Thoughts On Everything Revealed At Ubisoft’s Conference

by Sage Ashford

For the last two years, Ubisoft has often been a high point for E3.  The wide variety of titles, while not perfect, tend to be memorable and enjoyable experiences that are fun for gamers worldwide.  Did they repeat themselves this time around?

Assassin’s Creed: Odyssey is the single-player game with updates like a multiplayer game.  This time around, they’ve gone full RPG by allowing players to create their own quests in the game. Players will be able to decide how the quest unfolds, create their own characters and dialogues, and add branching roleplay. Announced during Ubisoft’s pre-show, this is already available for players as a free update to the game.

The long-awaited Watch Dogs: Legion made its debut here, showing fans Ubisoft’s vision of the future of London.  Weakened by Brexit and then conquered by opportunists, players will take on the role of the Resistance.  Literally, as there is no main character and players can only be who they recruit into the Resistance.  Like this, players will hack, drive, and fight their way through London to liberate the city again.  The game releases March 6th, 2020 for PC, Xbox One, PlayStation 4, and Google Stadia.

Brawlhalla sees a crossover with popular cartoon Adventure Time, and players will be able to select Finn the Human, Jake the Dog, and Princess Bubblegum in the game until June 25th. This will also come with an Adventure Time-themed map, a new mode in Buddy Mode where players can control two Legends at once, and themed KO effects.  All of these will remain when the event ends.

A new character comes to Rainbow Six: Siege with Operation Phantom Sight. This will add new Operator Warden into the game, a special operative from the US Secret Service that strongly resembles James Bond. Warden is available now for Rainbow Six: Siege owners.

We got another Ghost Recon: Breakpoint trailer, this time to help announce the public beta. It’ll run from September 5th to the 8th, and can be obtained by signing up or pre-ordering the game. They also announced Ghost Recon: Delta Program, which will allow hardcores the opportunity to talk with developers on the game and receive special content.   Ghost Recon: Breakpoint launches October 4th for PC, PlayStation 4, and Xbox One.

Tom Clancy’s Elite Squad is a mobile RPG featuring several characters from all around the Tom Clancy universe.  Characters from Ghost Recon, Rainbow Six, The Division, and Sam Fisher from Splinter Cell were all shown in the trailer. There’s no release date yet, but for those who pre-register they can receive Cole D. Walker, the lead villain of Ghost Recon: Breakpoint.

One of the newer games announced during the show was Rainbow Six: Quarantine, a new PvE title where players will take on levels in three-player teams.  A tactical first-person shooter, Quarantine sees Team Rainbow go up against alien threats which are infecting humans all over the world.   There’s no gameplay for the title just yet, but the game will be releasing in early 2020 for Xbox One, PlayStation 4, and PC.

They also announced UbiClub, a special subscription service where people can gain access to an ever-growing library of Ubisoft games for $14.99 a month.  Currently it’s only available for PC, but it will expand to Stadia by 2020.  PS4 and Xbox One weren’t discussed, but Ubisoft will likely confirm the service for next-gen consoles at next year’s E3 if it performs well enough.

A surprise shadow-drop for PC gamers was Roller Champions, a free to play sports title where players try to achieve fame in a futuristic world. The game is played three on three, so players can team up with friends and work to climb their way up the leaderboards.

Finally, the creators of Assassin’s Creed: Odyssey were able to premiere their upcoming game, Gods and Monsters. Players will work as a customizable hero known as Phoenix, who will aid the gods themselves that have fallen to the hand of the king of the monsters, Typhon.  As Phoenix, players will face a number of mythical creatures, and be bestowed with powers from the gods.  Despite, somehow, having no gameplay available, Gods and Monsters will release for PlayStation 4, Xbox One, Switch, PC, and Stadia on February 25th, 2020.

Post-Show Thoughts: This year’s Ubisoft show (and really, this E3 overall) is the proof that execution is everything. Despite being down both Skull & Bones and Beyond Good and Evil 2, Ubisoft brought out no less than five new titles coming to platforms over the next 12 months. And that’s without mentioning the updates to For Honor and Rainbow Six: Siege.  The trouble is, the presentation involved was absolutely awful.  Compared to the last two years where Ubisoft displayed their mastery of putting on an entertaining E3 press conference that could show how weird and fun they were, 2019 felt like something out of last gen or much earlier this gen.  It was occasionally awkward, and frequently messed up it’s own pacing.

Watch Dogs 3 was a fantastic opening, even if I’m concerned the game’s reach will exceed it’s grasp.  London looks beautiful and I love the idea of a world where every character is recruitable, but lacking a central character and making anyone recruitable makes it likely the cracks will shine through on procedural generation.  Every citizen can’t be unique, and someone who plays the game long enough will eventually realize the limitations of such an idea.  It would’ve been better to create a game with a large number of recruitable characters–perhaps even more than the maximum of twenty you can recruit at one time–and allow the narrative to move through all of them.  Nonetheless, the game looks gorgeous and I love how it’s continuing to find it’s own identity.

Besides that, Ubisoft told us they planned to release 3 new AAA IPs in the fourth quarter of their fiscal year, running from January to March. Rainbow Six: Quarantine, Watch Dogs: Legion, and Gods and Monsters are those three titles, meaning they’re all less than twelve months off. If that’s the case, why did only Watch Dogs have gameplay available?  Gods and Monsters could be right up my alley, or too big and empty for me to bother with.  It should’ve been a killer moment to close on but instead it was more…empty.

All that’s to say nothing of having people come out to talk about television shows and betas and stopping in the middle of the show to do Just Dance 10.  Nothing against Just Dance, but that game is best done at the beginning of the conference as an introduction.  In the middle it grinds the show to a disappointing halt, and it was one this conference couldn’t recover from.  I’m excited for what Ubisoft has coming up in this conference, and I think next year will be even better–Beyond Good and Evil 2 and Skull and Bones will both be back, and Assassin’s Creed: Ragnarok will all do great for the show.  But for making what should’ve been a fun show such a weak watch, it’s hard to give them higher than a B-.   I thought about sinking it to a C+, but ultimately both Quarantine and Gods and Monsters will unveil gameplay sooner rather than later and they are all coming in the next seven to nine months.

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