Ubisoft E3 Press Conference Review: Your Average Joe

I have no wants or expectations from this show. It’s nice. So quite simply, surprise me Ubisoft. Can’t be any worse than Square Enix, right? RIGHT?

Just Dance 2019

Well that was mad. A well-rehearsed dance routine, that began outside the confines of the walls, and eventually moseyed its way into the building. It culminated in having everyone converge on and around the stage to usher in the newest entry into the Just Dance franchise. Put some Metallica in this year and you might have one more fan.

Beyond Good and Evil 2

A pulsating trailer I have to say. Another game at this year’s E3 that is years in the making. Gabriella Schrager described the game as ‘Space Opera’. It introduced us to some familiar characters, particularly the series protagonist, Jade; as an evil leader it seems.

After showing off some early alpha footage of combat and exploration, we were suddenly graced with the presence of a visibly excited Joesph Gordon-Levitt, introducing his pet project, ‘HitRecord’ to a wider audience. He explained how people all around the world can submit content to possibly appear in the game. Ranging from music samples to posters, these are all thoughtful ways of investing the gamers and making them part of the creation process.

Rainbow Six: Siege

35 million players worldwide. I bet those are figures Ubisoft could have only dreamed of. Siege has been a critical and commercial success due to its intricate and tactical gameplay; a game that leans heavily on teamwork and co-operation in order to succeed.

This was just a way of bring these figures to attention, praising the influence that eSports has had on it and also promoting an upcoming documentary in connection with the game.

Trials Rising

In-studio stunts to promote a new Trials game is apt. A series that prides itself on physics, frustration and amusing death sequences. The trailer showed multiple people riding at once, traversing all-manner of hideous obstacles that will require exactly 3.6 million attempts to fail at, never do, but still lie to yourself that you can do it.

I really like the approach that Ubisoft are going for here, just like Bethesda last night, they showed some captured footage of the hard-work and behind the scenes enterprising that goes into the making of some of their games.

Having played Trials: Fusion, I look forward to some more testing fun with Trials: Rising, although maybe fun isn’t the right word…

The Division 2

A great divide. It’s the only way I can describe the desolation in The Division 2, such is the survivalist nature of the world.

On one side of the wall, a child lives carefree and knows nothing else other than living. On the other side, a man is desperately crawling for his life, about to take the sip of water that could possibly save his life; only to be walked over by two healthier looking people, one with a shotgun primed to eviscerate his head with a finger wrapped around the warm trigger.

Seconds later, a helpless woman is dragged against her will, before being presumably executed with a single bullet.

I didn’t see too much of this morbid imagery before The Division last year, there’s more emphasis on a proper story here; a positive of course.

It uses a class system, each offering their own specialist tools and armaments. Squads have been increased from 4 to 8 and raids are now a thing.

Three DLC packs will be released in the first year of its release, how much you ask? Zero of your currency. They’re free. This E3 is proving to be a stepping stone in the right direction as far as extra paid content goes. Long may it continue.

Donkey Kong Adventure, Mario, Rabbids

Musical performance number #2 of the evening.

Let’s not ruin a good thing now Ubisoft ok? A band, a composer and some orchestral musicians walk into a bar and they produce a live set to a live screening of the game.

Fin.

Skull & Bones

It had a Watch Dogs feel when it was unveiled last year. A cool concept, in this case one that is rarely explored, and it looked awesome. A year later, there seems to be no graphical infidelity, it’s remained faithful and improved if anything. It looks phenomenal.

If you’ve ever seen the show Black Sails, then you’ll be right at home with Skull and Bones. It pays attention to detail showing you wind speed, direction and various other factors that will affect your swashbuckling and plundering from aboard your ship.

It requires you to be as cunning and resourceful as pirate, one example showed your boat approaching an enemy fort, such a high level that its power is almost unquantifiable. In layman’s terms, pose as a different country and sail right through undetected. Bingo.

You can customise your ship, your crew and choose the weaponry you see fit to invite hostile pirates to a one-way, blind date at Davey Jones’ Lobster Locker.

It looks like a pirate’s life to me. Definitely one to keep an eye on; most pirates only can use the one good eye. Savages.

Transference

Frodo, I mean err Elijah Wood is here to promote Transference. A game that I know he and his entourage, have been working on for a while now.

A psychological horror game that manipulates reality. It looks like a chilling game and another one to add the ever-growing VR horror collection. Seriously, don’t they know that horror in VR is TERRIFING. Maybe they do know. Hmm…

Starlink: Battle For Atlas

Even though I watched this, I’m still not 100% sure I grasped the concept of this. My primitive understanding of this venture is; “we think Skylanders works, we want some of the pie too”.

