58.8% Smash: A Recap of the E3 2018 Nintendo Direct.

After some great and not so impressive conferences at this year’s E3, Nintendo was highly anticipated to bring us some juicy news. With the potential for some much wanted first-party titles for Switch, I stayed up until past 2am with high hopes for news on Pokémon, Animal Crossing, and more. With caffeine and sugar in my system, my body was ready.

Like previous years, this year’s presentation followed the Nintendo Direct format,. The show began starting on a less colourful note with Demon X Machina, a mecha game for the Switch. Following this was Xenoblade 2 Story DLC ‘Torna – The Golden Country’, starting off strong with some footage of the DLC’s gameplay as well as a release date of September 2018.

Shortly after, we were invited back into Reggie’s living room, a familiar place for those who follow Nintendo’s E3 presentation each year. What did the big man have in store for us? What funky peripheral was he here to sell us now?

Say hello to Pokémon: Let’s Go and the Pokéball Plus Controller. You can play the whole game with it alone, not requiring a second controller unless you want to play co-op. We were told Nintendo doesn’t want to ship the Pokéball Plus ‘empty’, which I thought was a very cute inclusion for the younger players, allowing them to experience the excitement of taking a Pokémon home to put it in your game. However, the Pokémon that comes with the controller is Mew, an exclusive legendary. So far this seems like the only way to get Mew in your game, which won’t make the paywall haters happy.

We then got our first look at Super Mario Party, which showed new mini-games and some fascinating ways of playing that utilise two Switches together. It will be released on 5th October.

Up next was Fire Emblem: Three Houses, the newest main line entry in the Fire Emblem series. Mostly showing off cutscenes of war, as well as some gameplay footage, it’s already far more reminiscent of the Gamecube/Wii Fire Emblem games than the recent 3DS ones, which a lot of fans will be pleased about. I’m still on the fence about it until I see more, but the trailer definitely made me curious, and gave me high hopes for the rest of the presentation. The game was given the loose release date of Spring 2019, so it’s still a while away.

The next section of the direct was dedicated to showing off the third party and indie games coming to Switch. Fortnite, which has already conquered every other gaming console and platform, is now readily available on the Switch. Most of the next titles we’d already heard about, either in announcements or leaks. Some of the more notable titles were Overcooked 2, Hollow Knight, and Killer Queen Black for the indies; Just Dance, Dragon Ball FighterZ, Sushi Striker, Minecraft, Arena of Valor and FIFA 19 and more titles are also being brought to the Switch. Regardless of what you want to say about the Switch, you can’t deny that Nintendo is really pushing to have a lot of games available on the system, which is very welcome.

Masahiro Sakurai then tagged in, with a new fancy shirt and looking younger than ever, to talk about the newest Smash game: Super Smash Bros Ultimate. This was a nostalgic dream, with the huge announcement that the game would contain every previous Smash character — yes, even Snake and Pichu. The character selection screen is probably going to be a wild experience to navigate. While it mostly looks and plays the same as Super Smash Bros for Wii U, the game boasts new graphics, character designs and stages. New outfits have been added and many characters have had their gameplay changes. It’s too much to write up here, but with “over 10,000 changes”, there’s something in this new version for everyone. Even Kirby gets a new skill for every character that’s been added; as we’re reminded, “the more characters, the harder Kirby becomes to develop.”

Notably, there are completely new Final Smashes and animations, making that final hit feel even more epic to land. Transformational Smashes have been completely reworked, mostly making them easier to use or giving them more utility. Clone characters have been officially dubbed Echo Fighters, such as Daisy, one of the newly announced characters and an echo of Peach. New and old stages are here, with all stages having Battlefield and Omega options, a welcome addition for more competitive players. Sakurai has also given us new techniques and mechanics including new dodge mechanics, perfect shield timing and damage increase for 1v1 battles.

