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Anthem deep dive, Jedi: Fallen Order and EA Originals lead publisher's E3 2018 showcase

Surprise launch of Unravel Two and tease for Respawn's long-awaited Star Wars project break up usual round of sports titles

EA's E3 showcases are always the most predictable thanks to the firm's reliable roster of annual sports titles and blockbuster shooters, but this year the publisher still managed to break it up with a couple of nice surprises.

The EA Play showcase kicked off this year's round of E3 press conferences this afternoon, affirming the company's vision for a future fuelled by live services, streaming and subscriptions, but the usual sports franchises were somewhat glossed over for a deeper look at BioWare's ambitious Anthem and the latest from EA Originals.

Here's everything you need to know about today's event:

Anthem

  • Forming the grand finale of today's showcase, BioWare's general manager Casey Hudson, executive producer Mark Darrah and lead writer Cathleen Rootsert had a panel discussion offering a closer look at Anthem
  • The game is described as a 'shared world' online shooter, much in the vein of Destiny but with a stronger emphasis on story and more catering to single players
  • Repeating the phrase "our world, my story", the studio clarified that players will only encounter one another in the open world. When they return to the various bases and towns, it becomes a single-player experience, enabling them to make choices and learn more of the story in a way that is specific to them
  • Playing through the open world sections will be more challenging alone, which is part of BioWare's efforts to encourage co-op play online
  • There will be no loot boxes, but there will be a range of "cosmetic and vanity items" to purchase, with Darrah stressing that "you're always going to know what you get before you purchase"
  • Anthem will launch for Xbox One, PlayStation 4 and PC on February 22nd, 2019

EA Originals ramped up with surprise Unravel Two launch

  • Colwood Interactive demonstrated the surprise sequel to charming platformer Unravel, which is available today for Xbox One, PlayStation 4 and PC
  • The game centres around two yarn-based creatures tethered together, and can be played both in co-op or as a single-player experience
  • Berlin-based indie studio Jo-Mei Games offered a closer look at the previously announced Sea of Solitude, a title where a young woman's loneliness transforms her into a monster. The game is due for release in Early 2019
  • Patrick Soderlund took a moment to discuss the ongoing success of EA Originals, with A Way Out attracting two million players in its first two weeks earlier this year. The game's sales has enabled developer Hazelight to expand and move into a new studio

Return of the Jedi

  • Respawn boss Vince Zampella offered the first details on Jedi: Fallen Order, the Titanfall studio's upcoming Star Wars project
  • The game will see players take on the role of a Jedi during the era between Episodes III and IV, where the last of the lightsaber-wielding legends are being hunted down
  • No gameplay was shown - not even a teaser trailer or concept art - but Zampella promises it will be available Holiday 2019
  • Meanwhile, Star Wars Battlefront II design director Dennis Bräanvall took to the stage with another apology for the loot box fiasco of last year, but pointed to the raft of new content DICE continues to work on
  • This summer, the studio will add Clone Wars-themed content to the game, including various maps based on Geonosis and "largest level ever built for Battlefront". Playable heroes and villains Obi-Wan Kenobi, Anakin Skywalker, General Grievous and Count Dooku will also be added
  • New modes on the way in the next few months include a "large-scale sandbox experience" revolving around capturing key points on the map or destroying capital ships, as well as a new squad-based team system and a starfighter mode built around the hero ships

Battlefield V joins the Battle Royale bandwagon

  • The publisher's World War II shooter opened today's conference, with a few more details given on the gameplay and promises of new experiences every day as EA pushes the live service element, Tides of War
  • After launch, a battle royale mode will be added to the game, with the popular genre "reimagined for Battlefield" with serious staples such as environmental destruction, team-based gameplay and vehicles. More details will be offered later this year
  • DICE stressed there will be no loot boxes, no premium pass, just cosmetic microtransactions
  • The developer will go into more detail about the single-player content with a preview of the Nordlys part of its War Stories mode at Xbox's press conference tomorrow

Streaming and subscriptions

  • CEO Andrew Wilson predicted the "profound impact" these business models will have on the industry. You can read more detail in our story here
  • He reiterated that the publisher is working on a streaming service to bring high-end games to multiple devices, but that it's "not quite ready for full market primetime" yet
  • Origin Access Premier will launch this summer, a premium membership for the PC service that gives access to all new first-party titles at launch
  • A free trial of the current Origin Access service is now available for a limited time

Sports, sports, sports

  • FIFA 19 will be focused on the UEFA Champions League this year, encompassing the tournament, career and Ultimate Team modes, as well as a UEFA-themed story for Alex Hunter in The Journey. More details will be revealed this summer
  • A free trial for FIFA 18 is now available on Xbox One, PlayStation 4 and PC via EA Origin Access for a limited time. This gives players the full game and ties in with hype for the World Cup, which kicks off this week
  • Trailer were shown for NBA 19 and Madden 19, emphasising the latest career modes, with two Madden pro-gamers taking to the stage to discuss the latest in the game's esports efforts
  • Command & Conquer returned as a mobile strateg game, C&C: Rivals. The title was demonstrated with a real-time multiplayer match on stage, suggesting a push for esports with this particular title. It is in development for iOS and Android, with users of the latter able to download a pre-alpha version today

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