Though perhaps not on the same scale as the big three (Nintendo, Microsoft, Sony) for a developer, Ubi is big enough to warrant its own press conference, and with good reason. Since the inception of Assassin’s Creed, Ubisoft has simply gained momentum and kept bringing the goods, providing compelling game experiences not only on the big AAA stage, but new ground breaking IP’s such as Watch Dogs, platformers like Rayman (which people absolutely love) as well as unique statements like Child of Light (critically acclaimed, beautifully rendered, and intelligently designed) Anytime these guys take the stage I stop and take notice. Here’s some highlights from their press event.
Far Cry 4 – Yes, we covered this before, but heck, it deserves another look. Beginning with the opening cut scene (revealing a fairly typical Far Cry big badguy, colorful, chatty… batpoop crazy) the executive producer walked onto stage and saying that, starting the player off at the foot of the Himalayas, they give you ‘A passport, a little bit of cash, and a gun’. Powerful combo… also, effective. I was already in, having played and enjoyed Far Cry 3 thoroughly, but now I’m curious about the connection between the protagonist and the villain.
The Division – Ok, its ‘Tom Clancy’s’ The Division, but I’m sad to say that, while his books will maintain his name beyond the grave, I’m just not sure how relevant it is in the modern culture (gaming). Sorry if that seems insensitive, but slapping it on the title seems like more of a distraction than anything. Concerning itself with a virus that hit New York, causing chaos and near collapse, The Division is here to restore order. A street level Guerilla style war, The Division is a third person tactical shooter with cooperative gameplay and some impressive looking HUD stuff (the map system in particular) and a very impressive looking New York City. While not my cup of tea, I can see how this is going to be big.
The Crew – A fairly obvious concept after about five seconds of thought. Cars need roads, more roads = better driving game; I think the technology just finally got sophisticated enough. It would have had to, based on what I’m seeing here – the entire continental USA, coast to coast, open world driving game with no load times. That’s… well frankly it’s hard to believe, and staggering to imagine the amount of work required. Now, I hardly expect it’s 1 to 1, but they mentioned at least 2 missions requiring an hour or two to play that take you from coast to coast. Impressive stuff. Available later this year, The Crew is in open beta right now (that means you can play it).
Assassin’s Creed Unity – Holy *insert expletive word of your choice*. I’m not even sure where to start. I have been critical of Assassin’s Creed in the past, particularly in regards to franchise fatigue. That is, just, too much of the same thing over and over again. Black Flag was a pleasant change of pace, the seafaring mechanic simply wonderful, and the Caribbean waS a gorgeous backdrop. Now there’s this. Taking place during the French revolution, I don’t know if I have ever seen a more impressive gaming environment. It literally teems with life, and not in that ‘lots of basic AI clones bumping into each other’ way, either. When I stop to think about how dynamic it appears, and what that has to mean for the complexity of individual NPCs, I begin to scare myself. The world looks like it has more in it to do that you can possibly hope to achieve. Muggings and violence appear everywhere, cries for help around every turn, open windows with what seems like unique events inside, all adding the sense of being in a real place. Oh, ya, and then there’s that whole multiplayer angle. The folks at Ubi clearly know how to spin a trailer, but you can’t help get excited watching these Assassin’s work together. Traversing rooftops in sequence, sowing murder and justice through their enemies, covering each others backs in an overlapping coordination. And that shot of the four of them standing atop a parapet looking out at the city and all the work left to do? Forget about it, goosebumps all day long.
Valiant Hearts – no event of Ubi’s would have been complete (in my eyes) without a representative from the Rayman / Child of Light Camp, but I needn’t have worried. A story about WW1 with an art style that, if you saw it out of context you’d mistake for something light hearted or silly, if you can watch this trailer without feeling something in your eye, or a tug on a heart string, you may be a robotic replacement of your former self.
Rainbow Six: Seige – Though I take exception at this string of “Voice Actor Friends ‘playing’ the game” thing in trailers, when they could drop the calculated swearing and just let gameplay speak for itself, I know excellent game design when I see it. As if Aisha Tyler’s reaction (tears by the way) wasn’t enough, I have a few friends who love this franchise. A dynamic multiplayer experience that seems more interesting that running around with objectives on a map, I get the feeling like Rainbow Six: Seige will be cause for a lot of questionable language coming through through headsets.
Though they may yet go to the Dark Side (as many powerful players seem to) Ubisoft is fielding a wide range of very interesting titles that seem to come from a place of engagement, community, and genuine love of the game. With something for just about everybody, Ubi seems to be poised for a very good year, they certainly had a good E3 2014.
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