Open Worlds: Ubisoft's E3 Press Conference

Meet Tobuscus, YouTube celebrity. He helped present this year’s Ubisoft’s press conference alongside Aisha Tyler, and by present, I mean awkwardly drive the show to a grinding halt. Can you tell I wasn’t impressed with his performance?

I have a theory about this: From laser tag to breathing trainers to *shudder* Mr. Caffeine, Ubisoft’s previous E3 events kinda bombed. Hiring Tobuscus and letting nature take its course could theoretically make the rest of the show seem splendid by comparison. Well Ubisoft need not have worried, as the games more than spoke for themselves.

The show began a song from Flo Rida, because our dubstep-littered trailers were really just a cry for some popular R&B/hip-hop artist to sweep us off our feet or something.  This was all to plug that other dancing game juggernaut, Just Dance 4. Yup.

After assaulting us with a little bit more of the internet personality Tobuscus, Ubisoft showed off some Far Cry 3 gameplay. Last year’s E3 trailer presented a game with personality, and this walkthrough only reinforced this. The same open-world gameplay and shooting is there except this time you have a memorable antagonist, glimpses in to an insane mind and maybe even a wink and a nod to Fight Club. I’m looking forward to what Far Cry 3 has to offer come September 6.

Ubisoft announced that they are doubling down on the Wii U, developing a number of games for the console including the aforementioned Just Dance 4, Your Shape Fitness Evolved 2013 and Rabbids Land.

They also showed off the previously leaked Rayman Legends, which is being exclusively developed for the Wii U. They demonstrated how the game would incorporate the Wii U Gamepad, introducing a flying character that can interact with the environment and attack enemies with taps and swipes of the touch screen. This is shown off in one of Rayman Legend’s new map types. As the players on screen venture through some fast-paced platforming, the player with the Wii U Gamepad a little bit more of the world; specifically, they see timed prompts scattered around the environment. What comes out of all this is a rhythm platformer, and it looks fantastic!

Not everything was a winner though; the trailer for Avengers: Battle for Earth fell flat and Splinter Cell: Blacklist was very much a case of ‘act surprised.’ As for the poorly titled ZombiU (Geddit?! It’s for the Wii U! It rhymes!), I’m in two minds: It’s certainly a fine trailer but it definitely reminded me of Dead Island’s trailer, a well crafted short film that ended up not representing of the final product. You can watch the trailer in the press conference stream embedded at the bottom of this post (starts 47m23s in)

We also got a look at Shootmania, a Quake-paced multiplayer shooter. The game itself looks like a decent counterpoint to every other shooter currently out, however the Guys vs Gals eSports format they used to demonstrate the game with was nothing short of awkward.

Thankfully, Ubisoft brought it home with two very promising games.

We finally got to see some Assassin’s Creed III gameplay, and it looks like the shake-up the franchise has needed since Assassin’s Creed: Brotherhood. Sure, you could cynically suggest that it is a mere palette swap – you’re climbing trees instead of buildings, assassinating Redcoats instead of the Borgia – but the change in setting really refreshes things. It also helps that the snow levels they showed off looked great.

Finally, Ubisoft announced a new open-world IP: Watch Dogs.  There is a lengthy expositional trailer you can watch here, but the takeaway is that you control Aiden Pierce, a man who can hack in to the city’s infrastructure, jamming communications, listening in to phone conversations and viewing intimate data on everyone around him. In the gameplay demo, he uses these abilities to track and assassinate his target with very little gunplay. As Pierce makes his escape, the camera pulls out to a man on a rooftop overlooking all of this; above him is a tag: ‘Bixxel_44.’ Yes, Watch Dogs also has multiplayer. It was an incredibly slick presentation that left many, inducing myself, fascinated and excited for what this game has to offer.

Maybe it’s because I came in to Ubisoft’s press event with such low expectations, but I was honestly surprised at the quality of games on show. And no amount of Tobuscus – this human form of fingernails down a blackboard  – could detract from this.

 

You can watch the whole press conference below: