Ubisoft’s E3 conference might not have been the longest, but it sure seemed like it at times. To their credit though, when they showed us a game they didn’t skimp on details like we saw from some of the other presentations.
It all started with another pre-show stream. No reveals, a lot of awkwardness and a bunch of cool shoutouts to fan created videos, all of which dragged on forever. Perhaps the worst was the cringeworthy references to safety procedures in case of “something going down”.
That “you might all die in a hail of gunfire” note was followed by a bunch of brightly coloured dancers pimping for Just Dance to the tuneful singing of Freddie Mercury. Queen’s “Don’t Stop Me Now”! Bop bop bop, hey hey hey!
And now Aisha Tyler is back to present the Ubisoft press conference for her fifth year in a row. But first, everyone is very sad about the events in Orlando. Build the excitement up, break it down, build it up, break it down.
Smooth sailing from here on out and first up, the game that “blew your fucking minds” last year – Ghost Recon: Wildlands.
An open world, accomplish missions however you want affair, Ghost Recon: Wildlands tasks you with taking down a Mexican drug cartel that has taken over the entire country of Bolivia.
Bolivia uses the coca leaf for everything from drinks to treating altitude sickness. Unfortunately, it can also be used to make cocaine, thus the board is set for the Ghosts to be dropped into the country.
After the trailer and some backstory talk we see a mission play out. El Pozolero, “The Stewmaker”, makes bodies disappear for the cartel. The Ghosts want to capture this guy alive and try to pump him for information. The camera follows two Ghost operators as the first camp is infiltrated from multiple angles. A few brief gunfights ensue and and they find where El Pozolero is hiding out.
A brief chopper ride later they can see the camp in the distance and it’s apparent they can’t tackle this with just two Ghosts. Two others are called in for backup and the two teams move in from opposite sides of the camp, providing cover and synchronising takedowns.
Everything goes really well at first, a drone is deployed to get an idea of what lies ahead and that intel is used to advance further.
And then things go wrong.
Once the Ghosts are forced to go loud things spiral out of control and a high speed car chase ensues, leading to the bad guy being capture successfully. It all looks very tense, lots of shooting and explosions, all of which could have been avoided with more careful play or encouraged with a casual disregard for stealth.
Ghost Recon: Wildlands is coming March 7, 2017.
Next we’re treated to a very grim view of the near future, crime is everywhere, civilisation is being pushed to the brink. Who will save the day?
The Coon and Friends! South Park: The Fractured But Whole, the sequel to Stick of Truth, is on the way. If you didn’t already know.
Fractured picks up where Stick left off. The New Kid is still central to the story. Last time it was a fantasy kingdom the kids were playing in, this time they’re playing at being superheroes. The New Kid rose to high social station last time, but they’re now playing a new game so he’s a douchebag again.
You get to pick your superpowers for the game, but Cartman will pick your tragic backstory. And oh boy, is it tragic!
Gameplay this time is enhanced with characters able to more around and knock enemies around the battle stage, they can bump into props for extra damage or bump into other heroes for free attacks. Lots of little improvements are made possible thanks to having movement.
If you preorder The Fractured But Whole you’ll get a free copy of Stick of Truth on your selected platform.
South Park: The Fractured But Whole is coming December 6, 2016.
Next, The Division! Are you still playing? Because up to 10 million of you are, according to Aisha.
Coming soon to The Division is an expansion called Underground, which will have some kind of randomised elements to make for a different experience every time.
Underground is coming June 28th on Xbox One and PC, August 2nd on PS4. (OUCH!)
And to celebrate Ubisoft’s 30th birthday players of The Division will get special outfits based on Ghost Recon, Splinter Cell and Rainbow Six. Coming same time as Underground.
Expansion number two, Survival, features a lot more scavenging for food and struggling to… survive. Looks like a blizzard has rolled in, but rumours of a cure force The Division to investigate. And they’re not alone out in the dark and snow…
Eagle Flight VR is next on stage, with Palmer Luckey and Jason Holtman of Oculus Rift there to help demonstrate it with a live PvP match. Palmer is apparently so rich, so important that he can get away with wearing thongs to an E3 Press Conference.
Eagle Flight VR is what you’d expect from the title – a VR game where you fly around as an eagle. It’s set over a version of Paris that’s been reclaimed by nature. Trees and grasses have replaced roads and wild animals roam the streets.
The PvP mode on stage is a Capture the Flag variant, Capture the Bunny. Grab the bunny, carry it back to the nest for the baby eagles, score a point.
No firm release date provided beyond “Fall”, but it looks pretty done. Expect it “soon”.
Time for some more VR gaming fun, this time… Space, the final frontier. These are the VR-yages of the Starship Enterprise… err, Aegis.
