E3 2013 – Ubisoft

I gotta give this to Ubisoft, their presentations are rarely boring and tend to include some surprises. This year, the conference largely followed the template set out by the previous one, including the return of Aisha Tyler. Thankfully, no Tobuscus this year, so that was a definite improvement. The content that was showed was a mixture of gameplay demos and CGI trailers, each game usually having both.

The conference started with Jerry Cantrell from Alice in Chains playing some music, looking slightly bemused and promoting a new Rocksmith game. As the celebrity appearances go, this one was quite decent. Not completely disinterested and not suspiciously enthusiastic. Splinter Cell Blacklist was showcased next and got about as much time as it deserved, seeing how it is going to be released in two months’ time. It was mostly limited to a montage trailer, showcasing different locations from the game and the characters you will play as. South Park: The Stick of Truth also had a presence, with acknowledgements about the change of management and nebulousness of its holiday release date. The trailer was quite good, however I am not sure how much (if any) of it was gameplay. Or perhaps it is a complete opposite and it consists wholly of gameplay. Again, not so sure.

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Trials Fusion and Trials Frontier got some time in the spotlight, for next gen consoles and mobile phones respectively. It is quite good to see Ubisoft showcase them like this. Along with this there was some F2P game of sorts, which unfortunately did not quite explain what the gameplay was supposed to be like. The trailer shown was whimsical and rather funny at some points, but utterly horrible when it came to actually explaining what the game is all about.

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Just Dance was announced, to no one’s surprise due to its profitability. Already announced games like Assassin’s Creed IV and Watch_Dogs only received CGI treatment, probably to save time. A Rabbids game/TV show was also announced, further strengthening the notion that this year E3 is all about transmedia entertainment. Rayman Legends received a demo, which while welcome is perhaps a bit overdue. However, it still looked great in motion and I can’t wait to play it on my Vita this September

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Now, onto the more exciting announcements. The first one was for a racing game called The Crew. It received quite a lengthy demo, demonstrating the size of the maps available, with cities like New York, Las Vegas and Miami available. What particularly impressed me was the off road nature of the game. There is a lot of area which is accessible, and a lot of it is off the roads. A part of demonstration emphasised the point that there are a lot of alternate routes available for racers who modify their cars accordingly. There was also an emphasis on the multiplayer nature of this game. Apparently the players may choose to populate the world with other online players, resulting in cars in the world being controlled by a mixture of AI and real people. I am not quite sure how this will actually work in practice, but I cannot fault Ubisoft for a lack of ambition.

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Tom Clancy’s The Division was another standout. It started after a three minute long presentation that would put any conspiracy theorist to shame. It was quite evocative of last year’s E3, with Ubisoft saving its big surprise for last. The game appears to be an online RPG with some tactical shooter elements. There are skills and damage numbers as well as loot. The game looked very nice, with very futuristic HUD elements. The premise itself was also quite interesting as it put players in the shoes of government response agents tasked with assisting population of major cities in America that were hit with a pandemic. Only time will tell whether this premise will be used to its maximum, with mission variety not limiting to the usual “go there, kill stuff” mentality which is often found in MMORPGs.

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Despite the slightly familiar vibe of the Ubisoft conference, when compared to EA’s conference it wins by a mile. At least it managed to bring out some titles that were completely unexpected. Also, no E-Sports.

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