UBISOFT EXP Sydney

UBISOFT EXP Sydney

Ubisoft brought some of their biggest upcoming games to Sydney last weekend for their new event, Ubisoft Experience, which is also coming to Paris and Birmingham, and I was lucky enough to attend the event with a couple of my teammates from Spawn/Respawn! We had the chance to get hands-on with a couple of games, see some live gameplay demos for future titles, and see one of the event’s interesting developer panels. Here’s my wrap up of all the cool things we saw at this groovy little event.

Hands-On

With its imminent arrival coming next month, Ghost Recon Breakpoint was available to get hands-on with at UbiXP. In a four-player co-op experience, we were tasked in taking down some guards and reaching an objective partway through the game’s story. The demo was short, especially because we powered through the enemies and pushed to the objective, but it was fun to get on the sticks for Ubisoft’s next entry into the much loved tactical shooter series. As a huge fan of Future Soldier, albeit not one who played Wildlands, I am slightly intrigued with Breakpoint; however, with signs of it being more akin to The Division with RPG/looter-shooter elements alongside its more tactical survival aspects, it could be somewhat too similar to other Ubisoft outings.

 I was able to get hands-on with another Ubisoft title at the event, Roller Champions. This game was a surprise showing at E3 this year and was followed by time-limited alpha for PC players, and it looks to be a fun, yet competitive action sports game. Definitely different to other titles from the publisher, Roller Champions seems to be still in an alpha state, with a bare-bones audio experience, and in the playable demo, no choice of customization. But this game could be a fun title to play when it does release sometime in 2020.

Behind Closed Doors

During our outing to the Ubisoft Experience, we were privy to an interesting panel featuring some developers from the team behind Far Cry, including the game’s director Dan Hay. This panel was an interesting look at the way they design their villains, which have become such an integral part of the Far Cry series, from Vaas Montenegro to Pagan Min and The Father Joseph Seed.

 The team at Ubisoft Toronto had a couple of developers present at the event to show off a pre-alpha demo of their upcoming, ambitious title Watch Dogs Legion. The demo showed off one of the many many playable characters who was working to recruit a new member for the resistance. Ubisoft stated at E3 that each character would have a backstory or an origins story-esque mission to undertake to be able to recruit them to DedSec, and in the demo it was shown that in order to successfully recruit this new member, some files had to be retrieved and deleted from Albion’s servers, to gain the trust of the new member. The newly acquired member then became the playable character and was thrust into what seems to be the main story mission. As far as I could glean from the demo, any of the DedSec team members can undertake the main quests, and dependent on your current team, you may need certain specialties to complete these missions successfully. We were shown the three classes that each character can choose between once recruited – hackers, soldiers or infiltrator types – and some of the available perks to choose.

 The team also stressed the importance of not getting too attached to your DedSec team, as permadeath is most certainly something they are pushing hard with Watch Dogs Legion, but they also showed us the depth to which missions can be undertaken. You can utilize drones to infiltrate areas and take out enemies, you can go in guns blazing, or – as one of the developers told me after the presentation – you can complete the game entirely non-lethally if that’s how you choose to play. The level of player choice in the game is ambitious, and I’m excited to see how it turns out when it drops next year, as well as a co-operative play,  is another aspect that hasn’t yet been shown off. In its pre-alpha state, the game showed signs of jank and a lack of polish – understandable in its current state – but it was nice to see a change from what was initially shown with Watch Dogs many years ago, where it is inevitable the downgrade was a huge cause for concern for players.

Beyond Good and Evil 2

Finally, after a two-hour delay and waiting patiently, some team members from Ubisoft Montpellier showed off an incredible Beyond Good and Evil 2 demo. After giving punters a look at some beautiful concept art and describing in more detail the premise of the game – you’re a space pirate in a region called System 3, where every person, be it human or animal-hybrid, is a clone (the reasoning behind this was that System 3 was so dangerous, it wasn’t suitable for people to actually colonize without the use of clones!). Jade, the original game’s protagonist is a pirate hunter, and she looks set to potentially be the game’s main antagonist, but we’re yet to see more of her outside of last year’s E3 cinematic trailer. It looks like you’ll be able to choose your playable character to be either a human or a hybrid – with teases of sharks, pigs, pandas, tigers, monkeys and many more that I daresay could all be playable races.

 The demo kicked off in an underground temple on the planet Ganesha, which is the gorgeous planet we’ve seen in the past, dripping with Indian inspired culture and artwork, and its memorable and intimidating Ganesh statue which has been an important landmark in previous demos. The demo showed a human female character, alongside a co-op partner who was a hybrid monkey. Each character has a sword/melee weapon, a gun, and a jetpack, but are also equipped with something called an Astra, which appears to be a mod of some sorts which affect combat – whether it be to slow down enemies or cause elemental damage – and can be used in tandem with your co-op partner to create devastating attacks. Some stronger enemies will also be equipped with Astras, making the combat seem interesting and varied, and the combat itself looks to be shaping up nicely. Some of the hit detection could maybe require work, but this game is a long long way away, and the developers even made it clear to us while we chatted to them, that this demo is but a sliver of the larger game currently in development.

 The character has the use of a spyglass to detect enemy factions, investigate characters and locations, and seems to be something that will be integral in the gameplay, especially when playing with a friend. Traversal looks incredibly fun with the game’s jetpack, making traveling around dungeons such as this a breeze. Interestingly, NPCs can also be recruited into your pirate crew, if they are of value.

 What blew me away with the demo was the seamlessness of exiting the underground temple, and appearing back on the surface of the planet, surrounded by huge buildings, advertisements, artwork, vehicles, and people going about their days. The devs made a point to state that the whole experience would be seamless, with no loading screens, even when exiting the planet’s atmosphere and venturing into space! They even showed off the incredible scope of the game, by leaving the game’s atmosphere, leaving the planet’s orbit, and then showing the entirety of System 3 in all its glory. It looks like there will be at least a few planets to explore, but also asteroids in space, ghost ships and more to find in the treacherous solar system. They were very coy about when this game will release, and for a fair reason – to be honest, I’m happy for it to take as long as they need, to make this game truly great and reach its potential.

 If you’ve enjoyed this kind of content, make sure you stay tuned to the site, as well as @181_gaming and @direcktgaming on Twitter because I’ll be covering much more exciting stuff when PAX Aus rolls around in October!

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