E3 2013: Ubisoft Conference Liveblog

Expected the unexpected, for it’s time for the games industry’s unusual Uncle Ubisoft to take to the stage. Expect Assassin’s Creed and Watch Dogs, something from Driver: San Fransisco developer Reflections and, who knows, perhaps even Prince of Persia. But probably not Beyond Good & Evil 2. Also expect something completely fucking mental, several faux pas and hopefully a jolly good surprise (or two). More crucially though will Mr. Caffeine finally be released from his pillory to run rampant once again? Hope not.

Screen shot 2013-06-10 at 23.00.18

00:19 – And that’s a wrap. No Rainbow. No Beyond Good & Evil 2. Too many CGI trailers. The Division looked promising and kudos for running with new IP. Watch Dogs still has oodles of potential and Trials Fusions looks crackers. Not quite up to Ubisoft’s normal standards, but not a bad effort.

00:18 – That was Tom Clancy’s: The Division. An online, open-world RPG coming to Xbox One and PS4.

00:12 Right. It’s a third-person videogame, that much is clear. There are guns in it. On screen, people are shooting at our heroes, so they’re shooting back. There is chest-high cover. It’s also post-apocalyptic in the same way Gotham was in The Dark Knight Rises. Not destroyed by any means, but certainly not maintained. I like it. One of the players is using a tablet to control a drone flying over the battlefield, presumably offering a better view. The skirmish wraps up, our characters enter a tumbledown building and liberate some police officers caged inside. They grab water and food along the way – survival conventions ahoy.

00:11 – Another trailer and at this point it feels like somebody’s been tickling my balls for the best part of six minutes. WHAT THE SQUIRREL-DICK IS IT?

00:10 – Mr. Massive Entertainment enters the room and continues with the mumbo-jumbo.

00:05 – Yves Guillemot has one last surprise up his arm holster. It’s an open-world, online RPG developed my Massive Entertainment. It’s about bio-terrorism and, er, money and stuff, like the economy and houses made of cards and Black Friday and collapsing stock markets and pathogens and, yeah, stuff. It all looks and sounds very cool but WHAT IS IT?

00:03 – Super CGI trailer for Trials Fusion (next-gen) and Trials Frontier (mobile). Fusion looks mental – there’s a dude riding his bike through the sky – Frontier looks like Trials as you’d imagine it on a mobile device.

23:58 – Jean Guesdon makes the stage his. “Pirates are the perfect symbol of freedom, rebellion and adventure!” We’re onto another not-quite-gameplay trailer but it’s closer than the last effort. It’s AssCreed with boats.

23:54 – Next to take the spotlight is AssCreed: Black Flag. “In Assassin’s Creed 4: Black Flag, you are a pirate.” A pirate who looks just like all those other Assassin’s Creed characters. Our pirate hero sidles his way through a bar fight with the nonchalance reserved for the wildest dreams of a megalomaniac. Now he’s on a boat killing chaps in the fog. Again, it’s 110% CGI.

23:51 – That said, this all feels a bit, er, familiar. Weren’t all these games present at E3 last?

23:48 – This whole E3 has been a disappointment so far. With actual games to exhibit, publishers haven’t been relying on wacky gimmicks or agonising humour. This is about as close as we’ve come, but this is a minor slap to the face compared to last’s year mallet to the cranium. Rabbids Invasion – the TV show. 

23:45 – Aisha mockingly introduces Just Dance 2014, but secretly she knows Just Dance is paying the bills better than Watch Dogs ever will. An appalling wall of noise hits the audience. Some audience members cry but you can’t hear their sobs over the noise of 21st century, factory-produced noise. People have been paid to dance and smile on-screen. SPOTTED: AN ACTUAL WII U CONTROLLER. They keep that mercifully short.

23:42 – Yeah anyway. Footage. The character is voiced by Batman. It’s all long trench coats and paranoia. A man is eating sushi off the back of a naked girl in a bar. Bit weird. It’s another CGI trailer, with some cool melee combat and gunplay, and while it’s a particularly good CGI trailer, I would very much like to see how all this badassery translates into actual gameplay.

23:41 – Watch Dogs Senior Producer Dominic Guay takes to the stage and starts talking about how our lives are stored on computers, how we’re always connected and what might would do could we hack into all those devices? OH GOD DON’T. IT’LL BE LIKE THAT EPISODE OF BLACK MIRROR WITH THE BREAK UP AND THE BABY.

23:40 – All in all, a damn bad day to be a white picket fence.

23:36 – With cars built in the garage, our four racers begin their co-op mission and set about taking down a beast of an automobile together. The police join the rumpus. The civilians, of whom there are many, are the same breed of hyper-reactive humans found in Driver. You can’t kill ’em. They’re like flies. With wavy arms.

