The second largest conference of the day, Ubisoft has a few questions of its own to answer this year. Why Assassin's Creed in Ancient Greece, and why back to a yearly cycle again? What's happening with their naval combat game out of Ubisoft Singapore? Is Splinter Cell finally coming back, and what does Beyond Good & Evil 2 look like in the flesh?
As before, if you want to read and listen along at the same time, the link you need is below:
Ubisoft will be kicking proceedings off on Tuesday 0600 AEST / 0530 ACST / 0400 AWST / 0800 NZST. That's three hours after Square is scheduled to kick off, and a couple of hours before the PC showcase begins. Square and Ubisoft shouldn't run into each other, but Ubisoft doesn't really treat the PC Gaming showcase like a proper conference. So have a couple of browser tabs ready.
Monday 2030: So, let's quickly run through what we're expecting.
We know that Assassin's Creed: Odyssey is set in Ancient Greece, and will feature prominently. AC has always been a flagship franchise for Ubisoft, and while I'm sure they might have preferred that keychains and game descriptions didn't leak their way out a week or so early, it's E3. This shit happens.
What I'm looking forward to seeing is how the Origins formula has been added onto. How much more is Ubisoft willing to expand the RPG and combat mechanics for its stealthy murder simulator series - or is this more a case of shifting from one location to the next, absorbing a great time in history?
A repeat of Origins, just in Greece, would still be great.
Other games that have been confirmed, courtesy of this neat video:
- For Honor
- Skull & Bones
- Beyond Good & Evil 2
- The Division 2
No major surprises here, but what stands out to me here - none of these games are likely to come to the Switch. Transference was that weird game Ubi was teaming up with Elijah Wood on. Starlink was the space exploration game with a physical, Amiibo-esque element.
Out of the list, Starlink is the only one that seems like it might work with Nintendo's console. But Ubisoft very clearly showed it off last year using PS4 and Xbox pads:
Also, anyone else surprised Just Dance isn't on that list? The Crew 2 is also due out on June 29, and it would be staggering if that got skipped over.
So unannounced games that would be nice to see: a new Rayman, something done with the Prince of Persia IP, a new Splinter Cell game - and more concrete details on what's happening with Skull & Bones. I want some gritty naval combat, dammit.
As for the rest of the blog, I'll resume things here tomorrow morning about 0500. I'll bump this earlier should anything leak ahead of schedule, though.
0515: Well then. It's Ubisoft's turn. OJ worked for Square, but I'm definitely going to need coffee for this.
0526: Right, while I've been making some toast, Ubisoft has kicked off their pre-show:
I'd forgotten that Ubisoft likes to have pre-shows almost as long as the show itself. The developer of Space Junkies is talking about his VR game, a multiplayer space-shooter.
0533: Ubisoft talking about their community ventures, the Star Player venture. One streamer cries saying how E3 is "so much more than fun to be had".
25 minutes to go.
0536: Some Just Dance people battling it out for another ticket. Meanwhile, there's more highlights from various fans.
Senior Division 2 producer Cristian Pana reiterates the game's release - March 15, 2019 - and thanks the team. Nice.
Meanwhile, other Ubi staff are now talking about board games and tabletop games. One brings up Hexology, which they used to create a D&D map for their group:
0544: Anyone else having the odd skip with the YouTube stream?
Anyway, while some Rainbow Six pro highlights play, let's do a bit of predictions. Ubisoft likes their music in their E3 conferences.
Who's going to be Ubi's Jason DeRulo for E3 2018?
0550: Some news outside of Ubisoft worth sharing. EA's Patrick Soderlund spoke to Gamasutra recently, and was asked about some of the criticism for the Battlefield V cover and the representation of women in a WW2 game.
His response to those complaining about EA and DICE being politically correct: piss off, basically.
Check out the rest of Soderlund's response here. It's a good, forceful reply.
About five minutes to go now.
0556: Elsewhere in the world:
— Vivian Balakrishnan (@VivianBala) June 11, 2018
It's going be a weird kind of day, it seemes.
Brawlhalla is getting a little run on the Ubi pre-show. They're doing a lot of final matches *real* close to the presentation beginning.
Poor Brawlhalla is going have a miserable time once Smash drops. Two minutes to go.
0559: Oh no, tiebreaker time. Ubisoft representative literally says "decide a winner".
Division 2 "exclusive" gameplay after the conference, if that's your jam. But it's it's time for the proper conference.
Hall seems smaller than last year, everyone more tightly packed together maybe.
0602: We starting off with Just Dance?
That's not actually a bad move on Ubi's part. I don't care about the game, but people love it, and the musical number is a good way to get energy going off the bat.
Weird camera zoom in there though.
0604: Is this the Austin Powers song, or at least it was for a bit I think.
OK, this is a fantastic mix of melodies. Good start and promo for Just Dance 2019, which drops October.
Now, where's Aisha?
0606: Nope, we're doing BGE2 first.
There is so much happening in this scene that it makes me wonder how it all actually fits together.
BGE2 narrative director Gabrielle Shrager takes the stage to talk about the space opera with old mate Guillame Brunier.
I'm hugely into this - also, BGE2 is a prequel.
0612: GAMEPLAY TIME, THERE'S GAMEPLAY
They mention a "Space Monkey Program", so they're announcing "an open invitation" for people to contribute ideas, music and artwork that will go into the game.
Are ... are they asking for volunteers to contribute work to a AAA project?
And then of all things, Joseph Gordon-Levitt takes the stage.
