Saturday, June 25, 2016

HotSauce Off the Presses Post E3 - Ubisoft Press Conference

Hello Hot Sauce Nation! SirOrin here with part 4 of our Post-E3 Hot Sauce Off the Presses! (This is taking longer than I expected, please forgive me!)

Between the Microsoft and Sony press conferences was the Ubisoft press conference. They took EA's old time slot to give a little more breathing room after Miscrosoft this year. Going in, most of their announcements seemed obvious. Just Dance, South Park, Wildlands, The Division, and the recently leaked/announced Watch_Dogs 2 would take up the bulk of the show. Even so, there were a few surprises and I'm glad I watched. Read below for the in depth discussion!

~ SirOrin

HotSauce Off the Presses for the Ubisoft Press Conference

The original VR man, Levar Burton, on
the Ubisoft Press Conference

As usual, Ubisoft was both great and cringeworthy. Aisha Tyler was once again the host and has seemed to become very comfortable with the job. She seems to have a real genuine appreciation for Ubisoft and knows what she's talking about. Not nearly as much "Girl Wood" this year which was nice (not zero "girl wood" but less at least).

As Rubicon will tell you, opening with a Queen song is always a good way to go. The dance number and announcement of the new Just Dance 2017 was unsurprising except for at the end when it was said to be also for the "Nintendo NX". This is the first time a non-Nintendo company has confirmed a game for the system to my knowledge. Also, it was surprising to hear them call it the NX. Maybe that is the final product name after all.

After last year's reveal of Ghost Recon Wildlands, it was not surprising to have a lengthy demo of this cocaine fueled open world game. The comment comparing energy drinks to cocaine seemed crazy but I don't use either so who knows. The game looks fun, but based on the co-op demo they showed it seems to require a lot of communication and coordination. Hopefully it will be also playable as a solo game.

Once again they brought out Trey Parker and Matt Stone to talk about South Park: The Fractured But Whole. I don't know if the demo was too long or the interview was, but something about this just dragged on and the jokes weren't landing to me. I know South Park has been criticized for being just fart and poop jokes before but that seemed especially the case here. I thoroughly enjoyed The Stick of Truth so I remain hopeful, and the combat they showed seemed to be an improvement, but I was disappointed by what I saw so far.

The Division got more info on the DLC. Moving on.

Surprisingly to me, Ubisoft had a pretty decent time devoted to VR games. First was Eagle flight which seemed like a bizarre three on three game where you fly around as eagles. It may be fun with a headset on but was difficult to follow and understand the appeal of just spectating. Some of the shots of the players looking around on the stage in VR was INCREDIBLE though. I wonder how long before it won't be funny-looking to watch someone else in VR.

The second VR game they showed was the Star Trek: Bridge Crew game. It wasn't shown on screen but more of in a pre produced piece with several Star Trek actors across multiple generations. Levar Burton was the centerpiece and was then brought out on stage to discuss the experience. My main takeaway was that it is a communication game in the vein of Keep Talking and Nobody Explodes, or Space Team. It only has the movie license and not the show which is odd, and some of the movement and graphics seemed sub par, but it is an early build. I would play this with a group of people for sure.

Moving back into mainstream gaming, the next demo was on For Honor. I have never been excited about this game but the combat does look interesting. Stances and positioning your attacks seems key to winning at combat. It seems like the kind of game that will be frustrating until you get good at it.

My favorite surprise was Trials of the Blood Dragon (although this had leaked prior to the show due to ESRB and images getting out). I doubt I will play this unless it goes free to GWG or PS+, but I have always been impressed by the syle of the Blood Dragon games. Just the fact that they are making Blood Dragon into a franchise and pulling other game series to make them is crazy to me. My next hope is for Rayman Blood Dragon.

Watch_Dogs 2 gave us a new gameplay demo and trailer. The new game is set in San Francisco and features a new protagonist. It is goofy in a way that is hard to describe. I can't tell if the vibe of the game is serious or tongue in cheek. If they are trying to be serious then it comes off as tone deaf and if it is a parody then it doesn't make that obvious. The first game seemed to be a disappointment to most people but I still hold out hope for the possibility of this game. Ubisoft has made vasty improvements with sequels before (see: Assassin's Creed).

Finally they ended the show with Steep, an open world mountain sport game featuring skiing, snowboarding, wingsuiting and more. I have been a fan of these types of games in the past, particularly SSX, but this one came across as kind of bland to me.

At the very end the entire Ubisoft team came out following a montage of how they are a team of free and running developers. The undertones were obvious with the pending buyout from Vivendi. I hope Ubisoft remains free to make the games they want to, there have been some amazing work coming out from them over the years covering multiple genres and age ranges. I look forward to seeing them continue to make amazing software!

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