The video featured lots of spaceships, sci-fi action and lots of placing of different pieces of space ship onto a PS4 controller and an Xbox One controller.

It looks like its Ubisoft having a foray into the toy/game market. I mean, why not? There’s money to be made.

For Honor

For one week, you can play For Honor for free on PC….

and…

For Honor: Marching Fire

A massive update to the base ‘For Honor’ game. New classes, new maps etc. It sounds like a lot of extra content is on its way. I never really saw the longevity in this game, glad to say that I was wrong.

The Crew 2

There’s a beta out now for The Crew 2. Hopefully the connectivity problems and other things that plagued the first game are going to be rectified here with this beta.

There was a generic racing trailer with lots of advertising here too. I THINK they might have a partnership with Red Bull, someone may have to clarify that.

Assassin’s Creed: Odyssey

The big one. Assassin’s Creed never really hooked me. I think I naively dismissed the rest of the games after having the misfortune of playing the utterly intolerable debut.

But last year, Eurogamer gave me a hands-on opportunity to sample it once more; Origins converted me. So I was very keen to see what the next one would be.

Greece is a perfect setting and taking the helm-et of a Spartan makes perfect sense.

Alexios or Kassandra is your starter question for 10. (Only Brits might get that joke). You can pick between two of these warriors to guide through the story; can I just say, it’s so nice to see female protagonists appear so regularly now that it’s essentially just a normality to see one be an option. Round of applause to that aspect of modern society, the rest not so much.

There’s a beautiful reference in the trailer, to 300, too with a soldier being booted about six miles off of a cliff.

There’s now dialogue options offering different strands of conversation. It didn’t reveal how much your choices could adversely affect your character, but a bit of freedom is always nice.

On the other hand, a perusal of the internet will undoubtedly confirm my suspicions that this game is going to be criticised for being a carbon copy of Origins. Whereas Origins was a new game built from the ground up over a long timespan, Odyssey feels very much like Origins 1.5.

It uses the same HUD and fonts as Origins, which is lazy. The menu is the even the same, but looks perfected and sleek in its design. Senu, or a flying bird in memory of Senu, was shown and the ship battles are back.

You can’t help but feel that it’s an obvious reskin of Origins with some perfunctory, cosmetic changes here and there.

BUT, why change what isn’t broken? Origins was heralded as the most innovate entry since Assassin’s Creed II and, for one more game at least, I think Ubisoft can excused; providing Odyssey delivers an experience as good as it looks.

Summary

My gut feeling was that this was going to be an unspectacular conference with little to moan about and enough content to keep people simmering.

Just Dance and Trials were surprises and nothing else. Some people half-expected to see the rumoured Splinter Cell game, maybe Watch Dogs 3? But nothing special happened.

Ubisoft went with the safe, conservative approach by unearthing more information about games we already know are in the public domain. The Division 2 received some more exposure, Beyond Good and Evil 2 and crucially, Skull and Bones got a big helping of screen time.

Assassin’s Creed was generally going to get the longest time under the spotlight and I would be confident in saying it had a good offering. Gameplay, story, new features are all things needed to be seen with its October release date approaching.

Safe and sound. That’s where this press conference stayed. Just a nice, average show that probably could’ve done more, but could’ve done less too.

 

E3: The Wrestlemania of Video Games

Ever since 1995, the Electronic Entertainment Expo has been at the forefront of video game excitement, hype and anticipation. It’s seen the unveiling of some of the most significant pieces of hardware and birthed lots of well-loved, well-received games that have a firm place in the annals of gaming. Why? Because E3 is the resounding, undisputed, media-fuelled event in the gaming calendar.

The Tokyo Game Show, The Playstation Experience and even the Game Developers Conference are all left in the dust. Are they all big shows? No doubt about it. But I’m sure they’d all like to whip up a storm even half as effortlessly as E3 does.

The first-ever show took place in, what would become, its usual home of California; with the exception of two consecutive entries in Atlanta, Georgia from 1997-98. It had the pleasure of showcasing the price-point and release date for the brand new Playstation console. The N64 was shown off to the public, as well as Nintendo boasting the Sega Saturn. How time flies eh?

E31995Sony

Spyro The Dragon, Parappa The Rapper, Crash Bandicoot and Sweet Tooth.

Almost a Sony Mt. Rushmore.

Fast-forward to 2018’s instalment, and whilst we’re probably not getting a new iteration of hardware from any of the big-hitters, we should be in for a smorgasbord of juicy, gaming reveals to sink our lucky teeth into.

