E3 2013: Ubisoft did not go Soft

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See what I did there in the title? Don’t worry, there are not that many conferences left, so the lame puns will stop soon. Today we’ll have a look at the third conference from last Monday, namely Ubisoft. At 00:00 hours over here in the Netherlands I was starting to get tired, but hey, it’s E3! Besides that, there was still Sony at 03:00 hours, so Ubisoft was okay. What Ubisoft showed was a great line-up with something for everybody. Still want to rock out in your living room? Check. Want to play hardcore next-gen titles? Check. Want to dance in your living room? Check. Want to play with crazy rabbits with your kid? Check.

Opening a conference with style
Ubisoft is known for its energetic and less tense conferences and they didn’t disappoint this year. Set in an old Hollywood theatre, they opened their conference with a performance of Alice in Chains’ Jerry Cantrell. He jammed a bit on RockSmith 2014, which will be available this October. That’s right, it’s time to rock again!

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Yup, Jerry Cantrell himself.

On stage was Aisha Tyler as Ubi’s host, an American actress and stand-up comedian. At times she was a bit too much, but at many other times she was exactly what these stiff conferences need. Just some fun talk, non-scripted, on stage with a shirt that said #girlwood. Ubisoft was certainly planning to give away a show. And so they did, continuing with their second game Splinter Cell: Blacklist. The trailer/game play shown made clear Sam Fisher is back to its roots: with his classic green goggles and working for Fourth Echelon this time. Furthermore, the popular Spies vs. Mercs mode will return, so fans have something to look forward to. The story seemed to revolve around a terrorist group who attacked certain places all around the world according to a “blacklist”. SC: Blacklist will be available on August 20, 2013 on the Xbox 360, Playstation 3, PC and Wii U, with an European release scheduled August 23.

After the seriousness and torture scene of Splinter Cell: Blacklist it was time for something more cartoony. It was time for Rayman Legends! I’m a big Rayman fan and could not help but smile when I saw the game play footage. It was colourful, fun to watch, dynamic and looked like a great game to play with friends. Originally planned as a Wii U exclusive, the game will also release for Xbox 360, Playstation 3 and Playstation Vita on August 30 in Europe, while releasing September 3 in North America.

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Splinter Cell:Blacklist & Rayman Legends. What a contrast.

More cartoons and a possible rival for Need for Speed?

Next up on Ubisoft’s list was “The Mighty Quest for Epic Loot”, which is going to be a Free2play game on PC. That basically means that the game is – as it says – free to play, but that premium items can be purchased to progress through the game more quickly. It’s a business model being used more and more in times where 60 Euros or Dollars is a bit much for one game and it’s highly successful in some instances. Ubisoft had the same feeling and is going further along this path, having had experience with it with their earlier Settlers. The shown trailer was kind of weird, but funny at the same time. The game doesn’t seems to be too serious, considering the fact one character was called Derp III.  The game seems to be in closed beta testing right now and can be signed up for.

After this mighty quest, a trailer was shown which was kind of relieving. South Park: The Stick of Truth is still in development after THQ’s bankruptcy (Ubisoft bought the rights). The trailer showed Stan’s dad explaining how to do a “Nagasaki Fart”. Yep, classic South Park. Check the trailer at the end of this post in the playlist to see for yourself. The whole game breathed Matt Stone and Trey Parker, which should be a good thing. The game is scheduled for this holiday, but as Cartman in the trailer pointed out… It can also be later, you know how video games in development are. Perfect quote right there.

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The Mighty Quest for Epic Loot & South Park: The Stick of Truth

Then Yves Guillemot, one of Ubisoft’s founders and everyone’s favourite Frenchman came up on stage. It was time to stop messing around and go on and talk about the next generation. Alright, Yves, what do you have? Well, he started strong with a drop-dead gorgeous trailer of a new IP called “The Crew”. It seemed to be a possible innovation for the racing genre. The idea is that you form a “crew” online all over America (Yes, they claimed the WHOLE of America will be race-able. We’ll see.) to perform “takedowns” on specific targets or do other missions. It is said to “blur” the lines between single – and multiplayer, making it some sort of MMO racer if you want to. The game seemed a good competitor for Need for Speed and also breathed a certain Burnout: Paradise feeling. I was a bit disappointed that the mentioned drop-dead gorgeous trailer turned out to be CGI, though. How did I know? Because they showed game play afterwards, and no way that it was of the same quality as the shown trailer before. Nevertheless, they have my curiosity. Maybe it will be my first race game ever!

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Fancy CGI taken from The Crew trailer

Dogs, rabbits, pirates and dancing in your living room

After The Crew, it was time for the highly anticipated Watch_Dogs. Unfortunately the shown trailer was leaked earlier so for all you people who were already following the game, not much new was shown. So for real new info on Watch_Dogs I’d like to point you over here. For all of you who don’t know what Watch_Dogs is, I will tell you. It’s probably the most wanted game for the new generation of video game consoles. You play as Aiden Pearce, some sort of vigilante in a world where he can hack every electronic device possible to use to his advantage. Think of parking lot poles (Is that what you call them? No idea.) coming up to let pursuers crash themselves or entire city blocks blacking out so you can escape. It feels fresh and innovative and opens up a path for all kinds of game play. What if you could control electronic surveillance completely? Watch_Dogs will let you find out. The game is scheduled to release in North America on November 19 and in Europe on November 22 on all existing platforms. There will also be an Xbox One and Playstation 4 release, which is vaguely scheduled for Q4 2013 right now.

