Emotional Indie Adventure Sea of Solitude Shipping Out July 5

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One of the most intriguing indie game announcements from E3 2018 finally has a release date. Electronic Arts and German indie studio Jo-Mei Games have announced a July 5 release date for Sea of Solitude for PlayStation 4, Xbox One, and PC (Origin).

Sea of Solitude stars Kay, a young woman-turned-monster suffering from loneliness and isolation. As she makes her way through a flooded city, the water level rises to reflect her state of mind. Along the way she meets other people and monsters and works to help them with their own problems and overcome challenges.

The world features dynamic environments and weather that visualize characters’ emotions. New areas are unlocked by overcoming emotional challenges and bringing light and color into the dreary, dark world. Kay’s ultimate goal is to discover why her loneliness has physically transformed her, and how to change back into a human.

“Sea of Solitude centers on the essence of loneliness and tugs on the heartstrings of its players by mirroring their own reality. It’s by far the most artistic and personal project I’ve ever created, written during a very emotional time in my life,” said Cornelia Geppert, CEO, Jo-Mei Games. “Designing characters based on emotions was a deeply personal achievement for our team and we’re so excited for players to soon experience Kay’s powerful story of self-discovery and healing.”

As an EA Originals title, Sea of Solitude is an indie game with the publisher backing of EA. Other EA Originals include Fe and A Way Out.

Sea of Solitude has been rated T for Teen by the ESRB. It’s launching digitally for PC, PlayStation 4, and Xbox One on July 5, for $19.99.

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EA Access Subscription Service Now Available on PlayStation 4

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Electronic Arts will officially bring its EA Access subscription gaming service to PlayStation 4. Starting July, you’ll be able to sign up for a monthly subscription ($4.99/mo) or an annual subscription ($29.99/year) through the PlayStation Store.

“As we continue to invest in digital and subscription services, bringing great games to even more players across more platforms is an exciting opportunity for everyone,” said Matt Bilbey, Executive VP, Electronic Arts. “Our goal is to give players more choice to try and play our games wherever and however they choose, and we’re happy to bring EA Access to PlayStation 4.”

EA Access works like Netflix, granting access to EA’s digital library of games as long as you subscribe. EA games include Anthem, Apex Legends, FIFA 19, and Battlefield 5. Being an EA Access subscriber also grants a 10% discount on EA digital game purchases and DLC, as well as various in-game bonuses and rewards, such as Madden card packs and Apex Coins. Subscribers can also play new games a few days early through exclusive Play First Trials.

EA Access is currently available for PC (Origin) and Xbox One. It will arrive on PlayStation 4 this July.

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Save Up to 85% In the EA Publisher Sale on PC and Xbox

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Apex Legends may be free but for most EA games you’ll need to pay up. The EA Publisher Sale is here if you want to load up on other EA games like The Sims 4, Titanfall 2, Star Wars Battlefront 2 and Battlefield 5. The digital game sale is currently available for PC (via Origin) and Xbox One.

There are some really solid discounts on recent releases. The discounts are slightly deeper on PC versus Xbox (around 5%), but either way it’s worth checking out some of the biggest games from the last few years.

Hear are some highlights (prices listed from Xbox’s digital game store):

  • Battlefield 5 – $30 (50% off)
  • Star Wars Battlefront 2 – $6.25 (75% off)
  • The Sims 4 – $8.00 (80% off)
  • Titanfall 2: Ultimate Edition – $7.50 (75% off)
  • Madden NFL 19 – $15.00 (75% off)
  • Need for Speed Payback – $6.60 (67% off)
  • A Way Out – $17.99 (40% off)
  • Fe – $5 (75% off)

On Origin you can also find The Sims 4 expansions on sale, such as The Sims 4: Seasons ($19.99, 50% off) and The Sims 4: Cats & Dogs ($19.99, 50% off).

The EA Publisher Sale runs until March 19 at 10 am Pacific/1 pm Eastern.

 

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Apex Legends is the Battle Royale You’ve Been Waiting For

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In the 2014 sci-fi action film Edge of Tomorrow (also known as Live Die Repeat), Tom Cruise is drafted into defending Europe from the violent alien invaders. He’s quickly killed in combat, but at the same time becomes infected with the aliens’ time loop powers. Like an action movie version of Groundhog Day, Cruise repeats the same day over and over as he goes through a montage of getting quickly, and often hilariously, killed. He eventually learns how to fight back, teams up with an awesome Emily Blunt, and saves the world.

When playing a battle royale game, I often feel like Tom Cruise in those early moments of Edge of Tomorrow. I drop down. I run around frantically. I die, mercilessly. Repeat.

