Only Ubisoft’s press conference could feature dancing anthropomorphic animals, tactical military combat, brutal snowboard wipe outs, jokes about rectums, and the devil may care attitude of Aisha Tyler. Although the general consensus around the video game community was of mediocrity, I found Ubisoft’s press conference to be a great showing for each of their games. Only to be punctuated with hilarious antics of a few guests and devs. The pacing and the tone of the conference was a lighthearted one that I thoroughly enjoyed.
Ubisoft kicked off their conference with a choreographed dance number to Queen’s “Don’t Stop Me Now” which was somewhat ridiculous but clearly meant to portray a happy-go lucky atmosphere to promote Just Dance 2017. It was a rather silly intro but this was followed by a high octane mission in Ghost Recon: Wildlands, Ubisoft’s new open world take on the tactical shooter series. This ebb and flow between serious grit and lighthearted fun kept up throughout the conference and was actually enjoyable. Never once did I get fatigued with the constant stream of game presentations. Games like Ghost Recon Wildlands and The Division’s new DLC announcements gave way to games like South Park: The Fractured but Whole and Trials of the Blood Dragon. Overall, the pace and tone of the press conference was well planned out and really showed off Ubi’s passion for creating games to draw in gamers of all types.
When talking about games, Ubisoft had a pretty decent line up of newer IP’s to show off this year. Ghost Recon’s new open world setting looks promising as it gives players the chance to tackle objectives their own way. It has the same over the shoulder, 3rd person gameplay as the rest of the series so there is some familiarity to cater to long running fans of the series as well.
As someone who is indifferent to the VR craze, Eagle Flight was actually fairly impressive. Eagle Flight pits two teams of eagles against one another in team based game modes that features some insanely intricate yet somehow massive level design. They showed off a capture the flag mode in which two teams vied against each other to take the “flag,” which was basically prey, back to their team’s nest.
Steep came as a bit of a surprise. I was an avid SSX fan up until the new reboot railroaded you into a primarily competitive experience. Steep allows you to either snowboard, ski, parachute, or wingsuit down some truly massive peaks in whatever manner you choose. From what the devs detailed it looks as though you can go anywhere at any time and set your own path out into the world. There remains to be a solid story mode setting but even so, the game looks expansive enough to keep you going back to try out new trails for quite some time.
Between South Park: The Fractured but Whole and Trials of the Blood Dragon there was plenty of hilarity to go around at the conference as well. The unabashed nature of Trey Parker and Matt Stone’s new collaboration with Ubisoft had the crowd laughing, and maybe a bit lost as they tried to explain the Kanye West based “gay fish” joke to a rather stone faced crowd. The crass yet somehow on point nature of the South Park creators was later followed in ridiculousness as two developers came bustling down the aisle in matching pink tiger print track suits and some sick gold jewelry. Their bombastic entrance led to an announcement of the newest game to get the “Blood Dragon” treatment, Trials. It looks like the fans of the Trials series now get to have their own ‘80s movie themed game much like the fans of Far Cry Blood Dragon did a few years back. Both games look to surely please with their over the top hilarity and should surely be on any fan’s watch list if they’ve played previous entries in the series.
For Honor is another game to look out for as it nears release. I was pretty excited when I read Game Informer’s spread on it a few months back. I really like the visuals and the premise behind the game itself. The idea of some of the most brutal melee combatants in human history going toe to toe is a promising one. The gameplay demo showed a brief level played from the perspective of a Viking warrior. For Honor looks reminiscent of any action based game of cutting through hordes of lesser enemies to progress to stronger and stronger foes. It reminds me quite a bit of Ryse: Son of Rome but with a good deal more polish to the combat system outside of context sensitive insta-kills and button mashing. I’m a tad bit worried that what we’ve seen of the combat is the whole iceberg though. It looks solid but the only real mechanics to speak of where the standard act or block gameplay and an interesting rock-paper-scissors used in the one on one fights. I’ll hold off on making any statements on that too early though.
Lastly, Watchdogs 2 looks to be a promising entry in the series. Where the last game’s protagonist, Aiden Pierce, was a hell-bent vigilante who would stop at nothing to avenge the death of his niece, the new lead seems to be a bit more laid back. I’m sure the writers will be able to keep up the drama from the last game but this new perspective will be a nice change of pace from the last game. The gameplay trailer showed off a few new gadgets added to the player’s arsenal. Like a drone equipped with hacking elements that can used to scout ahead in dangerous situations and hack into different systems along the way. Hopefully Watchdogs 2 will be an upgrade to the series and not a rehash.
All in all, Ubisoft had a great showing. Their press conference was a ton of fun and was just as entertaining as it was informative. Every game had their chance to shine and all of them did so in great fashion. Ubi came to the table with some solid games to look out for and kept the crowd with them the entire way. It was an impressive conference and definitely showed off thatUbisoft is pushing themselves as a publisher in a good way.