Man the consoles of the U.S.S. Aegis with your friends, in VR! Strap a headset to your face so you can see the bridge and your specific console, which actually “works”. Press the buttons and the ship responds, look to the captain for orders, shields up, shoot the Klingons, go to warp!
They managed to rope three generations of Trek cast in for the pre-recorded demonstration. LeVar Burton, Karl Urban and Jeri Ryan joined one of the Red Storm developers and all seemed to get a real kick out of the experience.
They are actors. But it does look pretty cool for fans of the shows and movies.
LeVar’s on stage to chat with Aisha. He tells everyone that when doing the show the consoles and stuff don’t really do anything, it’s all just acting. But in the game, they really do work. And you’ve got to cooperate with your friends. Teamwork, which is what the core of Star Trek is to LeVar.
Star Trek Bridge Crew is coming “this Fall” to all major VR systems.
And now, a mystery trailer. There’s a castle and all the world around it is being torn by earthquakes and eruptions and DOOOOOM.
After the cataclysm everyone is fighting over fresh water. A viking is nearly ambushed by a samurai that is clearly lacking honour! A knight leaps down from above and the three square off.
This is For Honor, a medieval alternate history fighting game. Apollyon, a woman, made it all happen so she could take over the world. Women, ya can’t trust ’em!
A gameplay demonstration follows the cinematic trailer, with vikings attacking a fortified position held by samurai. Combat looks fairly deep, rather than simple smashing and combo-driven. The hero viking wields a mighty two handed axe, which he can adjust the carrying position of during combat, opening different angles of attack.
Grappling hooks launch up onto the wall and the hero ascends the wall, dodging thrown rocks and finally cresting the parapet. More fighting, including one samurai being thrown face first into a spiked wall, until the gates are thrown open.
The demonstration culminates in what is basically a “boss fight” against a large, well armoured samurai. A portcullis helpfully falls behind the hero to make it a one on one fight, so as deep as the combat might be, there are still some gamifications in play.
For Honor is coming February 14, 2017. Happy Valentine’s Day!
Grow Up is next to be shown off. A sequel to Grow Home you seem to play a little red robot that can poop mushrooms to bounce off? An entire planet to explore! And eventually get all the way up to the moon. Sounds fun!
Grow Up is coming to PC, XBOX One and Playstation 4 in August.
Next, a game nobody expected much less asked for, Trials of the Blood Dragon. A retro version coupling the Far Cry: Blood Dragon throwback aesthetic with the motorcycle stunt shenanigans of Trials.
It’s not just silly new levels though, with grappling hooks, guns, on foot sections, a bloody minecart ride! It looks pretty crazy and… will be out now! PC, PS4, X1.
And now, not-video-game news, the Assassin’s Creed movie is a thing that is still not here yet. But it will be soon.
Aisha’s starting to introduce the next game when the screen behind her begins glitching out and the sound system goes a bit wonky, followed by a gigantic DEDSEC logo. Time for Watch_Dogs 2!
Gameplay footage follows, including various new hacker pranks you can pull on people nearby. The graphics look good and Ubisoft is probably smart enough not to be pulling any bullshit this time around.
Marcus, the new anti-hero of the Watch Dogs world has to infiltrate a building using various hacking tricks, gadgets and such. The scouting-with-drone section feels a lot like the Ghost Recon: Wildlands scouter, but with a lot more hacking jiggery pokery.
Overall, the sequel looks great but Ubisoft has an uphill battle with this one.
Join the ranks of DEDSEC in Watch_Dogs 2, coming November 15th, 2016 to PC, PS4 and XB1.
Next, something a little bit different – Steep. Ski, snowboard, paraglide, wingsuit up, down and around the Mont Blanc region.
Lots of cinematic replay options, easy ways to share them with your friends, set up your own challenging jumps off geographic features. It’s a huge, open world you can freely explore at will, or engage in races and other activities.
A sample challenge is launched into, wingsuit your way down narrow valleys faster than your opponents and don’t crash into the ground, like that one guy ahead of the demonstrator.
Seems to be a lot of avatar customisation options available, with a wooly yeti suit and a big clown head being shown.
After skiing down the mountain you can pause the game and check the trail you took down the mountain, rewinding to any part to watch your progress again. Engage slow-motion, follow other players who were also in the scene or use different camera angles to show off your rad moves.
If you find a particularly good point in your run you can share it as a challenge for your friends to try completing. It’s not clear whether you can challenge your friends to crash the same way as you, but it does stand to reason since there’s a bit right near the end of the demonstration where a wingsuiter glides into a church steeple, loudly ringing the bell.
It all looks like a great game to sit back and chill with. And we’ll go to do so in December!
And that about wraps up the Ubisoft conference, thanks for watching/reading.
More E3 coverage still to come, stay tuned!