Of course, the presentation wouldn’t be complete without a new peripheral. In this case it’s a new line of Smash GameCube controllers and adapter, without which the newest Smash wouldn’t be complete.

And… another who character? Who could it be…?

I watched in disbelief as the newest character came up on screen, and the internet was blown away. Yes, that’s Ridley, and yes, meme magic is real — he’s no longer too big for Smash! I guess it’s true that if the fans hassle Sakurai enough, he’ll finally give them what they want. Just don’t ask him for anything ever again. Super Smash Bros Ultimate will be coming out 7 December 2018.

Though the announcement of Ridley was an appropriately mind blowing moment to end the presentation on, it was unfortunate that there wasn’t any news on the next Pokémon RPG and Animal Crossing. Overall, the direct was a good way to recap some information we already knew and focus on Smash, but with more than half the presentation dedicated to Super Smash Bros Ultimate, it felt a bit skewed in terms of what I was expecting, and I feel sorry for any Nintendo fans who aren’t keen on it. I found this year’s E3 Direct a bit more disappointing and less creative than previous years, which is a shame, though it’s clear that Nintendo has cemented a strong lineup for the Switch going into 2019.

A Class of Its Own: A Recap of the E3 2018 PlayStation Showcase

In my first year of university, I saw a jock-looking dude walking around wearing his ‘Class of 2005’ high school top; nothing out of the ordinary, I was sure he was well beloved by his peers. In my final week of study, I saw that same guy wandering around the campus by himself, slumped shoulders still adorned by that very same top — this was in 2009. Sony’s E3 Showcase this year reminded me of that guy still clinging to the glory of past years.

This was most evident during the special presentation for The Last of Us Part II. This was Sony at its most self-indulgent. It gathered guests into a church, it brought in Last of Us composer Gustavo Santaolalla in to perform the theme on banjo, Sony Interactive Entertainment America CEO Shawn Layden even referred to the gathered crowd as his “congregation”. But looking at the game footage, it almost justified the pomp and circumstance.

Ellie is no longer the journeyer in the first game; her enemies refer to her as “Wolf”. Whilst the game has made improvements to its engine — the animation, in particular was impressively smooth — it looks to maintain an emphasis on human stories, stealth brutal, personal combat. The transition of Ellie kissing her girlfriend to her murdering an enemy is the Last Of Us ethos captured in one.

After an awkward intermission where everyone was shuffled to a second theatre, we got our first look at Ghost of Tsushima, Sucker Punch’s open-world take on Feudal Japan. The studio must have worn down its tapes of samurai films, because it is very clear where the game takes its inspirations from. The colour palate, movement of the environment, even the dramatic lighting are straight out the Kurosawa playbook. Even the combat encounters are exactly what you would imagine even if you’ve never seen a samurai film. The only major diversion is that the Japanese characters are speaking in English; it hasn’t been confirmed if audio options will be available at launch.We have no release window yet for Ghost of Tsushima.

Amidst the trailers were Destiny 2’s new expansion Forsaken, Kingdom Hearts III (including a limited edition Playstation 4 Pro), Trevor Saves the Universe (a Justin Roiland ass Justin Roiland game), and the remake of Resident Evil 2, first announced in 2015. We were also introduced to Nioh 2 and Control, the new telekinetic shooter from Remedy Entertainment.

Yes, we have now seen eight more minutes of Death Stranding. No, I still can’t tell you exactly what it is. Amongst the scenes on offer were Norman Reedus walking across deserts, rivers and mountains seemingly on a quest to deliver…something. We saw a new character played by Léa Seydoux. In the closest thing to gameplay, we saw Norman trying to sneak past the invisible enemies that seem to rule this land by using his chest-foetus to power a shoulder-light to illuminate them. We have just enough new context to keep Death Stranding in our radars, but Hideo Kojima is still playing his cards frustratingly close to his chest.

