The Road to E3 2017: Ubisoft

Back again with this week's installment.  We're nearing home and even though I've had this article written for about two weeks now, I bet I had to come in and revise some stuff.  Anyhow, this is Part One of this week's Road to E3, where I talk about the most ambitious AAA publisher in gaming, Ubisoft.  If you're not a Ubi fan, make sure to join me at 12:30PM for a look at Sony's show.   And if you missed last week's discussions on Microsoft and Bethesda, you can do that here for Microsoft and here for Bethesda.  And if you missed the one before that on EA, check that out here

Ubisoft's list is mostly easy.  During an investor's call back in February the company revealed that they would only be releasing four AAA titles during this fiscal year, and just last week they revealed which four titles those were.  So from the top:

South Park: The Fractured But Whole: Continuing with their series of turn-based RPGs set in the South Park universe but with the boys parodying superheroes rather than high fantasy, this game has found itself pushed back twice--first scheduled to release on December 6th of last year, then moved to the first quarter of this year before finally settling on releasing October 17th of this year, hopefully.  I say that because this isn't the first time they've had a firm date and pushed it into something much more nebulous.  Matt and Trey Parker are perfectionists so if they don't feel this game is solid, expect it to be pushed back again.   But hopefully with an additional year of polish this isn't something Ubisoft will have to concern themselves with.

Assassin's Creed "Empire"/"Origins": One of the most shocking parts of last year was when Ubisoft actually placed their annual historical action series Assassin's Creed on hold for a year in order to give the franchise a break and it's next installment more time in the oven.  But when you're a studio that employs ten thousand people across the world twelve months is a long time, and so it came as no surprise when the company confirmed they would be releasing Assassin's Creed: Origins this year.   Rumors so far have offered a surprising amount of information about the game: supposedly it's set in Egypt at the dawn of the Assassin brotherhood, features both a male and female assassin, and players will be able to sail to places as far off as ancient Greece.   There were also rumors about the game being heavily inspired by The Witcher, all of which should probably be taken with a grain of salt until we actually see the title for ourselves.  However, Ubisoft has never been known to run a tight ship, so I'd bet on most of the leaks being true than not.

Far Cry 5: This game went from a rumor to a real thing complete with a release date, trailer, and write-up about the actual game in what feels like all of two weeks.  You'll play a junior deputy in Hope County, Montana, struggling against the doomsday cult of the Project at Eden's Gate and it's leader, Joseph Seed.  You'll work with the people of Hope County playing either solo or in two-player co-op mode to track down and defeat cult members, while also taking advantage of the newest addition to Far Cry: planes.   Here's hoping they don't fly like most Ubisoft cars drive.  Far Cry 5 launches February 27th.

Just Dance 2018: I mean....c'mon.  At this point I've just learned to accept that every Ubisoft E3 conference is going to feature this game.  And why not?  It's one of their best-selling evergreen titles, so why not flaunt it?   Just enjoy the absurdity of a two-week long conference having an inexplicable dance segment peppered in, and if we're lucky it'll kick off the show like it did last year rather than interrupt it.

The Crew 2: My initial prediction involved an update of this game's predecessor at E3 alongside news of more content coming to recent Ubisoft hit Ghost Recon.  But the earnings call confirmed that rather than continue to update the now two year old open-world racing title, they will instead be releasing a brand new iteration on the franchise.   This is scheduled to launch in fiscal year 2018 which ends March 31st, and since Far Cry's already taking up the Q1 2018 spot, I'm guessing this launches in either September or December just like its predecessor.

Mario+Rabbids: Kingdom Battle: This went from ridiculous rumor to "oh wow, that's real?" just in the course of this week. Probably the most unique crossover since Square-Enix decided to toss Yoko Taro and Platinum Games in a room together to see what would happen, Mario x Rabbids: Kingdom Battle is meant to be an RPG that stars Mario, Luigi, Princess Peach, and Yoshi along with four Rabbids dressed up as Mario, Luigi, Peach, and Yoshi.  Featuring turn-based combat and two-player co-op, this is definitely going to be a major title for the Nintendo Switch when it comes out this August/September.  I'd guess we get a trailer on the game's "story" at UbiE3 while the Nintendo Direct goes in depth with the actual gameplay.

What I know it won't be is the sequel to cult classic Beyond Good and Evil, as its creator confirmed that despite being in development E3 likely wouldn't be a good spot for its reveal.  Nor will we see an appearance from the Avatar game that Ubisoft told us they were teaming with Lightstorm Entertainment to make, as they said they didn't plan on releasing that game too far ahead of the actual sequel to the film, which isn't scheduled until 2020.

So with that in mind, we're looking at about six titles that are confirmed/borderline confirmed for this year's show.  Bear in mind last year had around 12 but that counted small indie projects like Grow Home, Trials of the Blood Dragon, and Steep.  There's still room for little projects like that too, but since last year's program ran rather long at two hours, I'd bet on this one being a bit more tight in terms of runtime.  Still, Ubisoft also plans to release another four new AAA IPs next year as well, and they're not exactly a company that's ever been afraid of starting their hype cycles really early. 

Be sure to be back here at 12:30PM for a look at the company that's "won" the mindshare of gamers three years running, Sony, to see if you should be as hype for them this year as you have been since this generation started.


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