23:35 – Customisation is extreme. Proper car porn. 

23:32 – This sounds right good. We’re shown a demo that begins in New York. Player One is racing fast and stuff. Our second player is playing in Minnesota just milling about like a twat. ‘You can drive anywhere’, says Gerighty. Our third player is in Nevada, racing a ghost through the mountains. Our fourth player is in Miami, and he sucks harder than a black hole on a bad day, so he’s called for the others to aid him in his quest to smash the shit out of another car. There is no lobby. They’re just invited and then in. It’s not the looker Forza or Need for Speed look, but hell if it’s not technically impressive. 

23:29 – It will be known as The Crew. Creative Director Julian Gerighty takes to the stage, hands Aisha a complimentary iPad, engages in some waffle and then starts talking about new experiences. His number one goal: “More variety in a videogame world as big as has ever been created. [It’s] the whole of the USA.” You take over a criminal organisation, presumably by driving really fucking fast, one city at a time. “Sharing and competing with friends is essential, so we’ve made the entire game an online persistent world.” You can play solo, but you can create crews with friends and play co-op in every single race. Rival crew members can jump in and bollocks up your crew’s efforts and vice versa. 

23:26 – A wheel knocks over some more wheels and the wheels become a car. But how? Car porn! That’s how. While the car continues to make itself, the po-po chase bad guys down a stretching highway, super fast but also sometimes in super slow-mo for dazzling effect. The carnage spills out into a rural desert road and cars go SMASHBOOMCRASHBYE! It’s mostly CGI, regretably, but Reflection’s last effort Driver: San Fransisco, lest we forget, was fucking badass. Looks like there’ll be a heavy social contingent. No surprise considering Need for Speed’s successes in that department. 

23:25 – Aisha takes a swipe at “the internet” for bemoaning Xbox One and all its early foibles, then introduces Yves Guillemot who is at least three times shorter than she is. Guillemot introduces The Crew from the shadow of the giant Aisha but most people are just marvelling at the height difference. Some corporate speak about ‘revolutionising the racing genre’. Good luck with that.

23:23 – Mention of South Park and The Stick of Truth precipitates some loud cheers and we’re straight into trailer town. “I’m going to teach you a fart called the Nagusaki.” says Randy. “Just remember one very important thing. Never ever fart on somebody’s balls.” Tehe.

23:18 – Aisha’s pronunciation of French names is exquisite. We’re talking about The Mighty Quest For Epic Loot now. It’s a lesson in capitalist fundamentals, apparently, but in simpler terms you build a castle, protect it from thieving bastards and then go and thieve from other castles bastard-style. The closed beta is available now. 

23:15 – We’ve shunned murdering terrorists in favour of revelling in the divine world of Rayman Legends (once a Wii U exclusive, guffaw). Out September 3rd. Trailer time! I spy lasers, competitive multiplayer, massive boss bastards and more of the excellent music levels that made Origins such a joy.

23:14 – First joke with laughs!

23:11 – Straight in with some Splinter Cell Blacklist. “Splinter Cell Blacklist is quite simply the biggest Splinter Cell ever.” Spies vs. Mercs makes its returns. Up on screen, terrorists do those things terrorists do and Americans do those things Americans do. People die. Sam’s got one of those drones the Ghosts used in last year’s surprisingly kick-ass Ghost Recon: Future Soldier. The footage is mostly concerned with stealthy hijinks, but never fear, explosions aplenty toward the end. Looks promising and out this August.

23:10 – Fourth joke with no laughs. Zero – The number of fucks Aisha gives. Reckon they pay her well.

23:09:39 – Third joke with no laughs.

23:09:32 – Second joke with no laughs.

23:08 – First joke with no laughs.

23:07 – Aisha Tyler emerges wearing a t-shirt with HASHTAGGIRLWOOD emblazoned across the front. Saucy.

23:06 – These guitar songs are great and all, but can he do Buckethead Expert on GH2? Bet he fucking can’t.

23:04 – Now his teammates (bandmates in music lingo) are on stage. Except they’re not. He’s using Kinect to select instruments in, oh, Rocksmith. 

23:02 – Last year Ubisoft pulled out all the stops with Far Cry 3, Rayman Legends and Watch Dogs. They also out-weirded, out-awkwarded everybody. This year we kickstart the ruckus with… Jerry Cantrell from that band. You know. Alice in Chains. He’s got his guitar out and he’s strumming away for reasons unknown. The drums also play, as if by magic. A drumtar? Ubi off to a flying start.

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