The Launcher teams broke down the latest reveals from the game publisher behind popular franchises like The Sims and Star Wars, as well as EA Sports’ Madden and FIFA.
‘Apex Legends’: Cross play coming, along with debuts on Steam, Switch
One of the key early highlights from the stream was the announcement of a new, open mindset from EA regarding the idea of cross play, or the ability for gamers across different platforms to play together.
On this front, the biggest news comes from Respawn Entertainment’s “Apex Legends,” currently EA’s star for the popular “live service” model. The game is coming to the Nintendo Switch as well as Steam, and will feature cross play. Consumer advocates, as well as some industry leaders, have been calling on more big companies to adopt cross play functionality. It’s a huge leap forward for the games industry if EA, the largest games publisher besides Activision Blizzard, is pursuing this philosophy.
A new “Apex” trailer also debuted a new limited-time mode, “Lost Treasure,” for the current fifth season of the game, dropping Tuesday, June 23. The event centers around Crypto, the Korean hacker legend that debuted two seasons ago.
'The Sims 4′ segment celebrates diversity
The mega-popular life simulator from EA and Maxis is coming to Steam, as a full edition including all of the game’s DLC. A short clip was shown during the show, but rather than focusing on that news, it instead put the spotlight on The Sims 4 community.
The video focuses on marginalized and minority gamers, talking about how The Sims 4 has helped them craft a world that is safe and welcoming to everyone. These voices included players with different backgrounds, disabilities and sexual or gender identities.
EA partnering with Steam
Along with “The Sims 4,” EA proudly touted a large number of additional titles finally being brought to Steam, the most popular PC game digital storefront. EA Origins, the company’s own storefront, competed with Steam for several years by being the only home for EA games. Last year’s “Star Wars Jedi: Fallen Order” changed this. Thursday’s announcement confirmed Steam versions of EA hits like “Battlefield V,” “Dragon Age: Inquisition,” “Need for Speed Heat,” “Titanfall 2” and “Star Wars Battlefront 2.”
New batch of EA Originals
Three indies releasing as EA Originals were revealed during the event: “It Takes Two,” “Lost in Random” and “Rocket Arena.”
“It Takes Two” is a co-op action adventure platformer, created by Josef Fares, the same man behind 2018′s “A Way Out.” While “A Way Out” told the story of a prison break, “It Takes Two” is about a young girl named Rose whose parents are divorcing.
“Rose doesn’t want them to separate,” Fares says, and so she creates doll replicas of her parents out of wood and clay, and they magically come to life. As the player, you control these dolls, as well as something more unique — “there’s even levels where we’re making a mechanic for their emotions,” he said. Fares describes the experience as a wild ride, a “roller-coaster of emotion," that crashes and sends us off into space. We’ll have to wait to see exactly what this means; the game releases in 2021.
“Lost in Random," a game from the creators of “Fe," is like a dark fairy tale right out of a Tim Burton movie. In this title, a magical land and its people are shaped and changed by the roll of a die. AL s the narrator explains during the trailer, it’s “your turn to rule,” to break the town’s curse. Though much of the trailer is cinematic, there were glimpses of combat where you control both the six-sided die and a young girl. It also comes out in 2021.
“Rocket Arena” is an action-packed multiplayer title with a bright, cartoon-y aesthetic, and it comes out July 14. Coming to PS4, Xbox One and PC (Steam and Origin), “Rocket Arena” is a 3v3 team-based game where you launch rockets at your opponents. There are clear similarities between this game and “Overwatch,” particularly because of the heroes shown, the colorful and cartoonish aesthetics and its focus on abilities. You can also land combos with your multi-faceted attacks. It looks like a blast, both literally and figuratively. “Rocket Arena” will have cross-play support, so you can play with friends no matter what platform they’re on.
‘Star Wars: Squadrons’
The live stream gave viewers the first taste of gameplay for the next Star Wars title to hit shelves, coming October 2 for PC, Xbox and PlayStation. The game will also feature VR for the PC and PlayStation versions. Cross play (there’s that phrase again) is also part of the plan.
The gameplay looked to be about what you’d expect from a Star Wars space flight sim, and will remind older gamers of a sleeker “X-Wing vs. TIE Fighter.” Set in the days after the destruction of the second Death Star in “Return of the Jedi,” the announcement showed four classes of flyable spacecraft for both the New Republic and Empire (Fighters, Interceptors, Bombers and Support), usable in several different game modes, including a multi-stage, 5-vs.-5 multiplayer mode in which teams must prevail in a dogfight, destroy capital ships and then a command ship (like a Star Destroyer) to claim victory.
The ships (and pilots) will be customizable, with the ability for players to unlock various weapon or systems upgrades, as well as some cosmetics (like what appeared to be an Ewok tchotchke). According to EA, all customization options and upgrades will be unlockable through game-play. There are no in-game microtransactions, nor is there a plan for a live-service/battle pass system at this time.
Squadrons will include a single-player mode that will follow a story for pilots in both the Republic and Empire. While the characters followed will be new to the Star Wars universe, the stream touted the presence of some familiar faces from the galaxy far, far away. Also, like “Jedi Fallen Order,” the story will be considered canon.
There’s an open question over how robust this single-player campaign might be. The first “Battlefront” game famously didn’t have one, so EA added one in for the sequel, “Battlefront 2.” That story, which was also about characters on two opposing sides of the star war, ended up being clumsy, and worst of all, criminally short.
EA Sports and Next-Gen Consoles
Aside from some pretty graphics that featured only engine footage, the big takeaway for the two games shown — “FIFA 21” and “Madden 21” — is that if players purchase the 2021 versions for Xbox One or PS4, they will be able to upgrade to Series X/PS5 versions for free. Those next-gen versions will also include additional features not found in the current generation versions, which will release in late August and September, respectively.
Next-gen news ... meh. But Skate 4???
After a segment designed around EA’s games for next-gen consoles best summarized by the sentence “EA will have games on next-gen consoles,” there was one last surprise for the show.
Like the memes demanding the release of the Zach Snyder cut of “Justice League,” the “Skate” series is coming back. The “Skate 4” meme started several years ago after the series went dormant. Instead of competing with the mega-popular “Tony Hawk” series, “Skate” opted to go for more realism, which fostered a cult following that remains so strong today, they somehow memed the next game into existence.
An earlier version of this article incorrectly stated that the EA Play announcement included news about "Apex Legends" coming to Google Stadia.