E3 2016 – Ubisoft Conference Recap

Originally published on Trevor Trove on June 13, 2016

Conference two (at lest for what I’m covereing) of the day was the Ubisoft conference, hosted by the always hilarious Aisha Tyler.

Here were my predictions:

  1. Michael Fassbender to promote the Assassin’s Creed movie.
  2. Watch Dogs 2 is the big focus of the show. Alongside the gameplay and a trailer, they’ll discuss having learned their lessons from the first game.
  3. Matt Stone and Trey Parker return to show South Park: The Fractured But Whole. Release window of 2017.
  4. Ubisoft will reveal two new IPs. One Triple-A title with a cinematic/gameplay trailer highlighting some type of multiplayer gameplay. And another using their UbiArt engine.
  5. Just Dance 2017 will be announced. And feature a performance of Meghan Trainor singing “NO.”

A wild choreographed Queen number to kick off the show with Just Dance 2017 and a lot of insane costumed dancers..

Flocked by the opening act dancers, Aisha Tyler offerered heartfelt sympathies to the victims from Orlando.

Just Dance 2017 was announced for release in October (and to the NX next year, presumably at launch).

Ghost Recon Wildlands (or as Alex O’Neill affectionately calls it “Cocaine The Video Game”) took the first trailer slot. Beautiful looking cinematic trailer. Dominic Butler, Lead Game Designer, came out to make the sales pitch on the game: a cartel has taken over pretty much the entire country of Bolivia and their coca leaf industry. The multiplayer co-op demo shown used the same kind of highly-scripted banter that they’ve become infamous for in recent years. Putting aside the fact that you’ll never have that experience with your dumb friends, the game certainly looks beautiful and massive. Almost feels a bit like a bigger, multiplayer Metal Gear Solid V. Coming March 7, 2017.

In a very bait-and-switch move, a dark action-y trailer wound up being for South Park The Fractured But Whole. Matt and Trey came out to join Jason Schroeder from Ubisoft San Francisco. They showed the first game play of the New Kid near the beginning of the game, showing off the “superhero” spirit of the game. The humor is still on point just like with the last game. They showed off some the new combat, leveling up into more of a Final Fantasy Tactics feel by focusing on Space and Time. Pre-purchasing the game nets you a new gen copy of The Stick of Truth for free. And the game is coming December 6th.

Julian Gerighty came out to discuss The Division and the new Underground DLC. To celebrate Ubisoft’s 30th anniversary, three costumes will be available in game celebrating Ghost Recon, Rainbow Six Siege, and Splinter Cell. They also show a trailer for new DLC Survival.

Charles Huteau, Palmer Lucky and Jason Holtmann came out to discuss and showcase VR. Eagle Flight includes a Capture the Prey (Capture the Flag) mode and they played a 3 v 3 match live onstage. Eagle Flight is coming to all VR platforms this fall.

David Votypka came out to show off the Star Trek Bridge Crew game that leaked with a featurette including Star Trek stars Levar Burton, Jeri Ryan, and Karl Urban playing the game and talking about their experience. Levar Burton was so excited they brought him out onstage to discuss the game with Aisha Tyler as well. Aisha’s excitement for that segment was delightful and infectious. The game is coming out this fall on all major VR systems.

A cinematic trailer for For Honor followed, featuring a lot of destruction and an assortment of old-timey warriors leading into a time lapse of “1000 years of war.” Jason Vandenberghe, Creative Director for Ubisoft Montreal, came out, just like last year, with cane in hand to passionately laud the game again. Last year, they promoted the multiplayer, this year was about showing off the campaign, demonstrated by a heavy axe-weilding Viking attempting to overtake a Samurai base. The game is launching alongside Persona 5 a.k.a. February 14, 2017. An alpha of the multiplayer was also announced as “coming soon.”

Pete Young from Ubisoft Reflections came out to reveal a follow-up to last year’s Grow Home. Grow Up had a little reveal trailer and is coming this August to PC, PlayStation 4, and Xbox One.

Antti Ilvessuo, Creative Director of Trials, and Dean Evans, Creative Director for Blood Dragon, entered next in a very off-the-wall “tag-team” style to introduce their apparently very off-the-wall love-child Trials of the Blood Dragon. Out now on PC, PlayStation 4, and Xbox One.

