Ubisoft, typically one of the last few developers to hold a big E3 showcase, are no strangers to having big shoes to fill when they take the stage. If they were thinking about that, it showed. Ubisoft hardly wasted a single second of their 90-minute conference today, jam-packing the show with new releases, DLC, and betas galore.
Just Dance 2019 Is…A Just Dance Game
There’s really not much to say about Just Dance at this point. The nearly 10-year-old series features a mix of hit songs synced to choreographies that appear on screen for the player to imitate. It’s a formula that requires little tweaking and less explanation. Clearly, the ideal solution is to have a giant panda bear lead a colorful marching band through the streets of LA and into the convention center while a live medley plays. It was a delightfully goofy way to start the conference, and said all that needs to be said about the latest installment in the franchise. Just Dance 2019 releases on all consoles on October 23rd in North America and releases around the world throughout the following days.
Also, it’s available on the Xbox 360 and Wii. Why not?
In Beyond Good And Evil 2, Size Matters—All Of Them
After the band clears, we’re thrust right into a new cinematic trailer for Beyond Good And Evil 2, the sequel to Ubisoft’s ambitious 2003 title. We meet new characters such as Uma, your chief medic and Callum, your chief engineer. Pey’j, a character from the original PGE, also appears to have a prominent role. Last but not least, we see Shani, the newly-christened captain we’ve been introduced to in previous footage, coming up against an absolutely massive warship. At the helm is none other than Jade, the main character of the original game and an apparent antagonist.
After that, Gabrielle Shrager, the narrative director for the game, came out with Guillaume Brunier, senior producer at Ubisoft Montpellier, to give additional details on the gameplay for BGE2. The pair promised a wide variety of locations, co-op support, and the ability to fight on land and in the air at multiple scales. Not only that, but they promised to do so seamlessly. To prove their point, they showed a pre-alpha clip from one of the main locations in the game, the city of Ganesha. In the clip, the player moves from a cramped temple to blasting through the skies in a jet, leaping out along the way to take out a crowd of enemies.
The pair also revealed more details on the game’s early-testing Space Monkey Program, bringing out a very special guest in the form of Joseph Gordon-Levitt. Ubisoft is partnering with Gordon-Levitt’s collaboration-focused HitRECord production company to crowdsource a massive amount of artwork for the game. The team is looking for visual art in the forms of graffiti, murals, and ancient glyphs; they’re also in the market for music, radio segments for in-between songs, and even written work. This raises some serious question about fan compensation and the ethics of profiting off of the goodwill and creativity of fans, but HitRECord has previously stressed their commitment to paying at least the artists who make the company money, so we’ll have to stay tuned to see how this one plays out. There’s no details on a release date or even beta program at this point, but there is a BGEfest in Montpellier this fall that promises to showcase even more of the game.
Rainbow Six: Siege Is Going Strong
A genuinely humbled Justin Kruger, community developer at Ubisoft Montreal, came out to thank the Rainbow Six: Siege community for the growth the team had seen over two and a half years and to proudly announce that the game had grown to 35 million players. He also touted the growth the game itself had seen over its 10 seasons in the form of 40 added Operators and 19 maps. The latest expansion, Operation: Para Bellum, with the new Italian Operators Maestro and Alibi, just released this past week on June 7th.
The game hasn’t run out of steam yet though, as Ubisoft continues to build on the game’s e-sports momentum. There will soon be a Pro League for the game, kicking off on June 18th at 5PM. No teams were formally announced, but they will compete for the chance to play at the Majors in Paris this August and then the Finals in Brazil this November. Kruger also announced the 2019 Invitational, scheduled for Montreal in February.
To cap off the e-sports focus, Ubisoft premiered a trailer for Another Mindset, a documentary focusing on the trials of 8 community members on their paths to take their love of Siege to the professional level. The full documentary will be available at the Majors in August.
Trials Rising – Pain Is An Excellent Teacher, But Not The Best
In an entrance to rival the performance of the Just Dance troupe, the creative director of Ubisoft Redlynx, Antti Ilvessuo, rode down through the audience on a motorbike and decked out in an Evil Knieval-style Trials racing suit. In the bone-crunching spirit of Trials, Ilvessuo followed this triumphant entrance by taking a dive and completely eating shit through the podium. “Trials is about crashing with style,” he said, getting up and dusting off fragments of wood and plastic, “and getting back up again”.
We saw a stylish, globe-trotting trailer of the new game, Trials Rising, complete with all the hallmarks of a Trials game. There are industrial hazards like exploding barrels and wrecking balls, plenty of low ceilings and obstacles that can easily clothesline you off your back, and plenty of vehicular platforming sure to test your reaction speed. Prominent community member and Trials coach Brad “FatShady” Hill, came out to explain that all of that can be daunting to a new player, and even to one accustomed to the series. To help guide players through the basics and help them on their way to reaching the satisfaction of mastering a difficult course, Ubisoft is working with Hill and 20 other high-profile community members – level builders, players, and speedrunners – to design all of the tutorial stages to be as welcoming and intuitive as possible.
It’s not too late for us regular players to shape the game, though – Trials Rising has an open beta launching later this year that you can sign up for right now. Trials Rising launches on all major consoles, including Nintendo Switch, in February 2019. To tide us over until then, Ubisoft gave us a compilation of gameplay footage set to The Beautiful Blue Danube. Crashing into electric fences, porta-potties, and tar pits: Beautiful, indeed.
The Division 2 – Starting With The End In Sight
Julian Gerighty, creative director for Massive Entertainment, was up next to paint a bleak depiction of America in Tom Clancy’s The Division 2. A viral outbreak has torn the country to shreds, leaving small pockets of decent folk to rebuild the country while fending off the violent gangs imposing their own twisted law on the scarred remains of the nation.