Then there was Just Dance 2014. Apparently this series is quite popular and so Ubisoft announced a 2014 edition. What is there to say about a dance-in-your-living-room game? It features songs and now you can switch songs via voice or gesture command. Yay. Oh, and now you can dance with six people at once! Like it wasn’t hard enough not to hit each other with just two or three. After Just Dance 2014 the annoying little Rabbids from Rayman returned. I’m awfully glad they separated the Rabbids from the Rayman franchise, because honestly, I’m done with them. Some people are not and so an interactive TV show was announced in cooperation with Nickelodeon for Xbox One. The TV show will stop at some points and give the player/viewer the chance to perform certain tasks or solve certain puzzles.
It seems Ubisoft is aiming at families and kids, which is fine by me. Just leave Rayman out of it guys, please..

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Just Dance 2014, Watch_Dogs & Rabbids Invasion

So what’s left for this paragraph? If you’ve been paying attention and know what I meant with every word, you probably figured out it’s Assassin’s Creed IV: Black Flag. Oh, how I was excited watching this game being shown on stage. Set in an semi-open world, you play as Edward Kenway, a pirate who roamed with legends like Blackbeard and Calico Jack during the Golden Age of Piracy. What I like so much about Assassin’s Creed games, is that they blend fiction and reality into a beautiful story. Obviously, Edward did not exist, but the historical characters and locations (The Caribbean!) that he comes across were real and are as faithfully depicted as possible. They did so with legends like George Washington and Leonardo Da Vinci in previous games and they will continue doing so for as long as Assassin’s Creed will continue to exist. The shown trailer featured the well-known free running and semi-stealthy game play, with an amazing naval fight as a climax. Watch and enjoy. Assassins’ Creed IV will be released October 29 in North America and November 1 in Europe.

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AC IV: Black Flag. Who doesn’t want to roll with pirates?

New Trials and a new Tom Clancy game!

Ubisoft’s conference was coming to an end, which meant it was time for some last fireworks. They did so with a community favourite: not one, but two new Trials games! One for mobile devices and one for existing and next generation platforms. It also seemed both games were connected and could work together or complement each other, enabling the community to grow even further. Trials was a highly addictive and simple game where you raced very hard tracks with a motor cycle, which could be custom-made by the community. The creation tool became so abstract and wide, that even other games like golf could be created with it. Ubisoft was wise to publish a new title in this series.

Now what would be the ultimate fireworks on an already amazing conference? Why not another IP, like they did last year with Watch_Dogs? Ubisoft is crazy like that, because that’s exactly what they did. Tom Clancy’s The Division was announced, which is going to be an open world MMO in yet another post-apocalyptic America. But wait, it’s not that generic as you think. The background story was quite interesting. A massive pandemic was spread via a deadly virus stained on banknotes on Black Friday. Isn’t that scary, ‘Murica? The game seemed to be influenced by Ubisoft’s other titles when it comes to online/multiplayer capabilities, since it once again zoomed out to show a satellite view of America where you could spot other players at that moment. Not a lot is to be known yet about this new IP, but we do know Ubisoft is rocking hard again in 2013 and 2014. Bring it on.

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Both new Trials games & The Division

Some last interesting facts

Of course we’ll wrap up traditionally with some tit-bits of non-interesting info.
- No audio or technical problems were apparent during the show, which is a first after two earlier conferences.
- In The Crew, you can customize your car via the Ipad and then play with it right away on the big screen.
- You cannot open the refrigerator or turn on the microwave yet with your smart devices, although it probably won’t take long with all upcoming cross-device options.
- The pirates in Assassin’s Creed IV seemed to have black eyeliner. Jack Sparrow, anyone?
- Some journalists seemed to misread the announcement of “Rabbids Invasion” instead tweeting “Ubisoft announced Rabbies Invasion”. Doesn’t sound so kiddy anymore.
- Some well-known people were disgusted by the shown Splinter Cell trailer showcasing some gruesome torture. Well, it wasn’t pretty… But these games have an age rating, you know.
- Zooming out of the play field in a game, showing the game as a map with all sorts of players playing real-time seemed to be Ubisoft’s new thing: they did so with The Crew, Watch_Dogs and The Division.

And that wraps up our favourite Frenchies from Montpellier, Montreal and many other places! I must say I was heavily impressed by Ubisoft’s wide line-up of upcoming games. Maybe even more impressed than EA’s line up. Next post we’ll be discussing another hardware giant, which I needed some discipline for to watch. Yes, it’s Sony, who chose a great time in America, but not so well over here: 03:00 hours. You know what that means, right? It’s almost time to compare the upcoming new consoles!
See you there!

Another playlist for people curious about shown footage:
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=FLQvVe2y-GE&list=PLui09PBI_ealpINRwa1AWSOUjvnbl-DEE&index=1



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About the author: Pieter

Pieter

20-year-old Dutchie; passion for music and video games; Co-Creator of OtterAndWeasel; // YouTube: www.youtube.com/otterandweasel // Twitter: @Pjotterdeotter @OtterAndWeasel // Facebook: www.facebook.com/otterandweasel

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