E3 2014: Ubisoft

Far Cry, The Crew, Shape Up, Rainbow Six, and More Ubisoft always delivers intense and surprising E3 press conferences, and this year was no different; the gaming juggernaut unveiled several […]

Far Cry, The Crew, Shape Up, Rainbow Six, and More

Ubisoft always delivers intense and surprising E3 press conferences, and this year was no different; the gaming juggernaut unveiled several new titles while offering additional looks at games that most of us are looking forward to. Their offerings began with a brief pre-show video wherein company representatives expressed gratitude for the fans. This video opened with a recap of fan excitement at past events as well as a look at the Uplay Lounge, a site where VIPs and lucky fans could enjoy the presentation and go hands-on with the company’s newest offerings. Later segments featured fan works based on Ubisoft’s most popular franchises and developers discussing what inspires them.

Far Cry 4's demo was gorgeous, intense, and captivating.

Far Cry 4′s demo was gorgeous, intense, and captivating.

After an amusing “how-to-enjoy-this-show” video that heavily focused on the Rabbids, the media briefing began with an intense and gorgeous demo that featured a routine Himalayan bus checkpoint quickly dissolve into a bloody slaughter. The demo was revealed to be the first five minutes of Far Cry 4, and the audience reaction was extremely positive. Soon after, a slightly more reserved (but no less edgy) Aisha Tyler took the stage and expressed excitement for the content Ubisoft was set to present. We then saw the next evolution of the Just Dance franchise in the form of Just Dance 2015, which will feature an updated presentation and a brand-new track list that, of course, features the smash hit “Happy.” Also announced was Just Dance Now, a new way to experience Just Dance through free smartphone apps that connect to bigger-screen devices; the experience is said to be endlessly scalable and support thousands of simultaneous players with no geographic restrictions, although specifics on just how this will work are scarce to say the least.

The Crew is still out to revolutionize racing.

The Crew is still out to revolutionize racing.

To much audience fanfare, the presentation then turned to The Division. Thanks to a particularly emotional cutscene, viewers were introduced to how the game’s version of New York City dissolved into chaos and ruin. The video emphasized how tragedy can pull people and cities apart, but it also teased how that same tragedy can bring people together in highly unexpected ways, and it seems as though these tragedies will form the foundation of how the game’s protagonists come together. Although no gameplay footage was shown, the video promised an official release date of 2015. Next up was the long-awaited racing game The Crew, and its portion of the show pushed the cross-country nature of the game and the seamless experience it promises. A fast-motion video showed a player cruising across the nation with nary a load screen or unsightly pop-in to be had. One of the game’s executives then came on stage to emphasize how the development team released the game “into the wild” for fans to go hands-on and provide some feedback. This worldwide hands-on took the form of Crew Battles that will come to a head on June 10th on Twitch. A closed beta for The Crew will begin on July 23rd, and the game itself will arrive on November 11th; you can sign up for the beta here.

Assassin's Creed: Unity is just as intense and scenic as you'd expect.

Assassin’s Creed: Unity is just as intense and scenic as you’d expect.

Thanks to a “masterful” segue, Tyler moved the presentation toward Assassin’s Creed: Unity, a next-gen game that will take the franchise into the heart of the French Revolution. An exciting pre-rendered trailer showed a group of Assassins leaping into the fray of a frantic battle that simply tears a city apart. Also discussed were the multiple protagonists in cooperative play and the emphasis on unique, player-driven experiences. To much fanfare, a live demo began that featured combat, stealth, on-the-fly mission selection, and bigger crowds than the franchise has ever seen before. Assassin’s Creed: Unity will be released on October 28th.

Shape Up wants to make fitness games more friendly to the core gamer.

Shape Up wants to make fitness games more friendly to the core gamer.

Next on the docket was Shape Up, a fitness game “for gamers” coming  exclusively to Xbox One this November. The game incorporates fitness into a more traditional gaming environment to make the genre more accessible to hardcore gamers. The live demo featured the game’s creative director fighting himself in Piano Step, a mini-game that should remind one of DDR without the pad. The whole “fighting-yourself” feature is possible because the game will allow you to save your attempts and challenge yourself to get even more athletic by beating your own best performances. Two Ubisoft employees also faced off in an intense (if slightly awkward) push-up challenge.

The destructible environment in Rainbow Six: Siege impressed the audience. A lot.

The destructible environment in Rainbow Six: Siege impressed the audience. A lot.

In a more somber segment, the company then introduced Valiant Hearts: The Great War, a cartoonish puzzle adventure focused on the intense combat and extreme loss of World War I that will be available on June 25th. Its reveal trailer was actually quite sad. As if to balance those emotions out, the cheery CEO of Ubisoft, Yves Guillemot, then took the stage to express his thanks to fans and developers before revealing one more surprise game to the audience: a very cooperative FPS that featured one team trying to breach a suburban house and rescue a hostage while the other team defended the location. It featured the most realistic destructive environment I’ve ever seen, it was incredibly intense, and to everyone’s surprise, it was Rainbow Six: Siege. The reveal bowled the audience over, make Tyler well up with tears of joy, and marked the first time we’ve heard from the franchise in six years.

Just Dance‘s segment aside, the entire presentation had more emotional undercurrents than years past. Ubisoft toned down much of the noisy hype and fanfare gamers may have been expecting in an attempt to focus on the games themselves. If you judge only by the frequent roars of approval from the audience, this approach obviously paid off. However, these conferences obviously extend far beyond their theaters, so what did you at home think? Did Ubisoft convince you of their upcoming slate of releases, or were you hoping to see more in-game action?