By Julian Benson and Matt Wales
One stream down, two to go! We kicked off this evening with the laid-back PC Gaming Show and now we have Ubisoft. Sony, of course, will be closing the night with its annual PlayStation conference at 2 am.
It’s weird having an Ubisoft show not hosted by Aisha Tyler, who's basically the best thing that’s happened to E3 conferences since Giant Enemy Crab. Apparently, the company wanted to put the focus on developers, but the loss will be palpable. #Tyler4lyf.
The show opens with one of the worst kept secrets: Mario Rabbids:
Yves Guillemot strolls onto stage and is joined by Shigeru Miyamoto bearing an arm-cannon; he passes a spare cannon over to Guillemot and they both strike the most ridiculous Charlie's Angels pose together. This may be the most wholesome thing I’ve seen at E3 yet.
Apparently, Miyamoto told Guillemot that they could use Mario but they couldn’t make a platformer. Hence, why they made this:
It’s a turn-based tactical adventure thing that appears to play out like XCOM. Seriously, Ubisoft has made a Mario XCOM. It looks brilliant.
There’s an eight-minute behind-the-scenes video that's been posted to Ubisoft’s YouTube, too:
The best bit, though, may be the Rabbid versions of Nintendo characters, like Rabbid Peach:
Next up, we get another look at Assassin’s Creed: Origins, the series' new Egypt-based instalment which, to be honest, is already feeling a bit overexposed. In fairness though, it does look like fun, and there’s no denying that it’s gorgeous - as the new cinematic trailer once again reminds us. We even get a brief look at the game in action during the event, and we're promised 30 minutes of gameplay footage after the conference.
That’s all from Origins for now though, and it’s on to something else: The Crew 2. We knew this was coming, Ubisoft talked about it in a financial call last month, but - as is the case with money bods - they didn’t reveal any details. The game now has a Motorsports focus and includes not only cars but also speedboats, motorbikes, and stunt planes.
It looks like a big silly racing game, I’m all for that.
South Park: Fractured But Whole got a brief trailer, almost just to prove it’s still in development. Side note: Wendy plays a superhero you can call for help, she’s called Call Girl (tee hee hee).
Next up is something very weird. It looks a little like a live-action off-shoot of Watch Dogs, but it’s got Elijah Woods in it. Ah, it’s a VR game called Transference, and I've got no bloody idea what's going on in the trailer.
Yes! Pirates!! I’ve always said the world needs more pirate games and now E3 has given us two. Two! Skull & Bones is Ubisoft’s offering, and it basically looks like Assassin’s Creed: Black Flag minus the Assassin’s Creed bits. Which is to say, lots of salty naval battles. Oh, and continuing this year’s theme of moody covers of classic pop songs, we get a lady tootling along to Seal’s seminal Crazy as everything sinks, mournfully, to the bottom of the ocean at the end of the trailer. PIRATES!
With that over, we welcome Justin Farren, creative director on the game, to tell us more. Skull & Bones apparently features a systemic world (whatever that means), and you can sail the high seas on your own or with your peg-legged pals. To show some of that in action, we get a glimpse of Loot Hunt, one of the game’s 5v5 PvP modes.
In-game, it looks VERY much like Black Flag, although Jules swears that it’s more like a nautical Rainbow Six. Either way, it wins a prize for being the first game ever to feature an NPC calling someone a “soggy nutmeg”. I like the look of this one, improbable insults and all, very much.
Oh and FINALLY, after they were terribly ignored in Black Flag, we get seamonsters!!
With that excitement done, it's time for the new Just Dance game. Wonderfully, it appears that Ubisoft hasn’t completely lost its sense of randomness. We get a little dance number to a couple of hi-energy pop songs that reaches a climax when a man dressed as a panda gets aggressively danced upon by some energetic ladies. There’s also a special guest appearance from a possibly famous singer wearing a nice jacket. I’m too old for this.
South Park Phone Destroyer is next which, unsurprisingly, is a South Park game for your phone. It’s some kind battler which looks to offer turn-based combat between various factions (wizards! pigeons! choirboys!) within the town.
Starlink Battle for Atlas is next and it looks phenomenal. It’s for Switch and it lets you click toy spaceships into your console and load them into the game, adapting them by taking the toys apart and clicking in new components.
Steep (remember that?) is getting an expansion called Road to the Olympics on December 5th. Weirdly, the lady that comes onstage to talk about it ends up going on for longer than the actual game trailer. Balance, Ubisoft, balance!
Far Cry 5 is next and we get a grand old slab of footage. First up, there’s a quick cinematic featuring a fairly unnerving congregation, then we get onto the proper stuff: a lengthy gameplay montage introduced by a suitably gruff-voiced developer. “People are fucking scared,” he tells us before immediately, and adorably, apologising for his swear. Far Cry 5 itself looks as frenetically violent as you’d expect, but the real selling point for me is all those bold colours and beautiful blue skies.
Importantly, you have a dog called Boomer:
IT'S BEYOND GOOD AND EVIL 2! AND IT HAS SPACE MONKEYS!
Michel Ancel has come onto the stage, visibly moved. It's a big moment for him. He’s spent years fighting to get this sequel made. When I spoke to him last year, the strain of keeping this project alive and trying to get the technology for the game working had been taking its toll. It’s wonderful to see that it is finally coming together and will be releasing some time in the next year.
Yves joins the developers on stage and wishes the audience farewell, closing out one of Ubisoft’s best E3 conferences.