Ubisoft 2014 E3 Press Conference Impressions

I’ll admit it: I really like Aisha Tyler as a host. She’s entertaining, allowed to say whatever she wants, and seems genuinely excited about each announcement. Sure she doesn’t bring quite the same humor that she brings to Archer, but it’s nice and refreshing to get someone who isn’t a company figure head out there. Good hosting aside, Ubisoft had a pretty strong showing of games here at E3.

They started off with the opening cutscene to Far Cry 4. It was impressive and mostly featured a new Vaas-like villain. This is a good thing of course, Far Cry 3 excelled in making some unique character so it was interesting to see a new villain already. I just hope that he is able to reach the same level as Vaas did. Otherwise, though, the trailer looked good. I can’t wait to get my hands on that one. After this Aisha Tyler promised that each game would be better than the last and that it’s only going to get stronger from here.

That quote it probably a little debatable though, as the next thing they did was move into Just Dance 2015. It pretty much was just a three minute trailer showing people dancing to various songs, though with Pharrel William’s happy playing. Catchy little tune that makes it enjoyable at least. Ubisoft also announced Just Dance Now, a smart phone app that can connect to your TV and allow unlimited groups of people to play. They demonstrated by getting a solid 20 people to dance to Lady Gaga’s Applause, which was a fun demonstration that showed off the app pretty well. Sure it wasn’t exactly something I’d be interested in, but it’s always fun.

We then moved on to Ubisoft’s surprise game last year: The Division. Since the Microsoft press conference got gameplay already, the trailer here was just CGI. It basically helped set up the world in dramatic fashion, and it did so very effectively. Equal parts terrifying and encouraging, it really helped build up The Division’s atmosphere and really made me even more excited for the game. I know we shouldn’t get excited over CGI trailers because they’re not the real thing usually, but we’ve seen gameplay of The Division already so this was just some icing on the cake. After that we got a trailer for Ubisoft’s open world racer The Crew. It showed a group of cars driving from one end of USA to the other at a heavily speeded up rate. It looks interesting, but there was little else to go off off.

We then moved into the lengthy part of the show devoted to Assassin’s Creed Unity. After a trailer they showed some gameplay. Unlike Microsoft’s multiplayer focused showing of Assassin’s Creed Unity, this time it was purely single player. The main character has a job to assassinate someone else and has to get across town to do it. Along the way I noticed that you were able to take on side missions just by witnessing something happen. For example, the character saw a thief take some money from another. Right away they were given the option to go pursue the pickpocket, but chose not to. Another moment allowed them to break up a fight between a brawling pair. It’s neat and looks like it will add a lot of dynamic interaction in the game. I also couldn’t help but notice how wonderful the crowds look. They look alive and it goes a long way towards convincing the player that there’s a revolution happening. Eventually they reach the end of the demo when the assassin kills his target, and as a crowd of enemies gather the co-op buddies show up as well. It looks really interesting and I can’t wait to get that one in my hands.

The next that that Ubisoft showed was a fitness game called Shape Up. It seems to use silly scenarios to try and get people to work out. The first activity shown had someone jumping on a giant keyboard along to Eye of the Tiger. The second activity had two players facing off in a push-up competition as the game “added more weight” to their back. The winner was whoever did the most push-ups in a set amount of time. It looked silly and fun, good for people looking to add to their daily routine with an exercise video game. Then they showed a trailer of Valiant Hearts: The Great War. Ubisoft’s World War 1 adventure game looks interesting, and the sad trailer has be wanting to check the game out.

Finally, it wouldn’t be a Ubisoft conference without a surprise game at the end. This time it came in the form of Rainbow Six: Siege. The video featured gameplay of two teams of 5. One team, the terrorists, were held up in a house and had a hostage. The other team, Rainbow Six, proceeded to plan out and invade the house. Both sides appeared to have one life, and were out as soon as they died. It was extremely impressive the way that chunks of the house blew up as the firefights raged on. The fact that both teams got a minute of planning time was also very cool. The terrorists were able to set up defenses and barricades while Rainbow Six formulated a plan and sent cameras throughout the house. Ubisoft’s past surprise projects had gotten a lot of hype, and I’m sure this one will as well.

Ubisoft continues to have a great conference. The games they show are exciting and fun, running a wide gauntlet of different genres and styles. I’m a little worried, Ubisoft is starting to get a “promises more than they can deliver” reputation though. If they can actually deliver on what they shown here today than they should have a strong year. I’m hoping they manage.

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