But Apex Legends feels different. Not only does it have the most well-refined systems I’ve seen in the genre, but it makes me want to double down and improve my gameplay rather than throw my hands up in frustration. For the reasons I’ve listed below give Apex Legends a try, even if you’ve been entirely turned off by the explosively popular genre so far.

Teamwork Makes the Dream Work

Most battle royale games feature a team mode where groups can join, survive, and win together. Apex Legends is built from the group up for three person squads. Teamwork in Apex Legends is easier and more enjoyable, even when playing with random strangers.

From the very start players draft their characters together, then drop into the world together. Squads should stick together – though not too close, and many of the character abilities foster teamwork and coordination, such as Lifeline’s ability to call in a supply drop, and Pathfinder’s ability to create a zipline for quick travel.

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Most importantly, squads can revive and even respawn their fellow teammates. Players enter a downed state when their health depletes and can be revived. Even if they’re killed, a teammate can grab their beacon and high tail it to the nearest respawn beacon, summoning them back to the fight. Some of my most memorable and thrilling survival stories have occurred after only one of us has been left alive to bring us back from the brink.

Should’ve Put a Ping On It

The intuitive ping system is incredibly clever. It’s the primary reason why playing with random squadmates ever has a chance of succeeding. With the press of a button, a squad mate can call out and highlight weapons, ammo, enemies, loot chests, and areas of interests. I can ping sections of my inventory to tell my squad I need ammo, body armor, or a certain weapon mod, declare an area to defend, and quickly yell out where and when I saw an enemy.

All of this is done without the need for voice chat at all. That’s particularly a huge plus for younger teens and concerned parents.

Less Players, More Action

Every match features 20 squads for 60 total players. That’s a significant departure from the 100-person matches of PlayerUnknown’s Battlegrounds and Fortnite. Yet even with almost half the players, the action rarely feels big and empty. Sometimes we drop in the corner of the Swamps and never run into a person until 20 minutes later. But usually there’s always another firefight around the corner.

The diverse Canyon map is filled with military bases, shanty towns, industrial walkways, steep valleys, and open desert. The map feels like the perfect size, and strikes a great balance between moments of quiet looting, tense exploration, and explosive firefights.

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Choose Your Fighter

Apex Legends takes a page from online hero shooter Overwatch in providing several unique character classes to choose from. Like Overwatch you can’t have more than one character on your team, forcing teams to balance their preferred play style. All eight current characters bring something unique and interesting, like Bangalore’s smoke bombs, Gibraltar’s dome shield (hello, Winston!), and Bloodhound’s Predator vision. Apex Legends does a fantastic job incorporating these characters and their abilities, without deviating from the core gameplay of grabbing weapons and shooting each other.

Apex Legends has been a pleasantly addictive experience. When matches go horribly wrong, as they often do, it’s over in minutes. And it takes less time than that to cue up the next match. Wait times are non-existent, and we’ve never experienced a second of lag or server issues. Releasing a complete (and free to play!) game that works right out of the gate shouldn’t be cause for celebration, but here we are.

I’ve adored my time with Apex Legends, despite having yet to win a match. I’m still Tom Cruise in the middle of figuring everything out. I die, a lot. But repeating has never been so fun.

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Apex Legends Hits 10 Million Players

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Last week EA and Respawn Entertainment surprised everyone by announcing, and immediately releasing, a fully-formed battle royale-style multiplayer shooter based on the Titanfall series.

In the week since, Apex Legends has become a smash hit. After only 72 hours, Respawn Entertainment declared that over 10 million players had played the game, including 1 million players logged in at the same time.

“This has been a truly incredible journey. We knew it would be risky to take the franchise in this direction, to go free to play, and do a surprise launch. But we fell in love with Apex Legends and wanted, needed, other people to play it too,” says Vince Zampella, co-founder, Respawn Entertainment.  “From all of us at Respawn, thank you for giving us and Apex Legends a chance. Thank you for joining us on this journey.”

The elephant in the room is comparing Apex Legends’ explosive success to Fortnite’s currently huge popularity in the genre. In fact, it took Fortnite about two weeks to hit the same number of players.

EA and Respawn utilized a modern approach to marketing: live streams and influencers. This strategy paid off with a genre that lives and dies by its popularity. Some of the most popular streamers, such as Ninja and Dr. Disrespect, have completely switched from Fortnite to Apex Legends. And it helps that the game is quite good.

Interestingly, Apex Legends has gained popularity with Twitch audiences, yet Fortnite’s have not decreased. This suggests that Apex Legends may be bringing more newcomers into the genre instead of poaching Fortnite fans.

Apex Legends still has a long way to go before it can challenge Fortnite’s 200 million-strong players for king of the battle royale genre.

Apex Legends is available for free, with optional in-game purchases, on PC (Origin), PlayStation 4, and Xbox One. It’s rated T for Teen for Blood and Violence.