brain can see through that particular lie, even before you get ganked by BLUNT_KING_420 in a field.

      1. The Rocketeer says:

        Don’t wanna get ganked, don’t walk in my field. It’s that simple.

      2. John says:

        I don’t need my character to be the Chosen One but I do need a game to be about my character and the stuff my character does. I’m perfectly happy to play Regular Guy as long as the story of the game is about the life and adventures of Regular Guy. I would rather not play Regular Guy and read a bunch of text or watch a bunch of cutscenes in which the developers reveal that the game is really about Cool NPC.

        1. Jennifer Snow says:

          Although if Cool NPC is voiced by Sean Bean I could be okay with it. In moderation.

          1. Liessa says:

            If you’re thinking of the same character as I am, that particular Cool NPC parked his arse in a monastery early on in the game and left most of the exciting stuff up to the player, so…

      3. Asdasd says:

        Down with Chosen Ones! Down with proper nouns!

      4. MelTorefas says:

        So much this and so much what Shamus said. This entire concept is completely tired and worn out, and is utter nonsense in an MMO setting. If you want to make me NOT play your game, making me the Chosen One is a great way to start.

        Pretty much the only game I have seen recently that makes the Chosen thing work is Dark Souls; of course, in those games when you actually manage to win you feel like you’ve EARNED that title.

        1. BlueHorus says:

          I’d give special mention to Divinity: Original Sin 2, for some deconstruction – you’re only one of several Chosen Ones, and directly in competition with the other Chosen.

          And then the plot of the game involves meeting and finding out about the beings that chose you…

          …it was a good take on the trope/cliche.

  9. kdansky says:

    > How much does Origin Access Premier cost?

    > When Launching later this summer, Origin Access Premier will be available for € 14,99/ month or € 99,99/ year.

    A fair bit more than the number you have above. I don’t buy two full-price releases from them every year, so this is more expensive than just getting the games on sale.

    1. Narkis says:

      Huh? It says “Join now for your free 7-day trial, then it’s just € 3.99 a month or € 24.99 a year. Cancel anytime.” for me.

      1. evilmrhenry says:

        Origin Access vs Origin Access Premiere. See my comment below for details.

        1. Narkis says:

          Oh, my bad. I hadn’t realized there was a difference.

  10. Thomas says:

    This press conference has made me give in and admit that everything you’ve said about EA is right. I’ve been an apologised, but this conference has gone down like a lead balloon and there’s no reason why it should be as bad as this except they don’t know what they were doing.

    Did they really think a C&C mobile game would go down well? At E3? I don’t care if it’s publicity, it’s not the right publicity. If they don’t want the hardcore audience, their are better venues for this and if they do want the hardcore audience then they could not have done more to damage their good will.

    And as Angry Joe pointed out, they literally babble on repeatedly about the ‘joy of subscriptions’.

    And they think they can get away from the fact Anthem is a Destiny clone that will _not_ scratch that RPG itch by hiding the gameplay? That’s just going to make the outcry even worse when the game finally comes out and damage their long-term brand even more.

    They even had proper gameplay footage of Battlefield and they chose _not_ to show it?

    And they made the reveal of a Star Wars game by the creators of effing Titanfall _boring_. All you have to do is have a splash screen of ‘From the creators of Titanfall’ fade to black ‘Star Wars Jedi: Fallen Order’ logo.
    There you go, the audience is now going crazy over this instead of wondering why we spent 5 minutes interviewing some guy who wasn’t going to tell us anything.

    Oh and early footage of Battlefield has cosmetic items labelled ‘legendary’ and the promo materials advertise cosmetic (_and none cosmetic_) ‘airdrops’.

    If that’s even a fraction true they’re stupider than I could have ever thought.

    Activision are a terrible company, but you can bet however bad it is, they’re not going to screw up their conference as bad as EA

    1. Echo Tango says:

      If you want classic CnC action, just play openra! :)

    2. MadTinkerer says:

      Don’t tempt them! Activision still sometimes re-releases games I still care about!

