Hello you beautiful misfits. My name’s Matt and this is my coverage of the E3 2015 Ubisoft conference. Which, in terms of quality was very much a procession of dizzying highs and spelunking lows, like a magic rollercoaster, or a cursed yo-yo.
Hosted, as it has been for several years now, by comedienne, writer, actress and all round talented lady Aisha Tyler, the conference itself started off on a high note with the delightfully irreverent trailer for South Park: The Fractured But Hole. Sequel to last year’s Stick of Truth, only this time the theme is superheroes instead of fantasy LARP stuff.
Aisha then invited South Park creators Matt Stone and Trey Parker onto the stage to talk a bit about it, only for them to complain about their microphones instead.
The cynic in me would normally jump at the chance to call this bit out as some scripted tomfoolery, but you know what? I don’t care if it was scripted or not. I couldn’t truly tell and it was at least amusing.
Matt and Trey soon departed and Aisha continued with her hosting duties, taking a moment to admit on behalf of Ubisoft that they hadn’t exactly been having a great time lately.
Well I’d say it was a wee bit more than a mere teabagging and more like being fucked with knives at a Cenobite gangbang. But it’s nice of Ubisoft to acknowledge their failings.
Aisha then briefly departed to give the stage to Yves Guillemot, Ubisoft CEO, who straight away showed that Matt Stone, Trey Parker and Aisha Tyler weren’t the only comedians present at this event.
[“At Ubisoft we do take risks.”]
Alright, so that’s not entirely fair of me. Yves Guillemot was here to introduce “For Honor”, a genuinely brand new IP. Presented by one Jason Vandenberghe, who looked like the long-lost son of legendary comic book writer Alan Moore, and talked like a grizzled old war veteran from a David Gemmell novel.
[“A sword is coming at your head. Would you turn and run? Would you stand…AND FIGHT?!]
I’m just to here to see some videogames, sir.
I’ll tell you one thing though, he damn well knows how to sell me on a game about knights, vikings, and samurai hacking each other to bits. Well, to be more accurate it’s fantasy versions of knights, vikings and samurai, which is as handy an excuse as any for these three wildly disparate warrior cultures to be chopping each other’s limbs off. Although there’ll doubtless be some history nerds out there spitting blood over this particular creative anachronism.
Anyhow, as presenters go, Vandenberghe the Blood Reaver here was definitely one of the most memorable of this year’s E3. I mean who else could say something like:
[“You will feel the weight of the weapon in your hand!”]
and genuinely seem like someone who has actually buried a hatchet in someone’s face while storming a castle? I’m not saying he really has ever done that, I’m just saying he could easily convince me he has. In fact I felt so inadequate after watching his presentation, I now feel obligated to kill a dragon or something before I die, just so I can feel like a man again. Although if I did somehow manage to do that I suspect Vandenberghe the Merciless here would just laugh and tell me to kill ten more, so he could build a throne out of their shattered skulls or something.
As for the game itself, it comes across as a strange yet interesting fusion of Chivalry and Dynasty Warriors, with a smidgen of Dota 2 and a perks system similar to modern first-person shooters. The basic gist is you charge into battle with three other comrades and a horde of NPC allies against four other players and THEIR horde of NPC allies. Your goal is to amass a certain number of points by completing key objectives, like securing certain positions, then track down the enemy team members amidst the chaos of the melee and swing at each other with big weapons until one of you is dead. Which, for someone like me with a soft spot for realistic-ish medieval combat, definitely puts For Honor on my one-to-watch list.
Jason VANDENBERGHE here meanwhile goes on an altogether different list entirely. This one.
Aisha Tyler then returned to the stage to introduce expansions for two existing “fan favourites.” And by that she meant some DLC for The Crew called Wild Run, which is all cars, cars, cars, cars and cars, and some DLC for Trials Fusion that lets you play a cat riding a fire-breathing unicorn because LOL ZANY!
We then got to see more of The Division, which was great because we hadn’t seen enough of that already this E3, right boys and girls? Actually we hadn’t seen this particular bit, set in the game’s so-called “Dark Zone” where supposedly “anything can happen” and you can “trust no-one.” Which sounds less like a mysterious zone of danger and opportunity and more like the world’s worst S&M club.
Although if this is the so-called Dark Zone, the most dangerous part of a post-apocalyptic New York, then why do all these signs and billboards still have power? You’d think the utility companies would’ve cut the supply already, right? Anyhow, this footage sees the return of what I call “The Ubisoft Totally Authentic Honest Multiplayer Players”, or “UTAH MP” for short, who feel more real here than in previous demonstrations. If only for the simple reason that one of them actually swears this time!
As for what’s going on here, well, it’s about finding loot with some chums only they’re not really your chums since they can turn on you at the drop of a bullet. There’s a bunch of MMO lingo like “drops” and “elites” thrown about, the UTAH MP’s briefly consider ambushing some other players who show up, and then right at the very end they all try to murder each other over who gets to keep the sick loot.
Now that’s actual online play.
