E3 may not have started proper, but we got our first hands-on opportunity with some new games thanks to EA Play. EA's event let us try out games like Battlefield V and Madden 2019 before the general public did so, and Unravel 2 at the same time as the rest of the world. So how was it?
For a lot of people the star of the show, besides Anthem of course, was Battlefield V. EA let us play a couple of days of the multi-day Grand Operation mode, which saw British forces landing on a beach in Norway to try to repel the Nazis. Each day of the operation is a different game mode. The first day saw the British parachuting onto a beach controlled by Nazi forces. Their goal was to land and take out AA guns while the Nazis protected them. I was on the defender's side, and the mode started with me being able to build defensive fortifications. Sandbags, mounted machine guns, barbed wire, and more allowed my team to more successfully hold the position and keep the British back.
It was impressive how much fun the game mode was. Each gun sounded fantastic, loud, and like there was some real impact when I was firing. I found myself gravitating to the medic class, giving me a semi automatic rifle with a scope. Lining up and hitting each shot was great, and a lot is because of the reworked health system. No longer can you just hide and breath heavily. You must rely on teammates to help you heal up, making health packs extremely precious. Of course people shot back at me, which let me make use of the game's movement system. Here I was able to jump through windows, slide on the ground, and crawl to avoid being seen. In a way it felt like all the best mechanics of Call of Duty and Battlefield have been combined into one masterclass experience.
After we won the first round we moved on to the second. The British that did manage to land need to capture points we held. I used this chance to explore the new subclasses. While the four usual Battlefield classes are here, now each class has subclasses that get more specific. In the demo we played the Engineer was the only class with subclasses available. You could play as an engineer more focused as anti-vehicle or anti-infantry. I switched to the anti-infantry class and set up a nice machine gun nest. For the last few minutes of the match I had an impassable nest, gunning down any poor sap who dared turn the wrong corner. I loved it. I came away from Battlefield V totally hyped for the game.
Another great game I got some hands on time with? Unravel 2. Me and reviews editor Alex Santa Maria got a chance to play most of the first chapter together. Solid platforming and swinging mechanics helped bring me into the experience, and I couldn't help but notice the game's beautiful soundtrack to go with it. Puzzles were nice and simple to solve, having us tie lines together so we can create trampolines to bounce to higher platforms. We could push objects, balance logs to help us reach locations, and generally work together to ensure we'll be where we need to be. Simple, charming, and plays well. It's about all I could ask for Unravel 2 to be. If you liked the first game then this should be a no-brainer.
One game that sure made a splash at EA's show, albeit for all the wrong reasons, is Command & Conquer: Rivals. It's almost a shame that the game is getting the hate it is, as it's a surprisingly solid light 1v1 RTS. Me and Rutledge Daugette played a match against each other. He won, but naturally I let him because he can fire me. Your goal is to fight for three control spots, and whoever owns the majority will get to slowly fill up a nuke in the middle of the screen. Fill up the bar, and it launches at the opposing player, who you need to hit twice to defeat. Moving units around was easy, and there's some great strategy in making sure you don't save all your money for a super unit that can't occupy enough places at once. I can see myself turning this game on every time I need to kill five or so minutes.
I also got a chance to try out Madden 19 on PC. I will fully admit that I haven't played a Madden game since Madden 2000, but it was nice getting back into the series. I threw a few passes, ran a play, and played some defense. Really the draw was that I got to see it on PC and the game looked beautiful. I was genuinely impressed with how well-detailed the characters were and how smooth the game played. I'm hopeful that we finally have a good Madden for PC. Unfortunately, I didn't have a chance to check out the other new sports games, and I'll fully admit I'm not really the right person to cover sports games.
There was one stinker I saw at EA Play, and that was Star Wars Battlefront II. Not that the game is bad, I actually really enjoyed Battlefront II when I played it back when it came out. Rather, EA didn't really do a good job showing off the new content. None of the cool Clone Wars stuff was actually playable. Instead we only got to try Kessel, the new map added to go with Solo: A Star Wars Story. We were limited to an 8v8 mode that the map really wasn't built for. In addition to this, the opposing team had no clue what they were doing. I know that's not quite fair to EA—it's not like they could know in advance. Instead of getting to check out the map, we just spawn camped a team of noobs to death.
Outside of that, most of what EA showed was old games. I got a chance to play games like Sims 4, Real Racing 3, Bejeweled Blitz, and Plants vs. Zombies 2 there. These are games that I've either already played or had no interest in playing, but it was nice to see other people enjoying them. Or in the weird case of Real Racing 3, spend an hour driving backwards into walls before finishing last place on an easy race. Well, we can't all be pros. There was also a Plants vs. Zombies themed ball pit which was... a thing. It's better we don't talk about it.
At the end of the day I had quite a bit of fun at EA Play. Getting a chance to run around and try some new or future releases was a blast. I'm super excited for Battlefield V now, and I can see myself sinking hours into that game. Uravel 2 and Command & Conquer: Rivals both proved to be solid experiences that I'm also going to be looking into spending more time with. This was a solid day all things considered.