  11. evilmrhenry says:

    (What’s up with the moving ground in the Minecraft intro? I initially thought it was the dizzy effect, but what you can see in the distance changes, so it’s actually causing an effect in the 3D world.)

    For Origin Access: The $5/month thing is active now, and has existed for a couple years now. For $5/month, you get access to a “vault” of games. Most of these games are ones they’re the publisher for, so there’s no good reason to cycle games out, and EA says they aren’t going to be doing that. (They did remove FIFA 14, “due to a unique circumstance specific to the title”.) This new thing is Origin Access Premiere, where it looks like you get access to new titles, for $15/month.

    * Does this include all new EA releases? Unclear. Some news outlets are saying this, but the phrasing from actual EA sources doesn’t use the word “all”. That’s an important word.
    * Does this include DLC? Unclear. The vault games usually don’t.
    * Why does the Premiere level include a 10% discount on EA games if you get everything?

    As for the economics, even if it includes everything, just assume the sort of person who signs up for the $100/year package is the sort of person who would otherwise buy a single $60 game a year from EA, and it gets more obvious. Plus, this income is much more stable. A single AAA flop is really bad for the company, even with a company the size of EA.

  12. Echo Tango says:

    Yeah, multiplayer story-based games are difficult to pull off. You need to have everyone roughly in alignment for how quickly they want to progress, what mood they’re in for the type of story/quest/choices, etc. The smaller the number of players, the easier it is to find/get people who are compatible for the duration of the game. Two-player System Shock 2 is relatively easy to do, four-player Dungeons and Dragons[1] is harder still, and anything larger than that, I don’t think can really sustain any kind of story.

    [1] Or Shadowrun, or something you whipped up with GURPS, or another weird system altogether.

    1. Jennifer Snow says:

      I think it could be done well (although not necessarily the way people envision it), but you have to ditch a lot of the conventions about how classical multiplayer games work AND how the story is delivered in your story-driven single-player games.

      And, I hate to say it, but I haven’t seen Bioware be innovative enough to do either of those things, let alone both.

    2. Olivier FAURE says:

      The best I’ve seen so far is games like TF2, Overwatch and MOBAs, which deliver a lot of lore through side material (comics, short films, etc), environmental storytelling and occasional events.

      But yeah, it doesn’t really scratch the same itch.

  13. @Shamus Why are you using ManyCam Studio? AFAIK OBS Studio supports webcams too. Which means you could ditch 1 piece of software (less things to go wrong).

    Found a tutorial on how to make a Webcam “shape” https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=xS9OXBCwImw

    @EA What the hell guys?
    Thomas in the comments here said it best. And I’ll add to it by saying the reveal should have been like this:
    The previous presentation is done, suddenly the lights dim.
    A lonely brass instrument is heard playing “Tadaaa-daaa….ta-daa….daaaa.daaaa….daaaaa…daaaa” (Luke/Jedi theme in a slightly melancholy way).
    Then as the logo is shown:
    “Star Wars”
    “Jedi: Fallen Order”
    We hear the force choke rumbling, and as the rumbling ends the text “(Singleplayer storydriven, Coming Fall 2019)” is added to the screen.
    Then the lights turn on again. And that’s it. No further info is given. (it’s just a tease/title announcement after all)
    That would have given me the chills, and gotten a thunderous applause.
    Why Electronic Arts didn’t do that I have no clue.
    What they did instead made it a footnote so small that Shamus actually missed it or forgot about it afterwards.
    Which tells me that EA themselves do not have faith in it or are scared (it’s single player story driven after all).

    1. Shamus says:

      I have my camera mounted sideways, on the side of my monitor. It’s roughly at eye level so I can look into the camera. Because the camera is between my main two monitors, it means I’m roughly facing the camera when I’m reading chat. This also means the webcam image is wider than it is tall, which means it fits nicely below the chat.

