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My Thoughts on… Ubisoft’s E3 Conference 2017

Okay, so it’s been a hot minute since the conference now, but Ubisoft did a great job this year. While we didn’t have Aisha Tyler presenting, and attempting to make memes, their conference was one of the better ones. The overall tempo and titles resonated with me, and while we’ll probably still have to use uPlay to launch some of the games, that didn’t seem to matter — at least it’s not a giant unstable mess.

Much like the other conferences I’ve written about, I’ll detail all the games shown off going into more detail on those that interested me. Enjoy!

Mario + Rabbids: Kindgom Battle

Miyamoto makes a grad entrance at the Ubisoft Conference

Mario + Rabbids was in my mind an odd mix up; although some details leaked before the conference, I was still very much in the dark about the game. Mario with a gun…no. No. No. This unlikely combo, however, won my favour when Ubisoft showed some game play. That, and the Miyamoto entrance.

For some reason the Rabbids have been teleported to the Mushroom Kingdom, transforming the world. The demo didn’t explain why the Rabbids are dressed up as characters from the Mario series, or why they, and Mario have a Megaman style guns! The games charm was the first step in drawing me in — I have a soft spot for dumb humour, and it worked.

Not only did the Rabbids hit home; the turn-based battle mechanics looked, well… fun. The best comparison I’ve thought of is with XCOM. Characters will even have a “hunker down” move (Shield), to boost defence, and “overwatch” (Hero sight), where the character will auto-shoot if the enemy move on their turn. There’s even heavy and half cover! While there will be intricacies, like different guns and link-movement (see the treehouse video below), the familiarity of the combat upped the games appeal for me.

For those wanting to see a bit more of Mario + Rabbids, the combat was shown off in a 20 minute section from the Treehouse, it can be found here. Otherwise, the game will be released on August 29, 2017 as a Nintendo Switch exclusive.

Mario + Rabbids: Kingdom Battle — Announcement trailer E3 2017

Assassin’s Creed Origins

Having taken a year off, the Assassins Creed franchise returns for its 10 year anniversary with Origins. This time, Egypt is the setting. While I’ve never been much of a fan of the series, I have played a couple of the games, and gotten bored. Egyptology has always fascinated me though, so maybe Origins can bring me back to the series.

A post-E3 interview between Ashraf Ismail, the creative director of Black Flag (and Origins) by Eurogamer, revealed some details about the protagonist, Bayek. Bayek, grew up in a remote town called Siwa, just south of the Libya plateau. It seems he’s a member of the Medjay, a line of highly trained warriors, but Ismail also described Bayek as a kind of sheriff; he seems like the right type of character to save Egypt.

Ismail also went on to describe the exploration in Origins. “…We want players to feel rewarded for just exploring, getting lost in the world. There’s a ton of stuff that’s hidden which you’ll be able to spend hours finding…” I thought that The Legend of Zelda: Breath of the Wild mixed up the open world setting really well this year, making the player want to be curious about the world. I’d swan off to random parts of the map to see what was there; it was surprisingly fun! I’m hoping Origins will take at least a partial page from Zelda’s book; although, the chances of this happening, if the game has been in development for three years, is a bit slim.

Origins has definitely taken a page from other Ubisoft titles though. Players will be able to control an eagle, to get a literal eagle eyes view of the world. It looks like the eagle works in a similar fashion to drones in Watchdogs 2 or Ghost Recons: Wildlands. Other than this, the formula of the game seems similar, so there’s not much more to talk about there.

Origins also had a 33 minute gameplay demo and is out on October 24, 2017.

Assessin’s Creed Origin s — E3 2017 Presentation

The Crew 2

One word; Crew-ception. The trailer showed off some Inception style world-bending that will be in The Crew 2, along with the addition of airplanes and boats — which are hot-swappable. The Crew 2 will feature four main race types: street, pro, off-roads, and freestyle.

The gameplay trailer showed off a bit more. The Crew 2 boasts there will be more that 2,000 square miles in its open world, spanning the USA. Obviously size isn’t everything, but I feel a racing game will probably make good use of this. The different areas of the US have apparently been modified to add ramps and allow players to drive across rooftops; on paper it sound pretty fun. I still have questions about the game though.

Can you change into a boat while on land? How does the inception-style world bending work? I’d assume it’s only in key areas, in certain races — I have no clue! The gameplay trailer also showed land, air and water sections of a race. But, are these linked together in the game itself? At the very least there seems to be a lot of variety — something the first game apparently lacked.

The Crew 2 will be out in 2018, there will also be a Beta, which you can sign up to now.