To close the show, Sony showed off more of the upcoming Insomniac-developed Spider-Man game. This year’s demo puts Spidey in the middle of a prison riot, taking out enemies with aerial combos and web-slinging alongside the conventional superhero melee. Over the course of the demo, more and more villains are introduced, including Electro, Rhino, Scorpion, Vulture and Negative Man; yes, that’s five villains all beating down on Spidey by the end of the trailer. We’ll find out whether Spider-Man can get himself out of that predicament on 7 September.

Sony didn’t come to E3 with any mic-dropping announcements like with E3 2015, and it didn’t need to, but by golly did the company try to evoke that mood. To Sony’s credit, it did provide the one thing the other presentations did not: Extended gameplay. These eight-ten minute stretches of footage provided so much more context and interest than all the well-edited mood trailer in the world ever could. If only these weren’t caught in the middle of some school hall showmanship. But hey, at least we didn’t have to sit through another Days Gone trailer.

Being Earnest: A Recap of the Ubisoft E3 2018 Conference

Ubisoft is one of the few gaming monoliths that can still surprise us. Who would’ve thought that Assassin’s Creed: Origins would mark the franchise’s return to form? Who could’ve predicted  the critical successes of Mario + Rabbids: Kingdom Battle? This was reflected in previous years through Ubisoft’s E3 presentations, which were always the most interesting and unpredictable, backed by an sincerity unmatched by any other company. It’s curious, then, to see Ubisoft pump the brakes with this year’s showing.

Beyond Good and Evil 2 closed off last year’s show, so it’s fitting that it first on deck this year…well, first after the obligatory Just Dance choreographed sequence. Set before the events of the first BG&E, this instalment will feature the characters from last year’s debut trailer as well as the original’s Pey’j and a (possibly evil) Jade. What little gameplay we did see appeared to mimic the story’s space opera sensibilities, ranging from on the ground melee to space combat.

Inexplicably, the game will also be collaborating with Joseph Gordon Levitt’s HitRecord to allow people to submit artwork and music to potentially be used in the game. If an entry is selected, its creator will be allocated a portion of a US$50,000 pool . If that reads like crowdsourcing for a AAA game from a company that made just under €1.5 billion in revenue last year, you’re not wrong.

Trials Rising then literally crashed onto the stage, with creative director Antti Ilvessuo riding a dirtbike into the theatre before pratfalling through some on-stage furniture. The game appears to be a return to the Trials Evolution aesthetic, with the added benefit of tutorials created by Australia’s Own Brad ‘FatShady’ Hill. Trials Rising will be released in February 2019 alongside almost every other video game ever.

Ubisoft has formed the habit of providing support and roadmaps for its multiplayer titles, and we got a look at some of those plans today. The Division 2, fresh off its debut on the Microsoft stage, will be receiving three DLC episodes in its first year — all free. The medieval mashup For Honor will introduce Ancient Chinese fighters with the Marching Fire expansion, as well as a castle siege mode called Breach. And Rainbow 6 Siege, the poster child of Ubisoft’s game as a service approach, will have marquee competitive tournaments added to the currently scheduled Majors.

Last year’s Ubisoft show introduced us to a trio of titles which we’ve heard little more about until today. If you’re a Yale graduate, you would’ve left the room during the Skull and Bones presentation. Expanding on what was teased last year, you will be sailing the seas in a shared online world; you can take on rival ships or group up to take down a warship. The RPG elements are very present, with levelling and the ability to customise your ship and weapons loadout. No release date was confirmed.

Elijah Wood came on stage to remind us of Transference, the psychological thriller collaboration between Ubisoft and Woods’ SpectreVision studio. We then got another look at the space adventure Starlink: The Battle for Atlas. The game carries a Saturday-morning cartoon vibe, aided by a toys-to-life component. The game will be released on all consoles on 26 October, though the Switch version will exclusively feature a cameo from none other than Starfox. Naturally, Shigeru Miyamoto was present to receive a present from the Starlink development team.

