Tuesday 14 June 2016

Ubisoft @ E3 2016

Ubisoft had a pretty good E3 last year. The Division built up more hype for a game which, when released, saw a very invested fan base (and plenty of bugs & exploits). There were also a few surprise reveals... which still haven't hit shop shelves. See below for recycled content:

Free Games (if you want to play on PC)

The thirty minutes of Ubisoft's broadcast previous to the conference itself was so bad, it was physically painful to watch. One good thing (no more, no less) came out of it, though. The company is now thirty years old, which is why there was bullshit about the age of thirty coming with wisdom etc. (rather than middle age spread, a sudden realisation of your failings, and a general feeling of what have I done with my life, really). There was also a section on how to pronounce 'Ubisoft' that went on far, far too long (conclusion: they don't give a crap how you say it as long as you buy their games). Before the utterly fucking bizarre song and dance number, however, it was announced that Ubisoft are giving away one digital PC game a month for seven months. All you need is a Uplay account and a willingness to register your interest; the first title is the ageing, but awesome, Prince of Persia: The Sands of Time. 

Ghost Recon: Wildlands and its warnings about facial hair

You know what they say, right? About men with beards having something to hide? Well according to the newest Ghost Recon (announced, incidentally, at last year's E3), that 'something' is murderous intent. If the trailer is anything to go by, both the good guys and the bad guys almost exclusively sport impressive facial hair. One of the team in the trailer has a headscarf, which surely hides one hell of a beard. We were shown use of a personal drone to scout ahead and mark enemy positions, which at least made more sense than marking enemies usually does in games. The campaign can be played solo or in co-op with up to four people, as the audience was shown in a live demo. The Ubi staff co-ordinated in a way that players rarely (if ever) do, hunting a man who of course had an enormous moustache. Despite this it all seemed suspiciously similar to Metal Gear Solid V, in that there was a desert town to scope out and sneak around where you have Choices. The Ubi rep who came on stage to talk about it also had impressive facial hair. This game will have Ubisoft's largest open world yet; whether that's a good thing or a bad thing remains to be seen. March 7th 2017 release date.

South Park: The Fractured But Whole is looking as good as we'd all hoped

Still far too early to know if it's a good game of course, but the signs continue to be good. The graphical style hasn't changed at all, an excellent decision which means that gameplay still looks exactly like an episode of the show. The original actors and writers are still involved, and Trey Parker and Matt Stone were even pulled out of the hat to appear on stage. It follows on from the last game, which means you're a king – which means nowt, as the kids are now playing a superhero game. The writing looks to be just as good as ever, both in the gameplay shown and in the new trailer which satirises comic franchising. Combat's been rejigged a bit, as it now employs a basic grid movement system. There's a gay fish in there somewhere. Interestingly, buying the game will provide you with a free copy of The Stick of Truth no matter which format you choose. If you pre-purchase you can get access to TsoT straight away, though I presume this is PC only. The release date was announced as December 6th. 

Watch Dogs 2 seeks to improve by copying other Ubi games

This intention wasn't so much announced as poorly hidden. Now say what you like about Watch Dogs – most people do – but I really enjoyed it. Whack the difficulty up to max, and it's a unique and enjoyable experience. I was looking forward to finding out more about the sequel; but after E3, I feel like I've seen more than enough. Every single line of dialogue that we saw, for example, was fucking awful. Terrible. Inexcusably shit. Not good. This crapness was only reinforced by an overall sense of the game embracing a nineties understanding of cool in an entirely unironic way. Anyway, new character Marcus seems to have a suspiciously Assassin's Creedy way of moving and leaping around. It also seems that – disappointingly – there will be a strong emphasis on drones. Flying drones like in the new Ghost Recon, and a ground drone that even looks like the one in Rainbow Six Siege. We were shown a few glimpses of remotely controlling ordinary cars, but this is probably triggering pre-programmed behaviour rather than actually controlling them. November 15th release date, with Sony getting a 30 day head start on all DLC.

Steep and others remind us that Ubisoft like to encourage new IP

Many people hate Ubisoft for various reasons, but the company's certainly not leaning on sequels. For Honor (another year-old announcement) may have looked slightly crap, but at least it's a new idea. Even indie title Grow Home had a (very) brief stint in the presentation. The Trials/Blood Dragon crossover was certainly unexpected, as was the release date of 'right now' (Trials of the Blood Dragon, currently digital only). Star Trek Bridge Crew may seem attractive to some, but this VR-only game looks like it keeps you firmly seated. The idea of co-operating with others, each with a unique role to play on the bridge, is interesting though. 

More interesting was the entirely new IP by the name of Steep. It looks to be SSX on steroids. Based in real-world locations across Italy, Austria, Switzerland and France it lets you ski, snowboard, paraglide, and wingsuit. The footage shown for the picturesque Alps looked very pretty indeed. As is the trend nowadays, there's a huge emphasis on Social and Sharing. You'll meet other players on the mountainside as you shoot down, and can race against them. Players can set their own challenges and share them with friends. One to watch, for sure.

Luke Kemp

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