Age of Empires 4, Blizzard, Electronic Arts: the Gamescom Conference Summary

Last night, three publishers held conferences, more or less long and more or less full, on the occasion of Gamescom. Here’s what you should remember.

Gamescom is a show with an increasingly complicated positioning. Held two months after E3, it is too close for publishers to bring fresh news in their luggage. August is also not a good month for major announcements due to the holidays, not to mention the fact that it is sometimes too early to beat the reminder for titles that are often scheduled to be launched between the end of October and the beginning of December, in order to take advantage of the holiday season.

Add to that the tendency of some publishers like Blizzard to hold their own conventions a little later in the year, and you get a tasteless cocktail, causing the German high mass to lose a little more of its splendor every year. There is still a bunch of ads on existing games, fromOverwatch to Battlefield 1, to keep the fans happy.

Blizzard: an appetizer while waiting for the big one

As the publisher is keen to keep its largest cartridges for this year’s eleventh edition of Blizzcon, which will be held on November 3 and 4 (in the middle of Paris Games Week…), yesterday’s crop of ads was, as expected, rather poor. Indeed, yesterday’s broadcast was intended to be a mere foretaste of the “Presentation Ceremony” scheduled for this Wednesday at 6 p.m., which is expected to last approximately 1 hour and 15 minutes. 

In the meantime, we had to make do with a few snippets of information. On the World of Warcraftside, there was a quick discussion about the upcoming deployment of patch 7.3, which should, barring any last-minute surprises, be the last major update of the title before the launch of its next expansion. 

For Overwatch, it is the arrival of a new card, Junkertown, that should be remembered. It takes place in a sort of slum in the heart of the Australian outback, where Chacal and Chopper seem to have taken up residence. These two characters are the ones who present the map in Blizzard’s latest animated short film.    

For Starcraft II, the focus has been on the arrival of a new commander for the game’s cooperative mode: Dehaka. Its particularity lies in its ability to absorb an enemy unit to acquire its skills or to recover their essence to feed them. On Heroes of the Storm, the main news seems to be the addition of a new hero: Kel’Thuzad, who fans of World of Warcraft will remember fighting at Naxxramas. 

For Hearthstone, the news is to beat the reminder on the last items released, namely the extension Knights of the Ice Throne, which includes free single-player missions. Fans of Diablo III had nothing to worry about.

Electronic Arts: Was this the replay of the EA Play conference?

At Electronic Arts, Gamescom was nothing more than a repeat of E3 (sorry, EA Play), two months late and a European audience. The good news is that the publisher has spared us new 15-minute segments on Madden or FIFA 18. For the latter, the presence was moreover limited to a short trailer that did not bring any novelty. The bad news is that we had Star Wars Battlefront II, Need For Speed Payback and Battlefield 1, all sprinkled with moments of absolute embarrassment in front of The Sims 4. 

For Battlefront II, the focus has been on a long gameplay demonstration for the Fighter Assault mode, in short, on space combat, a feature requested by fans of the previous installment. Several maps taking place in the vicinity of as many planets are planned as well as various classes of ships, each with its Advantages and disadvantages in terms of maneuverability, resistance or firepower. The launch of Star Wars Battlefront II is scheduled for November 17th.

Need for German 600 horsepower sedan

As for Need For Speed Payback, briefly mentioned at E3, we were hoping to learn more about the title last night. You missed it. Instead, we learned that the BMW M5 model 2018 would make its appearance in the game, and it was featured in a Video Clip that resembled the idea of a mash-up between a BMW commercial and an episode of Cobra Alert. 

The German sedan even got its dedicated Press Release sent by Electronic Arts, as it was its first official appearance. Finding yourself in front of a video game publisher praising consumption and commenting on the level of CO2 emissions of a car is quite disconcerting… wondering if the title has no other objective than to be an advertising showcase for BMW, which would explain the lack of prominence of its gameplay. A climax to a game due to be released on November 10th.

Do you like animals? The Sims also

For The Sims 4, the main announcement is the arrival of a new extension, soberly named Dogs and Cats, whose interest is perfectly described by its title. Players will be able to recreate their favourite furry beast in the game, teach it to paw or look for the stick, and why not launch their avatar into a career as a vet. 

The Sims 4 Dogs and Cats

It will also be possible to disguise your pets in order to uh… ” fine-tuning their style”, a new feature in the series, and each doggie or tomcat will be able to develop his or her own character traits, and make friends with people and animals in the neighbourhood. Finally, a new zone, Brindleton Bay, will be added to the title to allow the Sims to play ball with their furry companion. The launch of this extension is also scheduled for 10 November.

Battlefield 1 unrolls its DLC roadmap

Electronic Arts isn’t planning to drop Battlefield 1 and its 22 million “active players” anytime soon, a number that could rise even higher since the title was added to the EA Access and Origin Access packages this summer. Unless Call of Duty WWII drains some of the public.

Anyway, several improvements are planned for the title, starting with a new “competitive” mode (the new trendy word not to say e-sport), called Incursions. Few details have been given about it, as its design is in its infancy, but a first closed alpha is scheduled to start in September.

Battlefield 1 DLC Roadmap

The next paying DLC, In the Name of the Tsar, is also scheduled for next month, but players who have subscribed to the premium pass can already get a taste of it by trying the Lupkov Pass card. The next additions are expected in October and November, with two free updates, then in December and early 2018 with two paid CSDs. For those who want to get on the train, EA is now offering the Revolution edition of Battlefield 1, which includes the base game and Season Pass for 59.99 euros.

Age of Empires: The Trailer of Nothingness

At Microsoft, the second conference of the week focused on the Age of Empires saga, the opportunity to announce the launch date ofAge of Empires Definitive Edition. It’s October 19th… on Windows 10 only. The main additions to this first part of the series are a revised interface, improved pathfinding and slightly more visually pleasing graphics.

The most relayed announcement, as empty as it is, is still that ofAge of Empires 4. Microsoft claims to be working on a new episode of the saga, but was not able to show anything else than generic artworks accompanied by a voice over. Without the game’s logo at the beginning of the video, the announcement could almost have passed for that of a pack regrouping the whole Total Warsaga.


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