The EA Play fan-focused event took place over the weekend in Hollywood, and while there weren’t many big announcements there were at least encouraging signs that the publisher is reacting to criticism about its past monetisation strategies. The upcoming Star Wars Jedi: Fallen Order looks to have a deep, lootbox-free singleplayer campaign, and the EA Originals indie label is picking up steam. There was also new content for the usual suspects including FIFA, Madden and Battlefield.
The two-hour Xbox briefing saw Microsoft detail its own game streaming service, xCloud, which launches in October and uses virtual Xbox machines you can access over the internet. It also dated its next generation system codenamed Project Scarlett for holiday 2020, revealed a redesigned Elite controller, brought its Games Pass subscription service to PC and announced it had acquired Double Fine Productions. There were too many games on show to list here, but the big premieres were:
- Bleeding Edge, a 4×4 fighter from Ninja Theory
- A western version of Phantasy Star Online 2 is coming in 2020 and will be free to play
- New Tales JRPG Tales of Arise
- A Blair Witch game, out in August
- A new Flight Simulator
- The Elden Ring, created by George RR Martin (Game of Thrones) and Hidetaka Miyazaki (Dark Souls)
- A new Battletoads
Big known games that were given a release date:
- Gears 5 out September 10 2019
- Fallout-like The Outer Worlds out October 25 2019
- Ori and the Will of the Wisps out February 11 2020
- Cyberpunk 2077, featuring Keanu Reeves, out April 16 2020
- Minecraft Dungeons is coming in 2020
- Halo Infinite out with Scarlett in holiday 2020
- Dying Light 2 was delayed to 2020
A lot of Bethesda’s showcase was given to apologising for the sorry state of Fallout 76 at launch, and the make-good is two beefy and totally free updates; one giving the people what they want and one that I’m not sure anyone asked for. “Wastlanders” will add human non-player characters with dialogue and quests into the game, while “Nuclear Winter” is a battle royale mode. Bethesda also jumped on the game streaming hype train by touting a new technology called Orion, which it says developers can use to make games playable over lesser internet connections. New games and updates include:
- Doom Eternal is out November 22
- Ghostwire: Tokyo is a creepy new game from the makers of Evil Within
- Deathloop is about two assassins doomed to constantly kill each other, from the Dishonored team
- A Wolfenstein VR game and the co-op shooter Wolfenstein Youngblood are both coming in July
- Commander Keen is back as mobile game
- Mobile game Elder Scrolls Blades coming to Switch
- New expansions for Rage 2, Elder Scrolls Online and Elder Scrolls Legends (the card game)
The punkest mainstream publisher around, Devolver hosted a “Big Fancy Press Conference” that was almost entirely surreal gibberish, but that’s why we love them. A new game called Devolver Bootleg, which is a collection of cheap ripoffs of popular Devolver games including Hotline Miami, Enter the Gungeon, Absolver, Pikuniku and Downwell, does appear to be an actual game you can buy. It’s also made an old-school lightgun arcade machine, and announced it would be publishing the online elimination game show Fall Guys, and Carrion, a horror game where you play as the ever-mutating monster.
Ubisoft is a big supporter of every new platform that comes along, and its no different now streaming services are starting to emerge. Many of Ubi’s big games shown at its briefing are coming to Stadia, and the publisher even announced a new monthly subscription service that will get you a library of 100 or so games plus all their content updates on Google’s cloud console (or PC). Here are the new games Ubisoft had on show:
- Watch Dogs Legion lets you recruit and play as anyone off the street to take back post-Brexit London, out March 6 2020.
- Gods & Monsters is a gorgeous Greek mythology adventure from the Assassin’s Creed Odyssey team, out February 25 2020.
- Roller Champions is a new sport that looks like basketball skates and a circular track.
- Rainbow Six: Quarantine is a co-op zombie shooter take on Siege.
- Just Dance 2020 is coming to everything, including the original Wii.
It was also announced that October’s online tactical shooter Ghost Recon Breakpoint would allow people to play solo if they like, and that Assassin’s Creed Odyssey was getting a story creator mode and an educational discovery mode.
Square bookended its briefing with two huge games. Final Fantasy VII Remake was confirmed to be coming on March 3 2020, and it retells roughly the first third of the original game with a brand new combat system that lets you fight in real time or pause to choose your moves from a menu. Marvel’s Avengers, coming in May 15 2020, is an original story not related to the MCU but looks like it could tie in with last year’s Marvel’s Spider-man. It’s an online co-operative adventure game that will have new heroes and areas added for free over time. Sandwiched in between were a lot of Japanese RPGs:
- An honest-to-god remaster for Final Fantasy VIII in 2019
- Romancing Saga 3 and Saga: Scarlet Grace come west for the first time
- Oninaki, from the makers of I Am Setsuna, is out in August
- Final Fantasy Crystal Chronicles Remastered Edition no longer has a firm 2019 date
- Outriders is not a JRPG, but an online co-operative science fiction shooter
Details of Nintendo’s announcements will be added.
The author travelled to Los Angeles as a guest of Microsoft.
Tim is the editor of The Age and Sydney Morning Herald technology sections.