E3 2015 Ubisoft Press Conference

By Shamus
on Jul 2, 2015
Filed under:
Spoiler Warning

I’m not usually a fan of Ubisoft’s games, but their show was the most fun. They hired the super-talented Aisha Tyler to host and tell jokes, instead of rolling out one of their creepy mummified executives to cough up a bunch on nonsense about how they’re re-inventing innovation itself because games are our future, or somesuch piffle. This show felt fast and fun, instead of like boilerplate speeches between meaningless cinematic trailers. In fact, the Ubisoft show was so good they just tricked me into spending my first paragraph talking about the show instead of the games.

Clever girl.


Link (YouTube)

Some brief comments on each game:

South Park: Fractured But Whole: No real comment on it. I never really watched the show, and so I didn’t mess with the videogame. But I’m led to believe it’s good.

For Honor: I dunno. The medieval period is super played out, I have no interest in PvP multiplayer, and I’m not a MOBA guy, but this game fascinates me anyway. I really want to try that swordfighting.

The Crew: It’s like Need for Speed starring Aiden Pierce. In an MMO. I am aggressively not interested.

Trials Fusion: Not my thing, but that trailer was a wonderful way to lighten the mood.

The Division: Oh man. This freakin’ game. A game where your team can betray you at any moment. The incredibly staged demo makes it look like a game of paranoia and betrayal, but anyone who’s played Day Z or GTA Online should know exactly how this will go with a bunch of internet strangers. If the game incentivizes betrayal, then it will be routine for the entire team to collapse into a dumb deathmatch the moment their goal is in sight. It won’t be an unexpected turn, it will just be a predictable phase of the game: Spend a bunch of time acquiring your goal, and then have a short firefight to see which one person gets to keep it all. Remember: A game isn’t fun until you’re ruining someone else’s fun!

And if the game doesn’t incentivize betrayal? People will do it anyway, because anonymous internet people are assholes. It’s like Prisoner’s Dilemma: The Videogame, except every round takes twenty minutes, none of the participants are rational, and everyone is always screaming slurs at everyone else. It’s like a version of Left 4 Dead where you go through the entire campaign and then at the very end you murder the rest of your team and ride away on the helicopter alone.

I’m just bitter because I loved how co-op and mutual dependence was woven into the mechanics of Left 4 Dead, and nobody is interested in doing that these days.

Anno 2205: This reminds me that I should check and see if there are any cool mods out for Cities Skylines.

Just Dance: Whatever.

Rainbow Six: Siege: I don’t have a lot to say about this, except that virtual Angela Basset looks amazing. I saw virtual Kevin Spacey last year, and he was pretty good. But this is even better.

Track Mania: This looks like fun.

Assassins Whatever: I can’t possibly complain about this game in a way that’s remotely fresh or interesting. I’ve said it, you’ve heard it. Let’s just move on.

Ghost Recon: Wildlands: Huh. An open world multiplayer shooter? With story? For as exhaustively long as that trailer was, it told us almost nothing about how the game would work. Do we all play as the same Aiden Pierce type guy? The official site explains that it’s co-op with up to 4 players, and shows us a team of 4 dudes. I guess Ubisoft just really loved hearing all those, “Why can’t I play as a female?” questions when Unity came out, so they decided to do it again.

Wrapping up: I don’t want anything they’re selling, but I did enjoy the show.

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20201151 comments. It's getting crowded in here.

From the Archives:

  1. Daemian Lucifer says:

    I never really watched the show

    At least watch the world of warcraft episode.It doesnt have much crap jokes(compared to the rest of the episodes at least),and most of the humor revolves around the game,so you wont be missing anything because you are jumping in media res,and its one of the best episodes of the show.Wont get you prepared for the game,but at least it can make you laugh.

  2. Alex says:

    There is only one game on that list that interests me at all – Assassin’s Creed Making Women Isn’t So Hard, Is It? – and I still can’t see myself buying that one. I like open world games but I prefer Bethesda’s over the less immersive type, and Ubisoft’s track record is pretty hit and miss.

    • Zacken says:

      “Assassin’s Creed Making Women Isn’t So Hard, Is It?”

