It’s the Ubisoft E3 press conference, and for the second year running there’s no Aisha Tyler. This is a shame as she had become synonymous with the company’s presentations but there’s also no big song and dance number to open with either. This was also becoming something of a staple and without following their usual format, Ubisoft are entering a brave new world of originality. Can we expect new IPs? Reinventing of game genres? A whole new approach to electronic entertainment? I’m very optimistic.
An orchestra appears on stage. Well, they don’t appear, they were probably already there, but the lights come on so it’s as if they appeared. Something interesting is about to happen, the tension in the air is palpable. The cellists and violinists ready their instruments, the crowd gets ready to be wowed. With a simple flourish, the conductor raises his baton and they start to play music from Assassin’s Creed. Somewhere in the distance, the sound of an amateur journalist bashing their head against a desk is heard.
The point of this orchestral introduction is to announce that the music of the Assassin’s Creed series is going on tour with a live orchestra from the 29th of June. If you enjoy the score of those games, then it’ll be something that you’ll probably like. They aim to tour the world, visiting major cities including Paris, Dusseldorf, and London.
Thinking of London, our first game reveal is some footage and gameplay of Watch Dogs Legion. Narrated by a budget version of Danny Dyer accompanied by an even cheaper sounding Stephen Merchant-a-like, our protagonist is searching the city for a drone expert to recruit. This is where the new game is a bit different to the first two; every character is usable. You’re able to recruit anybody and play as any of them. When they die, that’s it. Permadeath means that if you lose a character, you’ll need to jump into another in order to continue.
We see our first death and play jumps from our initial protagonist to Helen, an apparently retired terrorist with the look and voice of a cute old lady and apparently a propensity for profanity. She infiltrates Scotland Yard with a robotic spider of some kind, knees a security guard in the crotch and leaves with the required intel on a big red bus. It’s all a bit eccentric but the crowd are loving it.
The next character we see is another operative named Naomi that’s a bit more agile. Lots of sneaking and shooting of bad guys ensues, and we learn that she’s infiltrating a human trafficking ring to rescue their friend Jimmy. We might have just found the only person in the UK called James who calls themselves Jimmy. Never mind though, the awesome fight sequence makes up for the complete inability of Ubisoft to understand the country their game is set in.
Developer Clint Hocking takes to the stage wearing a Ben Sherman mod t-shirt because presumably, his knowledge of the UK comes entirely from the film Quadrophenia. He makes a token Brexit reference and says how it’s hard to know what will happen in London. I think he’s under the impression that his game’s a prediction rather than a work of fiction. I hope it’s not correct if so, the world of Watch Dogs Legion is a horrid one. The dystopian ‘Albion’ organisation have taken over and everything’s gone a bit 1984. You are building the resistance and the unique selling point is that recruitment. You can get any NPC into the game and who you recruit affects it. Not just the main action either, cutscenes and storylines are changed by your actions. Another trailer plays and we’re told it’ll be available on the 6th of March 2020.
Rob Mcelhenney from It’s Always Sunny in Philadelphia is up next. He’s making a new TV show based on computer games. It’s a mockumentary style affair charting the developer of an MMO. He’s brought in Ubisoft (who don’t make any MMOs) to help him and we saw a trailer for it. It’s got Danny Pudi in it too and it looks like The Office meets The Guild. It’s called Mythic Quest: Raven’s Banquet, and it’s set to be exclusive to Apple TV Plus. No date was announced yet.
Back to games, and we have an announcement of the new season of Rainbow Six: Siege. A trailer introduces a lot of secret agent type people with an epic spy movie style soundtrack playing. It’s called Clutch Royale and it’s already started at the time of writing.
A brief trailer shows us Finn and Jake from Adventure Time playing Brawlhalla. After getting beaten too many times, Finn decides the best thing to do is to enter the game. This all serves to announce that the cast of the famous cartoon are coming to the indie fighter. They will be bringing a new mode and a new map with them.
Next comes the big Ghost Recon announcement. There’s a big epic speech from a character to a group of ghosts and once everyone is hyped up, Jon Bernthal and his dog Bam Bam come on the stage and everyone loses their shit. Bam Bam is adorable and the best thing to come out of this conference so far. A crowd member shouts “I love you” and Jon responds with “I love you too”, seemingly under the impression that the comment was aimed at him and not Bam Bam.
Another trailer plays showing some of the gameplay. It also reveals the T2000 from Terminator who presumably is in the game. Just when we thought things couldn’t get any more exciting, one of Ubisoft’s community managers comes out to announce the game will have a forum. We’re not sure why this needed its own piece of the show either.
One of the developers comes out to announce that the game will be out on the 4th of October and the beta will be live on the 5th of September. The crowd are apathetic. A mobile game featuring lots of Tom Clancy game characters called Elite Squad is also announced. The crowd are still nonplussed. They probably want Bam Bam back on stage.
Now we finally get the big Just Dance choreographed number. It’s the game’s tenth anniversary and the new game is coming in November to Xbox One, PS4, Stadia, Switch and the Wii. This is followed by a short trailer for a new limited time game mode in For Honor featuring a samurai and lots of punching. It’s called Shadows of the Hitokiri and it’s available until the 27th of June.
Next up is a trailer for a game that has some kind of virus. A man with a gun is protecting himself from zombies while his arm starts to gain some rather disturbing looking black veins. It’s revealed to be 3-player tactical co-op game: Rainbow Six: Quarantine. The developer takes to the stage to explain how the new game works. It’s a PvE co-op game which sees you protecting Earth from a world-destroying disease.
A montage of streamers overreacting serves as a thanks for playing The Division 2. A trailer plays for the third episode, out in early 2020. We get the news that the game is going free-to-play and we learn a little more about the upcoming movie too. It’ll be directed by David Lynch and will feature Jessica Chastain and Jake Gyllenhaal. We’re told that it’s being made with Netflix.
A game streaming service is announced.
To close, two new IPs are announced. Roller Champions is a roller skating sports title that sees players in teams of three skating through a circular rink with the aim of getting a ball through laps of the circuit and tossing it through a hoop to score points. It’s an original concept and a little difficult to explain but you can play the free alpha until the 14th of June on Uplay, so that saves me trying any harder than I already have done.
Yves Guillemot comes out, thanks everyone, and announces Mark-Alexis Cote. He’s not working on an Assassin’s Creed game at the moment, he’s working on a brand new game called Gods and Monsters. It’s based on the mythology of old Gods and features you as the person that Gods turn to when they need help. It’s coming out on the 25th of February 2020, although the trailer didn’t show exactly what kind of game it is - it’s very pretty though.
And that’s it. Some rappers that nobody cares about started playing games against each other and everyone stopped paying attention. Maybe not the huge opening or ending that we might have liked but with new games, music, TV, a film, and Bam Bam, I think we all got what we wanted here, Ubidom included.