      The downside is that the image is sideways. OBS lets you correct for this, but the webcam is still sideways for other applications. (Like Google Hangouts.) So I have to use MCS to correct this.

      Which means the post above is incorrect and MCS isn’t actually part of the streaming toolchain. I set the whole thing up three months ago and since forgotten how the whole thing worked.

  14. Milo Christiansen says:

    In that “I’m the one” bit, the only thing I could think of was: “There can be only one”

    1. MelTorefas says:

      Now, THIS would be an interesting concept for a multiplayer Chosen One experience. Chosen One: Battle Royale

  15. acronix says:

    I don’t know about Anthem being a square peg for a circular hole. Two friends of mine who were a couple complained that they wanted to play Dragon Age: Inquisition’s singleplayer story in co-op, but couldn’t because the multiplayer Bioware went for was a tacked Mass Effect 3 style thing that had nothing to do with anything. Instead they had to basicaly ‘hotseat’ the game; taking turns playing while the other one watched over the shoulder.

    That doesn’t mean it’ll work, mind. But it’s nice that they are trying.

    1. Asdasd says:

      I think some people were satisfied with the story-led co-op experience available in the Divinity: Original Sin games. I couldn’t say myself as I haven’t played them.

  16. Dreadjaws says:

    I’m sure this has been mentioned, but Origin Access has been a thing for quite a while now, available on PC and consoles. It’s a bit like Netflix for games, only you download the titles instead of streaming them.

    That being said, you only get access to a certain number of games, and only the base game, not the DLC. It’s still worth the price if you’re interested in the games.

    Now, the one announced is Origin Access Premier, which supposedly will give you access to many more games (I believe their entire proprietary library), even newly released titles, but I doubt it includes DLC. They have no reason to do so, otherwise no one would ever buy their games when this service is much more cost effective.

    Of course, this sort of deal sounds great on paper, but the cynic in me believes they’re going to use this to jumpstart a new era of barebones releases, with the majority of the content relegated to DLC and microtransactions. It’s EA we’re talking about, after all.

    1. BlueHorus says:

      Of course, this sort of deal sounds great on paper, but the cynic in me believes they’re going to use this to jumpstart a new era of barebones releases, with the majority of the content relegated to DLC and microtransactions. It’s EA we’re talking about, after all.

      Hmm. Yeah, that sounds about right. But then again I remember when games were sold using demos rather than flashy trailers and stupid gimmicks*, as in ‘sample the gameplay before you buy’. And this sounds kinda like the former.

      So maybe it has its uses…


  17. Nessus says:

    Apart from the major influence of suits who don’t really know anything about their own industry’s product besides cargo-cult metrics…

    …I actually strongly suspect a lot of game devs don’t actually play games, and thus don’t necessarily have a good grasp themselves.

    Or more specifically, they used to play a lot of games, but then they got their first industry job, and now they don’t have time to actually play anything anymore. So depending on how “old hand” they are, they may be anywhere from one to three console generations out of touch.

    Not just behind the times, but the stuff they once knew has been actively eroded by a combo of time and the weird echo-chamber culture that any business develops when a significant chunk of employees don’t/can’t communicate with their own market base.

    I suspect one of the overlooked casualties of institutionalized perma-crunch can be the devs’ awareness of the state their own medium.

    Thus, you get mechanics, story structure, and design decisions that to everyone playing games are blatantly things that should have been left behind as “educational failures” a decade (or more) ago still getting used all the time, even when there is literally zero opportunity cost in avoiding them for the devs.

  18. Grimwear says:

    So I finally got to the Anthem part and I didn’t really have any interest in it regardless but by watching the gameplay I’m left to wonder. In what world would I ever not fly? I mean it shows them attacking while in mid-air and landing and charging through corridors and unless they have it so that all major fights take place in no fly zones why would you ever want to not be flying and shooting? Is it limited so that all your powerful attacks can only be done while on the ground or what? Looking at the few enemies shown most of them seem lumbering/stationary/slow so being able to fly around them seems like a no brainer. Why would anyone ever willingly choose to walk on the ground?

