EA disappoints at E3 2019 with few big reveals aside from Star Wars

EA unofficially kicked off E3 2019 yesterday, with its pre-E3 show EA Play providing us a rundown of new updates pertaining to its current and upcoming games. It offered us our first proper look at Star Wars Jedi Fallen Order, the first gameplay trailer for FIFA 20, and almost complete avoidance of Anthem.

Now, EA Play isn’t known for being the most exciting E3 event. The publisher often reserves its bigger announcements for the other press conferences, rather than debuting them before E3 during its own showcase. As such, it could still be the case that some big EA games pop up during the Microsoft E3 2019 press conference later today. However, what was shown wasn’t exactly thrilling.

EA has been having some notable difficulties recently. Anthem was released to a negative critical and consumer reception, Battlefield 5 didn’t achieve the same response as its popular predecessor, and the ongoing pushback against loot boxes threatens the profitability of its bank-rolling sports franchises. So how did it fare at E3? Let’s take a look at all the announcements, along with the highlights and lowlights of its presentation.

E3 2019 EA Play | All the EA games from E3

E3 2019 EA Play | Highlights and lowlights

Highlight: Star Wars Jedi Fallen Order mixed Uncharted with Sekiro

Star Wars Jedi Fallen Order received a lengthy gameplay demo, showing off its Uncharted-esque wall clambering and combat. Comparisons have already been made between it and From Software’s Sekiro, with it also featuring a parrying system that sees players engage enemies with a more methodical approach.

The demo didn’t set the world alight, but it’s easy to see how satisfying its swordfights have the potential to be. A big issue with Star Wars games has been their inability to properly replicate lightsaber battles, with opponents usually slicing into one another with wild abandon until HP bars are depleted.

This isn’t how lightsaber battles should work; each slash of a ‘saber should rightfully be able to fell an opponent, and Jedi Fallen Order seems to get that right. Hopefully, there are plenty of opportunities in the game to engage in combat with other lightsaber wielders.

Its connections with Rogue One were also spotlighted in the demo, with it showing an appearance from Saw Gerrera (Forest Whitaker) and an Imperial security droid like K-2SO. The latter had a Mr. X vibe about it, chasing down protagonist Cal and grabbing him in a painful-looking chokehold after apprehending our Jedi hero. More games should have their own Mr. X, so hopefully Respawn has taken some cues from Capcom with its sinister robot enemy.

Lowlight: Apex Legends‘ updates still feel unsubstantial

Unfortunately, EA peaked early with Star Wars Jedi Fallen Order. An update on Apex Legends season 2 was welcome, showing those who have stuck with the battle royale game what they can expect in its next major update.

However, these aren’t exactly Fortnite levels of additions to the game — a new hero, Wattson, is going to be added, along with a new mode and weapon. If you’ve drifted away from the game as I have, it’s unlikely you’re going to be pulled back in for season 2. It’s commendable that Respawn has said it wants to avoid crunch with Apex Legends, but the lack of meaningful updates does make it feel like a bit of a missed opportunity considering its popularity at launch.

Lowlight: Anthem was almost a no-show

Anthem E3 2019 EA Play

Now, this could go one of two ways. Anthem was almost completely absent from EA Play, with its lead producer Ben Irving popping his head in to confirm the game was still being worked on, but there wasn’t really anything to share.

Calling the loot shooter’s future “very bright,” Irving didn’t elaborate on what that future will entail. Instead, he confirmed that BioWare is still looking to invest time into its disappointing game, perhaps eventually bringing it in line with expectations.

Anthem not appearing at EA Play could mean that BioWare is looking to stage a soft relaunch of the game, which could be a good thing. Destiny received a barrage of criticisms at launch before expansions made it more appealing, and Destiny 2 is currently going through similar issues but attracted positive press after announcing it’ll be going free-to-play.

The difference is that Anthem wasn’t a blockbuster financial success at launch like the original Destiny. Whether EA decides to give BioWare the funds to try to breathe fresh new life into Anthem remains to be seen, but E3 2019 is either the game’s death knell or a sign that BioWare is quietly working to resurrect its latest project.

Highlight: FIFA 20 brings back FIFA Street… kinda

FIFA 20‘s Volta mode brings 5-a-side football back to FIFA, which has been missing since the release of 2012’s FIFA Street. It’s odd that EA has never returned to its Street spin-off series, which hasn’t performed to the standards of its core FIFA games, but still proved dominant in the UK and other football-loving markets.

Still, if we can’t get a new FIFA Street game, then I’ll take Volta. Street was always focused on flashy, over-the-top skill moves, so I hope that this is going to be the same for Volta, and it’s not just going to be standard FIFA gameplay in smaller arenas with fewer players.

If miracles came true the EA would combine Volta with Pro Clubs, allowing us to make 5-a-side teams with our friends. However, considering how Pro Clubs is so routinely overlooked, this is probably being a bit too hopeful.