When it comes to E3 conferences, you can usually rely on Ubisoft to bring a touch of charm, spectacle and variety to proceedings, and this was the case when it took to the stage of the Orpheum Theatre in Los Angeles on day two of E3 2019.
Now, Ubisoft usually has a few of its secrets spoiled before its E3 presentations, but 2019 has been a particularly leaky year for the publisher. Despite this, its presentation just managed to be a swimmer rather than a sinker.
Sure, between the leaks, the updates to existing titles and the established franchise release schedules, we were able to predict the majority of what was shown, but that didn’t take away from the diverse range of games Ubisoft brought to the stage.
Watch Dogs Legion
Ubisoft kicked off the game reveals with an extended gameplay demo of Watch Dogs Legion. Yes, that’s right. Actual gameplay. And it topped it off with a March 6 2020 release date.
Sure, Amazon UK spoiled the reveal of this game for us around a week ago, but it’s hard not to be excited about running around an open-world London – even if it is an extremist, surveillance state hellscape.
The trailer gave us a glimpse of some accents that would be right at home in Mary Poppins. But more importantly, it confirmed that intriguing mechanic that will allow players to recruit multiple characters and switch between them, with some of them even dying permanently. We hope you’re not the type to get emotionally attached.
The aim of Watch Dogs Legion is to build a resistance, and that means there’s no single protagonist; “you can recruit and play as anyone”. Every Londoner in the game is fully simulated, independently voiced and animated with their own backstory, and anyone in the game can be recruited. You find them, assess their worthiness, hack into their lives and play their origin mission to get them on your side.
We don’t want to be too optimistic, as footage shown at E3 won’t necessarily resemble the final game, but these incredibly ambitious character-switching mechanics have the capacity to be genuinely innovative, and if they work it could make for a very refreshing experience.
If that doesn’t intrigue you, then just know that you can play as an ass-kicking granny; hell, you can create a whole team of ass-kicking grannies.
Rainbow Six Quarantine
Rainbow Six Siege still has a large and dedicated community enjoying its PvP gameplay, but Ubisoft is developing a co-op PvE title to stand separately alongside it: Rainbow Six Quarantine.
In this game players will work together in teams of three to face off against an unknown and frightening parasite. Developers promise that “what Siege is to the PvP shooter, [Quarantine] will be to PvE co-op” when it launches in 2020.
There wasn’t much in the way of actual gameplay, but you can check out the teaser trailer below:
Ghost Recon Breakpoint
Ghost Recon Breakpoint was a big announcement back in May, and we weren't surprised to see a new cinematic trailer revealed before the game’s release in October. To expand on the game, actor Jon Bernthal took to the stage with a very good boy. Because we’re consummate professionals we paid more attention to what he said than what the dog was doing, but it wasn't easy.
There’s going to be a big focus on connecting with the community with this release, through a community program known as Delta Company, and Ubisoft has vowed that the game will be live “for years to come”.
Ghost Recon Breakpoint will release on October 4 2019, with a beta going live on September 5. You can register for the beta right now (opens in new tab), and while not much has been revealed with regards to what it’ll include, if the Ghost Recon Wildlands beta was anything to go by it won’t be insignificant.
Tom Clancy's EliteSquad
A new mobile RPG called Tom Clancy’s EliteSquad was announced for iOS and Android.
The game will feature specialist characters from across the Tom Clancy franchises (at least Splinter Cell fans got something), pulling them together for 5v5 real-time battles. While the game will have a story-driven campaign mode with its own unique story, it’ll also have a PvP or Guild versus Guild battle area where players will be able to challenge one another and fight it out.
There’s no release date just yet, but EliteSquad must be quite a big focus for the publisher, as it had a prime position in the presentation. You can watch the trailer below and pre-register online (opens in new tab):
Just Dance made its annual appearance at Ubisoft’s show, and this year was all the more significant as it’s the series’ 10-year anniversary. Even though its title is now beginning to sound like a tired command, once we remove and neatly fold away our cynicism we kind of appreciate that Ubisoft always makes a literal song and dance about it.
