Last but certainly not least on our roundup of Monday’s E3 press events is Ubisoft. While Ubisoft isn’t the biggest publisher on the block, to their credit, they are very willing to take risks with new IPs and new gameplay ideas. It may hurt them in the grand scheme of sales but it does earn them a lot of credit.
Since I teased the Ubisoft recap with their propensity to make and debut new IPs at E3, let’s start with Ubisoft’s take on a driving game. They unveiled The Crew which appears to be a The Fast and the Furious game without the movie license which means it has a chance to be good. It’s a game in which you try to take over a national criminal gang one city at a time through driving missions.
The Crew has a lot of interesting elements to it. The game is a persistent online world that is supposed to blend the line between single-player, co-op and competitive multiplayer. You can invite friends to join you in other cities/areas on the fly without having to go to a menu or hub, like the Autolog menu in NFS Most Wanted. The big thing in The Crew appears to be car customization. You can make your car anything from a track day beast to an off-road specialist to a ramming tank on wheels. I’m very intrigued by this one and I haven’t said that too many times this week.
The other big new IP that Ubisoft had that just might have won E3 among newly unveiled IPs was Tom Clancy’s The Division for PS4 and Xbox One. Ubisoft described it as a third-person, open-world, online RPG which is console gamer speak for MMORPG. Sorry, Ubi but try as you might, this is a mumorpuger. A mumorpuger developed by Massive Entertainment who last released a game it developed itself in 2007 with World In Conflict. Massive has collaborated on AC: Revelations and Far Cry 3 but hasn’t gone it alone to develop anything but an RTS. Not the best track record for developing an MMO.
The game is set in a New York in quarantine after a virus was spread on Black Friday that resulted in a pandemic. You play as an agent of the titular division. The gameplay snippet Ubi showed didn’t reveal much about your character or what he does for The Division. It did have some dialogue with NPCs and indicated that you’re part of some government crisis management or investigation team because the player character scanned dead bodies to find the cause of death. And you’ll save the world from the virus with guns. You’ll be shooting people while you’re at it too.
In the already well-hyped and well-promoted category, we got more of Assassin’s Creed IV and Watch Dogs. The AC4 trailer featured a bar fight between Kenway and a room full of pirates followed by some action on the high seas. Watch Dogs had a new trailer in which Aiden Pearce used his hacking to dispense vigilante justice on a human smuggling ring. So, he’s kinda like Anonymous in that he uses his hacking powers for good now. Hacktivists are good people at heart so I’m liking the concept here.
Other games that we saw bits and pieces of from Ubisoft included Just Dance 2014 (it was only a matter of time before we saw this get an annualized name like a sports franchise), Rocksmith 2014 (which I hope doesn’t get annualized like a sports franchise), Splinter Cell: Blacklist and Rayman Legends. We also got Ubisoft’s first trailer for South Park: The Stick of Truth which included fart jokes and a Holiday 2013 release window. Ubi also unveiled Trials Fusion for consoles and PC and Trials Frontier for mobile. As long as they don’t do a piss poor PC port, I’ll be happy.
Rabbids is going to get its own TV show in the increasing move of the games industry into Hollywood. Rabbids Invasion will be an animated show that will be on Nickelodeon in America. There will be a Rabbids Invasion companion game for the Kinect for Xbox One which Ubisoft describes as interactive episodes. The gameplay demo of the companion game looked like the sort of thing that will make parents wish that video games and basic cable were never invented, though.
So Ubisoft has kept up the pace after winning E3 last year with Watch Dogs. The Crew and The Division both got everyone’s attention, even if The Division didn’t really show that much in new gameplay innovations during the presentation.
In my opinion, the quality of the titles shown surpassed EA and got close to what Sony and Nintendo had in their presentations. It amazes me that Ubisoft can produce some of the most original IPs in the industry and still be the #3 publisher in gaming. If EA drops the ball at launch of the new consoles, which it has done in the past, especially in the Sports division, Ubi could move up to #2. With this lineup, it wouldn’t surprise me.