When it comes to the E3 press conferences that I have seen so far, I think Ubisoft has had the best balance as far as decent pacing and a good showing of gameplay. Most of the games shown off showed at least a little bit of in-game footage along with a trailer, and many featured a speaker who talked a little bit about the concept behind the title or what players could expect. The conference wasn’t too short and didn’t seem to go on overly long, didn’t have any awkward early intermissions, and no rapid-fire trailers with vague release dates that may as well have just been a music video. From a strictly presentational standpoint, Ubisoft may be my favorite one so far.
Ubisoft started with a dynamic musical opening involving a dancing panda and a marching band that played a number of popular songs (I only recognized “Havanna”). This, of course, was all for the purpose of showing off Just Dance 2019, and it was an engaging way to start the show. From there they jumped right into Beyond Good and Evil 2, the prequel to a game that I have heard of for years but never played myself.
It’s a pretty compelling title with lots of unique character designs. I actually recognize the pig guy from art of the first game, so seeing a familiar face in the trailer was nice (I imagine even nicer for people who actually know the source material). The trailer screams “epic space opera” and I imagine it was pretty satisfying for those who have been anxiously awaiting this for awhile. I thought the woman who appears to be the protagonist seemed very cool, and the bit of gameplay they showed off looks fun. Jet-packing around the game world beating up space ninjas is a hard concept to beat!
Now things got weird after the reveal when Joseph Gordon Levitt of all people walked onto the stage to talk about a program called Hit Record. It’s apparently a space for creators to do collaborative work together, and that space will be used to hunt for music that will make an appearance in Beyond Good and Evil 2. The idea is to give back to the community by allowing them to create content for the game – the thing is, it was very unclear during the press conference whether those fans would actually be compensated for their contributions. A statement was made later that they will indeed be paid for their music, but for those who only watched the conference I imagine this section might have left a bad taste in their mouth.
The next game to make an appearance was Trials Rising, some kind of extreme motorbike game where the point is to violently wreck. Once again emphasizing the importance of community contributions, the emphasis here was on a guy called Fat Shady (can’t wait to hear his rap album) who was a YouTuber that ended up being invited to make tutorials for the new game thanks to his guides for the previous Trials title. Speedrunners and other streamers were also invited to contribute ideas and help the development team refine the mechanisms of the game. Good to know that somebody out there thinks that the fans matter!
A couple of games were discussed that are not of particular interest to me – namely Rainbow Six and The Division 2 – but this sort of vaguely-political competitive shooting game definitely appeals to a certain niche of gamers and so I’m sure there are folks excited for it. I thought it was interesting that this game decided to go the route of adding raids instead of adding battle royale mode, which seems to be the more popular of the two multiplayer shooting modes right now (if the other E3 conferences are anything to judge by).
The next title shown off, though, was definitely up my alley – Mario + Rabbids DLC! I loved my experience with Mario + Rabbids and I am very excited to go back into that world and experience more tactical battles. Of particular interest to me about this trailer was that we got to see some of the special abilities of both Donkey Kong (an already-confirmed new character) and Rabbid Cranky (a newly-announced character). DK’s boomerang looks like a nifty weapon, and Rabbid Cranky’s ability to put opponents to sleep will be a very valuable ability for shutting down serious threats on the enemy team. Not to mention the new touches to Rabbid Kong’s design look great!
Speaking of Nintendo representation at the Ubisoft conference, Shigeru Miyamoto once again made an appearance, this time as part of a ceremony surrounding the inclusion of Fox McCloud in Starlink. Starlink is a spaceship battle game focused on customizing your ship mid-battle. This seems to be done primarily through an accessory which allows you to attach and detach components to your spaceship, an action which is then mirrored in the game. The Star Fox team will likely have a special Arwing attachment for the Switch, but right now I haven’t heard anything about whether this is a necessity to play it or not.
Have you ever wanted to be a pirate on the open seas? Well, Ubisoft is all about that with the upcoming title Skull and Bones. In this game you play as…well, a pirate. This game is all about sailing ferocious seas to plunder merchant ships and steal crud-tons of sweet, sweet booty. You play in an online world with other players where you can both help each other and murder each other. Based on the trailer they showed, this seems to be the game’s typical structure: you get attacked by an enemy that’s too powerful, work with other players to take them down, and then turn on each other in a vicious battle royale to decide who gets all the spoils. It sounds like exactly the kind of game that I never want to play, but I know some people get into that sort of treacherous gameplay.
Speaking of treachery, the final game of the Ubisoft conference is all about your dad throwing you off of a cliff, apparently. Assassin’s Creed Odyssey (not to be confused with Super Mario Odyssey) is all about ancient Greece, a pretty storied location for an alternate history to take place in. You can find the blade of Leonidas, have philosophical discussions with Socrates (spelled Sokrates for authenticity, I suppose), and even play as a lady for the entirety of the game if you want to! This is definitely an exciting development as the world could always use more female protagonists.
The gameplay for this title looks pretty standard as far as Assassin’s Creed goes, though the speaker referred to it as an RPG multiple times. This could suggest that the series will lean even harder into the RPG mechanisms introduced in Origins, or at the very least it will match them. While I personally am not hyped for this title, my wife is a big Assassin’s Creed fan and being able to play as her own gender makes her pretty happy.
Overall, I think Ubisoft had a lot of good stuff to show off. While many of the games don’t appeal to me personally, I know titles like Beyond Good and Evil 2 and Assassin’s Creed Origins will be very exciting for fans of those series. Mario + Rabbids DLC was awesome to see in action, and learning that another Nintendo property will be crossing over into a Ubisoft game increases my confidence in the success of the Switch in drawing in third party developers.
What were your thoughts on the Ubisoft conference, adventurers? What was your favorite game shown here? Least favorite? Was there anything you didn’t expect to see? Let me know in the comments below, and don’t forget to come back tomorrow for even more coverage of E3 shenanigans!