It’s unabashed wholesome fun, and if you can’t get on board with an extended dance number featuring an uncharacteristically energetic panda then we’re really not sure what to say. Admittedly, Ubisoft could have won the whole week by getting Keanu Reeves in that panda costume, but we can’t have everything.
Just Dance 2020 will shimmy onto shelves in November. Look out for the Nintendo Wii case.
As expected, Ubisoft has now confirmed that it’s joining the subscription service fray with Uplay Plus. This PC service will give early access to new games, including premium editions, and access to a back catalog of more than 100 Ubisoft games that will only continue to grow rather than rotate (via GamesIndustry.biz (opens in new tab)). As well as accessing games, Uplay Plus will also be a place to connect and chat with friends who also use the service.
It will cost $14.99 per month, and it’s possible to sign up (opens in new tab) now for a September launch. If you sign up before August 15 you'll get to try the service for free in its first month. If, like us, you’re looking at all these gaming subscription services piling up and gulping nervously, this one will at least also be available on Google Stadia. With all of these gaming companies vying to be the 'Netflix of games', we think we might have to cancel our actual Netflix subscription to afford them.
Another game that was leaked before the show was Roller Champions. Now, however, we actually know something about it. Those initial impressions of a Rocket League-inspired world starring some Overwatch/Fortnite-style characters seem to have been largely accurate. It’s a team-based sports game which Ubisoft is promising will be “as fun to watch as it is to play”. A phrase which is basically a Bat Signal for streamers.
The trailer points to high-octane competitive gameplay and what’s sure to be a total power fantasy for anyone that hasn’t managed to master the art of looking composed and impressive, rather than precarious and afraid, while rollerblading. While the game is due to release in 2020 you can access the alpha demo for PC from now through to June 14 through UPlay (opens in new tab).
Gods and Monsters
Ubisoft finished the show on a high with a brand new IP revealed by Assassin’s Creed producer Marc-Alexis Cote: Gods and Monsters. The game draws heavily on Greek mythology and has a refreshingly bright and cartoonish aesthetic that’s reminiscent of The Legend of Zelda Breath of the Wild. In it, players will take up the role of Fenyx, a hero out to restore power to the Greek gods after it's been stolen from them. In the course of their journey to save the gods, players will face off against some of the best-known monsters of Greek mythology. It’ll be released on Switch, PS4, PC, Xbox One and Stadia on February 25 2020 and the trailer is available below:
It didn’t have any announcements in the main show but like the kid in the family that always has to be the center of attention, Assassin’s Creed made its presence known by being the focus of the show’s opening: a rousing performance from the Assassin’s Creed Symphony.
The series also made an appearance during Ubisoft’s pre-show. It’s not a new game just yet (that year out is definitely happening) but it is a pretty cool addition to Assassin’s Creed Odyssey: Story Creator Mode.
This is a mode that will allow Assassin’s Creed Odyssey players to create, share and play their own quests in the game world. You can insert characters, set up your own narrative with different branches and even write your own dialogue. Even better, it’s available for free from right now.
If exploring and learning is more your thing, Ubisoft also revealed that Discovery Mode will be coming to the game in Fall 2019. A popular addition to Assassin’s Creed Origins, Discovery Mode will allow players to wander around ancient Greece with their sights set on knowledge and the history behind the game rather than prospective victims.
Assassin’s Creed Odyssey is already a big game and these modes will only see it expand further. At the very least it’ll fill that year we have to wait for the next game in the franchise.
Overall, Ubisoft brought a relatively solid showing to E3. By embracing its traditional weird and wonderful theatricality, showing some extended gameplay and allowing its developers to step up and have a say both in the pre-show and the show proper, the publisher managed to offer up a bona fide E3 experience rather than a glorified trailer reel.
Oh, and if you missed Ice T laying down the law during the pre-show make sure you catch up. He’s got some good advice.
- E3 2019 (opens in new tab) is the biggest gaming event of the year. TechRadar is reporting live from LA, telling you all about the biggest announcements of the week, from epic game trailers to shocking release date reveals. Follow our expert analysis of the keynotes and what we see on the E3 show floor.