Ubisoft held its E3 2014 press conference today, revealing a bevy of titles for video game enthusiasts to get excited for.
If you missed the presentation, here’s everything the mammoth publisher had to show attendees at the Los Angeles Convention Center.
Far Cry 4
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Ubisoft kicked things off with Far Cry 4, a new instalment set in the snowy mountains of the Himalayas. An initial CG trailer showed the main protagonist travelling in a rather worn down bus, while clutching a passport and avoiding the stare of a creepy and quite aggressive monkey.
The narrative-focused footage was pretty high calibre – the character models and animations were realistic and the voice acting sounded authentic, for the most part. This is a cross-gen game though and because it’s being released on PS3 and Xbox 360, it’s unlikely to test the hardware of the PS4 and Xbox One.
Of particular note is the new villain; the blonde-haired chap was frighteningly maniacal and had no problems executing one of his own henchmen.
In short, he was suitably evil. Why can’t all games have villains like this?
Just Dance 2015
Just Dance is a juggernaut franchise for Ubisoft. The game was especially popular on the Nintendo Wii, capturing the casual market with a popular soundtrack and easy-to-grasp motion controls. The publisher has followed that success with a multitude of sequels and today, it showed off the latest in the franchise – Just Dance 2015.
Based on the footage, Ubisoft hasn’t messed with the formula for the new instalment. Aside from an updated soundtrack – featuring popular artists such as Pharrell Williams and Ellie Goulding – there’s little to get excited about.
Ubisoft did show off a companion game called Just Dance Now though; players download an app to their smartphone and then use their mobile device as a controller. Unlike the console version, a potentially infinite number of people can join the game and play together online. Will it take off though? Perhaps, although I’m not holding my breath.
Tom Clancy’s The Division
The Division is a new take on the military shooter franchise, combining an open-world New York with tactical combat and deep RPG mechanics.
The demonstration started out with an atmospheric CG trailer, which used a time-lapse recording to show the Big Apple’s slow decay into chaos. A gruff voice narrates in the background, before a hero emerges in the streets. The trailer culminates in a standoff steeped in the remains of a city neighborhood, before a rather villainous group wearing gas masks enters the fray.
The action then kicks up a gear for a brief moment, before cutting to a birds-eye perspective of the city. The final credit sequence simply says – as was known before – that the game has been pushed back to 2015.
Racing games are back with a vengeance. Microsoft is pushing Forza Horizon 2 this year, while Sony doubles-down on its own exclusive Driveclub. Ubisoft wants a piece of the action with a new racing game called The Crew – as the name implies, the title is focused on team-based driving and objectives.
A short CG trailer gave viewers a flavor of the game, before a brief question and answer session with one of the studio’s executives. Finally, the release date ‘November 11’ flashed on-screen. It’s too early to call, but I suspect this game will be swamped by other titles this fall.
Assassin’s Creed Unity
Assassin’s Creed has had a rough time of late. The third numbered sequel was slammed by the press for being unfocused and laden with small technical issues – Ubisoft managed to fix many of those problems with the more jovial sequel Assassin’s Creed IV: Black Flag last year, placing a huge question mark on the franchise at large. Was the series strong enough to continue on the new generation of consoles?
Apparently so. Assassin’s Creed: Unity is the latest take on the historical adventure game, this time leading players into the French Revolution. A new CG trailer set the mood with some truly bloody conflicts, before revealing a few new details about the incoming four-player co-operative mode.
In a welcome departure from most other E3 demonstrations this year, Ubisoft showed a live demo of the new title. It was a clear step up from past iterations, with denser crowds, grander buildings and more detailed textures throughout the world. Most of the mechanics felt familiar – blending with citizens and dashing in the ‘parkour mode’ was almost identical – but the new backdrop and time period kept it feeling fresh. Eagle Vision was also in full effect, allowing players to seek out their target and begin a pursuit.
Assassin’s Creed: Unity has received little fanfare of late, but I suspect that just like ‘Black Flag’ last year, this game could surprise everyone and stand out as one of the better high-budget action games this fall.
Shape Up is a slightly different take on the fitness genre. The game is centered on challenges, rather than uninspired workouts, encouraging players to rack-up high-scores and beat those achieved by friends.
In one example, the player was literally competing with himself – a previous recording or “ghost” – in a lane-based rhythm game similar to Guitar Hero or Beatmania. Kinect recorded both sessions and displayed them simultaneously on-screen, creating an almost pseudo-multiplayer mode.
In another demo, two players competed side-by-side. Both were performing push ups in a bid to fill meters and ultimately clear whatever object had been placed on top of them. It was all very surreal and light-hearted – the sort of game that would be received well at house parties.
The UbiArt framework has already produced some beautiful, artistic video games such as Rayman Legends and Child of Light. Valiant Hearts is the latest to use the technology, presenting an emotional take on the First World War.
In a short trailer, Ubisoft showed a heart-wrenching montage of a dog caught up in the bloody conflict, ultimately resting on the graves of the soldiers it once knew. The publisher didn’t show gameplay or explain the structure of the title – but it was enough to pique my curiosity.
Tom Clancy’s Rainbow Six: Siege
Tom Clancy’s Rainbow Six has kept a low-profile of late. A new instalment of the franchise was essentially scrapped, according to reports, leading to a complete overhaul ahead of this year’s E3 conference.
A new trailer showed considerable gameplay footage from a hostage-based co-op mode. Players could be heard chatting to one another as they formulated new strategies for breaching a rural mansion. Walls were torn apart by bullet holes – the destructible environments were impressive – and the classic tactical-based gameplay was front-and-center for players to drool over.
In an era of fast-paced, twitch-based shooters, the slower-paced Rainbox Six franchise has been sorely missed. The fidelity and textures weren’t jaw-dropping by any means, but the gameplay loop that fans have been clamouring for seemed to be in full effect. Who knows – perhaps the visuals will be taken up a notch before its commercial release.
Head here to keep up with the rest of our E3 2014 coverage this week.
Featured image credit: Kevork Djansezian/Getty Images