So JGL's Hit Record is combining with Ubi so people can collaborate to produce music. He's explaining why it's not just people submitting assets solo, but genuinely collaborating.
Unsurprisingly, Hit Record is down:
0616: The presenters leave the stage, and their mics are still live. "We nailed it," the stream hears Gabrielle say.
Actually, they kinda did. Although I'm still very iffy about basically outsourcing to the community for development. Beta testing is one thing; early access is fine. But we'll find out more about specifics later.
Rainbow Six takes the stage; 35 million players total. Not bad.
0622: Antti Ilvessuo returns, in a trademark suit. Trials is back.
Mark would be proud right now. There's a multiplayer element too.
Trials Rising, it's called.
Oh hello - it's Brad Hill aka FatShady, Kotaku regular who worked on the insane ARG.
FatShady has worked on making all of the tutorial content with 20 other elite community members.
I'm so happy to see this guy on stage.
A closed Trials Rising beta will happen later this year. As for the full release: February 2019 on PS4, PC, Xbox and the Switch.
February is getting real packed.
0628: But time for Division 2 now.
I wish this bloke's jacket was a little longer.
Going through a cinematic trailer for Division 2 now. Feels like the opening cinematic; people being dragged, executed, rounded up. Washington's a bit fucked up post-smallpox virus, it seems.
America tearing itself apart - or having already torn itself asunder - is a real popular setting for video games in 2018.
0634: There's specialisations, and special weapons for each.
The Division 2 will have 8-player squads to face off in raids. Three DLC episodes will be released in the game's first year, with title updates and world events in between.
All episodes will be completely free.
0637: It's only been 37 minutes: Ubisoft has really kicked on quickly this year. Yves Guillemot hasn't made an appearance yet, which is unusual. He'll say hi soon, though.
Xavier rocks up to the stage, a band rolls up behind him. Talks about a brand new hero and adventure: Donkey Kong. Grant Kirkhope appears on stage, and a second round of hot mics comes through to the stream.
"Sorry," someone eventually whispers.
It's the Donkey Kong DLC for Mario Rabbids: Kingdom Battle, basically.
I would take an episode just watching this silly nonsense, though. Also, huge power stance on the stage.
Enormous amount of abilities being shown off here in rapid succession. Donkey Kong Adventure drops June 26, June 25 if you bought the Mario Rabbids: Kingdom Battle season pass.
0645: Skull & Bones rocks up. I'm really looking forward to this.
The player world is shared, we hear. Time for some gameplay.
0650: Ooh, you can customise your ship wheel:
This is a nice looking game. I'm digging this UI.
Division-style, allies can turn on each other once loot is gained.
Skull & Bones launches 2019. We hear some more hot mics, again.
The stage then goes purple and green for a bit. This is the Elijah Wood PSVR game.
Transference is a collaboration between Ubisoft and Wood's company, Spectrevision. It's about entering people's consciousness.
Looks like there's some live-action elements.
0700: And right on 7'o'clock, Starlink appears. You're travelling the galaxy for support to fend off a robotic legion.
"Grax isn't going to stop until we end this," a VO says. Launches October 16 this year.
Er ... then Star Fox shows up.
And here's the part where Ubisoft and Nintendo geek out over each other. Miyamoto, will you join the stage please.
The Ubisoft CEO then gives Miyamoto the first prototype of the Star Fox ship that can be used in-game. Graciously, Miyamoto then goes backstage to say hi to the Starlink team.
That's classy. Re. Star Fox: you'll only get that if you play Starlink on Switch.
0707: The creative director of For Honor now takes the stage. That's a neat tat he's got on his right arm:
Download For Honor on PC this week ... and you get to keep it. Not bad. But they wouldn't do that if there wasn't something new to buy very soon...
This is a neat cinematic trailer.
For Honor: Marching Fire is the next expansion, introducing China and warriors of rival factions.
Time to see a new mode, Breach: a 4v4 castle siege. "Work in progress 4K footage," a note says. The content drops on October 16.
0714: The Crew 2 time. Havean't heard much buzz about this, although being able to fly and nip about in speedboats does seem very cool. I hated the handling in the first Crew, though.
June 21 for the open beta for The Crew 2; you can preload that beta now, Ubi says.
But let's go to Greece now. Ancient Greece.
0721: You get to choose between one of two characters, and then you play that character for the entirety of the game.
There's also more dialogue and narrative choice, with the demo showing the player opting to lie to Sokrates.
Time for some straight gameplay now. A lot of the UI styling is pretty much just pulled from Origins. The player can run into NPC mercenaries that come after the player. The basic flow of combat is the same as Origins too, a lot of dodge, ducking and countering.
Loving the vibrance, though.
0732: Yves Guillemot comes on stage, brining everyone else for a final applause. Nice to see FatShady behind Guillemot there, and that brings the conference to an end - and jumps straight into fresh Division 2 gameplay.
So, what'd you all think? Bit tighter conference than I expected, with less developer chats. Would have liked to see a bit more of Starlink's raw gameplay, given it's coming out in a few months. I think that's probably the 2018 Ubi game that I'm looking forward to the most.
A good chunk of IP was absent though: no talk about Ghost Recon, no Splinter Cell, and no talk about Watch Dogs or any of those odd indie games that Ubisoft likes to make in-house.
But Odyssey looked nice enough - although I have a question mark on how fresh the locations will be. A new Trials is great, and I'll take all the BGE2 I can get at this point.
What about you? What did you think of the conference? For me, I'm going to head over to the next event: the PC Gaming Show. Join me, below: