Ubisoft's E3 press conferences are always unusual. This year, it was surprising too.
The French gaming giant on Monday announced a partnership with Nintendo to bring its iconic Mario game star together with its popular Rabbids cartoon characters for a new battle royal game.
Traditionally, the company best known for the Assassin's Creed and Tom Clancy franchises always delivers two things at the show: a celebrity host and the most profanity this side of a John Legere event. But this year, Ubisoft mixed it up by putting game developers front and center (though the company tossed in a shout out to former celeb host Aisha Tyler).
Here's the list of games Ubisoft announced at E3:
Mario + Rabbids: Kingdom Battle is a battle game that brings Nintendo's iconic characters together with Ubisoft's playful kid's characters, Rabbids. The characters fight each other in Mario's Mushroom Kingdom. It's tactical, in that players set up characters in various positions around a gameplay map and then attempt to outmaneuver and shoot down their opponents. It's coming in August.
Assassin's Creed: Origins is going to be probably the highest profile game Ubisoft is announcing this week. It's the company's latest installment in a franchise that's had more than a dozen titles in the decade since it was released. Part of why it's been so successful is how good the company is at interweaving a modern-day global conspiracy story into a historical fiction game. The first game was set both in the modern day and the Crusades. The second was in the Italian Renaissance, and so on.
This year's installment is a prequel, telling the origins of the global conspiracy. It happens in Egypt, 2,000 years after the Pyramids were built and just around the time the pharaohs was ending.
The Crew 2 is Ubisoft's latest racing game. The original title, released in 2014, was a different take on racing games, allowing players to explore a vast gaming world with their friends and participate in races as they went along. GameSpot gave it a mediocre review, saying it struggled with features to help people play against one another. After three years, it'll be interesting to see if those are fixed.
The biggest change this time: The company is introducing boats, planes and other vehicles. It's being released in early 2018.
Another fan favorite is South Park, The Fractured But Whole. It's a strategy role-playing game that happens in the decades-old cartoon's world, telling a new story not in the TV show. The first game, The Stick of Truth, got good marks from GameSpot for capturing the show's sense of style and humor. This game will likely do the same. It comes out in October.
The company has also created a phone game called Phone Destroyer, which is coming out in 2017. It kinda defies description, but looks like a South Park game should.
The company is also continuing to experiment with VR. It's created a new game called Transferrence, which is billed as a horror game where you explore someone's consciousness. In the game, you're in the mind of a PTSD patient named Walter. One of the tag lines for the game is, "You are completely safe."
Ubisoft is also digging into its successes, taking the pirate ship element from one of its past games, Assassin's Creed: Black Flag, and turning it into a game all its own. This new one, called Skull & Bones, is a pirate game where you compete against other people in a big game world on the Indian Ocean in the beginning of the 18th century. As the captain, you take control of a ship and can team up with other players and their ships to ambush, plunder and explore the game's vast world.
For a while, games that interacted with toys were a huge trend in the video game industry. There was Activision's Skylanders franchise, Lego's Dimensions and Disney's Infinity, all of which stuck wireless chips on games and made them interact with games on a PlayStation, Xbox or Nintendo device. Last year, Disney , and sales of the toys have plateaued.
But Ubisoft thinks it has something different with a game called Starlink: Battle for Atlas, which has a new twist of allowing gamers to change their toy in real life and see those changes happen on screen. They can change characters, weapons and even where the wings are placed. Also, Ubisoft says, it's for kids and adult collectors alike.
Another game that's highly anticipated is FarCry 5, the latest in its dramatic adventure shooting game series. Each game has a different story. This one happens in Montana, where a doomsday cult has taken over. It's the player's job to stop them.
There's been some controversy over the game, which has a lot of undertones that feel like references to the current political climate in the US. We'll know more when it's released later this year.
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