I know we’re four conferences deep and I’m now just getting around to pounding some words out but we’ll gab about Ubisoft’s presser while the giraffe suit sweat is still in the air.
Ubi, hosted for the fifth consecutive year by the charming mountain of woman that is Aisha Tyler, ate up a two hour slot, and for better (From Honor!) or worse (anything not From Honor!), they brought an armory of games and announcements to the table. Remember to hit the links for some trailers (CG or otherwise). Let’s break it on down:
Almost as if to get this shit out of the way, Ubi suffered us a live dance break at the very start of the conference to the crooning of Freddy Mercury. There was jubilation and audience discomfort. A monocled giraffe appeared. For the inquiring minds, Just Dance: Dance Till You Fucking Drop is releasing on every console. Even Nintendo’s absent NX.
(A solemn condolence was made to the victims in Orlando at this time. Much love for the studios and companies paying their respects – in the presence of giraffe suited dancers or not).
And let the CG trailers roll! We’re given a look at a covert team of badasses chasing down drug lords that have conquered Bolivia in the name of coke.
After a quick explanation of the coca leaf’s economic importance in Bolivia – because why can’t we learn something at our huge, corporate marketing events? – we dive into some actual gameplay… accompanied by scripted team chat. Oh, Ubisoft. Some things never change.
Stealth takedowns and snappy gunplay take center stage as well as some vehicle chases that encompass dirt bikes, trucks, and a helicopter as the Ghost Recon bros put the heat on a nefarious coke cook. Open-world is Ubi’s bag and the mechanics at play look solid but I can’t help but stave off the yawns brought on by any title shaded beneath the Tom Clancy umbrella.
Matt Stone and Trey Parker, the minds and voices behind Comedy Central’s vulgar South Park empire, were brought out to help demo this superhero themed sequel. F-bombs and motherfucking (literally) humor filled the auditorium – a refreshing break from the to-the-tee marketing tone this event is usually host to.
The graphics look indistinguishable from the show’s purposely bad animation – a far cry from that Acclaim atrocity we had to hide from our parents – and every inch of the gameplay is soaked in asshole humor and satire.
There’s was an especially biting commentary on Marvel and DC’s film universes (the latter getting dragged super fucking hard) that hit squarely on the nose. If you missed out on the original D&D riffing Stick of Truth, like I did, Ubi’s giving out full copies for your current-gen platform when you pre-order the sequel. Pretty stoked about this one.
I was damned impressed at the depth stuffed into what could have been a very surface experience when The Division initially dropped. I haven’t returned since capping that ending chopper, though, and neither have many of my online cohorts. The endgame was weak out of box but Underground, the first expansion hitting later this month and, now, Survival, its follow up, might convince retired agents to take back New York (some…more?). Not clear on what’s different in Survival – vague CG trailers with somber songs aren’t forthcoming with the deets.
2016 is seeing every major company dip their toe (but not their whole foot) in the VR market. While most are just slapping the feature onto established franchises (hi, Bethesda) Ubisoft has higher ambitions. Get it? Higher? Because you’re a bird? And the game is probably much more fun high?
Eagle Flight pits bird versus bird in the ultimate, er, dogfight. Teams gun each other down – just like real eagles – while fighting (or flighting, hah… sorry) over objectives. Threading your birdy needle beneath obstacles and diving after prey did look rather exhilarating. I’m still in that phase where mentioning VR is just like name dropping the Kinect – my eyes go glossy and dead and my consciousness drifts away. Not sold on the VR revolution just yet…
…and commanding the Enterprise probably still won’t win me over (Millennium Falcon or bust). Star Trek: Bridge Crew looks to give Trekkies a collective orgasm, putting them in the shoes of the Starfleet crew.
What better way to boldly go where no VR has gone before than drag a bunch of Trek actors into a room and force them to relive their nightmares? All truth told, Levar Burton was fucking stoked about the whole thing (Karl Urban seemed confused, but he’s an actor, Jim! Not a jumpsuit wearing space cadet!)
The game looks a little goofy but goddamn do I want to believe in the game that Levar Burton believes in.
Jesus. The pure conviction.
From Motherfuckin’ Honor. This one stole the show for me. We got an impressive little look last year at the competitive multiplayer and it made a minor splash, but this E3 took a look at the single-player viking campaign (which I didn’t know existed). Wolfman Jack walked onto stage and hyped the game up like a seasoned dungeon master. Little did we know all his preening was for good reason.
The game, which pits vikings, knights, and samurai warriors against each other for the amusement of a demigod (stick with me), hosts killer looks, swarms of enemies, and a crunchy combat system that I’m itching to get my feelers on. It’s like someone took Dynasty Warriors and made it a thousand times more playable (and brutal). This is one to watch, trust you me.
The wobbly robot from Grow Home returns, once again pondering its own existence and mortality in an attempt to find out what it truly means to have a soul.
Or not. I have no idea. Didn’t play the first. I think I was snarfing down Chic-fil-a when this trailer played.
Trials HD and Far Cry: Blood Dragon got to third-base with each other and created this bastard child of shrieking neon-soaked madness. Expect BMXing and… side-scrolling gunplay? Like I said, madness. And you don’t have to wait for this one. It came out. Today.
No new Assassin’s Creed was announced this year. And that’s good! The franchise needs to take a break. Another misfire like Unity and we’ll be talking about Creed nostalgically instead of with relevancy.
Have no idea how the film adaptation is going to play out. They roped producer Frank Marshall into regurgitating press release bylines at the audience (”We’re taking the best parts of [GAME PROPERTY] and putting it on the screen!”) but the faith has been especially shaken by Warcraft’s recent skidmark through theaters. I believe in the Fassbender. I also believe he’s not above a juicy paycheck to coast him through the indie films he actually likes making.
The original hackerama drama was a fucking snooze. It was the shell of a GTA clone, and not even the best GTA clone with “Dogs” in the title (hi, Sleeping Dogs; miss you).
Despite itself, Watch Dogs sold well out of the gate, and that’s how we get franchises. Watch Dogs 2 seems to be righting a lot of the wrongs of its forebearer including a more vibrant setting (they must’ve known I love San Fran), a more interesting character in Marcus, and more present “Social media-phile versus big brother” vibe. Loving the added parkour and new toys Marcus gets to play with. On the fence about Marcus’ supporting cast of Hot Topic frequent shoppers.
It’s got style, sure (any trailer blasting Run the Jewels has my attention). Let’s see if it’s got substance or maybe this watchdog is all bark and no bite? (Don’t worry, I hate myself for that sentence more than you do).
Oh, and they’re making a Watch Dogs movie because Hollywood has a gambling problem on a million-dollar bracket level.
The biggest left-field reveal was left for last. An open-world title focused on snowboarding, skiing, or sky-diving down the length of gigantic, snow-capped mountains. The big push here is social integration and, uh, dressing as scary fucking clowns cutting through the snow at 50MPH speeds.
It’s… a weird closer for Ubisoft’s beefy two-hour conference. Most thought a returning champ would take stage (Prince of Persia, anyone?) but leave it to the Europeans to think an extreme sports game is the big finisher we’re looking for.