5 Games To Expect From Ubisoft In 2023 (And Some To Be Sceptical Of)

5 Games To Expect From Ubisoft In 2023 (And Some To Be Sceptical Of)

Cancellations, right? That really does seem to have been the New Year’s theme for the French publisher so far, with at least seven projects recently scrapped, while other big names seem to slip ever-further toward the distant horizon. Yet, until last year, the problematic multi-billion dollar company was known as one of the most reliable producers of hits, entertaining us with enormous projects like Assassin’s Creed, The Division, Watch Dogs, Just Dance, Rainbow Six, Far Cry, and more.

2022 did not go so well for Ubisoft, failing to ship big games, and not seeing expected sales on some that found shelves, with an expected half-billion dollar loss — problems made even harder for tens of thousands of employees by CEO Yves Guillemot’s poor responses to years of crises, sexual abuse allegations, and alleged miserable working conditions. Now, as the company swings the axe like a berserker to try to turn around last year’s declining finances, is there more cause for hope?

Well, probably not if you’re an Ubisoft shareholder, but potentially as a disinterested games player. The possible 2023 roster of games looks more interesting, and more so if some of the slippier games can be nailed down to something sturdy and actually released.

While there’s probably no company whose release schedule is less reliable, here are all the games and services we’re hoping to see released by Ubisoft this year, and some we’re pretty sure we won’t. We haven’t even bothered listing Beyond Good & Evil 2. We’re not that silly.

Oddballers

If you like topical entries, then here’s one that’s out the moment we’re publishing this article. Oddballers is quite at the opposite end of scale when it comes to the sorts of games Ubisoft tends to publish these days — a dodgeball-based party game with indie aesthetics.

Looking like it’s aiming at the Fall Guys market, it’s — well — dodgeball, but with TNT. It looks to feature all sorts of unlockables, different online modes, and inevitably, Rabbids. In fact, the whole thing looks very Rabbids influenced.

Quite whether a dodgeball party game is the lifeline Ubisoft is looking for seems unlikely, but let’s hope it’s at least a bit of fun.

Release Date: January 26, 2023

Valiant Hearts: Coming Home

As part of Ubisoft’s partnership with Netflix this year, Valiant Hearts: Coming Home is a follow-up to the much-forgotten but fascinating 2014 puzzle adventure, Valiant Hearts: The Great War.

Developed by Ubisoft Montpellier (the former home of Michel Ancel), the first game was released to coincide with the centenary of the First World War. Coming Home is a mobile sequel, set during the same war, following four soldiers from the Harlem Hellfighters, the first African-American infantry unit that fought, suffering through the horror of the conflict.

Release Date: January 31

The Settlers: New Allies

Can it really be 13 years since the last Settlers game was released? The once regular strategic stalwart of Ubisoft’s release schedules has been missing for so long! Something not helped by 2014’s previously attempted revival, a disastrous mess of pay-to-win and DRM that saw an abruptly ended beta, two years of silence, and then a release with a new name and the word “Settlers” scrubbed from it entirely.

This seemingly more successful revision has still followed what will likely soon be known as The Ubisoft Trajectory. It was originally due in 2019, delayed to 2020, then postponed indefinitely with pre-order payments returned. Come last January, it reappeared from the aether, still being developed by its lifelong German team, Ubisoft Bluebyte.

It was then scheduled to release in March last year, under the title of just “The Settlers,” but of course was given a year-long delay after a poor closed beta. Now with a distinguishing tagline, New Allies looks to reboot the settlement-building franchise, that was combining farming and feuding when your grandparents were in short shorts. And it’s finally, actually, maybe really coming out next month.

Release Date: February 17, 2023

Trackmania

No, you are not mistaken. This reboot of the two-decade-old Trackmania franchise was indeed released two years ago on PC. However, in 2023 Ubisoft are looking to revitalize the often thrilling racing series by finally releasing its latest version on consoles.

Trackmania has always been a bit odd. Over a trillion different releases, the floaty nonsense physics and hyperbolic tracks have been a near-constant source of fun — if only you had the wherewithal to navigate its incessantly dreadful UIs. Even the releases were confusing, with 2011’s Trackmania 2 (the 13th game in the series) coming out in three “episodes” over six years, with modes appearing at various points… Bewildering.

However, also usually a lot of fun! The games are always focused on trying to beat your own best times, and those of everyone else in the world, racing against other players’ “ghosts.” They also (sometimes) feature track editors and almost platform-game levels of stunt challenges.

The last time the series saw a console release was 2016’s Trackmania Turbo, with 2020’s Trackmania stuck on PC until this year. Quite how the game’s free-to-play model and subscriptions will work on consoles is not yet known, but we do know it intends to allow cross-platform play between PlayStation and Xbox.

Release Date: Early 2023

Assassin’s Creed Mirage

After recognising that the Assassin’s Creed games were getting far too big, bigger than most their customers wanted them to be, Ubisoft has a plan with Mirage to tighten the focus, and make a new entry in the series that feels more intimate. And indeed, possible to complete without it becoming a full-time job.

