Just like the majority of the rest of the conferences at E3 2016, Ubisoft had a commendable show that lacked a real punch. Over the last few years, Ubi has prided themselves on saving the big surprise
Thankfully, this year, Ubi kept it’s awkward dancing to a minimum by getting Just Dance out of the way early and got right to the games that people wanted.
Outside of the forced team dialogue, Tom Clancy’s Ghost Recon Wildlands looks like it has a lot of good things going for it. The landscapes look vast and detailed with very interesting areas. I like the idea of taking on a drug cartel because, as we’ve seen from the different demos, it can lead to some compelling enemies and situations. Tactical shooters can be a breath of fresh air in an over-saturated shooter market and I know I could use this game as a nice breakup from the Call of Duty’s of the world. That being said, I am not totally sold quite yet. This game seems to be very focused on cooperative play, which can be a double-edged sword. I get the vibe that this will be a title that is exhilarating and engrossing when playing with your friends but could feel a bit empty and not as satisfying if one were to go it alone. That being said, though, I really enjoy the Ghost Recon franchise and I am going to keep an open mind when this drops next March.
Speaking of games I am not quite sold on yet, Ubisoft finally gave fans a peek into For Honor’s single player mode. The trailer shown gave us some insight on why Vikings, samurai’s and knights are bashing each other’s skulls in, as it seems that some sort of god of war is forcing these factions against each other. I really like the concept of this game, but I am not sold quite yet that it is going to find a major audience. The combat seems extremely skill-based and reactionary as dodging attack takes quick reactions and precise timing. That is totally fine and there are people who are going to excel at it. My worry is that the learning curve will be so steep that it will keep players away from trying it out. My concerns notwithstanding, though, For Honor had a nice showing at the conference and I am excited to get my hands on it in the near future.
One game that had a lot to prove for Ubisoft was Watch_Dogs 2. The first game did well but wasn’t quite the revolutionary title that some had hoped for. So far so good though with the sequel. Between the pre-E3 coverage and the demo at the show, it appears early on that Ubi has addressed a lot of the criticisms of its predecessor. Marcus Holloway already seems to have more depth than Aiden Pearce and the colorful city of San Fransico already seems like a better venue for hacking than Chicago. It is also a plus that players have the ability to hack almost anything. On top of a lame main character, Ubisoft will need to fix some problems such as poor driving mechanics for this to be a successful successor. But, Ubisoft has a solid track record for fixing issues of the first game (see Assassin’s Creed 2) and it looks like they are on a similar track with Watch_Dogs 2.
While Wildlands, Watch_Dogs 2 and For Honor had solid demos, it was South Park: The Fractured But Whole that absolutely stole the show. Matt Parker and Trey Stone elaborated more on glorious details such as how the game picks up right after the first game and how they’ve addressed concerns about the simplistic combat of Stick of Truth. The moving characters and new superhero abilities will assuredly add some depth to the already solid turn-based combat, which is a welcome addition. The only thing they weren’t very clear on was how ripping through farts and time would affect combat, something I’m sure fans will see in due time. Stick of Truth is the funniest game I have ever played and The Fractured But Whole seems to continue the trend. I was dying laughing at some of the dialogue in the demo and I cannot wait to see more.
Grow Up seemed to be adorable and intriguing and in the trailer, offered up some interesting platforming elements but while I do enjoy indie games, it didn’t really move the needle for me. I am excited about Trials of the Blood Dragon and hopefully, will get to play it in the near future.
Outside the aforementioned games, though, the press conference took a dip.
One of the main trends of E3 has been VR integration, but Ubi seems to have missed the mark with their new titles Eagle Flight and Star Trek. The graphics were lacking for both and the games didn’t really seem to be all that fun and would fizzle out after a few play throughs. I feel as though I would get nauseous flying around that fast in Eagle Flight and wouldn’t be able to navigate through the nooks and crannies like the scripted demo showed. Maybe that’s just a me problem but overall I was not very impressed. Also, I’m not really a Star Trek fan, but I could see how the game is intriguing for Trekkies.
The real disappointment for me though came at the end of the show when Ubisoft usually shines with its “one more thing” announcement. This year, the French developer rolled out Steep, a new action-sports game. While the game was pretty and the collision animations and sounds were brilliant, there was nothing about the game that screamed this is the next “big thing.” The snowboarding and skiing sections seemed like a more realistic (and less fun) version of SSX and the freefalling section didn’t really do it for me either. This may be a wait-and-see type of game, but Steep felt like it should have been announced towards the beginning of the show instead of wrapping up the show.
After the semi-disappointing ending to the conference, it was easy to forget how strong the Ubisoft Conference was. Watch_Dogs 2, For Honor, South Park and Wildlands are all games that are on my radar for the coming year and I am excited to see more. Overall, the low moments were not enough to keep Ubisoft from having another solid showing during gaming’s biggest week.
+Short Just Dance section
-Show lagged in the middle
-Still featured a Just Dance section
– Eagle Flight and Star Trek
-Steep ending the show