      I know you’re just kidding around, but in case anyone reading this wasn’t familiar with the story, the criticism of Ubisoft was completely uninformed. Creating a new player character of the opposite sex requires new skeletons, new animations, new models, new voice acting, story tweaks, the whole nine yards. It is, in fact, so hard. If you want to do this and have it be done at maximum quality — and for all Ubisoft’s faults, they are a you-can-see-the-money-burning-on-the-screen sort of publisher — it’s going to be a lot of extra work that you have to carefully plan and budget for, and which needs to be balanced against every other feature people are lobbying to get into the game. And this is not a female thing; it would be exactly the same for taking a game with a female protagonist and adding the option to play as a man.

      • ehlijen says:

        It is hard, and from what I heard the messed up a lot of stuff about that game even without trying for this hurdle.

        But precisely because ubisoft is a money burning publisher, one has to ask: why include four male character options but no female one? Out of all the stuff they did include, is that really where to draw the line at expenses?

        If the game was built around a single character, sure, only make that one character. We didn’t get a Lars Kroft or a Geraelle, or a woman in an iconic baseball cap. But if the game is built on offering multiple characters, and a host of other games have managed that feat already, leaving out the obvious option is still a headscratcher.

        • Zacken says:

          “But if the game is built on offering multiple characters, and a host of other games have managed that feat already, leaving out the obvious option is still a headscratcher.”

          These additional characters are just the hero with the skin of an already-existing NPC, and they only appear in free-roam and a small number of side missions, not taking over for the protagonist in the main story. All that reduces the scope enormously.

          As for these other games, they presumably had different priorities than AC: Unity did. They decided the player should be able to select their character’s sex, and they jettisoned other features in favor of that one… maybe some features which would also seem obvious, and leave people scratching their head as to why those didn’t make it into the game. Commercial game development is unfortunately all about finding the least tragic set of things you can give up in order to get the product out the door.

      • guy says:

        It is, in fact, so hard that Shadow Of Mordor, a game in a similar genre released very close by, added a female model as a free alternate skin with no difficulty whatsoever.

        • Zacken says:

          A female model who still speaks with the male protagonist’s voice, uses all of his animations, doesn’t change the story, and doesn’t appear in cutscenes. Of course if you skip doing all the really hard parts it’s a lot easier!

          • SharpeRifle says:

            And you know what…I still preferred her to whatshisface.

            Seriously that was about the best thing in that game.

            More developers should skip “the hard parts.”

          • guy says:

            You do realize that a female Unity character would not appear in cutscenes or change the story, because the suggestion was having a female option for the co-op multiplayer?

            • Zacken says:

              And she would still need the new skeleton, animations, and voice acting. Also, “you do realize” is rather rude. I’m just trying to politely explain why this stuff is difficult and why Ubisoft might have prioritized something else; please don’t bite my head off.

              • ehlijen says:

                And we’re trying to explain why we think that Ubisoft made the wrong call.

                If they could copy paste male NPCs for alternate player skins in coop, why not female NPCs?

                • Zacken says:

                  Because, as I mentioned, the other male PCs use the same skeleton and animations. In order to reach the same quality bar a female PC would need a different skeleton and animations for starters, not just copy-paste, and at that point we’re talking about real work. Work that can be done, to be sure! But that would mean sacrificing some other feature in order to get the game out the door: it’s a tradeoff. Hopefully we can at least shake hands and agree that there was nothing more malevolent than that going on.

  3. Majere says:

    Yeah, the only game they showed that I’m even considering buying is the new Rainbow Six and that’s largely because of my fond memories of Rainbow Six: Vegas 2’s terrorist hunt mode.

  4. RCN says:

    What? So literally ONLY the Germans cared about Ubi’s Might & Magic franchise? They didn’t even bother to mention it in their own conference?

    • Alex says:

      I played Duel of Champions for a while. The core gameplay is good, but the problem is that certain supported playstyles* are much more bad than the game is good, and I eventually quit in disgust.

      *Seriously, **** Crippling decks.

      • RCN says:

        Duel of Champions was nice, I guess. At the very least it showed to be more viable than Mojang’s Scrolls, and had a lot of ideas from it directly stolen into Hearthstone, but I’m talking about Heroes VII and if there’s any possibility of another Might & Magic RPG after X.

        X was a very nice surprise and I really want a new party-based RPG fix.

    • Daemian Lucifer says:

      Ive basically given up on the homm franchise.V managed to be average at best,and that is after the expansions fixed it.VI was a total disaster.And from what I hear about VII,Im not hopeful at all.

  5. Aisha Tyler was a complete surprise to my ear. I seem to be more sensitive to voice identification than others (I still can’t believe most people didn’t catch Martin Sheen doing a no-name merc in Mass Effect 2 that Shep pushes off a balcony), and when I first heard Tyler’s voice in Archer, I was certain I was hearing Katey Sagal.