The Crew 2 — E3 2017 Announcement Trailer

South Park: The Fractured But Whole

South Park is a TV show I feel has gotten better with age. It’s humour is pretty much always on point and aside from the odd UI features, it’s fairly obvious what the game will look just like the show. Other than this The Fractured but Whole will be a turn-based RGP, much like The Stick of Truth was.

Set after The Stick of Truth, the characters are role-playing superheroes this time, instead of the previous games fantasy theme. The story seems to be a parody of Marvel’s Civil War, splitting the kids’ superhero factions in two after they fallout over Cartmans planned film franchise — although I’m sure you’ll already know this if you saw the game’s trailer last year.

From what I’ve seen of it, those that were a fan of the first game will probably enjoy The Fractured but Whole, as it looks much the same. The 11 minutes of gameplay shown off at E3 features a strip club where the kids have to give a patron of the club a lap-dance, while farting the entire time to extract information on a stripper — clearly it won’t be for everyone.

The Fractured but Whole’s release has fluctuated an awful lot; originally due for release in December 2016, it’s now penciled in for October 17, 2017.

South Park: The Fractured But Whole — E3 2017 Trailer

Transference

Set in a world where human memories can be digitally uploaded and recreated, Transference is Ubisoft Montreal and SpectreVision’s upcoming VR game. The frankly odd video featured Elijah Wood, of Lord of the Rings fame, and reminded me of an 80’s style horror. Transference is being sold as a something that will bridge the gap between movies and games in a psychological, story-driven, thriller.

I’m both drawn in and put off by the games concept. I really want to see more — but at the same time know I’ll probably hate it — VR and horror don’t mix well with me — which bums me out a bit. Transference could be a really fascinating game, but I may never get far enough into it to find out.

Transference doesn’t look like it’ll be exclusive to one VR platform, releasing HTC Vive, Oculus Rift and PSVR in Spring 2018.

Transference — E3 2017 Presentation

Skull and Bones

Skull and Bones has apparently spawned from Assassins Creed 4: Black Flag’s naval combat and is being developed by the same team, Ubisoft Singapore. Those that played Black Flag praised how the ship combat worked, so I’m optimistic for this game.

Skull and Bones will be a multiplayer-experience. Each player will compete to become the “most notorious pirate”. It looks like each player will get their own ship in Skull and Bones; a completely different experience to Rare’s Sea of Thieves (where players concentrate on running a single ship collectively).

During the conference, the developers showed off the 5v5 multiplayer mode, “Loot Hunt”; unsurprisingly, the team with the most loot at the end of the match wins.

Skull and Bones looks like a game I’ll be keeping an eye on (much like The Crew 2). You can sign up for Skull and Bones’ Beta before its launch, Autumn 2018.

Skull and Bones — E3 Presentation

Just Dance 2018

We get what Just Dance by now. So making Just Dance 2018’s stage time slight was a wise move. Three different songs were played on stage, as usual, each with a choreographed dance sequence. The set opened with the Tron style Automation, by Jamiroquai; with a the K-Pop centre, Bubble Pop, by Hyuna; and concluded with The Way I Are (Dance With Somebody), by Babe Rexha, who, after quickly mentioning the release date (October 24, 2017), departed stage left.

At present, the song list for Just Dance 2018 only has 11 songs — which seems a bit light compared to the 40 in Just Dance 2017. But, if you’re willing to pay, these songs can be bolstered by “Just Dance Unlimited”, the subscription streaming service, which currently features over 300 tracks.

Ubisoft hasn’t ruled out the last generation of consoles either, with Just Dance 2018 releasing on:

· PlayStation 4;

· Xbox One,

· Nintendo Switch;

· XBox 360;

· PlayStation 3;

· Wii U; and

· Wii (Yes, you read that correctly — the Wii).

Just Dance — E3 2017 Presentation

South Park: Phone Destroyer (Mobile Game)

In a very South Park trailer, South Park: Phone Destroyer, was shown off…which didn’t really tell us much. The trailer goes into a bit more detail though:

“South Park: Phone Destroyer brings you iconic South Park characters, action packed real-time strategy, exploding PvP battles, trademark South Park humour and collectible cards in a perfect mix that’s spicier than Cartman’s chili con carne. Assemble the ultimate team of cowboys, wizards, cyborgs and more and get ready to crush your opponent!”

Phone Destroyer will be a free-to-play game for iOS and Android developed by Ubisoft studio RedLynx. Gameplay will seemingly consist of the player upgrading their team by acquiring new cards and using them to compete with others in multiplayer.

At present Phone Destroyer doesn’t have a release date more specific than 2017.