  19. Ninety-Three says:

    Is it just me, or is the theme of this year’s E3 “AAA games that we all know don’t care about narrative swearing that they care a lot about narrative (look, they’ve got a Narrative Director!)”? I was particularly tickled when an actual narrative game like Outer Wilds came along and wasn’t half as loud in claiming narrative status.

    1. BlueHorus says:

      “Hey, so word from the Boss – kids these days are into Narrative, so we’ve got to put a narrative in the game.”
      “Okay. We’ll talk up the Narratives at the press release. What kind of Narratives are there?”
      “Erm, branching? Linear? Freeform, contextual?”
      “Great, great. We’ll have them all! So, write this down: this game will have Narratives. All the Narratives. We make the best Narratives! Get hold of Dave, tell him he’s the new Narrative Director, and that we need the word ‘Narrative’ in the PR material at least four times. Those kids want Narratives? We’ll give ’em Narratives! It’ll be a Tour-De-Fuckin’-Force of Narratives!
      “So, what do we need to change in order to put in these Narratives?”
      “Don’t be an ass. We’re three years into production; we can’t change anything.”

  20. Nessus says:

    Anthem… eeeehhhhhhh….

    I really have to disagree with Shamus about the art style. Nothing about it looks fresh to me. The rendering is quite nice.. but the style is just another minor remix of the same 2-4 sci-fi design styles that have been overwhelmingly popular in AAA sci fi games for the last 15 years. The extreme verticality of the terrain is the only thing that feels relatively new, otherwise it’s just another “Halofallzone” game, visuallly.

    Gameplay-wise, I love the “what if parkour but jetpacks” thing they seem to be going for (I’m guessing the reason for the aforementioned terrain verticality, so that’s a nice doubling up of good points). I’ve played games that sort of touch on that sort of movement, but never in a way that I found really satisfying (airborn movement tends too either feel like an afterthought, or is hamstrung by a stamina/fuel mechanic, or feels clunky in a non-parkour-like way).

    …BUUUUTTTTT it’s gonna be an MMO, so as you guys said in the stream, it’s just gonna be a bland paste of repetitive grinding to get a slightly better gun, so you can do it again to get a slightly better gun than that. To me, that’s the gameplay that’s killed every MMO I’ve ever tried, no matter how (relatively) good the story was, or how satisfying the combat/movement is.

    Story wise I feel it’s premature to criticize. The trailer is dudebro shallow in what little it touches on, sure, but the key point there is “what little”. Literally the same script could be used in a trailer for Horizon: Zero Dawn, and it’d be just as accurate. So the story could still be good, and it’s the marketing department that’s wonkifying the pitch…

    …But this is EA, and this is not Bioware but rather an EA handpuppet made from Bioware’s hollowed out skin, so trailer aside, my confidence isn’t high either. We can’t actually tell anything yet, but it is a good bet that it will be on the level of a D&D one shot “written” via a dice table of plot cliches.

  21. Daemian Lucifer says:

    Ill be one of the few to say that a c&c for mobile CAN work.As a competitive multiplayer game,yes.Ive seen successful competitive strategies on mobiles,in a variety of fashions.

    With that said,Im also sure that this one will definitely be a failure,because ea is shit.They will make it as bare bones and as annoying as possible just to milk all of the moneys from the fans.

    1. tremor3258 says:

      It’s C&C and EA in the last decade, this automatically makes me suspect the implementation will be unsuccessful, sadly.

    2. Bubble181 says:

      Between C&C4: the Destruction of a Franchise, and Dungeon Keeper Mobile: How Low Can We Go, I won’t be touching this game even if it was free until I’ve been told by more than one reliable critic that it actually cures cancer in loved ones.

