Ubisoft’s press conference was peak Ubisoft, which is to say that it surprised us as much as it totally did not. For every part that everyone had to collectively ask wtf is going on, it had a counterpoint that could only ever induce eye rolls and full body groans. To wit, the most haggard panda bear dabbed off the stage in the middle of a somehow inappropriate dance sequence.
But to their credit, Ubisoft managed to cram in two unbelievable announcements. In one case, they cranked out a presentation that no one could have predicted even with the foreknowledge that the game itself was coming. And then they dropped a trailer that no one was expecting, meaning they kept a secret in an industry with more holes than a block of swiss cheese.
Miyamoto Brings a Gun to Mario + Rabbids: Kingdom Battle
They actually brought in industry legend Shigeru Miyamoto for this, which is unquestionably bonkers. Plus they gave Mario a gun! Why would they do that? Mario is the gun. He doesn’t need another one. That’s just crazy. Oh wait, now Miyamoto and Ubisoft CEO Yves Guillemot are posing with the guns.
Real talk, though, the resulting game is best described as a Nintendo x Ubisoft XCOM. Mario teams up with Rabbids (ugh, Rabbids, the proto-Minion) to take cover, shoot bad guys, and, I dunno, continue to not be a plumber but in a mild open world. It looks interesting, at least, but the real highlight is seeing that tear well up in director Davide Soliani’s eye as Miyamoto talks about his game. That’s just the best. The game comes out for the Switch on August 29, 2017.
Assassin’s Creed Origins Looks Like Assassin’s Creed
That’s a pretty good-looking trailer, but we already saw gameplay at the Microsoft event, so not seeing more gameplay is kind of a losing proposition. I guess we see a bit, but in a completely useless segment where we see a better demonstration of how the sun renders screens completely useless than the actual game. You can, however, see new gameplay in the post-conference interview with director Ashraf Ismail.
And it just looks like more Assassin’s Creed, but not quite? It’s hard to explain, but it looks like if Assassin’s Creed read a manifesto written by Ghost Recon: Wildlands. The eagle/drone thing, the insistence on shooting first rather than stealthing around, and sort of just fighting your way out of trouble just generally feel like Wildlands play to me. Anyway, it comes out on the PlayStation 4, Xbox One, and PC on October 27, 2017.
Race Everything in The Crew 2
Very clearly, the first trailer shows zero gameplay, though the cinematics do look quite good. And the second trailer has the blandest, most flavorless gameplay ever captured. Combined, they will really only hype those that played the first game and didn’t hate it. That’s because the promise of the franchise is the only intriguing part of this sequel.
Not that the first game was bad, but enough of it was a mess that it rendered large portions of it untenable. So with a sequel on the horizon, there’s hope that they fixed all the busted parts. Better AI, better story, less offensive microtransactions, and cars that actually feel like cars. (And planes that feel like planes now, I guess.) Let’s hope for the best. It should hit the PlayStation 4, Xbox One, and PC in early 2018.
South Park: The Fractured but Whole Keeps Happening
You know what’s hard to show? South Park games. The humor is definitely take it or leave it, but the gameplay of this and the previous The Stick of Truth are deeply entrenched in being RPGs, which simply don’t demo well. The best RPGs are nuanced and require investment by the player, two things that you can’t compress into a trailer or into even a 30-minute demo.
Personally, this game is hitting the same loop as The Stick of Truth. The jokes are mostly whiffing in all the promotional materials, but whenever I see gameplay, potential starts to spring forth. I guess the question in this particular case is if Ubisoft San Francisco can bring the RPG heat like Obsidian Entertainment did and has done for the decade prior to their South Park endeavour. It comes out for the PlayStation 4, Xbox One, and PC on October 17, 2017.
Transference is Inside Elijah Wood?
Did you know Elijah Wood has production company? Not only that, but it has helped bring to life movies like LFO, A Girl Walks Home Alone at Night, and The Greasy Strangler. But now he wants to explore virtual reality, so who better to work with than Ubisoft?
Enter something called Transference (note: definitely not transfarring), a weird horror VR title that is apparently being promoted as some sort of ARG? I can’t really tell other than Elijah Wood telling me about storing memories and emotions and we’re all inside him now. It will be available next year on the PlayStation 4, Xbox One, and PC and will be compatible with the Vive, Rift, and PlayStation VR headsets.
Be a Mean Pirate in Skull & Bones
It was the thing we all said should happen after playing Assassin’s Creed III and Assassin’s Creed IV: Black Flag, and now it’s happening. They have totally made all the naval stuff into a separate game, led by the same studio that made those seafaring bits originally. (They also included a somber version of Seal’s “Crazy,” which is just a general and abhorrent motif we always wait for video game trailers now.)
It does look pretty neat, though. Definitely the piratical antithesis to Sea of Thieves, it expands on the fights we saw previously in Assassin’s Creed. The shared world aspect seems promising, as the lack of more complex strategies in those games were definitely noticeable. It doesn’t look like there’s any actual boarding, though, which is both a shame because that’s a fun part of being a pirate but also thank god because no one likes Assassin’s Creed combat. Look for it on the PlayStation 4, Xbox One, and PC late next year.
Starlink: Battle for Atlas Makes Your Controller Heavy
If I was a kid, I’d be so fucking hyped. But I’m not, and I’m not. Not that it doesn’t look like it can’t be fun, but the toys-to-life category of games is exhausting in a way I just can’t abide. But if you’re into that sort of stuff, then hell yeah. This looks a fantastic thing to look forward to, in that case.
It should release late next year for the PlayStation 4, Xbox One, and Switch.
Steep: Road to the Olympics Reminds You That Steep is Out
Yeah, I didn’t much care for Steep. That’s all I’ve got. It comes out on December 5, 2017.
Far Cry 5 Hires Murder Dogs
This trailer definitely feels like a direct response to everything that came out about Far Cry 5 recently. After everyone said it felt too serious and political regarding the current climate of the world/the United States, it needed to make sure everyone knows there’s still fun to be had. Jolly music! Non sequitur characters! Silly music cues!
The tone just feels too forced, contrasting far too sharply the things director Dan Hay said about how the game wanted to take the topics with appropriate gravity. Though I will say the part where they shot along to the boom-boom-boom was pretty fun. I’m definitely interested in seeing where this game goes after Far Cry Primal, but gosh is this game’s messaging a mess. It comes out for the PlayStation 4, Xbox One, and PC on February 27, 2018.
IT’S MOTHEREFFING BEYOND GOOD & EVIL 2
We first saw Beyond Good & Evil 2 nine years ago. Nine! And by then, it had already been in development for a year and a half. In that time, director Michel Ancel has managed to put out not one but two Rayman games, both of which were superb platformers.
Hopefully that puts into context why showing the sequel to one of the most beloved games ever made in such an unceremonious yet perfectly stinging way is wholly and completely shocking. You see a talking pig, and instinct directs you to assume it’s exactly what you think it is. And then it keeps going, and you get a bit wilted as it starts to look like an animalized version of The Fifth Element.
And that keeps going and you start to get excited again because regardless, this looks pretty effing sick. And then it turns. You’re in the desert. You fly into a hazy, dim cave. Could it be? It has to be. But is it? Surely. But also maybe not.
AND HOLY FUCK IT IS. And then Ancel comes out, talks about it, cries about it, and it’s the best. And as a bonus, you can listen to Ancel breakdown the trailer for a solid 11 minutes and get better insight into how it sets up this prequel. (Almost too obviously, there is no release date.)