Ubisoft had its work cut out to impress this year – and managed it. With Far Cry 3, Brothers in Arms, Ghost Recon: Future Soldier, Ghost recon: Online, Driver and a handful of surprises from Assassin’s Creed: Revelation, the publisher proved it’s not all about dancing, guitar playing Rabbids.
Ubisoft E3 2011 Highlights
Watch video of the entire conference here.
Ubisoft president Yves Guillemot kicked off the Ubi conference by saying the firm, which is celebrating 25 years in 2011, has now shipped more than half a billion games since 1986.
He introduced Michel Ancel to great applause, the legendary designer on stage to talk about Rayman Origins. The 2D platformer was played with two players, getting plenty of laughs from the crowd. Ancel played Rayman, while his partner played a “blue thing”. There was a Tetris-inspired level, bursting balloons, lava spouts, water sections and more. It was Disney, but actually good. There were flying airships and everything.
Aaron Priceman, Ubisoft’s “Mr Caffeine,” then came out to talk about the publisher’s 25th anniversary. He made some “dick jokes,” which are probably best forgotten.
Gaming is adventure, he said, managing to move himself into a Driver: San Francisco demo. The Reflections game was shown in a new video, showing offroad racing in Marin County, Chinatown and, obviously, racing on the Golden Gate Bridge.
Single-player and multiplayer Driver is on show in LA this week.
Dan Hay from Ubi Montreal came out and showed Far Cry 3. It’s set on an island, you’re trapped on it, and everyone’s mental. There was lots of swearing, people being executed and a man talking about the “definition of insanity”.
He kicked a stone off a cliff, which was unhelpfully tied to the player’s hands. He escapes into an underground cave. The environment is still jungle-based, but things have definitely moved on since the last game. Amazing effects on water and trees, stealth kills, completely open gameplay, long grass, silenced guns and more.
A helicopter section ended in a crash.
Welcome back, Far Cry: you’ve been gone far too long.
Then a terrible kept secret: the next Brothers in Arms game. It’s called Furious 4 and it’s about a bunch of men that enjoy killing Nazis. It’s Inglorious Basterds, basically. A trailer was shown, involving a lot of people dying in a bar.
Moving onto something rather less violent, the show moved to Tintin, which included a section of Steven Spielberg talking.
Up next, Ubisoft teased us with a “what would it look like twenty years ago?” Ghost Recon preview, before cutting to the big guns: an extended gameplay demo of Ghost Recon: Future Soldier.
In a dusty shanty town in Nigeria, our shadow ops slipped in and out of camo as they cleared civilians from the operative area.
As well as the famous optical camo, we saw drones in action, as the team used a satellite to get a lock on an oil facility.
Advancing from cover to cover, a heated gun battle took out the enemy, before finally locating a captive inside a shipping container.
With VIP secured, the team ordered an air strike to clear the path out again as the demo drew to a close.
“Synchronised kills, the most refined cover system out there, augmented reality… That’s Ghost Recon: Future Soldier”, we were told. An exclusive mode called Conflict will be playable on the floor.
This led nicely into what we’d been expecting for some time – Ghost Recon Online. Confirming an earlier announcement, the game will be free to play on PC.
The game will tie in with both uPlay, Ubisoft’s rewards point system, and Future Soldier, sharing achievements and unlocks across the two titles.
With a neat segue on the topic of shared online experiences, we caught up with the Trackmania team, introducing Trackmania 2: Canyon.
“Trackmania 2 takes the best of Web 2.0 and brings it to racing,” we were told.
The demo we were shown was made entirely from gameplay footage, with tracks created by players using the user gen system at the heart of Trackmania.
Canyon should drop in September, with Shootmania and Questmania bringing the same ethos to different genres under the ManiaPlanet banner.
“Playing Online will never be the same,” apparently.
Rabbids: Alive and Kicking was up next, with game designer Antoine Henry joined “on stage” by the Rabbids. Playing a full-size game of whack-a-hamster, Henry said the game supports up to four players. Three friends joined him to demonstrate another mode called “fill a shape”, in which the party contorts themselves into an outline shown on screen to get rid of Rabbids. UFO and Dracula shapes were shown.
“It’s ridiculous isn’t it,” Henry said amicably, before announcing a November release.
A montage of home users – including, inexplicably, Katy Perry – leveraged the incredible popularity of the series to introduce Just Dance 3.
Boasting of 30 million players, the Just Dance 3 trailer posted an October 11 launch this year.
Next, Ubisoft said they could teach anybody to play a real guitar “by turning the hard work of learning guitar into a game. Say hello to Rocksmith.” And so you shall,with an October US release – although the Rocksmith tour bus is parked outside the hall for those on site.
Your Shape: Fitness Evolved 2012 turned up next, with an abstract live action trailer making it difficult to assess claims of improved tech.
And finally, Assassin’s Creed: Revelations – to thunderous applause.
Creative Director Alex Amacio and Martin Schelling came onto stage to introduce this most anticipated Ubisoft title.
Continuing the series tradition, we were rewarded for our patience with a musical cinematic trailer.
Ezio was seen in action, glimpsing Altaïr before ending on a serious cliffhanger.
Amacio said Ezio is on the trail of a top Templar before coming to the deadly attention of the Ottoman guard.
In the PlayStation 3 gameplay demo, a much older Ezio is seen walking the streets of a market, using some sort of gas bomb before vaulting over an enemy’s back.
Using a smoke bomb, the player switched to eagle eye to see the enemy’s outlines through the cloying fog.
Shooting an explosive, Ezio brings down a tower, before using a zipline to escape before boarding ship to return canon fire.
As the boat is burned and smashed, our hero ziplines away again, making an escape over and occasionally through water, hopping between sails.
Dropping down on two enemies, he offs them, reaches his own vessel, and greets a mysterious VIP.
A November release date for Revelations backed up the parting claim of the publisher’s 25th Anniversary E3 presentation – “Ubisoft loves you!”