Aiming at 15-20 hours, with a more linear plot, what was originally intended to be a DLC for Assassin’s Creed Valhalla will now hopefully be 2023’s entry in the franchise. That’s working on the assumption that the other AC projects that we know are in development — codenamed Jade (a mobile game), HEXE (something witchy?), Invictus (a multiplayer thing), and Red (in feudal Japan) — are very unlikely to appear this year.

This one’s in 9th century Baghdad, featuring Valhalla’s Basim Ibn Ishaq, and rather splendidly, features the impossibly brilliant voice of The Expanse’s Shohreh Aghdashloo.

Release Date: 2023

Assassin’s Creed Infinity

Not a description of the play-time of Assassin’s Creed Valhalla, but rather a new service that intends to host all of Ubisoft’s seventy-nine billion AC games. Themed around the Animus nonsense that justifies the franchise’s DNA-based time-travelling silliness, the main speculation about Infinity suggests this will be a sort of portal to access forthcoming (and maybe past) AC games, which itself will evolve over time. Huh.

The whole thing sounds incredibly meta, and rather dependent on — you know — Ubisoft actually managing to ship the games it will host.

Release Date: Maybe 2023?

Tom Clancy’s The Division Heartland

Extraordinary to have gotten this far down an Ubisoft list before finding the first example of a game being developed by the zombie corpse of Tom Clancy.

This time the prolific post-alive writer is giving us a free-to-play game within The Division’s universe, which obviously raises questions of how Ubisoft intends to monetise it. However, the good news is it’s coming from Red Storm, who were once one of Ubi’s most reliable studios, having gone awfully quiet since 2017’s Star Trek: Bridge Crew.

Not much is known, least of all a release date, but there’s a closed beta to sign up for, and the hope that it’ll be out some time this year.

There’s also The Division: Resurgence, which will be a mobile game, also hosting a closed beta.

Release Date: 2023

Skull And Bones

OK folks, we have now slipped into fantasy territory. The rest of the games listed here all technically have a “2023″ release date attached, but no one in their right mind would put money on that happening. First up is poor old Skull and Bones.

Originally developed as an expansion for 2013’s Assassin’s Creed IV: Black Flag, then officially announced as a standalone game in 2017, you may have noticed it’s not yet out. In fact, it’s been publicly delayed a total of six times, the most recent coming earlier this month when, to the surprise of no one, it was thrown into the ambiguous long grass of “fiscal year 2023-2024.”

Ubisoft told Kotaku that the game is “complete,” and is now entering polish. But that’s a far more extensive situation than the word suggests, involving international teams collaborating, and of course the inevitable closed betas that so frequently trip Ubisoft up at what was supposed to have been the eleventh hour.

We desperately hope the game can come out, and the ten years of work from Ubisoft Singapore and others will result in something, and maybe even something really fun. But it’d be silly to start expecting to see it any time this year.

Avatar: Frontiers of Pandora

It’s hard to imagine James Cameron and 20th Century Studios can be delighted with Ubisoft for the next Avatar game to have become one of their unreleasables. Originally announced in 2017, to be developed by Ubisoft’s Swedish studio, Massive, some six years later and there’s little to see of it.

Clearly hitting its last 2022 release date would have been ideal, given the release of Avatar 2, but it turns out that wasn’t to be. Its most recent delay has seen it flung into the same “fiscal year 2023-2024″ as Skull and Bones, which technically gives them until March next year. Let’s hope it ends up better than 2009’s Avatar: The Game, also developed and published by Ubisoft, although everyone involved would probably rather forget it was.

Prince Of Persia: Sands Of Time

And to finish, here’s the least likely Ubisoft game to see released in 2023, or perhaps, ever. Which is incredibly sad.

The original 2003 Prince of Persia: Sands of Time was revelatory. An exceptional game that reinvented how all third-person action games should be played, with its astonishing rewinding time mechanic, and fabulous 3D platforming. Sadly, no one else ever had the sense to copy it, and 20 years later we remain stuck in a mire of action games that endlessly kill us, rather than let us keep going. Oh, and there was that Jake Gyllenhaal film to rub salt in the wound.

A remake was announced in 2020, with the ambitious release date of January, 2021. Spoiler alert: that didn’t happen, and it was maybe for the best, given just how awful it looked in the trailer above. It was then rather optimistically delayed until just March ‘21, before they seemingly admitted to themselves that it looked like a PS3 game, and kicked it down the road. Later that year Ubisoft said it’d appear in the 2022-2023 fiscal year, then took it from Indian developers Ubisoft Mumbai and gave it to Ubisoft Montreal, before announcing yet another delay last May, without even guessing at a fiscal year.

Come last November, things looked even worse when Ubisoft cancelled all pre-orders and returned everyone’s money. Perhaps a useful lesson on why you probably shouldn’t pre-order games that don’t exist yet. The publisher insists the game isn’t cancelled, but has yet to suggest a new release date, meaning this is unlikely perhaps even in 2024.

But hey, it’ll still probably come out before Beyond Good & Evil 2.

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