Ubisoft @ E3 2018: Still standin'

The past few years have been fantastic shows for Ubisoft, particularly its show last year that was the best conference of the entire show. Needless to say, expectation was high for what would come from House Guillemot next, announced or unannounced (or leaked).

This year definitely brought the goods, but it still lacked that...ending punch, so to speak.


Ending with a...whimpering bang?

Before I go any further, let me stress this. Assassin's Creed Odyssey looks infuckingcredible and is legitimately the first game since Unity I'm legitimately excited for an Assassin's Creed game. Ubisoft Quebec, who made Assassin's Creed: Syndicate, are behind this. And considering the round of previews that broke after the conference finished, this seems like more of a dramatic shift for the franchise than even Origins.

(also, this is the Assassin's Creed for the queer community now sorrynotsorry)

To say I'm all the way in on Odyssey is the best way to describe it and I'm eager to dig into it before Red Dead Redemption 2 nukes the industry. Even AC is moving from its traditional late October/early November slot to go to early October out of Rockstar's way.

But...Ubisoft didn't have that big punch at the end of the show as it usually does, whether its a new game or new IP. And maybe the fact Assassin's Creed Odyssey was leaked before the show put a spanner into the plans because whilst it was rumoured, we never got out and out indications we'd get another AC game this year, especially considering Ubi's intentions a few years ago to have AC not be a yearly series anymore. For all intents and purposes, this was meant to be Watch Dogs 3's year.

But to end with AC Odyssey, incredible and fun looking it seems to be, and not Watch Dogs 3 or - to the stabbing of my heart - a new Splinter Cell is a bit of an anticlimax ending. But admittedly it's also a bold one to not end with either of those. The last time an Assassin's Creed game ended a Ubisoft press conference was Assassin's Creed: Revelations in 2011 (for those keeping score, the game's ending the Ubi presser since: Watch Dogs (2012), The Division (2013), Rainbow Six Siege (2014), Ghost Recon Wildlands (2015), Steep (2016) and Beyond Good and Evil 2 (2017)).

Lets call it a draw and meet back here next year. Hopefully, next year's ending is a win.


Rebuilding D.C.

The Division 2, I was already all the way in for. But after its showing at the press conference and how well they plan to support it with lessons learned from the first game? Yeah, Ubisoft Massive seems to be on a bigger winner and shows that Ubisoft make the best second games.

Raids will be coming as standard from the outset with eight players, to begin with. But year one support will consist of three episodic releases - all coming free. And that's something worth celebrating.

Whilst developers and publishers are moving away from the season pass and even lootboxes, there'll always be someone trying to find some way get some sort of financial gain from it - anyone and everyone will find a way, including Ubisoft - to see this kind of support upfront for free from Ubisoft Massive can only be a good thing. No, a great thing.

Bring on March 15.


The Reunion

Beyond Good and Evil 2 got a new CG trailer to help (properly) kick off the event and it was a hell of a way to kick it off, showing Pey'j for the first and confirming the original protagonist of the first game Jade as part of the sequel in a bombastic video.

Gabrielle Shrager and Guillame Bruger (not Michel Ancel this time) from Ubisoft Montpellier took the stage to reintroduce its vision of the game to those in attendance, including showing off-screen footage of pre-alpha gameplay. Which was odd.

What was then odder and definitely dirty and shady was the fact Ubisoft was it was asking contributions from the community - art, music, etc - to be used within the game. But then it was revealed by HitREcord and its co-founder Joseph Gordon-Levitt (MY HUSBANDO! *hearteyes* that they'd be handling it and that they'd pay for contributions. SO, GOOD!  Even if it still feels a bit iffy to have community creations used for a game, paid or not, when this is something that should be done by the developer.

More details here.

Also, still no platforms. And with the announcement last night of Starfield from Bethesda Game Studios effectively being a next-generation game (and The Elder Scrolls VI effectively being a next-gen game) and Microsoft already talking of the next Xbox, this does feel this is being setup to be a next-gen game. Or at least a cross-gen game.

Either way, I'm definitely in for more!

Oh and Shrager's mic still being hot as they left the stage and screamed 'we nailed it!' to Bruger and Levitt was the most naturally constructed and sweetest moment this E3 and I defy you to tell me otherwise.


Other notes

- Just Dance 2018 kicked off the show with a dancing panda and a marching band. Felt like I was the only one on my Twitter timeline who just couldn't care for it. That said, having the gall to play Elton John's I'm Still Standing after the whole Vivendi saga is ballsy as fuck. I loved that. Coming to all the platforms ever made by the end of the year. Including the Wii. I don't mean Wii U (although it's coming to that as well), the original Wii. Yes, publishers are still putting out games for an eleven-year old system.

- Rainbow Six Siege now has 35 million players. And then they showed a teaser for a R6 Siege documentary coming this August that I didn't care about. Moving on.

- Trials Rising was announced for a February launch on PS4, Xbox One, PC and Nintendo Switch and after Trials of the Blood Dragon, I'M SO HAPPY MY TRUE TRIALS GAME IS BACK!

- They had a neat Mario and Rabbids segment featuring the Donkey Kong DLC that saw composer Grant Kirkhope and a band play some music over the trailer. It was neat! DLC's out on June 26.

- Skull and Bones is still a thing. And it looks nice, but not my thing, especially with a sort of lack of single-player narrative. Out next year.

- Elijah Wood's VR game with Ubisoft Montreal, Transference, is coming by the end of the year and it looks really rad. Will I play it? Probably not. But that's some good horror shit. And it looks like it will be even better in VR.

- Starlink, the toys to life game that is basically a No Man's Sky-lite aimed at kids with toys, is coming two weeks before RDR2 drops on PS4, Xbox One and Nintendo Switch, the latter featuring Star Fox. Oh and Miyamoto in the audience too. Cool.

- For Honor got a run out with a fourth class and subsequent expansion, new multiplayer mode and other little trinkets. The expansion drops October.

- The Crew 2 got shown off as well along with the announcement of an open beta because why not show more of a game coming in a few weeks. Out June 29.


This was not the standout conference Ubisoft should arguably have. Especially considering that the past few years have been fantastic, particularly last year. That's not to say, though, that it was a bad show. If anything, it was a good one (and lets be honest, Ubisoft can be content that it's at least not the worst conference of the show).

Some of the stuff shown felt like filler or stuff that I wasn't particularly interested in and the lack of that bonafide one more thing stung, but Assassin's Creed: Odyssey and The Division 2 stole the show.

Maybe this is Ubisoft being in a sort of holding patter and we now get to get into the PS5/Xbox Scarlet era.

Not up there like it was in previous years, but still a decent showing all-round.

7/10