Yes, I know I’m pretty late on these, but life gets in the way sometimes. But I want to finish this, and I’m going to, no matter how much I procrastinate!
Ubisoft’s show as a whole would have been just predictable. But one heroic game decided to completely take the piss out of the same conference it was appearing in. And yes, it did make that game better but it also made Ubisoft look extra predictable.
Just Dance 2017 (releasing October 25) was shown off with… weird dancing animals. Okay. Then Aisha Tyler memorialised the tragedy in Orlando. It’s great that Ubisoft would do this in a show about gaming, and especially one that has such a focus on violence. Doesn’t mean there wasn’t a massive tone shift, though, especially with what was announced and shown immediately after…
Tom Clancy’s Ghost Recon: Wildlands! Which opened with dark narration and a sobbing person and the sound of throats being slit! Just… that tone whiplash! Anyway, this looks like what would happen if Ubisoft made a Grand Theft Auto game. The game didn’t look very tactical, no matter how much the fake co-op voice over tried to convince me otherwise, and seemed like the heists from Grand Theft Auto V were the point of it. There was some sue of drones and silencers and typical Ubisoft arsenal. But also with choppers and motorcycles, so at least there’s some decent ways to get around instead of fast travelling via radio towers all the time! The story is about a country that’s run by drug dealers or some other such military seriousness that I’m sure will be completely disposable. It doesn’t look bad, it just looks like what you’d think a military open-world shooter would look like. Wildlands releases March 7, 2016 on current gen consoles and Windows.
South Park: The Fractured But Whole single-handedly stole the show by openly mocking Ubisoft as a company, Watch Dogs in particular. The superhero theme also gave the creators license to make fun of both Marvel and DC, and DC really gets shat on. Which is great! As someone who is obviously really into superheroes, the jokes gave me a good laugh and I can see this game appealing to me more than The Stick of Truth, which used a lot of typical video game-based humour (“silent protagonist is awkward”, “you’re looting and it should be wrong”, etc.). The combat looks more complex and tactical, with grid base movement introduced. As someone who’s really into comic books (obviously), I’m looking forward to The Fractured But Whole when it releases December 6.
A game called Eagle Flight (releasing sometime this year) was shown, and it is basically an FPS-racing hybrid; it’s played in first-person and the arena-style gameplay reminds me of the multiplayer arena modes in Mario Kart. Oh, and it’s a VR game, because of course it is. It doesn’t look amazing and seems like it’ll be the VR-equivalent of a launch game that you’ll find in the pre-owned bin within a month. But at least it has a nice art style when it’s sunset! Also, the demonstrators all lined up with their VR headsets and looking around looked like birds themselves.
More of For Honor was shown. We got what I think was supposed to be a story, which is basically that some catastrophe brought vikings, knights and samurai onto one land and they fight because… there would be no game otherwise. Gameplay looks as good as it did before, but nothing really new. Oh, and there’s now a multiplayer beta you can sign up for, which I immediately did, because it was a better experience than the actual conference. Signing up, I mean. For Honor releases February 14, 2017)
Watch_Dogs 2 was shown off and hilariously opened just edgily as South Park predicted it would. Not in the sense of “security! Drones! Surveillance!” But in just how hardcore it wanted to look with static effects, its editing and just typical surveillance and anti-corporate crap. And of course, the “DedSec” group is sticking around, because that name is committee-voted edge! Oh, and one of the characters wears goggles that emote stuff (like this ^ ^) because of course he does. And since this is a non-military Ubisoft game, lots of typical edgy anti-corporate trappings from one of the most corporate companies out there. Also, the main character’s name is Marcus Holloway and he’s a surprisingly happy Ubisoft character, but I still fully expect one of his loved ones to die during the course of this game’s narrative, if they haven’t already. At the very least, it looks like it’s not taking itself so seriously and there’s more colour, what with the San Francisco setting as opposed to Chicago. The actual gameplay looks to be more of the same and I really didn’t care about anything going on. Hacking again feels optional as opposed to a focus, because obviously our hacker protagonist is a marksmen who also excels at parkour, because everyone might as well be an assassin by this point. And the hacking was once again touted as letting you hack anything… except it seems to be the same, though with some additions like making cars remotely drive away which seems entirely situational in its use. A drone was also shown, because that’s Ubisoft’s thing this year (drones were also in Wildlands and I think maybe Steep), but it’s basically replacing the dumb line-of-sight camera hacking from the first game… except it’s not because those cameras are still there and the gameplay demo used them, so the drone is just another gadget. Like the first game, Watch Dogs 2 gives the illusion of choice when it doesn’t seem like there is any. Not impressed. It releases November 15, 2016.
And finally, the moment I’m never going to let Ubisoft live down: Steep. Steep is basically SSX combined with, well, every extreme sport ever. But at its core, it’s a sports game. Sure, it’s open-world and has a social play element (because selfies!), can be played in VR, and it open-world, but it’s still an extreme sports game… which is why it’s so dumb that Ubisoft introduced the game as “an entirely new genre.” Guys, it’s not a new genre. Shut up. Anyway, I’ve always liked extreme sports games (they’re the manliest things I play) so I’m looking forward to it. It’s basically Red Bull: The Game, but it looks fun. But it is not a new genre.
Aside from all that, we also got the announcement of more The Division DLC, which caused much statements of ‘93%’ from Twitch chat(the PC playerbase has dropped 93% since launch). The Assassin’s Creed movie was shown off and I still don’t care; I was with Tyler when she pointed out Fassbender as a selling point — he’s the only reason I even slightly care. Star Trek: Bridge Commander was also announced for VR and it’s exactly what you think that entails. As someone who doesn’t care about Star Trek, this didn’t do anything for me except make me make VR-ception jokes. Grow Up, the sequel to Grow Home, was also announced, and as someone who found that game really, really clunky, I couldn’t care less. It’s Ubisoft’s Fe, basically; trying to show us they still have hearts. Trial of the Blood Dragon was also announced, and the name should tell you everything you need to know: it’s a Trials game with a Blood Dragon paint job.
So Ubisoft’s conference was not good. It peaked when South Park: The Fractured But Whole made fun of Ubisoft (and superhero comics) and it was all downhill from there. And somehow Ubisoft also managed to one-up themselves on the cringe levels (I’m actually thinking of doing a cringe point system next year just for them). Just not a good conference at all.