Finally, to nobody’s surprise, Ubisoft showed off Assassin’s Creed: Odyssey. Set in Ancient Greece, the game will allow you to play as one of two protagonists: Alexios or Kassandra. Expanding on the template laid out by Assassin’s Creed Origins, the gameplay demo showed off larger scale combat, more dialogue choices and even romance options. And of course there’s the 300 Sparta Kick. Assassin’s Creed: Odyssey will come out on 5 October.

Thus marked the end of a surprisingly sedate Ubisoft E3 conference. Though pre-E3 leaks spoiled some of the surprise, this was a show that played it safe, relying on the foundations set by the games announced last year and released before that. That said, this year’s showing wasn’t completely divorced from that of Ubisoft past: Developers still presented their projects with a deep passion (and whooped backstage, unaware their microphones were still on) and we know the company will back these games for years to come. The trademark Ubisoft earnestness is still present, just not in the shape it took in previous years.

Fallout Boy: A Recap of the Bethesda E3 2018 Showcase

Bethesda had an interesting 2017. Despite a lacklustre trip to Bethesdaland and reports that several of its games didn’t meet sales targets, the company was still the number one publisher on Metacritic, a fact proudly claimed by Senior VP of Global Marketing Pete Hines. Though if this year’s E3 press conference is any indication, 2018 and beyond are going to be very big and important years for the publisher.

The show kicked off quite literally with a bang as inspirational speaker Andrew W.K. and his band introduced us to to the recently unveiled Rage 2, as well as endless shots of audience members not understanding that they were in the presence of a Party God. We got a deeper look at the game, which seems to be the marriage between Avalanche Studios’ open world game design and the combat sensibilities of id Software’s Doom, with the aesthetic of a fever dream. Expect to rage again sometime in 2019.

As for id Software proper, Marty Stratton and Hugo Martin made a brief appearance to announce Doom Eternal. While we didn’t get any gameplay, we got plenty of teases: A more powerful Doom Slayer, more demons to kill and even a look at Hell on Earth. No date was announced, but more will be shown at QuakeCon in August.

While Arkane Austin may have had some Mimic problems, the studio was able to quell them in time to announce some significant updates coming to Prey. A major update hitting the game as you read this will include a Story Mode difficulty setting, a New Game Plus mode, and a Survival mode. It’s also getting two DLC packs: the newly available Moon Crash, a survival mode where every run through the mode is never the same twice; and Typhon Hunter, a 5v1 multiplayer mode which will employ bold teamwork strategies as one soldier goes up against five players who have the powers of a Mimic.

Typhon Hunter will also be coming to VR as part of Bethesda’s initiative to support the fledgling platform; as will a brand new Wolfenstein title, as part of Bethesda’s initiative to spread the message of “Fuck Nazis” to every platform possible. Speaking of which, MachineGames made a brief on-stage appearance to announce a brand new title. Wolfenstein Youngblood will be set in Nazi-occupied Paris in the 1980s. You’ll be playing as BJ Blazkowicz’s twin daughters, either solo or in co-op, as they proceed to carry the family tradition of brutal Nazi murder alive. No further details were mentioned, aside from a 2019 release window.

If the first half of the show was a standard affair for E3 press conferences, things kicked into overdrive when it became time to talk about the upcoming work of Bethesda Game Studios. Our guide through this period of delirium was none other than Todd Howard, the patron saint of the New Game Plus Discord, who charismatically and effortlessly weaved his way through massive announcements, timing miscues and audience interjection.

First off, Fallout 76, which will see you rebuilding the world after the War — with actual humans! Fallout 76 will be always online, but Bethesda is going out of its way to ensure that it won’t be as brutal an experience as similar survival games. You’ll be connected with a dozen players at any time, death will not be punishing, and your progress carries with you when you connect with other players. Though if the notion of online Fallout with other people worries you, this is still a Bethesda game, so there’s still a quest and and you can play the game solo.