The countdown is ticking down, day-by-day; seven more days to be precise, until a mass congregation of hungry gamers converge in the halls of the Los Angeles Convention Center.

The yearly titans are in full-force once again to wow the world with their presentations; Sony, Microsoft, Nintendo, EA, Bethesda and Ubisoft amongst others. They will all look to capitalise on the mainstream media attention by throwing fastballs to appease consumers, and the odd curveball in there to throw a proverbial spanner in the works.

Maybe that’ll be a new exclusive, ‘Spanner in the Works’. The hardships of Young Spanner, desperately trying to impress Mother Spanner by performing every chore imaginable. Until ultimately, Young Spanner goes all out to impress her and rebels against his Mother’s wishes. Sadly…he has a screw loose.

I should probably copyright that idea. Absolute money.

Anyway, this is the kind of tomfoolery that makes E3 so interesting. I still fondly remember squealing like a pig when the N.Sanity Collection was announced at E3 2016. It was a europhic moment that came out of left field, leaving the audience in a state of uncontrollable hysteria.

CrashNSaneTrilogy

3 games. 3 platinum trophies for my collection. Thank you Vicarious Visions for your superb reimagining of these wonderful games.

Final Fantasy XIII revealing that it was going to be playable on an Xbox console was earth-shattering. The series was synonymous with the Sony brand, and with the PS3 struggling, it was seen as something of a bombshell and a huge win for Microsoft in the ongoing console wars.

The list goes on…

-The first-ever appearance of the Nintendo DS (that would go onto become the most successful series of handheld consoles of all-time).

-Valve’s President, Gabe Newell, appearing during Sony’s 2010 E3 Conference to announce Portal 2, despite publicly lambasting Sony in the past.

-Sony’s one-upmanship of Microsoft in 2013, effectively winning trouncing the Xbox One with the announcement of a cheaper console, allowance of third-party game use, and not needing a constant internet connection; unlike the Xbox One.

-PS Move, PS VR, Wii U, X1, PS3 etc. All different consoles and devices that have been showcased at E3.

By digging deep into E3’s history, I discovered a fascinating little tidbit.

E3SegaSaturn

299.99

Did you know, that the Sega Saturn was released in North America…DURING Sega’s 1995 E3 Conference? It was a ballsy move that was done to try and fast-track Sega’s new console to success, ahead of the impending arrival of the Playstation. It failed spectacularly. Especially as Sony’s Conference soon followed and their Head of Development calmly walked on-stage during it, uttered ‘299’ and left. Absolute genius. The much-cheaper price tag had instantly crushed the Saturn’s momentum and ended the console’s chances of success in one fell swoop.

https://www.theguardian.com/technology/2015/may/14/sega-saturn-how-one-decision-destroyed-playstations-greatest-rival

E3 is capable of the spectacular. So my hopes are high.

Not just for Sony though, this is a multi-faceted gaming website after all. I just want great games to come out. I like games, even if they’re on the Xbox and I can’t play them. As I type this, I’m crying internally thinking about Cuphead. *sad face*

It’s like Christmas for gaming. E3 is pre-Santa.

Santa

Where are we landing boys? Tilted Towers?

FYI, there have been leaks of E3 games all over the internet, but I’ve tried to avoid them as to not ruin the surprises for myself. So if you wanna forego my nerdy predictions and childish desires, then feel free to scour the internet and see what undercover info you can get your impatient hands on.

From a Playstation perspective, we know that The Last of Us 2 is going to feature, which, personally, is enough to own E3 alone. Hideo Kojima has promised more of Death Stranding, meaning we get more than Norman Fetus and the ambiguity surrounding this tightly-coiled egg. Also, The Ghost of Tsushima has the potential to be a game of the Year candidate, so we’ll thankfully get more of that here too.

In addition to all of this, maybe Bloodborne 2? More on Medievil? More classic remasters? Syphon Filter? Horzion Zero Dawn 2? We’ll just have to wait and see.

SirDanielFortesque

*Incoherent mumbling*

Microsoft have tended to falter in recent years and it’s been a while since they really wowed people. They still release quality games year in and year out, but the exclusives have certainly been left wanting. The Xbox One generally feels like it’s inhaling the dust of the Sony behemoth that is always one step in front of it.

Can Microsoft strike here? I’d like to think so. It’d be nice.

A cool, new exclusive to shock the system would be cool BABY! (wrestling joke there for you, it’s a dual website remember). A new Halo game surely beckons too, perhaps another successful Forza game and maybe a new entry from Gears of War? As far as surprises go, would it be cruel to suggest a new Perfect Dark? Time will tell.

