After last year’s stunning conference, Ubisoft had a lot to live up to at E3 this year. With many of their games already announced we thought knew exactly what we were getting. There was some truth in that, but, as expected, Ubisoft delivered another killer show, and even had a few surprises left – here’s the roundup!
There was a surprising start to the show as Jerry Cantrell of Alice In Chains fame took to the stage and, after a brief greeting, picks up a rather lush looking guitar and begins to play Man In The Box – one of his bands many hits – much to the audience’s (and my) enjoyment. Cantrell finishes shredding and asks the audience if he should get a band on stage. A huge cheer follows – surely the rest of Alice In Chains haven’t come along too? No, he’s demoing Rocksmith 2014 and its new session mode which does look very cool, but seeing Alice In Chains play would have been better.
Aisha Tyler takes the stage and after a brief exchange with Cantrell after which he leaves, leaving Tyler to give a brief recap of last years rather excellent show and a tease the things to come in the show ahead. The hot rock of news she drops is that that Splinter Cell: Blacklist will be available on August 20th and will see the the return of the hugely acclaimed ‘Spies vs. Mercs’ multiplayer mode. We are then treated to an absolutely stunning trailer introducing Sam Fisher’s new team and the newly formed Fourth Echelon, as well as a very brief explanation to what the Blacklist actually is. It’s still strange hearing someone other than Michael Ironside voicing Fisher, but I’m sure we’ll get used to it eventually.
Tyler shares her knowledge of the history of Rayman before introducing the trailer for Rayman: Legends which is filled with anymation that could easily put Dreamworks to shame. Complete with the announcement of a September 3rd 2012 release, we’re treated to another trailer showing off the gameplay. Rayman: Legends looks absolutely beautiful with a hand drawn art style reminiscent of the animated Monty Python sketches of yesteryear and, above all else, it looks like seriously good fun.
Next up is The Mighty Quest For Epic Loot, a game about stealing from your neighbour while trying to protect your own treasure. The premise sounds like a cross between the best bits of Dungeon Keeper and Torchlight – build your castle and protect it from invaders by filling it various creatures and traps with the sole purpose of keeping your treasure safe. After you’ve built your castle, you choose your hero and pick a castle to invade yourself. The announcement trailer they showed was genuinely funny, but unfortunately didn’t show any gameplay. More humour followed with the incredibly juvenile teaser trailer for South Park: The Stick of Truth, and although no actual gameplay was shown, the trailer was hilarious and judging by the laughter coming from the audience, it wasn’t just me that thought so.
Ubisoft co-founder & CEO Yves Guillemot took to the stage next to introduce the the part of the show we’d all been waiting for – the next generation titles.
First of the next gen titles to be shown off was The Crew, an impressive looking open-world driving MMO. Set throughout the whole of America, The Crew allows for single player and multiplayer to seamlessly happen within the same same world. The demo we were shown had four players taking part, each doing their own thing in various sections of the online world before meeting up in Miami, customising their rides, and joining up for a four player take-down mission against an AI opponent. Now, I’m not a fan of driving games, but even I have to admit this looks very impressive to watch and seems like great fun to play.
Watch_Dogs appeared in its second conference of the day, and before the demo is shown we got to hear the same speech again – we’re all connected and have phones and hacking and things – it’s beginning to sound very familiar. Eventually we got to see an extremely stylish trailer, and it’s to Ubisoft’s credit that no matter how much we’ve already been shown of Watch_Dogs over the last few days it still looks absolutely fantastic.
To put it mildly, there was a slight change of tone following Watch_Dogs thanks to a trailer full of bright colours and eerily happy mannequin-esque individuals throwing themselves around like they have been possessed by the lord of the dance himself. Yes, that’s right, it’s Just Dance 2014 – the latest instalment of the insanely popular franchise which the lovely and loud Ms Tyler reliably informed us started life as a mini-game in the Raving Rabbids games. Which created a rather excellent segue into the introduction of Rabbids Invasion, a brand new interactive TV show coming to Nickelodeon and based around children screaming at your TV in an attempt to stop a cow crapping in a Rabbid’s mouth. Seriously, you can’t make this stuff up.
Another fantastic trailer for Assassin’s Creed IV: Black Flag followed, showing Edward Kenway kicking ass in a bar brawl before taking to the high seas for an epic naval battle. After a brief speech about why pirates are awesome, we finally got a to see the game in motion with another stunning trailer – and to say it looks incredible would be an understatement. Assassin’s Creed IV is looking absolutely beautiful. The scale is like nothing ever seen in the series before, with the vibrant colours and landscape making the Pirates of the Caribbean movies look drab by comparison. A special mention has to go to the use of the breathtaking Full Circle by Half Moon Run as the song accompanying the action, it’s a perfect fit and makes the trailer that much more powerful.
Two Trials titles were next on show; Trials Fusion for Xbox One, PC and (surprisingly) Playstation 4, and Trials Frontier for mobile devices. The two versions look just as crazy as ever, and will work together to access previous runs and high scores, as well as allow you to interact with the community on the go.
Yves returned to the stage to thank everyone for attending and, by the looks of things, the conference appeared to be wrapping up nicely. But Ubisoft had one more trick up its sleeve. A PSA-style trailer followed which was very reminiscent of last year’s Watch_Dogs reveal. Playing on our fear of big brother, virus outbreaks and how we’re not prepared – the world as we know it will be over in days as fear takes hold. It’s so clichéd it hurts.
When the trailer was done, the creative director of Massive Entertainment Nicklas Cederström took to the stage to tell us a little and show us a lot. What at first appeared to be a heavily rendered CG video seamlessly became gameplay – and you realise it wasn’t pre-rendered at all, that this is in game and it’s absolutely stunning. Set in a World where society is tearing itself apart, the gameplay looks like a blend of Day Z and Ghost Recon: Future Soldier thanks to the beautifully minimal HUD and menu system, with objectives and points of interest being projected onto the walls a la Splinter Cell: Conviction. As impressive as this game looks, the feature that stood out the most for me at least was the constant communication between the characters on screen (Editor’s note – this may well have been communication between the players in the game). Finally, at the end of this incredible looking demo, the name is revealed as Tom Clancy’s The Division.
Although we had already seen the majority of titles on offer this year, the new trailers and gameplay videos would have been enough to keep most of us happy for the next few months – but the surprises they delivered this time round will surely keep us talking until E3 rolls around again next year. Admittedly, it would have been nice to have seen at least a hint of Beyond Good and Evil 2, and its absence is beginning to make me doubt that we’ll ever see it, but Ubisoft have surprised us two years in a row now, so there’s no saying what other cards they are holding up those wonderful sleeves of theirs.