2018 has already been a huge year for Ubisoft, having finally repelled the hostile takeover attempt by Vivendi. This is coming off of a year in which the financial successes of Assassin’s Creed Origins, Ghost Recon: Wildlands, and For Honor and the critical success of Mario + Rabbids Kingdom Battle have buoyed the prospects the company to new heights.
Why is E3 2018 Important for Ubisoft?
Announcing the next iteration in an Assassin’s Creed franchise will be an interesting sell for the company after the struggles of Unity forced them to take a years extra hiatus leading into Origins semi-reboot of the franchise.
Tom Clancy’s The Division 2 received a full gameplay reveal at the XBox press conference, so it will be interesting to see what more Ubisoft will discuss about a game that they for sure want to be a massive success this time around. What changes will they make to entice a broader audience, especially as the market for similar games is going to continue to become more clogged.
Another question floating around in the background is whether Ubisoft will attempt to enter into the new hotness that is the Battle Royale marketplace. The difficulty for Ubisoft is that they don’t have an existing game that will be as natural of a fit to adopt the game style like Activision could do with Call of Duty or EA could do with Battlefield. But, whether it is in Rainbow Six, Ghost Recon, or even Watch Dogs, there are some opportunities there for them.
It will also be interesting to see if the much rumored new Splinter Cell game will make an appearance at E3 this year. With the series inclusion as DLC in Wildlands earlier this year, the momentum seems to be there that the time is ripe for a return to Sam Fisher.
One could assume fairly safely that Skull and Bones would make an appearance after its blowout at their E3 2017 presentation. However, there are still quite a few questions as to whether a game solely about naval combat will have enough variation to interest gamers to spend a full $60 to jump in and to continue to play the game to maintain a solid multiplayer user base.
On another note, is Beyond Good and Evil 2 going to make a return to the stage after last years trailer that sold fans on the concept of a return to the IP in a slightly different vein. This game still seems to be a ways off, so it wouldn’t be a surprise if it was absent this year, but Ubisoft does like to keep hype building for the games they think will be huge for them in the future.
What Was Announced?
Ubisoft had a lot to say and checked off pretty much all of the outlying boxes hanging out there in their lineup.
- Assassins Creed Odyssey was officially announced and discussed, showing an in depth story trailer as well as a lengthy gameplay demo laying out a general structure to the gameplay.
- It was also confirmed that dialogue trees are used for discussions with NPCs and quest givers and the player will get to choose between one of two main protagonists to play the game as. Odyssey will be released on October 10, 2018.
- Beyond Good and Evil 2, other than showing a full story trailer that connects back to the first game (which takes place after the sequel). A collaboration with Joseph Gordon Levitt’s RecordNow was announced, in which interested fans can contribute to create music, art, radio shows, and various other assets that will then end up being used in the game, as a part of their Space Monkey Program fan initiative.
- Skull & Bones received a full new trailer as well as a gameplay reveal that described how the minute to minute gameplay will work. A release window of 2019 was revealed, which is a delay from the Fall 2018 window mentioned at last year’s E3 presentation.
- Toys to life game Starlink (which seems to be a couple of years too late to the party) had a huge showing, including the huge announcement that you can play as Fox McCloud himself and his Arwing in the Nintendo Switch version of the game.
- New DLC was hyped for Mario + Rabbids: Kingdom Battle, which is a new Donkey Kong adventure. The DLC will be available for download on June 26, with
- The next game in the Trials series, Trials Rivals, was announced (in a very Trials-y way) and will be out this fall.
- Transference, a collaboration between Elijah Wood’s company SpectreVision and Ubisoft Montreal that was announced during last year’s E3, had some story/gameplay revealed.
- For Honor, released in 2017, has a new update coming out that adds a fourth playable set of heroes from Chinese dynastic lore and a new mode that allows for 4 vs. 4 castle sieges.
What Can I Play Now?
The only deal that was mentioned today, other than signing up to make assets for is that you can pick up For Honor for free on U Play on PC from June 11 through June 17. If you get the game during that time, you will own it forever, so jump on it now!
How Did Ubisoft Do?
Ubisoft has found their stride in a lot of ways – in how they embrace their games’ communities, in the way they portray their company to the outside world, and also in how they make they present and sell their games to the populace. It was a conference with few missteps and had a solid pace throughout.
They nailed selling their return to the annual release cycle of Assassins Creed by not mentioning that and showing that it was a new developer that was heading up the development of this iteration. Odyssey did a fantastic job of showing how they were advancing the gameplay even more from how Origins re-booted it last year.
Ubisoft opened the show with Beyond Good and Evil 2, which had a much larger and more involved showing that was expected. Though, the fact that they are asking for the community to create resources for the project, it has to say that the game is still quite a ways from release yet. Even with that said, the little bits of gameplay that were shown (though they were hard to see due to an inexplicable wide shot) seemed to flow well.
Skull & Bones also had a really good showing, helping to show exactly how the game systems – and teaming up specifically – works within the game. It laid the ground work for being able to sell how the naval combat from Black Flag can stand alone and be an intriguing and full-fledged game. They still do have some work to do in order to show exactly how multiplayer interactions can work and how the teaming up and breaking down affects the game experience.
And the surprise of the show for me was Starlink, which seemed like a much more fully realized game than I ever expected it to be. The in-between gameplay scenes had a nice computer animation style to them and it appeared like the combat and movement of the ships could be pretty fun.
The tie-in to Star Fox on the Nintendo Switch seems to make that the console of choice for prospective players than own multiple systems I am still concerned about how easy or hard it is to play the game with a toy ship bolted onto the top of your controller and how difficult it actually is to swap out the weapons on the fly while still flying the ship in the game.
Overall, Ubisoft showed yet again that it has a lot of solid gaming experiences available and coming in the near future. They definitely touted the phenomenal communities their games (especially Rainbow Six Siege) have developed over time.