By: Andrew Lister
It's that time again: E3 is upon us once more! I'm going to try and throw out some of my biggest take-aways from this year's event, which spans the next six days.
Just like last year, EA kicked things off early with their press conference on Saturday, June 9th. I'll be completely up front before I delve into my thoughts on their conference. I'm not a fan of sports games, and a lot of what they have to offer falls under the categories of FIFA, Madden, and NBA Live. On top of that, their conference has some well known cringe-worthy moments, and this year was really not all that different.
As easy as it would be to bash on EA (Who isn't these days?), I want to instead focus on my favorite aspects of EA's conference each year: their independent developer partnerships. In 2016, EA revealed their EA Originals program, which is a partnership between their company with smaller independent game developers. The great thing is that EA doesn't take any money from these developers, but they do work alongside of these companies to provide them a much larger stage and resources to help develop their dream works.
My first experience with these EA Originals was a charming game titled Unravel. It was a 2D platformer staring an adorable little protagonist (Yarny) made entirely of yarn. I've played the game, and it's really a charming and surprisingly emotional experience.
This was followed up last year by a look at the cooperative game A Way Out. It's focus was on couch co-op, split-screen gameplay, where you and a friend needed to find a way out of prison and get back to your real life that was taken away from you. I haven't yet played this one, but the game has gotten a pretty positive response.
This year we were given a look at two different EA Originals games, one of which was a surprising sequel to an earlier Originals game, and the other an interesting look at social isolation and depression.
Unravel Two: Finding Your Spark With the Help of a Fiend
First, let's talk about Unravel 2. Yes, we are getting a sequel to the creative EA Original from just a few years back. The trailer they revealed shows our red and fuzzy protagonist Yarny lost at sea, where his thread snaps, and he loses his glowing spark. From there he washes up on shore, seemingly lost and depressed. Things look dark, but then out of a satchel comes yet another Yarny! This blue yarn dude with bigger, horn-like ears becomes your companion, and they combine the ends of their yarn before starting off on a brand new adventure.
Now that you and your new friend are attached to one another, you have a wide range of new abilities at your disposal, including pulling one another up onto ledges, tying your string to two different spots to create a trampoline, and helping one another swing over obstacles. This addition of a second player adds quite a bit of creativity to what might otherwise feel like yet another side-scrolling action game.
Now that we have two sentient yarn balls running around, you have two options for gameplay. Obviously, this opens up cooperative gaming with a friend, but you can also play the game on your own, utilizing both characters to navigate the many puzzles you'll come across. When playing on your own, you either combine the two into a Frankenstein-esque amalgamation to get from Point A to Point B. When you need to get through a specific area, you can take turns switching between both of the connected players.
This game looks like it will explore the themes of friendship and/or love and finding true happiness, and the much more visually-appealing and playful style will make for an intriguing way to explore these core ideas.
Sea of Solitude: Fighting Against the Darkness Within
A second EA Originals game was debuted that focuses on a very different tone and theme. Sea of Solitude (also known as SOS) is being developed by a small German gaming studio, Jo-Mei Games.
In this game, you play as a young woman that lives in a completely isolated, flooded world. The trailer shows you navigating an eerie environment in a small motorboat, but we also get the idea that the main character is actually some sort of monster herself, which is a manifestation of her depression and loneliness.
Personally, I've wanted to delve into games that personify parts of what it means to be human and things that people struggle with on a daily basis. Games like Night in the Woods and Celeste take heavy subject matter and explore it in very unique ways. This looks like a game that will follow in their footsteps and deliver a scary, enlightening experience.
What do you think of these two games? What stood out to you from the EA press conference? What are you most looking forward to during E3 2018? Leave your comments below or join our Discord, head to the Video Games channel, and strike up a conversation! I'll be back with more E3 coverage throughout the next week, so thanks for reading, and stay tuned for more coverage.
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