MasterChief

The one and only.

There’s probably another 2-3 years left of this generation of consoles, and that’s plenty of time for Microsoft to leave a serious footprint and maybe even change the landscape a tad.

As for Nintendo, they’ve had a great couple of years since they released the Switch with strong sales. They’ve had some stonking, hit titles with Mario Kart, Splatoon 2 and of course, Zelda: Breath of the Wild. I wouldn’t say Nintendo could do much wrong here, especially with a new Pokémon game already announced, we’ll see what they do…Super Smash Bros. anyone?

ZeldaBreathoftheWild

E3 is always a cool event. I’ll be following all the coverage and if I see anything that takes my fancy, then I’ll be sure to channel my thoughts into a piece of work. Maybe reviewing a press conference or two too.

Until then, enjoy E3…you’ll be hearing the scream heard around the world if we get a Simpsons Hit and Run remaster, you can take that to the bank and bloody well cash it.

Fortnite: Battle Royale: With Cheese

It’s very rare that a game has me scouring its huge, expansive map for a multi-coloured llama piñata. But when my glistening eye dilates as it catches sight of one, then I will run, I will jump, I will literally hurdle through hell itself, kicking Satan in the d**k if need-be. If the end goal is a goofy-looking llama containing 1, 500 resources and lots of ammo; then it becomes a matter of life or death to get it.

Side-note: Death is a reoccurring theme in this game too.

Fortnite is a weird and wonderful game, although very divisive.

FortniteRainbowSmash

This…is a pick axe. Be honest, you want it don’t you?

It’s divisive in the sense that it’s arguable taken the crown as king of battle royale games, although PlayerUnknown’s Battlegrounds, H1Z1 and DayZ might have something to say about this. It’s become the most-streamed game on Twitch, has the most active players and gets the most revenue of any game in the battle-royale genre, despite being free-to-play.

But before all of that, what is a battle royale game? Good question.

It’s an RnG-influenced skirmish, traditionally pitting 100 people against each other, air dropping onto a sprawling map filled with randomised loot.

Your objective? Gather materials to build yourself impromptu defences, loot chests and houses to find the best weapons and accessories, all the while running away from a storm that closes in on the map to kill you. Get caught in the storm? Then you may die. But why are you doing this? To kill the other players and be the last person and/or team standing.

Earning a sacred ‘Victory Royale #1’ is a great feeling.

FortniteVictoryRoyale

It took me a few months to wrap my head around the addictive nature of Fortnite, but a couple of weeks into Season 3, I made my illusive bow and forayed into the crazy world. Within a couple of weeks I was suckling the sweet teat of this game and being overrun by its addictive juices. Seriously, it’s infectious.

I went into my first few games with severe trepidation as my only exposure to the content of this game was through social media. Skyscrapers and intense 1-on-1 battles with players frantically assembling gargantuan, wooden structures with en-suite bathrooms was certainly intimidating. Nevertheless, I had to join in.

It’s a tough game to get to grips with no doubt, there was is much choice, yet I had no idea what any of it meant.

When your experience with something is very much in its infancy, then your baby steps are going to be like walking on lava with this game, oh boy. But when you begin to understand the mechanics of the game, then it becomes very satisfying.

Throughout the course of season 3, the game underwent a myriad of changes: ranging from weapons having their damage output nerfed, all the way to the addition of a sticky grenade in the shape of a plunger (charmingly entitled ‘The Clinger).

A portable fort, light-machine guns, heavy shotguns, remote explosives and impulse grenades are just some of the newest additions that have helped to mould the game we have today.

It’s not just the stuff you can use, it’s the modes you can use them in too. Sniper Shootout limits the inventory to sniper rifles and hunting rifles, a fast-paced Blitz mode, to one team versus another one, 50 v 50.

Fortnite50vs50

The thing that’s impressed me most with Epic Games, is their ability to constantly reinvent their game. Upping their game each week with the changes.

However, it’s not just Epic’s willingness to expand the elements, it’s also the way in which they will respond to feedback and withdraw some of those elements too. The laser-guided missile was added towards the end of season 3, and it’s safe to say that it was an over-powered beast. You could give a baby, fresh out of the womb, one of these bad boys and they’d probably still be able to make mincemeat out of your favourite squishy kitty.

Boogie bombs, the pressurised equivalent of LSD, had developed a glitch that allowed players to hold unlimited weapons, so they were pulled for a couple of weeks. There’s no standing on ceremony with Fortnite, if Epic believe something is harmful to their baby, then they’ll eliminate the threat without hesitation.