  22. KarmaTheAlligator says:

    So, Anthem is going to be like Borderlands? With several people always running ahead of the others who want to know what they’re doing? Because trying to listen to some audio (quest) while some other audio (story, triggered by those people way up ahead) is playing is not fun, let me tell you.

  23. PPX14 says:

    Origin Access has been around for quite some time – a couple of years now.

    It seems there really is no catch – it is very easy to cancel, they actually mention this on the website as a selling point.

    I got it for 2 months and played Mirror’s Edge Catalyst and Unravel, then cancelled it. Will possibly use it again for a month at some point to play the Titanfall 2 campaign now that it’s on there.

  24. Zekiel says:

    Hearing about what Bioware’s doing now is really odd for me. They used to be my absolutely favourite company and I eagerly awaiting what they’d do next. Now finding out what they’re doing is simply academic interest, like checking up on an old friend who you’ve completely lost touch with but are still friends with on Facebook. (If that friend had made some really odd life choices.)

    I still remember trying to play multiplayer RPS with Icewind Dale. Man that was a frustrating experience.

    I loved that you talked about chairs instead of FIFA

  25. ccesarano says:

    This is exacerbated by Casey Hudson’s absurd adherence to the “The player is the chosen one” design philosophy. When combined with multiplayer, it amplifies the dissonance within the world.

    This is exactly my issue with Destiny. I really like that game mechanically, but in Destiny 2 they really crank up the “You’re the best friend of all the Vanguard because you always save the day”. It’s like… why the Hell don’t they just make you the new speaker, then? What’s with everyone else on the team as well? You swap us all out of the cut-scene rather than include everyone.

    In a universe where you’re going to kill the same monsters over and over, it’s kind of hard to get into a narrative that tries to make you the greatest hero that ever heroed. I’d rather something that makes me feel like a cog in a greater machine.

    Which I guess brings me to Battlefield V. I never played a Battlefield. I got Battlefield 1 because of all the praise the campaign seemed to get. The campaign doesn’t seem to understand how uncommon machine guns were back in WW1. In fact, the campaign was a forgettable interpretation of WW1 through the lens of Michael Bay.

    I mean, I think it’d be fun to read you trash the campaign, but I don’t think it’d be a good use of your personal time.

    1. ccesarano says:

      So watching the video now awaiting the Square Enix press conference. Had a couple comments I wanted to not forget.

      Born in 1985, didn’t mind Ewoks as a kid, retroactively hated them after Phantom Menace came out and everyone was hating George Lucas. Now, as an adult, I feel similar to one of the stream commenters that noted Ewoks are one of many issues with the film, but overall they’re not awful. Really takes away from the emotional weight of Luke, Vader, and the Emperor, but Lucas at least tries to keep some level of danger by killing the one Ewok. As we learned with the prequels, it could have been worse.

      Now then. As for Ross’ joke at the start of Unravel 2:

      Bioshock 4: Don’t Thread On Me.

      Don’t forget to tip the wait staff.

      1. Shamus says:

        “Bioshock 4: Don’t Thread On Me.”

        Well played, sir.

  26. Cubic says:

    Then to cap it off, he announces they’ve given some money to charity.

    “We have given generously to this fantastic, important charity and its president, who couldn’t be here tonight but happens to be my dear wife, wishes to convey her fondest thanks in return.”

  27. Cybron says:

    I think you could in theory make the chosen one narrative work with a co-op shooter. Make co-op your super power. Use parallel universe. Make it so everyone is the chosen one of their own universe who must pierce the boundary to fight extra-dimensional horrors, along side other such heroes.

    It’d be corny, sure, but it’s something. I agree that narrative + co-op shooting isn’t very functional to begin with.

  28. Daniel says:

    You’ll be a CHOSEN ONE with no sense of agency…

    [Ominous voice]

    I have CHOSEN YOU to do MY BIDDING!

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