Ubisoft was the last of the big two publishers to have their conference. Its safe to say that not much was expected of the conference because their big hitters (“Assassin’s Creed Unity” and “Tom Clancy’s The Division”) had some time in the spotlight already. The big game people where waiting for was Ubisoft’s opener, “Far Cry 4”. They showed off the first 5 minutes for the game, or at least an early section that sets up the bad guy because it didn’t have much context for you character, and it looked very impressive. It seems like the game it very much a sequel of “Far Cry 3” with a Vaas-like lead antagonist and a wild wasteland you can shoot up. They didn’t show that much here but that was because they had a chunk of both the Xbox and Sony conferences, and the Sony conference was still to come.
Then on strides Aisha Tyler the, as seems now after three consecutive years, the designated presenter of Ubisoft’s E3 conferences. As a host of the past three conferences she’s been good. She looks and acts like the whole thing has been scripted down to each footstep but all the people who take the stage in all the conferences look scripted. At least she can think of her feet and weave her ‘fluffs’ and ‘bloopers’ into the show. It keeps the meeting interesting and the hashtags hilarious.
They start talking about “Just Dance 2015”: The Chart Update. What can I say, its another ‘Just Dance’. What else would you expect. But after the talk a few dozen dancers appear on stage, and on the cordoned off areas next to audience, to have a big dance-off with that song you like. You know, that song from the TV and radio and every where because this whole thing is a stunt. I mock but E3 is a big PR event these days. At least they where obvious. Especially when it came to ‘let’s see who won’ dancer giggling the followed. Well it broke the tedium at least. And it was pretty colourful with all the dayglow dancers.
Then the tone changed with an audible clunk with the story trailer of “ Tom Clancy’s The Division”. The world of ‘The Division’ is dark, depressing and emotional but clichéd. There was a virus, it slowly infected and killed pretty much everyone and you are a special agent of special tasked with being special. The first game I thought of seeing the trailer was “The Last Of Us”, which probably sets the tone right where we expect it to be. Except in the multiplayer where there will be dicks, swearing and no verisimilitude. Which is sad considering its going to be an MMO. If it was or had a single player campaign, or at least a story that didn’t involve a human enemy who will most likely sprout more expletives the Brian Blessed, that it would be a game that I would get in a heartbeat. But is isn’t. It’s going to be less “The Last of Us” and more “DayZ” or “Arma 3” wasteland mode. And to me that just not as good. Ubisoft; just add a single player or a way to get a story away from the people we all know will play the game eventually, and you will have another sale. Like a ‘private‘ or ‘party only‘ mode running off the host player. We all know that within months the place will be full of dicks acting like dicks being dicks.
After that grim thought, there was music video-esqe sped-up driving sequence for “The Crew”. After it’s done, a rep steps on to stage and says that the whole video was part of a 2 hour mission that takes you from Miami to New York To San Francisco to LA with no loading screens. At first I had to work out if that was impressive of not. I’ve spent many an hour driving about in “Planetside 2” and “GTA 5” and they didn’t have loading screens. Even seeing games like “Euro Truck Simulator” I had to really think which was bigger. In my gut, I was expecting more considering the hype that they where yelling. Without that in mind, the game looks great. Although the news that the game will not have dedicated servers and with what amounts to be an MMO driving game was concerning. Especially when they say (after the conference) that if your internet drops out you’ll be booted to the title screen. The game looks great and as a driving experience it looks like amazing but my feeling about the game are marred by a fear that it’s being over-hyped and the touted internet play my be dodgy. It’s a ‘lets see how this turns out‘ sort of deal with me. “The Crew” comes out November 11th.
Then followed “Assassin’s Creed Unity” with an extensive gameplay demo. They didn’t tout the 4 player co-op as much as they did in the Xbox conference but with they did show off the setting, the free-running and combat. It’s pretty much the same but more fluid with its animations. Which is good. All of those things where good in ‘Black Flag’ and it doesn’t seem like it’s shifting to far. But that made me think ‘what’s the point in the co-op?‘ The combat looks fine and manageable going in solo. The world is set up the same as previous iterations so it’s not any harder to get around as it was before. So what’s the point on there being 4 players? In other 4 player co-op games the difficulty is lifted or dropped depending how many people are there. In others, each player has a different role that plays in how the levels are played. But in this it’s just 4 players playing 4 identical assassins with no differences. I just fail to see the point in the 4 player. The multiplayer was ok and polished in past versions so why tack in co-op mode?
A new game was announced after the demo. A exercise game called “Shape Up”. They showed off the game with a PR stunt that had one of the French programmers face off in against one of the American programmers. I thought it would have been more interesting is they had god a Brit up against the Frenchman with our history. It’s doesn’t matter who one. It as a PR stunt. (It was the American.) The game looks ok, like a mix of old EyeToy games and “Wii Fit”. Which irritated me a bit. Ubisoft was the loudest voice about getting a new generation of ‘hyper’ consoles but the way they use the brand spanking new HD Kinect and PS Camera devices is make a game that wouldn’t be amiss in the Nintendo line-up for the Wii U, something they tread on every now and then. I’m not calling them hypocrites but it is slightly implied.
What followed gutted me. It’s a World War One game called “Valiant Heart”. This is a game that I really want. It’s made with the same engine as the ‘Rayman’ games so it looks great and has fantastic style. It tells the story of a war dog (Think “War Horse” but a dog) in mists of the war. It looks like a stand out game. Especially as we’re at the centenary of the start of the war this year.
Lastly they made the surprise announcement of a new Rainbow Six game, “Rainbow Six Siege”. It looks like a pretty competent game. They keep the team tactics and modern shooter setting and style so it hasn’t drifted to far. Which is good. Rainbow Six games are as polished as most of the other modern shooters. Siege looks just as polished.
The conference as a whole was a big PR stunt more then saying anything but that is what I expected. We should expect that from all of the conferences really. But even as a PR stunt, they showed off lots of the games in decent detail. Even if they dodged/glazed over the finer and less appealing details. After what happened with “Watch Dogs” it would be safe to do some research or look at some of the news stores nearer the release dates of the games to see if they haven’t changed. If anything, I’m optimistically cautious about the games. They look great but in this modern era of production and PR, that may be subject to change.