For the last two years, Ubisoft has had arguably the best showing at E3. In 2012, they showed the world the excellent Watch Dogs trailer, which was the first indication of the next generation that we ever got; last year, they showed us The Division. And all throughout this period, Ubisoft was showing us other excellent content- Rayman Legends, Assassins’s Creed III, Assassin’s Creed IV: Black Flag, The Crew, and Far Cry 3.
They’ve got a winning formula as far as their E3 showings go, and, quite like their games themselves, they’ve comfortably settled into it. This year’s E3 showing was a retread of that same formula and structure. Along the way, we got some excellent games shown to us, and as is the norm by now, Ubisoft capped it off with an excellent looking game at the end, which was a surprise no one saw coming. But all of that, in spite of some genuinely amazing games shown off, and some unexpected surprise announcements, was still marching to a beat we’re all familiar with. So when Ubisoft decided to tell us there was one last ‘surprise’ announcement near the end of the conference, no one was really surprised. I mean, we were surprised by the game itself, but we weren’t surprised that there was a surprise announcement at all.
But first, let’s try to assess the stuff Ubisoft brought with it to E3- they started the show with Far Cry 4. The kind of stuff people would usually save for their conference capper was used by Ubisoft as an opener. And goodness, does Far Cry 4 look great. The villain (who is impeccably voiced, by the way) seems like he will be another incredible character following in the footsteps of Far Cry 3’s Vaas, and the title itself looks like it will be expanding upon the excellence of Ubisoft’s surprise 2012 hit.
Far Cry 4 was followed by, regrettably enough, Just Dance 2015- don’t get me wrong, the game looked great for what it was, and I am sure it will be amazing for the people who are in to that kind of a game. That, plus its cross device/cross platform wireless synchronization technology genuinely looks like a breakthrough. It’s just, most people who tune into E3 don’t actually care about Just Dance or dancing games. So the fact that Ubisoft focused on it as much as they did definitely dragged the conference down a little.
Unfortunately, that wasn’t the only low point of their conference. The fact that Ubisoft spent as much time on their upcoming Xbox One exclusive fitness game, Shape Up, as they did, was also baffling, and it led to the dissipation of focused interest, as well as the squandering of the positive momentum, that their largely positive showing until then had built up for them.
Thankfully, Shape Up and Just Dance were the only two missteps in this conference- everything else that Ubisoft showed us looked great: The Division, returning from last year, looking just as good (so no ‘downgrade!’ just yet); The Crew, also returning from last year, looking as questionably interesting as it did back then; Assassin’s Creed Unity, for its second showing of the day, and looking absolutely glorious, with its fully dynamic brand of co-operative gameplay that looks like it will breathe new life into the series; Valiant Hearts, the gorgeous and touching Ubisoft game based on World War I, powered by the UbiArt engine; and of course, the final capstone to the conference, a revived Rainbow Six game, Rainbow Six: Siege, which looked like far and away the most next generation shooter yet seen.
Seriously, Siege’s level of realism, especially when it came to destructible environments, puts other shooters on the market, including, yes, Battlefield, to shame. Its brand of co-operative gameplay, as well as its objectives based multiplayer, looked a touch above other shooters on the market as well. The fact that the game looked as great as it did from only alpha footage was truly impressive. Rainbow Six: Siege did not get a release date, or even release platforms specified, but I think it’s a safe bet to assume we’re looking at a 2015 release on PC, Xbox One, and PS4.
As always, Ubisoft coasted through the show, relying on a now tried and tested formula. Yes, there were a few hitches, but on the whole, they hit just the right notes, and showed off some truly great games. Their overall conference was predictable and formulaic in its structure, and their presentation style is starting to get a little old, but all said and done, in what is ultimately a celebration of video games, nothing can really detract from a presser that did focus on games, and some great games at that.
The Good: A strong showing with some great games; Assassin’s Creed Unity, Far Cry 4, The Division, and Splinter Cell: Siege all looked absolutely amazing.
The Bad: A formulaic and predictable conference structure; too much focus on Just Dance and Shape Up.
The Verdict: Their overall conference was predictable and formulaic in its structure, and their presentation style is starting to get a little old, but all said and done, in what is ultimately a celebration of video games, nothing can really detract from a presser that did focus on games, and some great games at that.
FINAL SCORE: 7.5/10