FortniteBoogieBomb

Now, it’s a given that they’ll do this, especially when you consider that Fortnite supposedly raked in $126 million in February alone.

https://www.forbes.com/sites/davidthier/2018/03/22/report-heres-how-much-money-fortnite-battle-royale-is-making/#25539fa370ff

The game is free-to-play, so where’s the money coming from then? Cosmetic purchases. The only half-decent form of paid downloadable content in the world.

To be fair, Fortnite excels in giving value for money. The optional Battle Pass, priced at around £8, gives players 100 tiers to earn stickers, costumes, interchangeable accessories, skins, loading screens, and the ever-lovable emotes.

FortniteFlossGIF

I play Fortnite a lot, more than I want to sometimes as it unnecessarily diverts my attention away from my main games. But that’s the beauty of the ‘Take the L emote’. The music for that emotes had me in tears from laughing when I first stumbled across it.

The item shop also updates daily with exclusive content, all cosmetic, and it’s all just bizarre and wonderful nonsensicalness. Your psyche wars so much with this game that spending hard-earned money, turning your avatar into a bright, pink Easter bunny man that dances like a reincarnated Michael Jackson, is totally worth it.

FortniteMrBunBunMan.png

This is the Rabbit Raider aka “Mr BunBunMan”. He has been my main avatar for a long time. I love him.

The Game Itself

 

Step 1: The pre-lobby camaraderie between players usually begins proceedings. People around the world showing off their imaginative combinations of attire and dance is always fun and ironic. You could literally be dancing in front of the same dastardly individual who will later end your dreams by one-shotting you with a green pump shotgun.

Step 2: Next, it’s all aboard the battle bus. All manner of individuals, crammed inside a cramped, claustrophobic bus. It sets sail in the skies. Flying in a straight line over the battlefield. It’s then up to you to deploy and pick your poison. Want an action-packed game that will inevitability see you eat a swift death? Tilted Towers for you. Or perhaps you’re sick of dying, and want to take a more conservative approach. Moisty Mire or Junk Junction then. Either way, find a Gold Scar if you can.

Step 3: This is generally the part of the script in which players will depart. The desperate dash to find a weapon, and not leave yourself more exposed than a naked man in a mine field. Even if it’s a common revolver, take it. Otherwise you’ll be trying to fend off a fellow vulture with your pitiful pick axe. Any weapon > a 10 damage pick axe. Back to the lobby you go.

Step 4: Ok. You’ve scrounged a weapon and gotten your shaky hands on some loot. You’re armed to the teeth with a Gold SCAR, a Gold Heavy Shotgun, Gold Bolt-Action, Gold Grenade Launcher and a Chug Jug; along with 16 kills to your name. Yeah, in your dreams. You’re packing a green AR and 3 mini-shields and survived your only encounter with 1hp left. Good luck, we’re all counting on you.

Step 5: Oh, you’re still here…Ok, well keep going, there’s only a few people left. The storm circle is very small and the end is near for most of you. Basically, use all your skill to survive, kill and get that W.

Step 6: You’ve either claimed the win. Congratulations. Otherwise, quit out and get yourself into a new game pronto and do it all over again. If you’ve won, quite out and get yourself into a new game pronto and do it all over again!

FortniteThugLife

That’s another pleasing attribute of the game, the accessibility of it. If you die, then you can immediately quit out, retaining your match rewards, without having to stay until the end. Normally you’ll be straight into another one within a minute or so.

I guess my only really gripe with Fortnite and/or the genre, is that you can actually win a game without making any meaningful contributions. It’s entirely possible to win a game without getting a single kill or even an assist. There are 6-week old pieces of mouldy pizza, left to rot at the bottom of a bin, growing new kinds of fungi unbeknownst to man, that can say they made more of an impact on some Fortnite games than their respective winners.

But apart from that minor misdemeanour, it’s been a joy to play Season 3, especially towards the latter stages as the, now infamous, ‘Comet’ stirred up conspiracy theories and grapevine chatter all the way up until its seismic conclusion.

The sighting of a comet in the sky, getting closer with every passing week, was the starting point of many debates: What would it do? Will it destroy anything? etc.

After many false dawns, it finally crashed into the map, decimating Dusty Depot. In its place is the newly christened Dusty Divot, creating many craters around the map and generally facilitating the evolution from Season 3 to Season 4.

What will it bring about I wonder. An elastic band gun that fires fireworks? Port-a-tank? Kamikaze Squirrel Bombs?

We’ll have to see. As long as I get an emote depicting Booker T’s Spinaroonie then I’ll be happy.