In this series we will look at some of the biggest announcement from each publisher conference during last year’s E3, and see what has come of those announcement almost a year after they were made.
Since 2008, Ubisoft has been a staple presenter at the annual E3 conference. Showing off Assassin’s Creed, Rayman, and Far Cry. It was at Ubisoft’s conference, consumers got their first glimpse of Watch Dogs — year before it actually released — and Splinter Cell:Blacklist.
2014 was Ubisoft’s first chance to place Gen-8 at center stage and talk about it exclusively. With a couple major franchises to show off and some announcements that would take their fans by surprise, Ubisoft was poise to make a splash. Here are a few of the games they showed off.
Far Cry 4
Ubisoft opened their show with a look at the first 5-minutes of Far Cry 4. Creative director Dan Hay spoke of game “where every single second is a story.” While that initial 5-minute clip was the first cutscene the player would see, Ubisoft didn’t leave their fans hungering for gameplay video. Later in the conference, they showed a 7-minute gameplay demo highlighting the beautiful terrain, in all of its vertical beauty, the grappling hook which allowed the player to traverse the map more easily, the inclusion of elephants and baiting animals, and finally the new use of co-op in all non-story missions.
Far Cry 4 set the audience abuzz with their first public showing of the game, and it released in the crowded holiday window alongside other Ubisoft titles such as The Crew and Assassin’s Creed Unity, and other big time releases like Call of Duty and Halo MCC. Despite the staunch competition, Far Cry 4 still did extremely well shipping close to 7 million copies by the end of 2014.
Ubisoft has been hyping this open-world 3rd person shooter for years now. The public first saw The Division at E3 2013, and they were hoping to see more in terms of gameplay explanation and mechanic details during Ubisoft’s 2014 presentation. Instead, the audience was given more of the same, a highly-scripted gameplay video.
I’m going to break the voice for a moment to say this. I’ve never in my life seen so much of a game I know so little about. I want to be excited about The Division. In fact, I am excited about it, but I have no idea why. Every video feels the same; walk around, shoot some bad guys, “holy crap! That environment interaction is great.”, rinse, and repeat. But we still have no idea how Dark Zones work, what the end game of the story is, what sort of attack we are dealing with, how single player will word, and so much more that is really required for getting truly hyped about the game. Sure it’s beautiful. Sure, they seem to be really conscious of the short-comings of Destiny. But we can’t ignore the fact that this is an Ubisoft game and it is a Tom Clancy Ubisoft game. They have a tendency to show what is best about a game while leaving the audience to discover where it falls short. Anyway, back to the point.
There is still a lot to be seen out of The Division. We finally have a release window for the game, with it releasing somewhere between January and March of 2016. The developers have also been releasing a series of podcasts that highlight various aspects of the game. Those podcasts can be found here. E3 2015 will definitely be a definitive moment for this title with the imminent beta announcement on the horizon and it’s early 2016 release window. Here’s to hoping we get more than just another gameplay demo!
Assassin’s Creed Unity
A new assassin and a new city being developed exclusively for the new consoles, what more could fans of the AC series ask for. E3 2014 was good for fans Ubisoft’s biggest franchise. The reveal trailer seemed to be taking Assassin’s Creed back to its roots, leaving behind the naval combat of AC III and Black Flag and placing the immersive cityscape back in the forefront. The gameplay trailer won fans over with co-op play — though limited to side missions –, customizable gear and play styles, and an engine that could support crowds of up to 30,000 people. Assassin’s Creed Unity seemed to be teeming with even more life than it had before. The world seemed full and alive, and the gameplay promises seemed rich.
However, much like many other 2014 releases, the game was marred by frame rate and server issues. When the game launched in November 2014, many fans were unable to enjoy the highly-anticipated co-op mode due to connectivity issues, high traffic areas saw performance drop to just a couple frames per second, and collision detection made free-running through some areas of the map incredibly difficult. Possibly the most ridiculous glitch in the entire game came from an issue that caused portions of a player face to not be fully rendered creating floating mouths and eyes.
After some time, Ubisoft got most of the issues in the game ironed out, but still many people felt jaded by the whole ordeal. To soften the blow of the botched release, Ubisoft offered the Dead Kings DLC free to all who bought the game and a free Ubisoft title to anyone who had bought the season pass for the game. While on the surface, the move seemed to be a good faith maneuver from the company, many people saw the giving away of DLC as a method for sticking with the game while the company sorted things out. Also, by accepting the free game, purchasers of the broken title were giving up any legal right to pursue compensation for their unfulfilled investment.
Tom Clancy’s Rainbow Six Siege
It had been 6 years since the March 18, 2008 release of Rainbow Six Vegas 2, and fans of the series were more than ready to see what Ubisoft was going to do with the franchise that sold almost 7 million copies on Gen-7 consoles. Ubisoft revealed what appeared to be one of the most co-operatively tactical FPS to ever be released on console. Much like The Division, the trailer for Rainbow Six Siege showed a highly-scripted look at the new title. From setting up traps, scanning the scene with an RC car, and blowing out walls, the single-life 5v5 gameplay seemed both incredibly challenging, yet equally rewarding. The initial reaction to the game was “Looks great, but what if I don’t have 4 friends to play co-operatively with?” It’s a valid point, the game doesn’t seem to bode well for those seeking to hop on and get paired with a bunch of randoms. But for those who have the privilege of gaming with a group of friends, Rainbow Six Siege looks poised to satiate the desire for a large group of gamers looking for a change of pace from run and gun shooters such as Battlefield and Call of Duty.
Since it’s reveal trailer at E3 2014, more details about the game have been confirmed. There will be 20 different classes to choose from and piece together when creating your team. Rounds will be very quick, taking between 3-5 minutes to complete. The game is set to release on October 13, 2015 for PS4, Xbox One, and PC with a beta being made available some time before release.
In what was the most emotional presentation of E3 2014, Ubisoft showed off the UbiArt project Valiant Hearts.
inspired by actual letters, Valiant Hearts is a 2-D narrative and puzzle driven sidescroller done in a style reflective of many indie games. It chronicles the story of several different heroes during the not-so-often depicted, World War I. The title’s reveal breathed a special sense of life into the presentation as it looked like nothing that Ubisoft had ever done before. Within the 2-minutes allotted to the game, UbiArt managed to pull at the heart strings of the audience.
Valiant Hearts released digitally several weeks later on Xbox One, PS4, PS3, and PC. Due to its unique puzzles and gripping narrative, it was received with really solid reviews all around. The game eventually found its way onto the Playstation Plus Instant Collection in March of 2015.
Games such as Valiant Hearts and Child of Light are proof that these smaller more nimble projects can be very well-received. Not every title released by Ubisoft or Activision has to be a 100-hour time sink. Instead, projects such as this can allow a company to take a few more risks, find what works, and ultimately, as Ubisoft Montreal CEO Yannis Mallat said, see if “some of those things could become major franchises.”
Stay tuned to GIZORAMA for an update on all of last year’s E3 press conferences.