As for the game itself, it’ll be set in West Virginia, with a massive visual and technical improvement over Fallout 4. It’s a world that’s still somewhat lush, and Bethesda has taken folklore of the area as inspiration for the game. You’ll be able to build wherever you want in the world, and move your buildings anywhere. And if things break down to the point where a nuclear option is necessary, there are several nuclear missile sites in the game world. While a beta will be coming soonish, you’ll be able to rebuild the world from 14 November this year. If you’re after a Fallout experience right now, Fallout Shelter, which just celebrated its third anniversary, has just been released on the Playstation 4 and Nintendo Switch.

Todd Howard also announced another major Bethesda franchise is going mobile. The Elder Scrolls: Blades is a free to play Elder Scrolls experience that aims to bring an entire Bethesda RPG onto your phone, either in portrait or landscape mode. It’s coming with hand crafted and procedurally generated dungeons, as well as a town building system in which you can see what your friends have built. It’s not quite Skyrim for phones, but Bethesda is at least aware that game is everywhere, even on Amazon Echo devices.

To close out the show, we got a look at the future of Bethesda Game Studios with two quick teases. Starfield, the first new Bethesda IP in 25 years, was unveiled with a logo reveal. But for those wanting something a bit less sci-fi, there was the tease for the next game after that: The Elder Scrolls VI.

If last year leaned far too hard into the kitschy Bethesdaland setting in lieu of major announcements or humanity, this year traded it for significant reveals and developer presence. We got a better look at Bethesda’s future, and what it showed was exciting. Who would have thought all you needed to make a better show was Todd Howard?

(And just in case you were craving another way of playing Skyrim, you can actually play the Very Special Edition on Amazon Echo. Thanks Todd.)

The Sun Rises: A Recap of the Xbox E3 2018 Briefing

The Xbox One has arguably provided the better experience in recent years. Its Backwards Compatibility program has given new life to old games, and the Xbox Game Pass has given users a healthy library of legacy titles. However, the console is behind in one regard: New games. In order to furnish its seemingly lacking game library, Microsoft is looking outward, including to places we wouldn’t normally expect.

The common criticism was that Microsoft isn’t producing first party games to the same extent that Sony is. To address this, Xbox lead Phil Spencer dedicated three or so minutes to announcing the company’s recent studio acquisitions: Undead Labs (State of Decay), Playground Games (Forza Horizon), Ninja Theory (Hellblade: Senua’s Sacrifice), Compulsion Games (We Happy Few) and the newly-formed The Initiative, headed by Crystal Dynamics’ Darrell Gallagher.

Speaking of Playground Games, it’s 2018 which means it’s Horizon’s turn to sit behind the Forza driver’s seat. Forza Horizon 4 will be set in an idyllic version of Historic Britain, right down to dynamically changing seasons. It will also introduce a “shared open world”, meaning your game will be populated be real players; no word on whether collision detection will be present. Forza Horizon 4 will come out on 22 October 2018.

We have to talk about the Gears block. I mean that literally because the first piece of Gears (not Gears of War, just Gears) footage we saw was of a Funko Pop-ed Marcus Fenix. Yes, Funko Pop, the herpes of pop culture merchandise, is being immortalised in a video game with Gears Pop. May God have mercy on our souls. We also got introduced to Gears Tactics, a very XCOM-looking take on the Gears universe, as well as Gears 5, which will follow Kate from the last game as she deals with the Locust thread coming from within her. These will all come out in 2019.

