Despite the odd technical foible such as a couple red-hot mics, Ubisoft definitely NAILED their conference on Monday night at the 2018 edition of the E3 summit. Whereas others had a shaky start, Ubisoft hit the ground running, confidently snarking that we’d get much more to go off than just a keychain. The ice broken and the audience rapt, Ubisoft rolled on with the evening’s announcements.
Just Dance 2019
It might be cruel to imply that developers want to get certain games “out of the way”, but calling a spade a spade, Ubisoft led with Just Dance 2019, a game where you know exactly what you’re getting, to kick off the conference. In total fairness, this was the absolute best way they could have presented the dancing sim; no gameplay, just a brash and colourful presentation with pandas and flamboyant performers grooving to a mash-up of pop music hits such as “Havana” by Camila Cabelo, “Sugar” by Maroon 5, and the classic “I’m Still Standin'” by Elton John. It went over well, leaving the crowd energised and ready for the conference without leaving a bad taste in anyone’s mouth. Now, onto the real show…
Beyond Good and Evil 2
The sequel that everyone wanted for years, Beyond Good and Evil 2 got a trailer that didn’t show any gameplay, but definitely emphasised the spirit of the game with humour and high action. This was followed up with choice cuts of gameplay, where the title looked remarkably playable and complete for being pre-alpha, although the spokespeople emphasised that the in-game would would be a lot more expansive. A special guest arrived in the form of Joseph Gordon-Levitt, who graced the third rock from the sun to explain the partnership that he and his company, Hit Record, would have with the game, as well as announcing that the artistic direction of the game would be truly collaborative, as fans could contribute art as well as create murals and radio content in order to take creative control of the game together. This was concluded with the announcement of BG Fest in Montpellier to take place in Autumn. As they left, the hot mic picked up a female voice squeeing the words “We nailed it!”, and you’d be completely pressed to disagree with them.
Rainbow Six Siege
Nothing hugely new was truly announced from the seminal shooter series, but they did announce their userbase had hit 35 million, which is a sterling achievement. They also revealed the beginning of Operation Parabellum (brand new DLC for the game), as well as the dates and places of their upcoming tournaments and the trailer for a Siege documentary called Another Mindset, depicting the story of 8 top-level Rainbow Six players divulging what the game means to them.
If Just Dance 2019 was testimony to what a good live segment looked like at E3, then Trials Rising was the antithesis. A large gentleman dressed like Evel Knievel rode to the stage on a motorbike without any class whatsoever, before a painfully unfunny staged pratfall into a television. Nonetheless, while that was terrible, the man, Antti Ilvessuo, creative director for Trials, had enough emthusiasm for his game to pull through the crippling awkwardness of what had just happened. The new iteration of the motorbike stunt series was announced with a trailer that emphasised new international locations and racing, and was confirmed to be totally multi-platform, Nintendo Switch included!
The Division 2
This part of the presentation built on the details already given away at Microsoft’s conference, except Ubisoft elaborated on the story’s title this time. After succumbing to a smallpox outbreak, Manhattan is in ruins, under quarantine, and being oppressed by a police state, which complements the gameplay of working together as a team to overthrow a larger force. Raids were announced for online mode, as well as the revelation of free episodic DLC throughout the first year of the game’s cycle.
Mario and Rabbids Kingdom Battle
Grant Kirkhope and Critical Hit performed a beautiful live medley for the game as a trailer played in the background, which announced Mario’s long-time rival/karting buddy Donkey Kong’s addition to the game via DLC! No word yet if we’re getting Rabbid Kong, though…
Skull and Bones
Poised to be everything Sea of Thieves wishes it could be, Skull and Bones will be a pirate adventure game that emphasises complete choice over the construction of your ship, the make-up of your crew, where you go, and where you plunder, and despite the soul-crushingly wrong pronunciation of “blackguards” (“blag-ards”, not “black-guards”, for those keeping score at home), this game promised a lot of thrills and spills ahead of its 2019 release date. It will also be interesting to see if this game borrows the ship mechanics from Assassin’s Creed, which were credited with briefly reviving the series circa Black Flag.
The celebrity guest stars didn’t end with Joseph Gordon Levitt, as Elijah Wood would next take centre stage to promote his production company’s experimental horror game, Transference. The star, who is most famous for appearing in Green Street (oh, aye, and some other Lord of the Rings thingy, I don’t know) showed off Spectrevision’s title; the game uses pre-recorded footage for the sake of an interactive horror experience, feeling like the dirty, sordid lovechild of David Cage, Dragon’s Lair, and FMV games of the 90s. The most intriguing aspect of this game, however, is how soon it’ll be coming out: Fall 2018!
Ubisoft’s brand new pet project is a 3D space exploration/shooter title, in which immersion will be increased by smashing the fourth wall and asking gamers to place toys on their controller in order to make those toys appear in the game, not dissimilar to Skylanders. The more interesting piece of this announcement is the fact that Switch players will receive exclusive Starfox content, which is far from an original new game, but it’s something, dammit.
No earth-shattering revelations here, just that the game is free on uPlay until the 18th of June, and that a new expansion pack, Marching Fire, will be out soon.
The Crew 2
The racing sequel, allowing you to break sonic barriers in cars, planes, and boats, will be entering an Open Beta soon, so players can help Ubisoft sand off the rough edges ahead of release.
Assassin’s Creed Odyssey
The main event and indisputably what everyone was waiting for, Assassin’s Creed Odyssey wowed fans with its polished new setting of Greece. The developers stated their intentions of using more RPG tropes in their game to allow more freedom of choice of players, such as dialogue choices, and, for the first time, a decision at the start of the game between a male or female protagonist. That is huge news, considering the diversity of Assassin’s Creed‘s fanbase.
Hit after hit with very little slowing them down, it’s fair to say that Ubisoft’s 2018 outing in Los Angeles was a bona fide success. This looks to be a hugely successful year going forward for the French firm.