Ubisoft hopes to push boundaries to make its mark

The French game maker is reworking the way it makes some of its biggest games, and the types of new titles it's creating, in a hope of standing out from the crowd.

Ian Sherr Former Editor at Large / News
Ian Sherr (he/him/his) grew up in the San Francisco Bay Area, so he's always had a connection to the tech world. At CNET, he wrote about Apple, Microsoft, VR, video games and internet troubles. Aside from writing, he tinkers with tech at home, is a longtime fencer -- the kind with swords -- and began woodworking during the pandemic.
Ian Sherr
2 min read

Ubisoft's lineup of games is a mix of new and old. Ubisoft

Bigger, more ambitious and unique.

That's the message Ubisoft, the French game maker, delivered to gamers Monday when it announced its newest games, ranging from a sword-fighting battle game set in medieval Europe to its largest game ever, a military shooting game set in digitally re-created version of Bolivia.

The company is also developing prototype games for virtual reality experiences it's created, which it will demonstrate at the Electronic Entertainment Expo, or E3, in Los Angeles this week.

"We will continue to take risks to create the games of tomorrow," said Yves Guillemot, Ubisoft's CEO.

Why yes, that is a gun-toting cat riding a unicorn in the Trials Fusion expansion pack, approriately dubbed Awesome Level Max. Screenshot by Xiomara Blanco/CNET

For Ubisoft, these efforts are part of its stated ambition to be the first company to offer games on new devices, with new ways to play. The company was one of the first to offer titles on Nintendo's Wii, and its key new technology to track player's body movements. It was also one of the first companies to offer a so-called open-world game, where players can explore a large environment and choose which order they want to play.

It's expanded that formula to games like the action-adventure game Assassin's Creed and the post-apocalytpic military shooting game Tom Clancy's The Division. The company also said it created its largest and most ambitious new game, Tom Clancy's Ghost Recon: Wildlands.

Ubisoft didn't just show new installments for its existing games, it also unveiled a new sword-fighting game based in medieval Europe called For Honor. The game, which had been in development in one form or another for over a decade, pits knights, vikings and samurai against one another.

The Division debuted two years ago at E3, and is one of the most anticipated games of the current console generation. Screenshot by Xiomara Blanco/CNET

Another new game it announced was Anno 2205, a world-building title set in Earth's future, challenging gamers to create cities on Earth, and then eventually on the moon as well. The game seemed similar to the Civilization and Sim City games, which are among the most popular of that genre.

Its virtual reality games were among the first from a major game maker, though companies like Electronic Arts have said they're investigating their own titles. Ubisoft's VR efforts are still in the prototype phase, but the company brought two games and a movie to demonstrate. Strap on a headset made by Facebook's Oculus VR, and you're transported into the body of an eagle flying above Paris. Players then race around the city playing a form of capture-the-flag. Another game put players on a sled moving through the snow. Ubisoft constructed a chair that moves jostles and moves in sync with the video.

Ghost Recon: Wildlands is the series' first ever open-world game. Screenshot by Xiomara Blanco/CNET

For the company's popular Assassin's Creed series, Ubisoft said the game would be set in London. To help market the title, Ubisoft will be offering gamers an opportunity to play a pre-release version both at the conference this week and in cities throughout Europe.

Follow all the latest news from E3 2015 on CNET and GameSpot.