From Microsoft’s other first party developers and those that have exclusive deals for the Xbox, we also saw footage for Halo Infinite (There is always a lighthouse, there’s always a Chief, there’s always a city), Ori and the Will of the Wisps, Crackdown 3, DLC for Cuphead and Sea of Thieves, Session (because EA isn’t going to make a new Skate game), Tunic, and Battletoads — yes, a brand new Battletoads game in 2019 with “Broad non-specific feature declarations”

As important as first party games are, third party games are the bread and butter of a console, and Microsoft was eager to show off a few on its stage. We got a look at The Division 2 (now set in Washington but still featuring Ubisoft’s patented fake multiplayer banter), Metro Exodus (which is coming out 22 February 2019 alongside literally every other video game) and the usual array of ID@Xbox titles (literally 22 games are featured in this montage)

We also got a look at Dying Light 2, courtesy of famed game writer Chris Avellone, who will be involved in this project. Dying Light 2 will introduce factions and moral choices to the parkour-based zombie shooter. In the example given, the player is given a choice to either eliminate water smugglers or make a deal with them; either choice will have material consequences on the world and gameplay.

As successful as the Xbox 360 was, the console gained almost zero traction in Japan, which makes the presence of so many Japanese games at Microsoft’s show all the more surprising. We got trailers for Nier Automata: Become As Gods Edition and an Xbox One port of Tales of Vesperia. In terms of debuts, Microsoft showed off Sekiro: Shadows Die Twice, the new game by From Software set in Ancient Japan (everything has come full circle); and Jump Force, a crossover fighter which will include characters from Naruto, One Piece, Death Note and Dragon Ball Z.

Microsoft even brought Hideaki Itsuno onto the stage to announce Devil May Cry 5, a direct sequel to Devil May Cry 4 (everyone seems to have disregarded DmC: Devil May Cry) which will bring back both Nero and Dante, as well as Itsuno as game director. Devil May Five will come out Autumn 2019.

The strongest Eastern showing, though, was the growing relationship between Microsoft and the Japanese publisher Square Enix. The company used Microsoft’s stage to give us a first look at Shadow of the Tomb Raider (out 14 September 2018) and The Awesome Adventure of Captain Spirit (Dontnod’s next title set in the Life is Strange universe available 26 June). Most surprisingly, Kingdom Hearts III will be coming to the Xbox One, featuring Frozen, Wreck-It Ralph, Tangled and a healthy helping of the Sora angst that has kept that franchise going for 15-plus years.

The show ended with our first look at Cyberpunk 2077, the CD Projekt Red role-playing game first announced five years ago. In a subliminal flash, the game was described as “an alternative version of the future where America is in pieces, megacorporations control all aspects of civilised life, and gangs rule the rest.” CD Projekt Red was quick to reassure players that despite the flashy trailer, the game is a “true single player, story-driven RPG” and that it will have no microtransactions. No release date was announced.

With this year’s E3 briefing, Microsoft seems to at least be making gestures towards addressing the apparent dearth of titles for the Xbox One. The studio acquisitions will at least give it some breathing room, but it’s the push into Japan which is the most interesting move. These briefings have always promised games without necessarily following through; the hope is that 2018 is the year this finally changes.

Unboxing Video: EA Play at E3 2018

2017 was a disastrous year for EA, including a laughably bad E3 presentation and the Star Wars Battlefront 2 loot box debacle. The company has spent much of this year apologising for these decisions, and this formed a recurring theme during EA Play. Gone were the Influencers and Game Changers, the phrase “Creative Cave” was uttered precisely zero times and EA CEO Andrew Wilson was limited to two appearances, one of which was to effectively apologise for the company’s actions. This year, EA delved extensively into sci-fi, shooters and sports and, with a couple of exceptions, provided a conservative showcase of the year ahead.

The show kicked off proper with a brief look at Battlefield V. Coming off its reveal last month, DICE’s Oskar Gabrielson and Lars Gustavsson talked about how Battlefield V will feature the ability to dive and smash through windows, the return of full scale destruction, the ability to move defensive weaponry, and in a series first, the ability to visually customise your character and weapon — all without loot boxes and no premium pass!