    Having Sagal & Tyler on an episode of Archer together would be really interesting, I think.

    • AileTheAlien says:

      In my earballs, Tyler’s got a bit harsher and slightly higher-pitched voice, whereas Sagal has more of a silky, jazz-lounge kind of vibe going on.

  6. Arkady says:

    I played a whole lot of TrackMania before Ubisoft took over Nadeo. At that point they started charging for your server to appear in searches, and the community I was part of just sort of died: they couldn’t get new players anymore.

    It was a bit sad, but I am looking forward to seeing what happens. TrackMania Stadium was a really nice, simple driving game with a surprisingly powerful track editor.

    • Torsten says:

      TrackMania Nations Forever was nice but it had a terrible community system that was a pain to work around before you were allowed to play. They also limited playtime for free players. Steam does not have mention of Uplay being included in any of the games, but if the old system still exists it alone will keep people away. Shame really, the games are fun.

  7. Deadpool says:

    Stick of Truth was surprisingly cool… Really expected it to suck terribly but Obsidian made me try it and actually worked out okay.

    But… They are not developing it this time. So very cautious about this…

    • Matt K says:

      Pretty much this. Plus the original didn’t have U-Play while this game almost certainly will. Pretty much killed any enthusiasm I had for it.

    • Yeah. But if lucky Trey and Matt will have same or more control this time around so Ubisoft cam’t fuck it up too much.

      But at first I thought “Hey, another South Park game? Go Obsidian” and then I was kinda bummed out they are’t making it.

      The Stick of Truth was well made, whatever cooperation Obsidian and the Southpark guys had going on, really worked.

      Now Ubisoft was the publisher on Stick of Truth so it’s possible they outsourced it to Obsidian.
      And now that it did so well Ubisoft got greedy. They probably bought/have the rights to the game engine.

      I do hope the Stick of Truth have given Obsidian enough clout (right word?) to maybe get a chance to work on a single player AAA RPG of sorts.

  8. Deadpool says:

    On people playing games seriously:

    SOME people do. I play with friends and we dick around half the time, but once in a while we’re actually pretty serious about things.

    I do agree the Division will probably suck. Betrayal needs no incentive.

    • guy says:

      People who play games seriously sound like the Rainbow six demo guys, not the Division demo guys.

      • AileTheAlien says:

        Seconded. The Rainbow Six guys sound like they’re planning out what moves they need to take, to finish an objective. Division players sound like they’re a marketing team pretending to play a game, while following a script meant to highlight the Key. Selling. Points. of the game. :S

  9. Nick Powell says:

    Aisha “Let’s make a meme” Tyler

  10. GameSeizure says:

    It’s like a version of Left 4 Dead where you go through the entire campaign and then at the very end you murder the rest of your team and ride away on the helicopter alone.

    Except, this happened to me, on multiple occasions. Even with FRIENDS that I KNOW. Its almost impossible to avoid situations like that. Creating co op games where you can’t screw over your teammates is almost impossible (I think killing floor comes closest to avoiding ”on purpose” jerk moves, but you can still block people with your body). Its laughable that the division is trying to make being a jerk to your teammates this big thing. Imagine doing that flip at the end of the round on your steady playergroup? Yeah those people aren’t going to invite you then ext time you play with them, or the game will fall to madness and everyone will try to do it next round. Can’t win.

    • James says:

      Playing Minecraft with friends on unprotected servers can often end in the “temporary” end of friendships.

      When creepers are the least of your problems and nukes start being a problem. and your 3 days of hard “work” ends up at the bottom of a giant crater.

      Note: I’ve been both the person who causes the bomb and the person who gets bombed, it might be me and my friends are just assholes

  11. Forty says:

    > It’s like a version of Left 4 Dead where you go through the entire campaign and then at the very end you murder the rest of your team and ride away on the helicopter alone.

    This is actually a thing. It’s called room for one, although you don’t get to kill your teammates, just “accidentally” never save them from a hunter.

  12. Mephane says:

    I’m just bitter because I loved how co-op and mutual dependence was woven into the mechanics of Left 4 Dead, and nobody is interested in doing that these days.

    Here’s hoping Shadow Warrior 2 will fill that niche, which looks like it is going to be L4D crossed with Serious Sam in a Japanese demon apocalypse.

