It was always going to be hard to top Microsoft’s presser earlier today, but Ubisoft came out swinging as best as it could this year. Aisha Tyler once again did a sterling (pun intended) job of the hosting duties, with a few surprises thrown in that caught me off guard. I wouldn’t say it was Ubi’s best showing ever, but they did themselves proud during their 30th birthday celebrations.
Where the wild things are
After being disillusioned with The Division post-launch, I made sure my enthusiasm and expectations for Ghost Recon: Wildlands was in check. Thankfully, the 4-player co-op footage we saw made me feel like I can give it a real chance. As someone who has enjoyed playing through the GR games in co-op, I was impressed by the size and scope of the open-world sandbox shown in the demo mission. Seeing how player can achieve various objectives and drive multiple vehicles reminds me of Grand Theft Auto Online, but with the added freedom that I always felt was missing from Rockstar’s heist missions.
The vistas on display were gorgeous as well, but that shouldn’t be surprising to see from the company that gave us Assassin’s Creed’s synchronisation points. I wouldn’t say I’m rushing for a pre-order, but my interest is certainly piqued now.
One of the unexpected surprises came in the form of Star Trek: Bridge Team. While the gameplay is reminiscent of Spaceteam, the VR twist allows trekkies to live their fantasy of being on the bridge of their own starship with other players. The concept and mission objectives may be fairly simple, but Ubisoft may have struck gold with this one.
It also helps that Levar Burton’s enthusiasm was utterly infectious. Seeing one of The Next Generation’s main cast so excited by the experience had the fan in me eagar to try it out, which is clearly what Ubisoft were going for. So, well done there, Ubi. Also, a shout out to the showing of Eagle Flight with its fun-looking Capture The Flag gameplay. Or, as I like to call it, Flap-ture The Flag.
I apologise for nothing.
Go tell it on the mountain
The grand finale had me worried initially as I wasn’t quite sure what to make of it, but as the gameplay demo kept rolling the more interested I became in Steep. The mixture of SSX’s gameplay with the event-filled open-world from Burnout Paradise slowly grew on me, as the beautiful vistas and ridiculous stunts played out on screen.
The realistic speeds and snow trail effects made it look authentic, although the blood-curdling screams from crashing players was rather horrifying. Still, all the social features and instant replay functionality was impressive, and the fact it will be with us in December was a surprise twist to the surprise reveal. So, very surprising, basically.
And the rest…
It only just missed out on getting a main spot, but South Park: The Fractured But Whole highlighted yet more genius from Parker and Stone along with revamped gameplay. Trials of the Dragon looked both ridiculous and fun in equal measure, while I’m just glad they showed some gameplay from For Honor after the lengthy CGI trailer. I wasn’t expecting to be wowed by Watch Dogs 2 after its official reveal last week, but I did appreciate the slickness of the gameplay as Marcus moved through the demo level.
Finally, I had to mention Yves Guillemot’s heartfelt speech at the end, which was clearly a message directed at Vivendi’s hostile takeover bid. I’ve slammed Ubisoft in the past, but I really do think they’d lose the imaginative spirit that gave us Valiant Hearts and Assassin’s Creed if they were bought out. Let’s hope today’s presser gave the share holders some faith in holding the line.
Do let us know what you thought of Ubisoft’s efforts in the comments, and be sure to stay tuned for more impressions from the rest of this year’s pressers!