Ubisoft E3 press conferences have always been somewhat “out there” over the years; sometimes for better, and sometimes for the worse (sorry, Mr. Caffine!). While the latest didn’t feature poison money being littered onto the crowds below, it tried to keep its edge. Having a developer drop the f-bomb in his introduction and starting with FarCry 4 footage was probably the fastest way to send the clear message of ‘hey, we’re here to take over E3!’
Love her or hate her, Aisha Taylor knows how to run an E3 press conference, and wasn’t intimidated to follow 5 minutes of solid psycho-intensity of FarCry 4. That short cut-scene was gripping, looked sharp, and as Aisha said, was ‘compellitive’ which I believe is somewhere between compelling and interactive: a very apt description.
Just Dance 2015, which was confirmed to be releasing in October 2014, was next on the roster. I’m not a fan of these games, personally, but this one did endeavour to showcase the community aspect Ubisoft loves so much. The only change with this title from any other is the possible connectivity of countless players, for which they announced a mobile version of the game which allowed any players to participate with the use of their smart phones (that couldn’t go wrong…). It was unentertaining, but hitch free until the ‘winner’ was chosen from the crowd of dancers on stage, which is the worst acting this side of Twilight ensued. Even Aisha couldn’t save that.
The following display was one of the greatest uses of time lapse I’ve ever experienced. The Division isn’t set for release until 2015, but I’m definitely not the only gamer hanging out for this title already. The trailer used time-lapse minus any actual people; instead of lessening the characterization it gave the dire state of things more realism. With virus and chaos taking over you could picture your own child under that ghostly blanket, or yourself being dragged through the snow with no hope of fighting back. It felt gritty, emotional and intense after just that brief insight into the game; if it’s final release can maintain this level of quality then it will be well worth the wait.
If you tuned in last year, you might have already heard of The Crew; with its promise of driving the USA in its entirety-with no loading screens whatsoever. Set for release on November 11, The Crew is an open-world mmo with the possibility of multiplayer mayhem, with individual missions that take several hours to traverse the expansive map. While I failed to get hyped for this as an mmo as I saw it more like a Sunday drive with friends; it was still presented well with an open beta that apparently overloaded the sign-up site after the announcement.
Of course, it wouldn’t be an Ubisoft conference without our yearly dose of Assassin’s Creed. AC: Unity had a powerful, well directed trailer to showcase the French Revolution and how it was secretly aided by the creed. Finally, the assassins moved into some appropriate attire that actually (almost) blended with their surroundings, as opposed to the usual flashing neon symbols and visible weapons they usually favour. New gadgets and combat options made taking down targets seem more fluid and realistic, and the crowds showed an improvement with less identical NPCs hovering around aimlessly. Faction specific missions, and a more accessible array of building facades, could make for more interesting gameplay, but I’m still undecided on the co-op aspect. I’ll have to play it and see how that fares, but for now, the epic clip has me drooling for this year’s Assasin’s Creed.
An exercise regime for gamers seems like a perfectly viable idea, and Ubisoft and Aisha tried their best to make it fun and engaging. While the designer introducing Shape Up was more French than anything I’d heard in the AC trailer before him, he still struggled to make this mash up of Dance Dance Revolution and Wii Fit seem interesting to me. Granted, we wouldn’t have to leave our lounge rooms, and watching the American and Montreal Ubisoft staff verse each other in a push up battle was funny enough, but it didn’t appeal to me as a workout I’d attempt. I was impressed they managed to maintain the crowd’s interest during what I felt was a low point in their discussion, but it didn’t change the fact that most of us watching just wanted them to move on to the next trailer.
From the same visual mould as Rayman and Child of Light comes a title whose art alone was pretty attention grabbing. Valiant Hearts was created in partnership with a documentary based on the letters of those involved in World War 1, for which words inspired an emotionally driven game. The trailer introduced us briefly to four people who served in World War 1, as well as a medic dog who followed at least one of them. Considering the almost cartoon art style, I was quite taken aback at how this trailer tugged at my heart strings with just a tiny glimpse at these characters and hearing just a few of their letters. Ubisoft have presented a beautiful story, and in a manner that suits it. I can’t wait for this release, and can only hope it lives up to the standard of the preview.
This is where the time seemed to have run out. Aisha brought out the co-founder of Ubisoft, who took the stage for the customary wrap up. And then, BAM! Out of nowhere, they still had one last video to leave us with, and what followed was well worth waiting for. Rainbow 6 Seige burst onto our screens with pre-alpha footage; if it was actually pre-alpha then we can expect awesome things from this game. It was an incredibly tense and unpredictable several minutes; you couldn’t guess what the teams were going to do next, or who would make it out of the house alive. It was so real and stressful throughout, which also included some of the best scripting for a game demonstration that I’ve ever heard. Fan or not, you couldn’t deny the appeal of this presentation, and like me, you were probably throwing your hands up in frustration when they cut the preview. Well played, Ubisoft.
It was nice to see an actual fan such as Aisha Taylor present an E3 conference, and for the most part, I thought she was pretty entertaining, once again. The sheer quality of the games we got a glimpse at promises an exciting list of upcoming releases; we just have to cross our fingers that they can all deliver. In the end, though, it wasn’t quite the best conference at this year’s E3, but it definitely didn’t leave me feeling disappointed. Who can complain when a conference starts with an f-bomb and ends with ‘do that shit?’ Well done, Ubisoft. Grade: B+