  13. Someone says:

    Your dismissal of Anno hurts my soul. Those games are lovely and so much fun. I’m also glad Ubi hasn’t thrown the series into the trash yet, since nobody knew about 1404 and 2070 had that install limit controversy as well as being shackled to Uplay.

    • TMC_Sherpa says:

      2070 is the only one I’ve played but I really enjoyed it. Heck I reinstalled it a few days ago and I’m redoing the tutorial (It has been well over a year since I’ve played and I don’t remember the production chain at all).

      My favorite part is how the missions are linked so once you’ve built a city it stays there for a while. One of by beefs with the RTS genre is how in most tutorials you have to start everything over. Welcome to tutorial 6, please repeat everything you did in tutorial 1-5 and then we’ll explain the new stuff…

      One negative, and I know I play slow but jebus it can take forever to get everything set up. Also the message is *slightly* heavy handed.

  14. Paul Spooner says:

    Timestamps, for people who want to skip bits.

    2:40 South Park: Fractured But Whole
    6:55 For Honor
    18:00 The Crew
    19:40 Trials Fusion
    21:19 The Division
    29:41 Anno 2205
    34:45 Just Dance
    41:30 Rainbow Six: Siege
    54:41 Track Mania
    60:08 Assassins Whatever
    66:55 Ghost Recon: Wildlands
    73:10 Wrapping up

  15. Joe Informatico says:

    I get pop stars aren’t really expected to do their own dancing anymore, but is Jason Derulo the best they could get?

  16. Joe Informatico says:

    40:15 – Josh, if you act now, you can still get a Wii Red from Amazon.ca!

  17. Decius says:

    Prisoner’s Dilemma requires that the outcome where everybody defect be of lower expected value than the outcome where everybody cooperates. If the expected value of everybody defecting is 1/4*the maximum prize (1/4 because you have a one in four chance of winning the battle) and everybody cooperating has an expected value if one quarter the maximum reward for everybody, both of those are Nash equilibria. (If three cooperate, one defector loses and the three cooperators win; if only one person tries to cooperate the three defectors kil him last.

  18. Twisted_Ellipses says:

    When it comes to the main series of Assassin’s Creed, they’ve taken fewer risks. The protagonists are all male and either white or half-white with ridiculous names (Altaïr Ibn-La’Ahad & Ratonhnhaké:ton/Connor Kenway). Josh excluded the Middle East & Turkish settings, but is justified in saying there are other parts of the world. Though his suggestion of Rome or Macedonia would need tweaks as they would pre-date the feuding orders.

    DLC and spin-off games offer more variety with Adéwalé, Aveline de Grandpré & Shao Jun as alternatives to the white/half white male protagonist pattern. Most notable for setting change are the Assassin’s Creed: Chronicles series that will be in 3 parts – China (released already), India & Russia, but while the first is set in the 16th century, the other two are 18th & 19th century so probably won’t please him. They are trying to mix things up, but the year-on-year factor and not fully committing in the main series holds it back.

  19. SlothfulCobra says:

    It really says something that your first thought when you saw a heavily realistic medieval setting full of armored men fighting was “Dark Souls.”

    There’s not really a lot of things being set in realistic medieval settings out there right now. Most things just tend to slide into the floobagoop magic is everywhere kneejerk fantasy tropes.

  20. SlothfulCobra says:

    Josh’s complaining about the new Assassin’s Creed seems a little off to me. I don’t think it’ll be boring just because it’s another game set in Europe. It will be boring because it’s just going to be a jumble of disparate elements that don’t really work together and lack any real overarching theme, the problem that a lot of Ubisoft games suffer from.

    I have full confidence that a game about mucking around in the murky side of Victorian London could be interesting, but if there was anything interesting and new about Assassin’s Creed: The Next One, they would’ve probably shown some of it by now.

  21. cassander says:

    I will say that well organized eve groups sometimes work something like the way division is portrayed. permanent asset destruction does manage to inspire people to actually do things like have scouts, tactics, and serious discussion about what’s going to happen. But even in eve, you don’t get random battlefield betrayals, and much of eve is designed to prevent that sort of thing, because it’s idiotic and corrosive to incentivise that behavior. Eve also has a lot more jokes about drinking.

    • guy says:

      From what I hear, it does involve spectacular betrayals, but mostly ones involving exploiting ownership mechanics.

      Planetside 2 does have people doing organized tactics and coordination. They just don’t sound like the people in the demo. The demo sounded like people reading from a bad war movie script.

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