While most publishers stuck with E3 to put out their biggest annual updates, Electronic Arts pushed its EA Play event back to late July to avoid the competition. With four spotlights building hype towards the final showcase, we’ve heard about all sorts of games - but what stood out?
What was your personal highlight, from this or any of the EA events this year? Let us know in the comments.
Sam | Lost in Random
Electronic Arts does a pretty stellar job of selecting which independent titles to publish under its EA Originals label. Lost in Random looks to continue that tradition, blending real-time platforming and combat with card-based upgrades and attacks.
It’s a dark, Tim Burton-esque fantasy in which everybody decides their future with a single roll of the dice. Not content to live a future dictated by random chance, protagonist Even and her companion Dicey (a literal dice) set out to dethrone the wicked monarchy.
Lost in Random is the kind of creative oddity we used to see in the mainstream just a few console generations ago. Now that the big players are more interested in converging on the same ideas to maximise profit, the game is a breath of fresh air and at the same time somewhat nostalgic.
On another nostalgic note, EA Play ended with the reveal of Dead Space - a remake of the 2008 original. Having replayed it last Halloween, I can’t help but think that a reboot or a sequel would’ve been better. It still holds up well, and, thanks to EA’s subscription service, it’s still widely available. Accounting for all that, it honestly seems a bit redundant.
Liam | Battlefield Portal
Like James, I’ve fond memories of the Battlefield franchise, so Battlefield Portal was an obvious highlight seeing as it mashes up some of the series’ best bits into one big playground. While the scope and potential of such a mode is certainly impressive, it would’ve been good to hear more about the game’s other modes, including the rumoured Escape from Tarkov-style match type.
I was already on board when it was just a straight up shooter, but Portal should add plenty of longevity and variety to what’s sure to be a superb game. Communities usually come up with some novel ideas whenever they're given the opportunity to do so by developers, and considering DICE and Ripple Effect have basically given players carte blanche (not to mention the size of the playerbase the game will attract), I’m expecting big things from this mode.
Elsewhere, I thought GRID Legends looked quite interesting. I enjoyed the 2019 GRID reboot, but it did feel like it was lacking some personality, even with its excellent nemesis system - the live action story mode this time around could potentially remedy that.
What was your EA Play highlight?
Barely a week since our last discussion of new handheld hardware, Valve surprised us with the reveal of its Steam Deck. Not to be confused with Elgato’s Stream Deck, Valve’s handheld is a powerhouse designed to give gamers AAA gaming experiences on the go.
While Valve has toyed with hardware in the past, they’re best known as the company behind the Steam PC gaming storefront and a handful of games, most notably the Half-Life series.
The Deck itself comes in three increasingly pricey setups, each boasting more storage than the last. These range from 64GB at £349 through to 512GB at a hefty £569, though they all have microSD card support to accommodate further storage expansion.
With launch set for this December, should the Steam Deck be on your Christmas list? We have our own thoughts, but let us know yours in the comments.
Considering these three titles are also available on Switch in some form, perhaps they were highlighted to showcase the difference in performance.
Steam Deck is a really impressive bit of kit. The base model doesn’t cost much more than the Nintendo Switch (OLED model), yet is far more powerful and compatible.
As an open PC system, users are free to ditch its Steam OS and install Windows - this allows access to the Epic Games Store (including its tasty suite of free games) and the Xbox app, accommodating Game Pass compatibility. Steam already has a bigger library than Nintendo Switch, but these three powers combined arguably trounce it.
Steam sales will make building a library far cheaper than paying the infamous “Switch tax” on games, though that’s assuming most people don’t already have one. Arguably, the Steam Deck will feature the biggest and best launch line-up ever. With the integrated track pads and full control remapping via Valve’s Steam Input software, it doesn’t even matter if they don’t feature controller support.
Lots of people are excited about emulation, too. There are (questionable, depending who’s asked) means to emulate console games on a PC. Everyone seems keen for the Nintendo Switch to get classic N64 and GameCube titles, but there’s a very real chance that Steam Deck will first.
Never mind the emulation possibilities, just look at those ergonomic grips, Sam!
There’s certainly a desirability about the Steam Deck, not least because of its relatively low price point, but also the ability to play top tier games on the go or away from a TV or monitor.
That being said, I don’t think I’ll be rushing out to buy one. I’ve seen the Steam Deck being compared to a mid-range gaming laptop or an Xbox One or PS4 in terms of performance, which doesn’t make it sound very future proof.
My mid-range 2017 gaming laptop could just about run AAA games when I bought it, but the scope and requirements of later titles soon outstripped its capabilities, and I can see the same thing happening with the Steam Deck.
Yes, there’s a deluge of current and older titles that it will always be able to play, but how long before newer games start becoming incompatible? The Switch, while massively underpowered, at least has a guaranteed stream of top tier first-party releases to prop it up.
If I didn’t have my eye on a Series X I’d probably still get one, because they do look like very cool pieces of kit. But would I still be playing it five years from now as I do the Switch? Hard to say.
It also has proper control sticks, which the Switch sorely lacks.
What do you think of the Steam Deck? Will you be picking one up? Let us know below.
Gamers across the world thought that the long-rumoured “Switch Pro” was finally here with the recent Nintendo Switch OLED reveal. Instead, the new console brings just a few small improvements instead of a boost to horsepower and 4K image output.
But, what specs would’ve made for a hardware revision worthy of its rumoured “Pro” moniker? What games would make the most of some added power? We’ve answered those very questions, so be sure to let us know your thoughts in the comments.
The Nintendo Switch OLED model is rather underwhelming. It gets rid of those ugly screen bezels, but other than that, there isn’t much to write home about. Existing owners don’t need to rush out and upgrade, though it could’ve been a different story with a few tweaks.
Firstly, the remodel would benefit greatly from an improved graphics chip. Nintendo Switch is weaker than even the last-generation PlayStation and Xbox machines; it needs to close the gap sooner rather than later to keep receiving strong third-party support.
More ergonomic Joy-Con would’ve been nice to see, too. The current Nintendo Switch controllers aren’t all that comfortable, due to the lack of any form-fitting ergonomics. A true “Pro” model should be comfortable as standard, rather than requiring an add-on grip.
Bafflingly, the Nintendo Switch OLED also features the same old internal battery. Giving players more game time per charge would be an obvious win, plus help to offset the increased power consumption accompanying any notable hardware upgrades.
What game would benefit most? Marvel’s Guardians of the Galaxy, which debuted at E3 last month. It’s coming to Nintendo Switch as a streaming title, but that tech isn’t quite there yet, so being able to play natively would be a huge benefit.
I’m actually a bit relieved the Switch OLED is an underwhelming upgrade, as it means I can continue to use my 2017 Switch without feeling like I’m missing out. A brighter, bezel-less screen (sort of) would be nice to have, but without any extra power lurking within I don’t really see the point, particularly as I mostly use my Switch docked these days.
Sam’s covered my main gripe with the Switch – the uncomfortable Joy-Cons – but there’s another aspect of the detachable controllers that I was disappointed not to see addressed in the revamp, the control sticks. I’m not talking about the well-documented drift issues, but rather how cheap and inaccurate they feel when playing games such as Splatoon 2, or any other shooter or platformer that requires precision aiming, for that matter.
The tiny sticks just don’t feel up to scratch most of the time, and though I understand their size and functionality is probably limited by the console’s need to be portable, I still think there’s room for a more premium stick without requiring bulkier Joy-Con housing and compromising the handheld nature of the Switch.
Hopefully it’s something Nintendo addresses in any future Switch revisions or their next hybrid console.
What 'pro' feature would you like to have seen added to the Switch OLED?