South Park: Phone Destroyer — E3 2017 Trailer

Starlink: Battle for Atlas

Starlink seems to be the next iteration of Toys-to-life games. I’m not into toy-to-life games. But I am into space sims; Starlink: Battle for Atlas seems to merge the two together.

According to the Ubisoft blog the game will be “an open-world, outer-space, multi-planet adventure”, where the player’s mothership, the Equinox is ambushed upon arrival to the Atlas system. From here, it looks like the mission will be to gather allies and rebuild in search for the Equinox’s lost captain.

Starlink also seems like it will give players freedom to explore whole planets, dropping down from space into their atmospheres (nothing that other space games haven’t done before mind). I hope these planets are uniquely designed and not like No Man’s Sky ‘s, randomly generated one.

What the trailer didn’t mention was price, the one thing that worries me about Starlink is the cost of the ships. While it looked pretty fun being able to hot-swap parts of your ship to change its configuration mid-mission, will everything come with the base game? I’d guess, probably not; although, it looks like some extra ship parts will be obtainable in game. I’m not sure how that would work with the models though.

I have no doubt that everything will be revealed before its 2018, autumn release.

Starlink: Battle for Atlas — E3 2017 Presentation

Steep: Road to the Olympics

Road to the Olympics is an expansion to Steep, Ubisofts open-world winter sports game, ahead of February’s Pyeongchang 2018 Winter Games in South Korea. The expansion will add events like slopestyle, half-pipe slalom and ski-cross to the base game. Along with this players will be able to participate in their own version of the 2018 Winter Olympics.

I’m more of a winter, than summer, sports person having snowboarded, on and off, for around 16 years. SSX Tricky, for the PS2, was one of my go to games back in the day; I adored the SSX series — Steep just never did it for me — which was a shame. I just prefer a more arcade feel to my winter sports games.

It’s currently unknown Road to the Olympics will be included as part of the Steep Season pass, but will release on December 5, 2017.

Steep: Road to the Olympics — E3 2017

Far Cry 5

The Far Cry series is taking the move to present day America in its latest open-world incarnation. This marks the first Far Cry game in the West. Montana to be precise. Ubisoft showed us the savage version of the US in they’ve created, where a fanatical cult has taken over Hope County.

The campaign will offer online co-op play (sorry no local) through its entirety, as part of its friends for hire system — unlike Far Cry 4 which only allowed co-op play in outpost quests. Another change is the addition of Gun’s for hire companions. A playable demo at E3 (which I didn’t play) had a few on offer Nick Rye, a pilot who could fly in, making bombing runs; Grace Armstrong, the sniper shown off in the gameplay trailer below; and Bomber, a dog who can perform stealthy take downs.

Two other characters from Far Cry 5 also have trailers: Mary May, and Parstor Jerome Jeffries, — who will apparently be recruitable in the game.

One thing I found tedious about previous Far Cry games was the repeating nature of tasks. There’s only so many outposts I can take over before I zzz. . . sorry. I dozed off just thinking about it there. I hope that the other elements of the game will be gripping enough to keep my interest when Far Cry 5 releases on February 27, 2018.

Far Cry 5 — E3 2017 Presentation

Beyond Good & Evil 2

The follow up to the 2003 action adventure-game is now in production. By the sounds of it, Beyond Good and Evil 2 is still very early on in production. It will be a prequel to the original and contain online worlds, role-playing games, and procedural generation. It also seems Beyond Good and Evil 2 will feature both a single player, and online co-op too.

It’s hard to find much other information at the minute as the game is still so early on in development. A 15 minute unlisted video of gameplay can be seen here which shows off a couple of ships along with the artificial sun-sets, some of the scale and explains some effects of say an asteroid hitting part of the planet. It. Looks. Beautiful.

I know, this is still very, very early on, so there’s lots of scope for change. The games creative Director, Michel Ancel, even refers to the footage as “a mix between a technological demonstration of the engine that we call Voyager, and the actual game with some gameplay elements,” but Beyond Good and Evil’s technology could set a high standard for game environments going forward. One thing that does worry me the planets may end up like No Mans Sky’s a collection of procedurally generated spears, with a sense of near déjà vu.

At least Ancel say’s in the video: “We don’t want empty planets, we want planets with landmarks, with places to explore.” So this sprinkles a dash of hope into my cynicism — for the moment. If you want to get involved with development of the game, you can join the Space Monkey Programme, on its website.

Beyond Good and Evil 2 — E3 2017 Presnetation

You can probably tell from this piece I’m most excited for Mario + Rabbids: Kingdom Battle. I think Ubisoft had a good momentum though their conference this year — even if I wasn’t as enthused with all their games. What did you all think about Ubisoft’s Conference 2017? Let me know below.

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