So there I was on Saturday night, in position to watch EA Play and cook dinner. Then it was over. I almost blinked and missed it.
EA’s conference did have some really interesting points though, including the announcement of SEED, a new research division, and an extended look at new title from Hazelight, A Way Out. The co-op prison escape game certainly looked to have an interesting art style mixed with some of that HBO patented grittiness but to be honest, it didn’t totally grip me. See what you think.
Franchise releases always seem a bit muted because, well, what can you say year-on-year that will be revolutionary? The big drive for esports is still in EAs sights, formerly championed by now Liverpool FC CEO Peter Moore, and it’s good that EA are going all out for it. Madden NFL seems to be looking for the success that FIFA had last time out with the Journey mode and why not? If anything’s going to get the titles up to the standard that 2K has for their sports games then presentation is key.
And then we saw one Star Wars game with Star Wars Battlefront 2. That was excellent, until I was forced to watch over half an hour of people playing the game I can’t play. That was me removed from the pace, the hype and the conference – back to grating cheese.
EA Play, was day zero compared to Microsoft’s Xbox Conference. The moment everyone had been waiting for – just what is Microsoft’s new console going to be called? 4 for 4K? 4K for… 4K? Xbox Two??? No. It is Xbox One X. XOX for short, and not the kind you might get at the end of text messages, will cost you just shy of £500 and I for one am going to be playing the ‘save all the money until November and upgrade my TV’ game.
Games, thankfully, were on the way during the conference and they came fast. Of the 42 shown, 22 games were console exclusive (both for game launch and actual exclusivity) but the biggest scalp has to be PlayerUnknown’s Battlegrounds. Depending when this game releases, Xbox could be well placed in the middle of a popularity wave. Getting the game early and getting it out on consoles, presumably via Game Preview, will do wonders for the brand. Don’t know much about it? Check out this piece from our sister site, Esports Pro.
For the console? Who knows if this will compete with the PS4 in a meaningful way. There was a Halo shaped hole in this conference, a third party publisher shaped hole, like an Activision for example, and some of the wording got me a little jittery too. ‘Enhanced for Xbox One X’ didn’t make me think everything would be 4K or 60fps. Will we have some kind of split like the PS4 Pro does for 4K 30fps and 1080p 60fps? Only time will tell.
Bethesda in a similar vein just went all out with their games. Finally we saw some gameplay of Doom VFR and Fallout VR, which looks exactly like Doom and Fallout 4 but in VR. In fact we only saw two new games in this conference with The Evil Within 2 and Wolfenstein 2: The New Colossus. Everything looked good here, and there were no surprises, although given the launch issues for the first Evil Within game I’m reticient to be excited until I see more gameplay.
You also had the launch of the Creators Club, a new original content hub for Skyrim Special Edition and Fallout 4. Offical content, created by modders, studios and Bethesda. Cost will be a key issue here. Speaking of Skyrim though, how cool was the Link Amiibo, the chest and items, and the implementation of motion controls in the game?
Of course there was only one stand out, must watch conference this year. That was Devolver Digital’s ‘Press’ conference, which… Look it’s not safe for work but just watch it and enjoy that someone has actually produced gaming satire at the highest level.