E3 2014 Recap: Ubisoft
As this E3 comes to a close, we look back at all the awesome games and content, from science fictions to secret histories, that is in development. Since this is essentially the first round of releases for the next gen consoles, the pickings are especially juicy.
Far Cry 4
So far, Far Cry 4 has everything that a Far Cry game should have: a psychotic villain, beautiful environments, wildlife, big guns, and lots and lots of swearing. You play as Ajay Ghale, a man making his way back to his homeland Kyrat to scatter his mother’s ashes. Kyrat is a fictional country set in the Himalayas, rife with cliffs, elephants, and death. Things go wrong almost immediately as you enter the country, as your convoy is stopped and brutally attacked. Death is swift and brutal in this game, but let’s not forget the main attraction: Pagan Min, the villain.
Pagan Min is the flamboyant type; he’s the kind of guy who wears designer clothes, murders people with thousand dollar pens, then complains about getting blood on his shoes. Your brief interaction with Min only gets more and more disturbing as the man greets you like a beloved nephew, hugging you, patting you on the back, and taking a selfie with you.
The gameplay is no less exciting. During the seven minute gameplay demo, the developers show off some of the tools players will get to use, the terrain that players will traverse, the combat, and even a seamless co op mode. Everything was extremely polished, allowing players to move around, engage enemies, and drive with ease.
Of course, it will take a lot for Far Cry 4 to live up to its predecessor’s legacy. While the developers have gone out of their way to address some of the players gripes about the Far Cry 3, like being able to drive and shoot at the same time, and getting the wingsuit when it’s actually useful, but we’ll have to see how the rest of the game lives up to the challenge.
Still, Far Cry 4 has plenty of potential. Better keep your eye on it, or it might just murder you with a thousand dollar pen.
Just Dance Now
Ubisoft’s conference wasn’t just for hardcore gamers. Just Dance Now was one of the more interesting games that Ubisoft presented, and not only because it almost immediately made me think of Fahrenheit 451. Just Dance Now is an incredible amalgamation of technologies, ranging from motion sensing, to cross platform connectivity, and supposedly latency free online gaming.
Unless you’re a big time Just Dance fan, this game is more interesting for the technology that it represents than it is for the actual gameplay. Thanks to the latest advancements, you can dance with your friends from halfway across the country with just a smartphone and an internet capable TV. Supposedly it can even support an unlimited number of players.
While the on stage demonstration was uninteresting for a number of reasons, the fact that the game could coordinate and communicate with 50 different devices in real time is incredible. And maybe just a little disturbing.
Tom Clancy’s The Division
While The Division is probably one of the most exciting games presented at E3, the presentation was probably one of the worst. It was little more than a pre-rendered time lapse of how New York fell victim to the virus and some of the tragedy that takes place in the midst of the disaster. That actually wouldn’t have been so bad if there hadn’t been a gravely voiced man delivering grinding exposition on purpose and pain and tragedy. The worst part is, is that the only thing that he adds to the trailer is, “Tragedy is invisible.” That’s it. Nothing else the man says is relevant or even interesting. All of his dialogue except for that one line could have been cut and the trailer would have been better for it.
That aside, the actual gameplay looks absolutely superb. You play as a civilian who’s part of a secretive, highly trained militia, and you get access to all sorts of cool gadgets. Surprisingly, they seem to keep the technology level within the realm of reasonable suspension of disbelief for the most part, giving the player a remarkable sense of immersion. There are some notable exceptions, like the holographic maps and reconstructions, but they’re usually cool enough that it doesn’t matter.
The combat looks fast paced, intense, and lethal. The new Snowdrop engine does an excellent job, rendering both realistic damage and enemies in excellent fidelity. Everything from objects to dying enemies react in the way you’d expect them to. You can open car doors to use them for cover, shatter windows to get a better shot, or even shoot through some thinner types of cover.
There are a number of questionable elements though. The AI doesn’t seem particularly bright when it comes to combat, often allowing itself to be mowed down without giving much thought to cover. Additionally, so far the only gameplay we’ve seen has been coop only. What does that mean for single players?
All in all, this was definitely one of the cooler games that Ubisoft showed off this year. It’s really too bad that it’s slated for a 2015 release instead of something sooner.
The Crew was much less exciting. Other than the massive social aspect and capability to drive across the nation, The Crew seems like pretty much any other racing game on the market.
The biggest feature was the two hour plus missions, but I’m not sure that’s a good thing. Multiplayer races get pretty dull after the first five minutes. Two hours of racing doesn’t sound interesting; it sounds mind numbing.
Assassin’s Creed: Unity
The latest installment in Ubisoft’s largest cash cow made a rather impressive show this E3. This time around you play as Arno Dorian, right in the middle of the French Revolution. This tumultuous time period has enough confusion and violence to be the perfect setting for an AC game, probably more than a single Assassin can handle.
That’s why Ubisoft upped the ante. This time around there’s up to four player coop, allowing you and three of your friends to run around in the ravaged, dynamic environment of good old Paris, assassinating Templar and corrupt noble alike in an effort to liberate the people of France. The presence of coop in the game opens up whole new strategies and avenues of gameplay, allowing you to plan and execute complicated assassinations that would never have been possible before.
The parkour elements of the game has been improved, giving the main character has a truly impressive range of motion, smoothly transitioning from wall climbing, to diving through windows. Seamless transitions between interior and exterior environments only make the parkour even more enjoyable, allowing the player even more routes of exploration, combat, and escape.
While AC: Unity looks like an amazing game, that doesn’t mean that Ubisoft hasn’t caught it’s share of flak for it. The studio’s recent decision to not include playable female characters at the game’s launch has sparked an all out war on social media. Both laymen and game developers have weighed in on both sides of the argument. Still, the controversy is pretty much free advertising for the game, meaning Ubisoft wins no matter who’s left standing when the smoke clears.
Where would an E3 conference be without the obligatory exercise game?
Considering how Shape Up is shaping up to be, probably in a better place.
With graphics comparable to the N64, asinine “games”, and a rather cheesy recording feature, this game probably only appeals to the hardcore health freaks of the audience.
Let’s be honest, though. Those people probably aren’t playing video games anyway.
A 2D platformer set in WW1, Valiant Hearts is a break from the typical WWII setting. That all by itself is enough to warrant attention; while WWII was certainly one of the most horrific events of the 20th century, WWI was no less influential.
The game itself is based on actual letters from and events from the Great War, mixing real events and tragedies in with the rather lighthearted animations and gameplay elements.
The game itself is rather minimalistic and comic like. Communication takes place through vignettes, and the player progresses through solving puzzles rather than through outright violence.
Valiant Hearts is decidedly more of an indie game than a AAA entry, but considering the historical value and the sheer quirkiness of the game, it’s definitely worth keeping an eye on.
Rainbow Six: Siege
It’s always a good idea to end a conference with a bang, but Ubisoft outdid itself this time. Rainbow Six: Siege was one of the most eye popping announcements of E3, featuring explosive gameplay, fully destructive environments, and intense PvP, Siege is almost a mash up between Counter Strike and Battlefield 3, throwing small team tactics and hostage situations up against modern weapons and gadgets, complete with the ability to blow gaping holes in the walls. I think my favorite part of the announcement video was “death from above,” where one of the players blew a hole in the floor to get at the enemy team, showing just how much lateral thinking this game will require.
What did you think of Ubisoft’s showing at E3? What was your favorite game? Let us know in the comments section!