E3 2015: Ubisoft Press Conference

E3 2015: Ubisoft Press Conference

The approach that Ubisoft took to their E3 Press Conference was quite different from the others thathave occurred so far. Unlike the all-business professionalism of Sony, or the colloquial tone of Microsoft, watching Ubisoft’s Conference felt a little more like a talk show or Hollywood press event than a video games conference. This may have had something to do with the impressive slew of famous faces Ubisoft had invited to be part of their presentation. Like previous years, the conference was hosted by the charismatic and enthusiastic Aisha Tyler. But fear not gamers! In between all the celebrities, Ubisoft did manage to show some exciting content.

  • Things started strong with the announcement of a new South Park game with, quite frankly the most brilliant name to ever grace a game: South Park: The Fractured But Whole. This game looks to vaguely follow the plot of previous title, South Park: The Stick of Truth, but instead of a Dungeons and Dragons-inspired fantasy adventure, it looks as though Stan, Kyle, Kenny, and Cartman will be taking on the roles of superheroes. Now, you may be thinking this an odd announcement, as South Park creators Trey Parker and Matt Stone previously made public the fact that they had no intentions of making more South Park games. This mystery was solved as Aisha invited Parker and Stone on-stage to briefly discuss their new title, and the reasons behind the decision to make it.
  • Ubisoft CEO, Yves Guillemot, then took the stage to welcome the viewers and introduce a new project. This turned out to be For Honour, a visually stunning, Chivalry-esque Sword Game. Following the trailer, Ubisoft Montreal Creative Director Jason Vandenberghe took the stage to raise the hype for the title, before showing a live demo of the game. Four players take on the role of Knights, supported by an army of soldiers and face off against another team of four. Details on other gameplay modes were scant, but the game seems to have a focus on creating an awesome combat system, dubbed ‘The Art of Battle’.
  • A short trailer then announced a new expansion for The Crew named ‘WildRun’, set for November 17th release. ‘WildRun’ introduces a range of new vehicles and allows players to engage in new types of championships (‘Summits’).
  • This was followed by another short trailer announcing Trials Fusion: Awesome Level Max expansion, which is coming even sooner – July 14th. Featuring a badass, gun-wielding cat-thing riding a fire breathing unicorn, this expansion looks almost as strange as it does awesome.
  • Tom Clancy’s The Division – the highly anticipated open world shooter/role-playing/survival game – received some love, with a new trailer of The Division’s ‘Dark Zone’ – a kind of no-man’s land where survival becomes even more difficult than usual. This trailer felt oddly similar to previously shown content, and while The Division still looks promising, the long wait has made the title feel a little stale for some tongues. Game Director Ryan Barnard took the stage to (finally) announce the release date: March 8th, 2016. Betas will begin on PS4, Xbox One and PC “early next year”.
  • A beautiful trailer of futuristic landscapes announced Anno 2205 – which excitingly features the ability to build your own space program and create colonies on the moon, as well as managing your usual earth settlements. Anno 2205 is coming November 3rd, 2015.
  • The newest instalments of the Just Dance franchise were up next, with Executive Producer Jason Altman taking the stage to make two major announcements. One was that Just Dance 2016 will feature the ability to use your smartphone as a controller to play, and two was the announcement of Just Dance: Unlimited – a ‘Dance on Demand’ streaming service, which allows you to download tracks as desired. Oh, and they also hosted a short performance by Jason Derulo which featured, y’know, lots of dancing. Players can get their hands on Just Dance 2016 in October, and Just Dance: Unlimited is available next year.
  • A slick, highly cinematic trailer, narrated by actress Angela Bassett, showcased Tom Clancy’s Rainbow Six Siege. Bassett plays the role of Agent Six, and joined Aisha on stage to discuss her role in this new title. This was followed by a live demo of the game’s ‘Terrohunt’ mode (solo or co-op versus AI). The gameplay looks really engaging – highly strategic, action-packed and requiring a high level of team work. Rainbow Six Siege’s Beta will begin September 24th.
  • The next announcement was of a new version of the old favourite Trackmania. Trackmania Turbo looks to be an awesome, hyperactive racing experience, and aside from the 200 included tracks, will also feature a random track generator which looks like a tonne of fun.
  • Viewers were then treated to a very pretty new trailer for Assassin’s Creed: Syndicate. Set in 1868, Industrial Revolution London, you play one of two twin siblings – Jacob or Evie Frye – leaders of a street gang of freedom fighters named ‘The Rooks’. I have been fairly ambivalent towards many of the Assassin’s Creed titles, but in spite of my scepticism, this trailer was exciting. Creative Director Marc-Alexis Côté announced that aside from the demo playable at E3, a demo would also be playable in “seven cities across Europe and Australia” – although it was not really explained how this would work.
  • Yves Guillemot briefly retook the stage to announce the last title – Tom Clancy’s Ghost Recon: Wildlands, an open world, tactical game with a focus on providing equally engaging stealth and combat options for missions. You play as part of an elite team of US Special Forces, tasked with rooting out South American drug cartels.

Ubisoft brought a diverse mix of titles to this year’s conference, but with the exception of For Honour, all titles built on existing franchises, so there were not too many surprises. Still, it was a solid performance that should keep fans of the many Ubisoft franchises happy.

The entire conference can be streamed via Ubisoft’s Twitch page.

Since first travelling to Japan at the age of fifteen, most of my life has revolved around trying to learn Japanese, and unravel the mysteries of the country’s culture. Gaming ranks just behind this obsession. I enjoy video games – particularly RPGs and Strategy – but my main interest is in tabletop role playing games and board games. Writing ranks third – luckily I get plenty of opportunities to write about Japan and games, so it all works out.

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