There was also a March 2016 release date confirmed. Just so you know.
After that was Anno 2205 for fans of the Anno series of city-building and economics simulations. Demonstrated here with a cinematic trailer about cities on the moon that showed no gameplay whatsover. Then there was supposedly some actual gameplay footage although calling it that was a bigger stretch than…well, from here to the Moon. Speaking of The Moon, you don’t even start there in Anno 2205. You have to build cities on Earth first like in all the other Anno games.
Aisha Tyler then interviewed a professional cosplayer in a jarring, incongruous and other words best-fitting a segment that made no sense whatsoever.
[“We should come up with a meme quickly for this show.”]
Noooooo, memes don’t work that way.
Thankfully before Aisha could defy all the laws of the internet even further, proceedings were interrupted by a spontaneous song and dance number from…whatsisname here.
Ahhh of course. It’s Jason Derulo.
Who’s Jason Derulo?
I don’t pay much attention to pop music nowadays. Anyway, this bit was to pimp-out Just Dance Unlimited, a subscription service for Just Dance that let’s you get new songs weekly on demand and OH GOD THIS BIT IS TEDIOUS. MOVING ON!
Angela Bassett of TV’s “American Horror Story” then appeared in her new all-digital form, the culmination of a secret Ubisoft project to digitize living, breathing people into software, that can then be downloaded to a computer on Mars for colonisation purposes. Not really. She’s just starring in Rainbow Six: Siege, and telling Aisha here what it was like to act in her first videogame.
Which I found quite interesting, since you get an actor’s insight into what it’s like acting in a game compared to acting in a movie or TV series. Not to everyone’s taste and a press conference isn’t really the best platform for such things, but I enjoyed it!
After that was some actual gameplay footage of Rainbox Six: Siege proper, showcasing the game’s Terrohunt mode. Which starts off slow-paced at first with the team all working together to check their angles, slice the pie, poke the kettle and other SWAT team-type lingo, before things descend into the inevitable clusterfuck. Albeit a fun-looking one.
Up next was Trackmania Turbo presented by Tommy and Francois here. Yep, it’s a racing game, and you all know how I feel about racing games right? Well this is an exception, because the focus is on mad track design rather than “OMG LOOK AT THESE EXPENSIVE CARS I’LL NEVER OWN!” It’s still not entirely my thing of course, but I’d pick mad arcadey racing nonsense like this over po-faced serious car-porn anyday.
After that was more cinematic footage of Assassin’s Creed Syndicate that we’ve already seen, scattered throughout countless other cinematic and gameplay trailers on YouTube. Carriages clop around, rich people rich-it-up, and there’re slums full of poor people getting the crap beaten out of them. Much like Britain today in fact, only with more top-hats and less litter.
And with that unremarkable denoument the conference was over. So, in conclusion, this year’s Ubisoft conference-
[AISHA TYLER DOES A BLOODY FAKEOUT]
Goddamnit! I can’t believe I fell for that.
Yep, Ubisoft wouldn’t release their hostages before showing one last thing. That being Ghost Recon: Wildlands, an open-world third-person action and stealth game – wow, what a revolutionary concept for an Ubisoft game – in which you’re hunting down bad guys who are flooding America with cocaine. You know they’re bad guys because they worship a skeleton in a dress, and who else but evil drug lords would worship a skeleton in a dress? Well, many of Mexico’s LGBT community for one. Along with taxi drivers, mariachi players, bar owners, police, soldiers, sex workers and plenty of other ordinary Mexicans who have nothing to do with the international drug trade.
Christ. You know it’s really something when a white bloke in the arse end of England knows more off-hand about a Mexican folk cult than the people who get paid to research this stuff. And all I know is stuff I read on internet. If Ghost Recon: Wildlands opens with that classic “This game was developed by a multicultural team of various faiths and beliefs” disclaimer, I will laugh my arse off so hard it’ll tear open a portal to the Aztec Land of the Dead. As for the game itself, it looks like a recruitment video for the DEA. But then who honestly expects anything resembling sociopolitical nuance from a Tom Clancy game.
And with that little rant of mine done the show was properly done and finished, thank God.
As for my summary: well, it was a procession of highs and lows with the highs being very good and the lows being god-bloody-awful. Interspersed with moments like this where the whole thing veered off into a ditch full of mad frogs. Another problem with this conference was too many of the games on show were things we’ve already seen, online and in other conferences. Out of all the games on display, For Honor, the new South Park RPG and Ghost Recon: Wildlands were the only genuinely new reveals. The rest was stuff we already know is coming and have had drummed into our heads for over a year now. The person who made it all tolerable for me was Aisha Tyler, who is a genuinely engaging host and did the best she could with what she had.
Despite her curious obsession with rickets.
So with that one done and dusted it’s onto my final conference video of this year’s E3: the Square-Enix conference. And boy am I really looking forward to that one. Believe me, if you thought this one was dull then you ain’t seen nothing yet. You’ll have to wait for that one however, though not too long I promise. In the meantime, until next we meet, cheery byes.