Ubisoft’s virtual conference replacement for E3 2020 was finally here, and not without the usual bumps in the road. A string of the conference’s biggest reveals was teased well before the show began, officially or otherwise.
Before the stream officially began, Ubisoft announced that the pre-recorded show wouldn’t be addressing any of the recent turmoil, misconduct or allegations that saw several high-level executives depart the studio. The statement, posted just after 1:00am AEST, didn’t outline why a statement, written or visual, couldn’t be added to the start of the show.
On top of that, some of the show’s biggest reveals had been teased beforehand. Giancarlo Esposito’s turn in Far Cry 6 was revealed by a listing on the Hong Kong PlayStation Store, which Ubisoft tacitly acknowledged earlier in the week. More Assassin’s Creed: Valhalla gameplay leaked, again.
During the Ubisoft Forward preshow, there was small reveals and heads up on Trackmania gameplay, the upcoming Virtual Paradise feature for Just Dance, an indie showcase featuring Surgeon Simulator 2 and Curious Expedition 2, and new content for The Crew 2. Ghost Recon: Breakpoint and Trials Rising would be getting new free updates, with the former launching on July 15.
The show itself began with Watch Dogs: Legion. The game’s story begins with the recruitment of Albion, a private military company to establish order in London after the city is attacked by an unknown terrorist. “London will be the first city in the world to be made truly safe,” he says in a cut scene.
As shown before, the game’s major feature is the ability to recruit any NPC into the Resistance. The first mission shown off was breaking into the Albion mansion, and the demo used a construction worker called Arthur who can call in a cargo drone to fly over the top of the castle walls. Construction workers can just run around London firing nailguns at people, apparently. Another recruit shown was a drone expert called Amy, who uses a string of gadgets and specialist drones for more traditional Watch Dogs hacking gameplay. Players can also recruit Albion contractors, enabling a Hitman 2-style of gameplay.
The next gameplay was a mission breaking into London ganglord Mary Kelley’s compound, featuring different NPCs and abilities. The thrust of the gameplay was focusing on getting the best recruits — or the best mix of abilities from the recruits you can find — for every mission.
A Watch Dogs: Legion level artist explained later in a canned interview that one of the recurring easter eggs is boats filled with cats.
The next reveal was Brawlhalla’s Android and iOS release. The mobile version will have cross-play with all other platforms, and launches on August 6.
Staying with the mobile theme, Might & Magic: Era of Chaos was next. There was no new announcements for the game, however.
Next up was a highly stylised trailer for some kind of shooter. It's called Tom Clancy's Elite Squad, another 5v5 mobile battler game. The game has a campaign mode of its own, although the trailer didn't have any extra info on that.
After a quick thank you trailer for Rainbow Six: Siege, it was time for more info on Hyperscape. The battle royale was effectively a virtual game that existed within a Ready Player One-style VR universe that people play to escape the misery of real-world Earth.
"At the end of a Hyper Scape match, the climactic showdown phase starts when the Hyper Scape crown spawns on the map. Players have two different ways to claim victory, either by picking up and carrying the crown for 45 seconds or by being the last player or squad standing," Ubisoft said after the show in a release.
There's a tease about the game having a "darker secret" at the heart of Hyperscape, although whether there's some other kind of mode or actual ARG running within Hyperscape isn't known.
The game's creative director explained that players will be able to pickup hacks and other power ups that affect the world for all players, including the ability to adjust gameplay. Hyperscape's open beta would also be going live from today.
Xbox's Phil Spencer then appeared to announce that Watch Dogs: Legion would support Smart Delivery, adding that the next-gen version of Legion would support ray-tracing. That led straight into Assassin's Creed: Valhalla gameplay.
After describing some of Ubisoft's research, Vahalla was explained how the Vikings have to leave Norway to resettle in England. Players will choose a male or female Viking from the start of the game, searching for farming land and trying to make their clan prosper.
"Vikings were not only fighting face to face, they were masters of stealth and deception when needed," a Ubisoft director said, as footage of the classic Assassin's Creed stealth blade played.
The deep-dive into Valhalla gameplay began with some shots of Vikings in longships. Players will be able to raid small towns as they come across them, setting fire to all the English thatches and reviving your Viking crew as they fall. "Whatever riches and resources you pillage will be used to develop your settlement," the gameplay trailer added.
The map in Valhalla is a larger piece of parchment, constantly updating as more allies and towns are conquered. Some enemy AI can throw the bodies of fallen warriors at you; other enemy types will deliberately team up.
Players will be able to stun enemies by targeting their legs, allowing follow-up attacks or finishing moves. All weapons can be dual-wielded, and players can dual-wield shields if desired.
Ubisoft added that more Valhalla gameplay would be shown off after Ubisoft Forward, and that the game would be launching on November 17 -- two days before Cyberpunk 2077.
Ubisoft CEO Yves Guillemot finished up the show with a final statement, adding that another Ubisoft Forward event would be held at some date in the future -- including one final trailer. It was the cinematic intro for Far Cry 6, featuring a lot of smoky reds, fire, cars, vinyl and whisky.
After the intro, the game launched straight into a cut-scene featuring Giancarlo Esposito talking to his in-game son, Diego. The cartel lord then hands a live grenade to his son, explains the four basic parts of the grenade -- and then pulls out the pin. "It's only when you let go when the grenade goes boom," the authoritarian president says.
"They will hate you Diego - everything you do, say, believe, will be wrong."
Far Cry 6 is pitched as more urban, political chaos. It launches on Feburary 18, 2021 across PC, next-gen consoles, the PS4, Xbox One and Google Stadia. We didn't get to see any new gameplay or how the new setting will factor into gameplay. No date was given for the next Ubisoft Forward conference either, although the implication was that it'll be shown sometime this year.
The show then immediately launched into footage of Assassin's Creed: Valhalla where the player is assaulting a castle. The footage is at the back half of the 30 minutes of gameplay that was leaked last week, although it's much more highly edited than that footage.
In a release sent to media just after the conference, Ubisoft revealed that players will play as a male or female Dani Rojas, a guerilla fighter. The goal is to liberate the nation island of Esperanza, helped by a wiener dog called Chorizo.
Ubisoft added that anyone who buys the PS4 or Xbox One version of Far Cry 6 will get a free upgrade to the Xbox Series X or PS5 version. "Far Cry 6 PlayStation 4 Digital and Blu-Ray games gives access to the corresponding Far Cry 6 PlayStation 5 Digital version at no additional cost, when available," the official press release notes, although it adds that you will still need the Far Cry 6 disc in the console to play the next-gen version.
The rest of the pre-game show reveals and updates for other games can be found below: