It's been 12 (!) years since Skate 3 first graced our beloved Xbox 360s and PS3s, but we're finally getting a serious look at what the fourth instalment in EA's Skate franchise has to offer. We expected some surprises, but recent announcements have left diehards either beaming with excitement or flummoxed and skeptical, depending on who you ask. For us, it's a little Column A, a little Column B. So what exactly do we know about Skate 4, now, in July 2022?
That's right – the game isn't called Skate 4. EA's reluctance to confirm the Skate 4 title when the game was announced heavily hinted at this move, but a recent Board Room update from the developers confirmed it. The game is called skate. – all lowercase, full stop, very on trend – and apparently it's not a continuation of the story/stories introduced by the original Skate games. The devs feel this gives them a chance to break free from the formula of the original trilogy, while remaining true to Skate's roots. We're down for whatever – as long as it's good.
This might be the biggest surprise to come out of the recent announcement video – skate. will be free-to-play. While on the surface this seems like a positive move, free-to-play games are often crammed with microtransactions and pay-to-win mechanics, which is concerning, considering EA's less-than-admirable record in the microtransaction department. The developers have rushed to alleviate concerns, confirming the game is "not pay to win," and that there will be "no map areas locked behind [a] paywall", "no paid loot boxes", and "no paid gameplay advantages". We're still a bit on the fence, as it seems that cosmetic and equipment upgrades will almost certainly be locked behind paywalls to some degree. To what degree exactly? Let's see how this unfolds.
The developers have also confirmed that skate., like many modern games, will be an ever-evolving product. If you're familiar with Skater XL, you know what the deal is – expect new maps, missions, cosmetic upgrades or entire storylines to be added intermittently in the months and years following release. As far as EA Skate is concerned, this is the final game, constantly upgraded and improved, indefinitely. In other words, Skate 5 probably isn't happening. EA went a step further and also confirmed that skate. will offer cross-platform play, which means Xbox, PlayStation, and PC users will all be intermingling in the overworld.
EA is giving people the opportunity to playtest the game, which is currently in a 'pre, pre, pre-Alpha state' according to the devs. That means there's a long way to go – and the footage confirms that – but the basic mechanics are there, and it's beginning to look – and more importantly, feel – pretty good. Playtest signups are live right now, and if you're lucky, you'll get access to the game in its primitive state. The full release remains some way off – no earlier than 2024, if we had to guess – but the developers are actively engaging and working with the community to deliver a game that exceeds all expectations, which is refreshing and exciting. There's also a cracked playtest floating around from September 2021, which you can probably get your hands on with a little internet sleuthing. But you didn't hear that from us.
So who, exactly, is making skate.? EA's Black Box studio was responsible for the first three games, but the studio went bust in 2013, a concerning turn of events for many long-time fans. Vancouver's Full Circle Studio have taken the reigns, and you'll be pleased to know that original lead designers, Deran Chung and Cuz Parry, are leading this studio too. Apart from the creative leads, the studio is largely filled with fresh developers who weren't involved in the original games, which is unsusprising considering the time between titles. We're still pretty confident they'll get it right under Derun and Cuz's leadership.
Skate 3 fans hoped and prayed for this, and their wishes were granted when Full Circle confirmed skate. is coming to PC back in August 2021. Besides better resolution, frame rates, and performance, the most exciting prospect of a PC iteration is the potential for community modding. EA is famously pretty stringent when it comes to modding games – usually you straight up can't do it, at least not officially – but the success of Skater XL's modding community, and the Full Circle developers' openness to engage with the Skate community, make this a genuine possibility. In fact, Full Circle came out and claimed that "user-generated content, exploration, and community" will be cornerstones of the new EA Skate experience. And fear not, skate. is definitely coming to Playstation & Xbox consoles, too. Colour us excited.
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