Ubisoft: E3 Conference

It’s E3 time, if you haven’t been keeping up check out our previous articles on Microsoft and EA, but this is Ubisofts turn. This is my first time paying any real attention to E3 beyond watching the trailers, and I’m far behind on gaming consoles, so of course I’ll write about it. The openings to these conferences can test viewer’s patience, elaborate and colourful dance numbers that you can tell from the comments fans would really rather just skip altogether, they don’t exactly fit with the presentation once it finally gets going. (I apologise in advance for my sarcastic writing style, I read way too much Cracked.com articles)

First up is Beyond Good and Evil 2 by Ubisoft Montpellier, a third person action adventure prequel that’s all about an open world city, at least in this footage, featuring a single player campaign which is probably refreshing for many players. It’s not a game I’ve ever paid much attention to and the hosts did not help, I don’t find it effective to be told that they’re introducing “legendary” characters, they suddenly got my interest when they mentioned they were collaborating with Hit Record on the soundtrack.

The next step of course is introducing the founder of Hit Record (the only reason I know they exist), actor Joseph Gordon-Levitt (Inception, Looper), to tell the audience how they can contribute to the game. I’m sure it’s a big deal to the fans that they create music for the game, they do lean very heavily on the “collaboration” angle though, it occurs to me they really like having people add to the game for free.

The next game was perhaps a worse example of this, Trials: Rising by RedLynx, a motorcycle racing game that looked far more about elaborate stunts and open world looking areas than actual racing. Their selling point of course though the community, they apparently brought in a group of fans called the “Trials Elite” to create the tutorials, and anyone can still contribute by signing up to the closed beta. It all still strikes me as getting people to work for free, and on a mass scale.

Thankfully another game saw a bright spot in the conference, in more ways than one, The Division 2 by Massive Entertainment. Now I haven’t played the original but I am well aware of it, mostly because of the proposed film and Honest Trailers (where I get most of my game info these days), and it certainly seemed like an interesting concept. It involved a group of sleeper agents who are activated to enter an infected Manhattan to rebuild the city, by killing lots of infected people.

Now I’m not sure what the sleeper agent’s angle really added to it when you were running around the city in combat gear, and apparently the gameplay had its issues, but I quite liked the sound of the game. This trailer changes things up considerably, at least on the surface, first off by setting it on a sunny day, children playing with paper aeroplanes…in a gated community surrounded by violence and dead bodies, and I didn’t notice any infected people this time, just gangs and all around bad people. They got an understandable cheer when they explained the campaign would be released in three free DLC’s, this is something that would make me consider buying a console.

Later we got introduced to a new game, Pirates of the Caribbean, no sorry, Assassin’s Creed Black Flag, sorry again, that first one wasn’t even accurate. This game is Skull and Bones by Unisoft Singapore, and it’s about pirates, if that wasn’t clear, and it does look a lot like Assassin’s Creed Black Flag, without those pesky assassins. It might be unfair to compare any new pirate game to Black Flag but they really do look like the same game, just with an extra focus on being a pirate, and using cannons.

I don’t think any other game has had so many clichés in one trailer, my favourite though was, “In a dog eat dog world we were all wolves, wolves hunt in packs.” Naval combat was the focus of the gameplay, which I personally feel would get old, but maybe any sword fighting would be a bit too familiar in a pirate game.

One of the more mocked games at the conference was Starlink: Battle for Atlas by Ubisoft Toronto, judging by the comments all over Twitter and YouTube we were all in agreement; this is just No Man’s Sky. Maybe it has more of a campaign to it to keep people interested but it was hard to look past. That is until they showed the second round of footage and who appears out of nowhere? StarFox! Yes Fox McCloud and his team are apparently in this game, and they actually suit the No Man’s Sky aesthetic, which is not an excuse.

A few other games underwhelmed, either because of lack of originality or more of that fan community contribution stuff. Transference by SpectreVision and Ubisoft Montreal looks like a version of Five Night’s at Freddy’s, but about a family rather than a family restaurant. This game supposedly mixes the storytelling abilities of film with gaming, but I’m pretty sure that’s quite common in games already. The Crew 2 by Ivory Tower is an open world racing featuring every vehicle you can think of, including planes and helicopters that miraculously never crash into each other. This one was really just an advert for their open beta.

The finale was of course was Assassin’s Creed: Odyssey by Ubisoft Quebec, set in Ancient Greece during the Peloponnesian War. This didn’t immediately strike me as an Assassin’s Creed game, it looked like they were avoiding all the main features of the series for this trailer, and it didn’t really make want to get back to the game that I haven’t played since the fifth entry. My main issue with the presentation was their announcement that you can play as a man or a woman, which seems to be something they are really impressed with themselves about.

Unlike previous games this time they actually used a female protagonist in the trailer, by my question is why does their even have to be a choice between the sexes? We switched between Altair and Ezio for four games and they can’t have a female lead without the option of a male? And are more proud of having a choice or of what the choices are? Either way, fans seem impressed. Also part of the game has some sailing content, though it wasn’t clear if it was gameplay. The ships did take me back to that Skull and Bones game though. Thieves.

Wouldn’t mind a new Driver game though.

By Marc Stewart

Thoughts? Opinions? Stipulations?