The Ubisoft E3 Press Conference: A Promising Year Ahead

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by Jeremiah Fajardo | staff writer

From Rayman’s colorful compatriots to the iconic cabal of Assassins, Ubisoft has been known for its wide selection of offerings. Among the highly anticipated games this year is the latest entry in the Splinter Cell saga as well as the developer’s newest IP, Watch Dogs. From what we’ve seen today, gamers have a lot to look forward in the coming months.

Ubisoft E3

After a brief, perhaps rushed, presentation of the newest Rocksmith title Ubisoft went straight for the action with Splinter Cell: Blacklist. Described as the “biggest Splinter Cell yet,” this entry focuses on Sam Fisher’s mission to stop a series of events known as the ‘Blacklist.’ Conducted by a group of terrorists, the ‘Blacklist’ initiative targets US interests across the globe, providing a varied backdrop. While the trailer itself was scattered, the game’s premise is interesting and the return of Spies Vs. Mercs, a fan favorite, were enough to pique my interests. Thankfully, the wait for this is short with the release date set for August 20th for the Xbox 360 and PlayStation 3.

Rayman: Legends followed the stealthy violence, toning things down with some whimsical fun. Colorful and energetic, Rayman and his cohorts took the screen with a pair of trailers that highlighted the quirkiness the series has been known for over the decades. The eye-popping, 2-D animation of the game evokes the cartoon shows of old with its level of detail and charm. Fans of the classic platforming series have a lot to look forward to. This particular game is coming to the Wii U, PlayStation 3, Xbox 360 and PS Vita on September 3, 2013.

Wrapping up the current generation portion of Ubisoft’s briefing were quick looks at The Might Quest for Epic Loot and South Park: The Stick of Truth. The former is a free to play, tower defense title that revolves around building up your personal castle, hording loot and raiding the strongholds of other players. It sports a fun, cartoon art direction and is currently in closed beta. The latter, helmed by Obsidian Entertainment, simply had a short clip that only highlighted the irreverent, adult humor the TV show is famous for. Despite its brevity, it thankfully ended with an announcement of the release window: Holiday 2013.

To get their next generation offerings started, Ubisoft premiered The Crew for the Xbox One and PlayStation 4. Due in Spring 2014, this new racing genre entry emanates a vibe one may get from the popular Fast & Furious film serious. There’s a focus on players building their eponymous “crew” by teaming up with friends. From there they can customize their respective vehicles before taking on an assortment of missions, such as taking on rival crews. Fans should note that the game can be played solo, but the multiplayer features a persistent world that is immersive and alive.

The live demo showed off four different regions of the United States, including New York and the backcountry of Nevada. Other highlights included the seamless invite system that eschews the traditional lobby system for instant, in game invites. Also stunning was the level of detail to which one can customize their ride. Players can literally strip down their car and build it from the ground up, piece by piece, for every situation. While not as gorgeous as Forza Motorsport 5, which was shown earlier today at Microsoft’s press briefing, the graphics are stunning and the gameplay appears quite distinct.

Sadly, the next portion of the briefing, which focused on Watch Dogs, was terribly short and consisted of just a trailer. Despite its brevity, the presentation fortunately shed some light on Aiden Pierce, the protagonist. Pierce is a man obsessed with the proliferation of technology and security who turns vigilante. Yet, the kind of vigilante he becomes is up to the player. Set in an open world, near future Chicago, the game will have an immense of interaction. Like I said, this was all Ubisoft had to present, which was quite underwhelming. Watch Dogs will available later this year on all current and next generation systems.

Apparently taking queues from Watch Dogs, Ubisoft’s next titles also had rather brief presentations. The next iteration of the Just Dance series, Just Dance 2014, will be capable of supporting up to 6 players and numbers new modes. Coming to existing consoles this October and both next generation machines at their respective launches, Just Dance 2014 will give players new ways to party. Following this was a rather confusing display for Rabbids Invasion, a purportedly interactive TV show in production with Nickelodeon. Ubisoft announced that fans of the eccentric rabbids will be able to interact with the program using their smart phones, tablets and motion control devices.

The finale of the briefing was graced by a quartet of titles, starting with Assassin’s Creed IV: Black Flag. A lot is riding on this latest incarnation of the storied franchise, especially following the mixed reception last year’s entry received. The display began with a frenetic CGI trailer, highlighting some of Edward Kenway’s moves and the vibrant Caribbean setting. From here, the presentation dove into an in game demo that focused on more of Edward’s abilities, such as his deft ability to dual wield swords and flintlock pistols. Other mechanics that garnered the spotlight was the game’s emphasis on ships, which will be used for both combat and traversal. Those eager to channel their inner pirate moonlighting as an assassin don’t have to wait much longer. Assassin’s Creed IV: Black Flag will be out on all systems, current and next generation, by the end of the year.

Following the swashbuckling exploits of Edward Kenway was a slightly awkward Segway into a pair of games: Trials Fusion and Trials: Frontier. Despite their odd placement within the briefing, both looked promising. The former was announced as a next generation title that will have a new trick system, allowing for some highflying jumps. The latter will be a mobile game, a first in the popular motorbike series.

To close off their already impressive lineup Ubisoft announced a game by Massive Entertainment. The segment began with a rather lengthy cinematic detailing how modern society could utterly crumble following a viral outbreak spread via money on your average ‘Black Friday.’ One by one, each pillar holding up our society could fall, from oil to water, as disease ravaged the populace. It’s in this setting that Tom Clancy’s The Division takes place. The demonstration placed heavy emphasis on teamwork, showing players explore the wastes as members of the eponymous Division. Attempting to restore what order is left, the group of four raided a police station to free the captive authorities. The game is played as a third person shooter, not unlike the Mass Effect series, with a clear focus on survival and tactical coordination. Players will likely have access to a variety of weapons and gadgets, such as a device that produces map holograms. Touted as a new, online and open-world RPG, The Division looks like a stellar entry into this new console generation. Slated for both the Xbox One and PlayStation 4, players can expect to join The Division in 2014.

Now, despite lack of a Beyond Good and Evil 2 update, Ubisoft’s E3 briefing was quite spectacular and had plenty for us to get riled up over. Between Watch Dogs and The Division, I know I’ll have plenty to keep me busy over the next year or so. Here’s hoping we’ll have more information over the next few days!

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