This week during E3 2014, Ubisoft showcased four new upcoming games: Assassin's Creed: Unity, Far Cry 4, The Crew and The Division. Far Cry 4 and The Crew were playable, whereas the other two games merely provided hands-off guided demos.
Out of the four, Assassin's Creed: Unity was the most impressive due to the amount of detail the team poured into the virtual model of Paris. A Ubisoft rep, who provided a personal live demo behind closed doors, said that every building on the screen has an interior; players can enter through doors or windows. The draw distance was incredible; the Xbox One did not stutter as it rendered the city's interiors and exteriors simultaneously.
Set in the French Revolution (1800s), this open-world version of Paris also felt alive. The rep said that the game can insert up to 1,200 people at any one time. In the demo, a group of people were beating up a rich guy, while another group was peering into a house where a murder had just taken place. Two groups were fighting each other and another mob started gathering around a guillotine. Players have the option to intervene if they want, adding to the overall "realistic" atmosphere.
During the demo, the Ubisoft rep spent a good time climbing (right trigger, B) and descending (right trigger, A) the sides of buildings, showing how easy it can be thanks to revamped controls. The rooftops were also void of any enemies in the demo, allowing the player to move from rooftop to rooftop with ease. There are also indicators that point the way to various goals such as assassin contracts and missions from the overall story.
Assassin's Creed: Unity will introduce co-op missions for up to four players. These missions will be available throughout the game, and ranked with stars that indicate how many players are needed for these missions (such as three stars for three players). These missions can be completed by one player, but they're designed to be completed with friends.
Assassin's Creed: Unity will be released on Windows PC, Xbox One and PlayStation 4 on October 28, 2014.
Next up we have Far Cry 4. This was actually my last demo at E3 2014, so time spent with this game was cut short. The press was given a choice of three demos, one of which included the awesome attack elephant. I chose this one because, quite frankly, I thought having an attack elephant would be awesome.
I was right. In this mission, named "Charge," I was tasked to infiltrate and clear out an enemy camp. To break through the sealed gate, I hopped onto the back of the elephant and went crashing through. After getting killed several times by taking this route, I eventually figured out that I needed to jump off the rampaging beast as it crashed into the scene, then take cover.
Once inside, it was all gunplay and trunk. The elephant will actually grab the enemy and toss them around, or crush them under its feet. The sight was gruesome and hilarious at the same time, and a great distraction while I took out the enemies from behind cover. However, if the gamer accidentally shoots the elephant, the beast will turn against him/her, which isn't a pretty sight.
Far Cry 4 is slated to arrive on Windows PC, Xbox One and PlayStation 4 on November 18, 2014.
Another playable demo at Ubisoft's E3 booth was The Crew. This is an upcoming racing game with an open-world, persistent environment that allows players to cross the United States in 120 minutes. There are no in-game pauses and loading screens, making The Crew's world feel like one gigantic map stretching from one coast to the other.
Developed by Ivory Tower, The Crew will provide both single-player and multiplayer missions, the latter of which can include friends and online co-op matchmaking. For the demo, the press tested two multiplayer game modes, one of which was merely a race from point A to point B. The other was a rather fun competitive match where players must cause the most damage to a moving truck in order to win.
The Crew's beta launches July 23, followed by a retail release on November 11 for Windows PC, Xbox One, PlayStation 4, Android and iOS.
Finally, we have Tom Clancy's The Division. This one was not playable, thus the press sat and watched a rep from Ubisoft Massive demo the game for us. As the story goes, New York City is in chaos after a devastating virus is unleashed on Black Friday. Basic services begin to fail, and without food and water, society "collapses into chaos."
Several hostile factions formed in the days that followed the outbreak. One such group is called the Cleaners, who wear hazmat suits and carry flamethrowers to "clean out" areas that are highly contaminated, including innocent New Yorkers. To combat these hostile factions, the President sends in the Strategic Homeland Division, aka The Division. This unit consists of autonomous tactical agents that are pulled from their normal everyday lives.
One of the tools used by The Division is the ECHO, a data collection tool. Gamers can use this device to gather information about the immediate environment by tapping into surveillance cameras, computers and other sources that can provide information. The device then renders a visible snapshot from a previous moment in time. This tool can also uncover hidden loot in addition to helping solve the mystery behind the outbreak.
Just like other shooters on the market, "Agents" can loot fallen enemies and upgrade their gear. Players can also customize their character and backpack, as well as customize and level up their weapons. The choices players make will either help in the recovery, or push the city even deeper into chaos. The development team also stressed that players should upgrade their skills "smartly" and "synergize" with teammates in order to increase the chance of winning.
One of the more interesting aspects about the game is the use of an actual non-virtual tablet. The app provides a bird-eye view of the battlefield, and allows the gamer to aid teammates in combat by attacking enemies directly, or by identifying targets to flush them out into the open.
Tom Clancy's The Division will be made available for Windows PC, Xbox One and PlayStation 4 in 2015.
Overall, Ubisoft revealed a diverse lineup this year at E3 2014: two shooters, one third-person action game and an open-world racer. Out of the four, I was most impressed with Assassin's Creed, as the amount of detail poured into the streets of Paris was impressive to say the least.
What will be interesting to see in The Crew is the ability to race across the nation in 120 minutes. Just how long does it take to create an open-world map that's the size of a nation? As for the other two games – Far Cry 4 and The Division – they will undoubtedly be big hits when they finally go retail.