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If I had to sum-up the entirety of E3 thus far I would have to use the word exhilarating. Games have been shown, announced and been discussed at such a rapid-fire clip that I can hardly catch my breath.
While Microsoft and EA pulled off a strong showing with a slew of kickass demos (Ryse and Titanfall) and wholly exciting announcements (Star Wars Battlefront and Mirror’s Edge 2 slated for next-gen!) Ubisoft had a slightly uneven conference overall.
First of all, there were only two prolonged demos — the rest of the conference was devoted to trailers shoehorned between hostess Aisha Tyler’s awkward humor. Moreover, is tough not to feel disappointed by the absence of Beyond Good and Evil 2 and a speculated Prince of Persia reboot, also, what is with the rehashed content? We have already seen Assassin’s Creed IV: Black Flag and Watch_Dogs before and the new trailers –while still incredibly impressive– did little to shed new light on these games.
Thankfully, in true Ubisoft form, they were able to close the conference with a loud, electrifying bang.
Enter The Division — the latest open-world title from Swedish developer Massive Entertainment (best known for the Just Cause titles). In this brand new IP, players take the reigns of a military agency group whose sole purpose for existing is to maintain law and order amidst a viral outbreak that has left countless people dead and society crumbling. The demo was spectacular, showcasing four player co-op with one tablet user seamlessly popping into the game to provide air support with a drone. The demo had the players taking on a mission that involved asserting some on-going chaos in a police station.
The scenery was striking and the slick, real-time menus for the player’s map, skills and inventory screens felt meticulously crafted. The game will feature elements of role-playing (with exp bonuses popping-up on the screen after each successful kill) an open-world structure and third-person shooter mechanics. And of course, in true Watch Dogs-style, the demo concluded with a sudden run-in with another group of players before the game pulled out from the battlefield and revealed a map dotted with player names — meaning that the game will blur the line between single player, cooperative and competitive play.
Again, while the conference as a whole was rather underwhelming, The Division made a strong, lasting impression and did a good job of picking up the slack. Aside from this title, there were little to no other captivating announcements save for the unveiling of Trials Fusion and its tablet counterpart Trials Frontier, both of which will breathe new life into the ever-so addicting arcade-racing experience that is Trials.
In the end, the conference felt extremely fleeting. South Park: The Stick of Truth was given a 30-second teaser and a new Fall 2013 release date and Splinter Cell: Blacklist was given a subpar trailer with little to no exposition to go with it. Rayman Legends, Watch_Dogs, and Assassin’s Creed IV: Black Flag had nothing new to show us. Heck, not even Watch_Dogs’ much anticipated multiplayer mode was elaborated on.
With The Division serving as the only saving grace, Ubisoft’s conference paled in comparison to EA’s and Microsoft’s and not even the appearance of Alice in Chains co-lead vocalist and rhythm guitarist Jerry Cantrell (who promoted the upcoming Rocksmith 2014 Edition) could make up for much of the filler.
Oh well, at least Mr. Caffeine was absent.