Reiterating again the massive stakes at play in the game and reminding players that history would “remember” if they triumph, Gerighty immediately turned his sights on the postgame. The Division 2 will feature extensive postgame content such as branching specializations for players who complete the main story and full-scale 8-player endgame raids. Keeping his eyes on the future, Gerighty revealed the entire first-year update timeline. Details were scarce, but 3 full expansions (titled Episodes) were revealed as being planned for the first year alone, with many more to come. All of them will feature loads of additional content, and all will be free. Tom Clancy’s The Division 2 will launch on March 15th, 2019.
DK Joins The Fight In Mario + Rabbids
The addition of a DK-focused adventure to Ubisoft’s surprise hit strategy game is not news, but the company celebrated it anyways with a trailer orchestrated live by game composer Grant Kirkhope and Critical Hit. The trailer featured lush jungle and temple environments, everyone’s favorite monkey duking it out side-by-side with (and against) everyone’s least favorite terrifying rabbit monsters, and a climactic face-off with a giant Rabbid DK.
The Donkey Kong Adventure DLC for Mario + Rabbids: Kingdom Battle goes live on June 26th, but season pass owners can grab it a day early.
Skull and Bones – High Risk, High Reward In New IP
Next we saw a trailer for the pirate-based game Skull and Bones, which we saw a first glimpse of at last year’s conference. The trailer detailed the end of an age of piracy followed by a glorious new dawn as pirates are forced out of the Caribbean and into the Indian Ocean. Justin Farren, creative director at Ubisoft Singapore, came out to discuss a thrilling shared world of riches, tentative alliances, and grave dangers.
Skull and Bones will see the player crawl their way up from the bottom of the piracy world and embark on a quest to, in the words of Farren, “steal every last fucking cent” of the ocean’s rich bounty. Farren showed a gameplay video of just that. The player started in their hideout, an area that looks to be single player-only, and customized their ship’s weapons and appearance before sailing off to loot a Portuguese merchant convoy. The ship combat shown looked robust and satisfying, accommodating everything from stealth and deception to ramming right into an enemy ship. Also on display was the ability to call for help from other pirates, an alliance which quickly collapsed once the gold was to be divvied up.
Skull and Bones also got a beta announced. No date was revealed, but registration is open now. Skull and Bones launches sometime in 2019.
Transference – An Unsettling Reveal By An Unexpected Guest
Elijah Wood was next u – wait, what?
The celebrity appearances weren’t done with JGL. Elijah Wood was next up to tell the crowd about his upcoming psychological thriller, Transference. Details were scant, but the gameplay is said to revolve around switching your consciousness between different members of a family in order to solve the mystery at the heart of the game.
The trailer did not offer much further illumination, only showing a father hooking his fearful son up to what looks like a VR rig. The rig takes the child through corrupted-looking hallways and scenes from varying perspectives as the father continues speaking. He apologizes for being a bad father, a bad husband. As the father fades into darkness we hear him, voice increasingly distorted, tell his son that he loves him.
Transference will be playable with or without VR when it launches this fall.
Starfox is a Switch Exclusive in Starlink: Battle for Atlas
We got another trailer for the upcoming toys-to-life game Starlink: Battle For Atlas. Not a whole lot of new details on this game, besides a fall release date and…wait a minute, is that Star Fox? Yes, yes it absolutely was and is. But that wasn’t all: Ubisoft CEO Yves Guilemot brought Shigeru Miyamoto on stage to present him with a special figure of Star Fox and his ship in-game.
Starlink: Battle For Atlas launches on all major consoles on October 16th with Star Fox content exclusive to the Switch version of the game.
Giveaways, Sales, and Content Updates in For Honor
Moving back to established games, Roman Campos-Oriola came out to thank For Honor’s community for their loyalty and creativity. In that spirit of gratitude, Roman announced that the Starter Edition of For Honor on PC will be free until June 18th. Console players won’t get it for free, but will find steep discounts up to 75% in their respective console stores.
If playing for free (or close to it) wasn’t a good enough deal, Roman followed up with the real announcement. For Honor: Marching Fire is the game’s largest update since launch. There’s too much to reveal in a quick recap, and content that Ubisoft has yet to even detail to the public. The biggest items are:
- New faction from China, the Wu Lin
- 4 new playable fighters
- New 4v4 siege mode, Breach
- Graphical enhancements
For Honor: Marching Fire launches on all platforms on October 16th.
Get Your Motorsports Fix Early In The Crew 2’s Open Beta
Brand Director Delphine Dorsett’s presentation on The Crew II was short and sweet. She showed a gorgeous in-engine trailer featuring vehicles from motorbikes to jets, promised the freedom to race your vehicle of choice all over the United States, and made good on that promise by announcing the release date of June 29th.
If your driving gloves are really calling out to you, though, you can pre-load the open beta right now to prepare for its launch on June 21st.
Assassin’s Creed Odyssey – Mixing the Old and the New
Last but certainly not least, we got a beefy look at the new Greece-centered Assassin’s Creed Odyssey. Creative director Jonathon Dumont was on hand to take the audience through the lush world of the Golden Age of Athens, where progress reigns against a backdrop of chaos and war. The game will feature two playable characters, Alexios and Kassandra, that the player chooses at the beginning and remains with through the entire game.
Ubisoft may not top everyone’s hype charts at E3 when stacked up against the Big 3 of Sony, Microsoft, and Nintendo. But this year, Ubisoft more than proved its worthiness to sit at the big kid’s table.