Frank Marshall came out to discuss the Assassin’s Creed in his role as Producer. Trying to sell a gaming audience on why the game will make a good movie is a tough act here. So he delved into very bland film-speak about the story of the games and mixing the old with the new before throwing to a package of interviews with Michael Fassbender and director Justin Kurzel intercut with behind the scenes footage and scenes from the film.

Then, “Dedsec” hijacked the conference as a lead-in into the Watch Dogs 2 feature. Their San Francisco looks beautiful. They showcased some of the game’s hacking mechanics, flying a drone in for surveillance, infiltrating a party, and using a remote-controlled droid to remotely hack some stuff. Then they showcased a bit of gunplay and such when the character was discovered. All in all, it still has me very excited to give the franchise another go, but I’m definitely hoping that guy with the weird video glasses ends up betraying you because I want to punch him sooooo bad.

Yves Guillemot, CEO of Ubisoft, came out to introduce Jim Ryan from Sony Interactive Entertainment in order to announce the intent of partnering with Ubisoft for a Watch Dogs movie following the (hopefully for them) success of Assassin’s Creed. Additionally, PlayStation will once again get first access to the game’s inevitable DLC, with a 30-day exclusivity deal. Another high-energy trailer followed alongside a promotional plug for the Collector’s Edition of the game featuring the little robot buddy.

Yves Guillemot came back out to announce the last new IP, a mix of action sports with open-world gameplay. The trailer for Steep featured extreme sports like base jumping, snowboarding, paragliding. Studio Manager Rebecka Coutaz and Creatiive Director Igor Manceau then came out to talk about the game and show off some gameplay. It’s a very beautiful skiing, snowboarding, parachuting, etc. game. They showed off third-person and first-person “Go-Pro” views, along with features like replay and slow-motion modes that can be used to share the experience with other players online. The first-person view makes me wish there were a VR mode to explore but I imagine that’d be probably pushing the limits of the technology. Steep will launch in December with Betas leading up to the release.

Aisha brought Yves Guillemot and all of the developers out one more time to close out the conference and celebrate 30 years or Ubisoft.

This was another one I caught somewhat piecemeal throughout the day. Which probably helped it out in the long run because they announced a lot of games and the general consensus I saw was that the show dragged a bit. Ghost Recon Wildlands followed the now tried and true Tom Clancy formula of incredibly unrealisted scripted multiplayer sequences. South Park: The Fractured But Whole got a great showcase. Ubisoft dedicated a surprising amount of time to VR with extended segments for Eagle Flight and the new Star Trek Bridge Crew games. For Honor looks amazing and like it will have very substantive combat. Trials and Blood Dragon had a weird love child of a game announced, available now. The biggest drag of the show probably came with Frank Marshall talking about Assassin’s Creed. But then Watch Dogs picked the energy back up with a solid gameplay demo before leading into one last new IP reveal for new multi-player extreme sports gameSteep. A wide variety of diverse titles but the show probably felt “slow” because most people are only going to be interested in one or two of them.

As for my predictions round up:

  1. Michael Fassbender did not appear in person but they did dedicate a whole segment to the film and Fassbender appeared in the behind-the-scenes interview. .50 points (for predicting the segment and pseudo-Fassbender appearance)
  2. Watch Dogs 2 was a big focus of the show, but not really a centerpiece, with dedicated trailers and gameplay sequences. Sadly no word yet on if Aisha Tyler has another cameo. 0 points.
  3. Matt Stone and Trey Parker did return to show South Park: The Fractured But Whole. And even announced a release date of December 6. .50 points (predicted the segment, overestimated the date).
  4. Ubisoft only revealed one new IP with Steep (and a handful of sequels or other IPs mashed together). No UbiArt game. .50 points (because Steep does strike me as a “Triple-A title with a cinematic/gameplay trailer highlighting some type of multiplayer gameplay”, so I only missed the UbiArt half of the prediction),
  5. Just Dance 2017 was announced. But no Meghan Trainor because they went with a Queen acid trip number instead. 0 points (because I’m not going to give myself anything for the obvious call that Just Dance 2017 would be announced).

Total comes to 1.50 / 5.00 points, a tie with my Bethesda predictions so far.

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