Friday, July 19, 2024

Ubisoft Hits Hard and Takes the Lead at E3 2017

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You know, sometimes I convince myself that I don’t care that much E3. It’s just a bunch of trailers and demos that never live up to the hype. None of the games were actually that good. Half-Life 3 wasn’t there, so who cares? Then a company comes out swinging like Ubisoft and I remember why I hype up every single year.

Elizabeth was happy to hand off Ubisoft’s conference (sucker), but Bo stepped in to deliver the news you need. Right now he’s rather happy he did. With old favorites, new surprises, and a reveal of a long-desired sequel, Ubisoft brought the pain in the best of ways. Let’s dive into the best and not-so-best of their conference at E3 2017.

Sequelitis and Unsavory Settings

It wouldn’t be Ubisoft without a couple sequels to long-running franchises. At least both these games have something new to offer in the scenery department.

Assassin’s Creed: Origins (October 2017)

The new AC game comes with a new setting, this time in Ancient Egypt. Also shown off were some of the newest additions. Bows, a new HUD, and what the developer hopes will be a large number of interesting quests showing off the many stories found within the setting. Look, you know what you’re getting from Assassin’s Creed at this point. You either love it or you don’t and your decision probably depends on the setting. I like Egypt so I’ll probably buy this.

Far Cry 5 (February 2018)

What could have been the most controversial game at E3 turned out rather tame. Like with Assassin’s Creed, your Far Cry interest at this point probably depends more on the setting for the game than the gameplay. Far Cry 5 offers an…interesting setting. Set in the fictional Hope County, Montana, where religious extremists have rebelled and taken hold, the player is sent in to stop their leader.

From there the player undertakes the usual Far Cry destruction, with a focus on a “for-hire” recruitment system.

Let’s just say using an alt-right religious revolution inside the United States for your game can go wrong in a lot of ways. We’ll see how it ends up playing out.

The Crew 2 (Early 2018)

Expanding upon the concept of the original, The Crew 2 adds planes, motocross, and bikes to the existing sports car races.

The New (kind of) Kids on the Block

In more exciting news, Ubisoft showed off some new properties to various extents. Let’s just say that even without the surprise which ended the conference, these games were promising enough for Ubisoft to blow people’s minds.

Transference (Spring 2018)

Not much was described about this game. It comes courtesy of a partnership with Elijah Wood’s game studio and focuses on transferring the player into the mind of another person. VR may not be my jam but this could be interesting.

Skull and Bones (Fall 2018)

Now we’re hitting the good stuff. Developed by the studio responsible for the naval combat of Assassin Creed IV games, Skull and Bones delivers naval combat in a PvP setting. Players work together to utilize the strategic advantages of varying ship types against other players. I mean, what else do you need to hear? The naval combat was the best part of Assassin’s Creed III and Assassin’s Creed IV.

This looks fantastic. Assuming there is a single-player experience and a bit more variety than just the battles seen here, this could be a real hit. Maybe I’m just desperate for another great pirate game to fill the Black Sails-sized hole in my life. I hope there’s some sort of single-player experience.

Starlink: Battle for Atlas (Fall 2018)

This was a bit of a strange one. Utilizing ship figures which attack to the controller for the Nintendo Switch, players can add and remove weapons or armor in order to best fight the game’s enemies. Producer Matthew Rose of Ubisoft Toronto made clear the game’s inspiration in action figures and hopes to recreate the feeling of his ’80s childhood with Starlink.

This will either go very wrong like No Man’s Sky did or very right. I’m anxious to see which. At the very least it’s an interesting concept and a much-needed exciting property for Nintendo’s new system.

Mario + Rabbids: Kingdom Battle (August 2017!!!)

And now we hit the near-star of the show, cruelly robbed only in the final moments. Mario has branched into various genres throughout his long, highly successful career. Tetris, sports, and RPGs number among the many successful genres Mario has branched into. Now he’s branching into X-Com style tactical shooting alongside the Rabbids from Rayman and it looks AMAZING.

Apparently in development for 3 years now, the polish shows. The animation is top notch, the tactical elements do a fantastic job incorporating the platforming roots of both Mario and the Rabbids, and the concept is top notch. X-Com: Mario? Sign me up ten times. Mario has succeeded in so many genres, why not tactical shooters?

Come on Down to South Park

While only featured in trailer form, South Park made it’s presence known in the form of a new trailer for South Park: Fractured but Whole and a new phone game called South Park: Phone Destroyer. Needless to say most of the attention will be on Fractured but Whole. The sequel to the surprisingly wonderful Stick of Truth looks to expand upon the scope and rather simplistic gameplay of its predecessor. I love everything I’ve seen so far.

The Scene-Ending Show Stealer

We’ve waited years for it. At various points we’ve all lost hope it would ever arrive. Now it’s here.

Beyond Good and Evil 2.

Set before the birth of Jade, the protagonist of the original game, Beyond Good and Evil 2 will feature a seamless online world where characters can play alone or together in a vast solar system where they fight for freedom. If the trailer and setting don’t pique your interest enough (and why the heck not?), narrative director Gabrielle Shrager also made sure to note the multicultural, multi-ethnic feel the game aims for.

And if the trailer doesn’t make this intended feel clear, perhaps the Space Monkey Program (sign up here!) will. Not only does it let players help shape the technical aspects of the game, but seeks player input on the character designs and cultural influences of the game. Beyond Good and Evil 2 is hitting all the right notes so far, even with so little to actually show.

This sequel has a lot of expectations due to the long wait since its cult classic predecessor released. I have all the faith in the world it will live up to those expectations.

Wrapping it Up

With a strong variety of franchises both old, new, and somewhere in between, Ubisoft came to play at E3 this year. In the process they took a huge early lead for best conference, and set a huge bar to hurdle for game of the show with Beyond Good and Evil 2.

Ubisoft doesn’t exactly have the best reputation among gamers. Between the yearly milkings of their franchises, the disappointments of recent AAA titles like The Division and Watch Dogs, and the much-hated Uplay, the company hasn’t been a favorite of the online gaming community for a long time. Well, if they deliver on even half of the game showed here (especially the big dogs), it will create immense goodwill. Their conference was slim, packed with interesting games, and delivered almost everything gamers wanted from them. They knocked it out of the park.

And come on, they somehow ended up making a Mario game. If you can manage that, you’re doing something right.

Ubisoft Press Conference Final Grade: A+

Images and video courtesy of Ubisoft

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