After a quick pitch on the returning War Stories campaign, we got the biggest reveal yet: Battle Royale is coming to Battlefield V as a post-launch update. DICE described the concept as being reimagined for Battlefield, focusing on the core of what makes that game unique: team play and vehicles.

FIFA 19 was next up, and this year’s big feature is the inclusion of the UEFA Champions League, the biggest international club football championship in the world. The UCL will permeate every facet of the game, from Career Modes, to content in FIFA Ultimate Team, and it will be the focus of Alex Hunter’s story in The Journey: Champions.

Fans of NBA Live and Madden will be happy to know their games got some stage time. NBA Live 19 got a quick trailer to showcase the more worldly version of their single player mode, The One. Madden NFL 19 got its usual trailer of Frostbite-powered NFL action, but was bizarrely introduced with Pittsburgh Steelers WR JuJu Smith-Schuster interviewing Madden NFL 18 Bowl winner Shay “YoungKiv” Kivlen about his rise to Madden esports prominence. It went about as well as you expect.

Speaking of Madden, it will be making its return to the PC this year after a long absence, and will be a part of EA’s newest subscription service: Origin Access Premier. It’s the next tier up from the already existing Origin Access, but instead of merely getting early access to trials of full games, you’ll receive early access to the full games in addition to access to the already existing titles in the Origin Access Vault. Pricing is $19.99 AUD per month, or $129.99 per year, and will launch later this year.

Arguably the highlight of the show was the EA Originals block. We were treated to two new games from two passionate European developers. Unravel Two showed off a second Yarny (in-game, no yarn people on stage) who’ll be your constant companion throughout the game, even if you’re playing solo. While I could tell you all about the much more action packed levels or how the two Yarnys have impacted puzzle design, you can experience it for yourself as the game is out right now!

The second game announced as part of this block was Sea of Solitude, by Berlin-based Jo-Mei Games. Sea of Solitude is a game about loneliness, and how it transforms people into monsters. Kay, the player character, is a young girl whose loneliness has transformed her into a literal monster, and is searching for a cure to his ailment. Not much was revealed about the game aside from its striking look, but it’ll certainly be one to look forward to.

Fresh off the release of Solo: A Star Wars Story, we got our first taste of EA’s next big Star Wars game courtesy of developer (and recent EA acquiree) Respawn Games. Titled Star Wars: Jedi Fallen Order, you’ll be playing as a Jedi during in the 30 year gap between Episodes III and IV. It will come out during Holiday 2019.

EA then took the time to unveil the return of one of its classic franchises with Command & Conquer Rivals, a competitive 1v1 strategy game designed for mobile devices. The game might not be the return people would be expecting, and the excruciatingly long on stage demo isn’t going to do the game any favours (editor’s note: it was only four and a half minutes, but it dragged so hard I wish Albert Einstein used his time machine to put an early end to the segment).

After being announced at last year’s EA Play, we finally got our first proper look at Anthem. While it does follow in some familiar footsteps, Bioware was quick to point out the differences . Narrative will be a big focus here, and the team is aiming to bring the stories Bioware is known for to this genre.

Players are designated as Freelancers, with classes not set by choices at the start of the game, but what mech suit (known as Javelins) they choose. You’re free to choose what Javelin you wish, and you’ll be able to customise them as such. Like every other title as part of EA’s Apology Tour, you can’t pay for power, and the contents of any microtransactions will be very clear up front. You’ll have plenty of time to save up for those EVA Unit-01 colours, because Anthem is coming on 22 February 2019.

EA’s press conference was understated compared to previous years. A few surprises, but otherwise, pretty safe with minimal cringe. It made for a duller show, but given the last twelve months, it was probably a better move. Last year, my one hope was EA would tone down the influencer prominence, and the company certainly did that this year. For next year, I’d be happy to suffer a hundred bad demos of mobile Command & Conquer games for something, anything about a certain skateboarding franchise that needs to return. But maybe that’s just me.