2 hours. That’s the biggest takeaway from this year’s Ubisoft presentation. As a big fan of the “pageantry”, if you will, of the stage shows, I enjoy seeing what video game companies can bring to the pressers that doesn’t really fit well as just a video to be slapped up online. Big reveals, in-depth information, etc. With no huge surprises outside of their closing title and a mash-up way out of left field (Watch Dogs 2 was always coming), that left the in-depth stuff. Even then, an average of 10 minutes was given for everything that was shown and that is far, far too long for some of those titles. Well…let’s look at what was on offer.

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The New

Watch Dogs 2

Yes, yes, it was always coming. It’s still the official reveal, though. Shifting gears from Chicago to San Fran, the protagonist at least seems somewhat more likable, having a personality trait other than “Must get revenge.” Mechanics seem largely the same – sneak into areas, hack items until the objective is complete. But there are also little gadgets to help you out this time around – a drone and an RC wheel-base were shown off in a gameplay demo, along with a man wearing LED sunglasses that displayed his emotions..which might be less practical than one would think. It’s got a bit more of a charm to it, and I never gave the first title a playthrough, so this might be one to pick up.

Steep

I’m not sure this was really the proper target audience for this (hitting the European audience at Paris Games Week would likely have been better), but Ubisoft does like to end with new game reveals. Set in the Alps, here we have a community-driven extreme winter sporting game allowing you to control avatars who can ski, paraglide, wingsuit, or snowboard their way down some of the most renowned mountains in the world. Of course, there are ubiquitous challenges and the drop-in/drop-out means you’ll likely be crashing into players all the time, but those are the breaks. Speaking of which, the bone-crunching sounds that occurred every time someone wiped out, following a blood-curdling wail as they knew they were going to die? Might want to tone that down, Ubi.

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Others

Perhaps the big surprise out of the other new titles in Ubi’s conference was the unlikely combination of the Trials franchise and Far Cry: Blood Dragon, a DLC pack. Trials of the Blood Dragon is about what you might expect from such a thing: side-scrolling shoot em’ up mixed together with complicated physics challenges on a number of different vehicles. Other new titles were Grow Up, a sequel to Grow Home that I’m surprised people would care about, and a VR experience putting players in a co-op experience on the bridge of the Enterprise from Star Trek. This one had some extremely basic graphics, even for a VR game, but it’s early yet. Awkward moment – LeVar Burton (and other Star Trek notables) giving their impressions on the experience in a video before have Burton come out on stage to talk about what he’d just commented on in the video. Ubinception.

The Updates

Ghost Recon: Wildlands

We’ve got a new trailer for Ghost Recon now, showing that this is going to be one of the biggest maps every conceived by a team making an open-world game, which can be great or terrible depending on who you ask. A gameplay demo showed a 4-man coop team taking down a target using stealth action in a vein similar to a Metal Gear title, but with fewer cardboard boxes. There has been confirmation, though, that the entire game can be completed solo. If you’ve got the time to cover the entire map, that is.

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South Park: The Fractured but Whole

Lots of videos on this one, showing a bit of the character creation and some of the story, in which we’re reminded that, at some point in our lives, our fathers and mothers had sex. Disturbing, I know. A lengthy segment was devoted to the combat system, which uses grid-based combat with the ability to push and pull enemies, use AoE or line-based attacks, and seems like The Banner Saga on a micro scale.

The Division

DLC incoming.

Eagle Flight

Ubisoft’s first major VR title announced a while back took the stage with Palmer Luckey, creator of the Oculus Rift, to show off the match. VR birds fly around a low-resolution version of various places in the world and play Capture the Flag Prey. Grab a rabbit, bring it back to the nest, while avoiding other birds launching screeching attacks. Despite showing everything they needed to in 2 minutes, the group stayed up for an entire 6 minute match full of eagle cry after eagle cry…

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For Honor

So there’s an entire story now! And it may be the most ridiculous thing I’ve ever heard! At some point, long ago, a great calamity somehow brought 3 warlike nations (Vikings, Samurai, and Knights) into the same area and had them compete for resources. They fought for 1,000 years without ever, EVER changing their culture, all because a 4th party was a dick and kept them fighting. A gameplay demo showed some of the single-campaign which looks a lot like Dynasty Warriors. Hack your way through cannon fodder until you find a captain, then play a weird sort of rock-paper-scissors with your weapon’s guard while attacking they spot they aren’t guarding. I’m still up for it, but there’s definitely some silliness going on here.

The Others + Wrap-Up

It wouldn’t be a Ubi presser without Assassin’s Creed says the host, to which a paltry amount of applause is given. And sure enough, they’re going to talk about it here. No, not the game, but the movie. A solid chunk of time was devoted to behind-the-scenes footage that few cared about.

And that’s a wrap. While there were plenty of great games on display at the conference, Ubi absolutely needs to learn to snip down the segments. When you’ve passed the 10 minute mark? Every game just sounds like screeching eagles in your ear until it stops.

 

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