This year, Ubisoft played it rather safe when it came to delivering their annual E3 conference. Hitting the stage at the Los Angeles Convention Center, Ubi focused on bringing quality-looking titles to the forefront, from the leaked and rumoured to the completely surprising.
Kicking off the show was Mario + Rabbids: Kingdom Battle, a bold new game that brings together Nintendo’s beloved Super Mario franchise and Ubisoft’s Rabbids, the headache-inducing creatures made popular on the back of Rayman. Nintendo figurehead and industry legend Shigeru Miyamoto joined Ubi President and CEO Yves Guillemot on stage to announce the crossover, which will be releasing exclusively on the Nintendo Switch. Though initially looking like a platforming game in the style of Mario or Rayman, Kingdom Battle turned out to be an altogether more complex beast, one that takes more than a few cues from XCOM. With a mix of strategy gameplay, destructible cover and a focus on flanking enemies, Kingdom Battle looks to be a really solid foundation for a brave new step in the Mario franchise.
Next up was the much anticipated Assassin’s Creed Origins, a game which had been rumoured for months beforehand and officially revealed at the Xbox conference the day before. Boasting 4K-focused visuals and an expansive open-world adventure, the latest entry in the decade-strong franchise takes players back to ancient Egypt, the oldest point in the series’ timeline so far. Along with a refined combat experience, the player can now command an eagle to mark enemies on the map, a trick borrowed from Ubi’s own Far Cry Primal. Though the game looks like an injection of colour and flair for one of Ubisoft’s flagship titles, only time will tell if there’s life left in the Creed.
Ubisoft didn’t let up the pace, blindsiding viewers with the announcement of The Crew 2. Though the original was met with mixed reviews, the ambition of its huge United States sandbox was incredibly bold. Now, Ubi looks to keep broadening the scope by moving away from street racing gangs and dramatic storylines and diving into the world of motorsports at large. Bikes, helicopters, planes and boats now join the fray, creating the potential for an ultimate racing game that spans across land, sea and air. Along with more footage from South Park: The Fractured But Whole and teaser footage for virtual reality experience Transference, Ubisoft announced the return of naval combat made popular in Assassin’s Creed games past in Skull & Bones, a new IP featuring five-versus-five death matches on the open seas. From the early alpha footage, it looks like the pirates and booty setting will create plenty of explosive, carnage-filled multiplayer memories when it arrives.
Skull & Bones was immediately followed by another original title, the toys-to-life space adventure Starlink: Battle for Atlas. Boasting No Man’s Sky style visuals and real models of ships and starfighters that players collect and customise, Starlink certainly looks like an interesting experience. However, with the recent failings of Disney Infinity and waning interest in Skylanders, one has to wonder how well Ubisoft will stand to profit with no in-built audience ready to buy.
Bringing the conference to the close, we got a wondrously violent look at Far Cry 5 that showed how important it is to have friends on your side. Facing off against fanatical cult Eden’s Gate in a locked-down Montana, the player can summon a variety of allies to assist in the battle. In the clip, our protagonist calls in sniper support, an aerial attack run and a bloodthirsty dog to take down the cultists. With an exciting and controversial premise that mixes Red State with Assault on Precinct 13, Far Cry 5 looks primed to deliver a fresh and engaging experience to fans of first-person shooters.
The final announcement of the night was one that blew the minds of gamers across the world and, for many viewers, ‘won’ E3. The return of Beyond Good and Evil, the beloved cult classic, one that had been teased at E3 in the past, looks like it’s finally taking form. Despite the title, Beyond Good and Evil 2 is a prequel to the original game that shows a darker world before Jade’s adventure unfolds. The pre-rendered trailer was packed with foul language and action, distancing itself from the tone of the original game dramatically. However, the game itself looks to be drawing inspiration from Mass Effect with an open galaxy to explore and battle across. Yves Guillemot returned to the stage surrounded by the BGE2 development team in an emotional scene that celebrated a dream coming to fruition. A fitting end to a solid conference, one of the best on show this year at the Electronic Entertainment Expo.
The less we say about Just Dance, the better.
You can read our full coverage from E3 2017 here.