Ubisoft Forward 2021 drops (the ball)

The first big publisher show of E3 2021 has arrived and it is Ubisoft leading the charge.  And… it was a bit of damp squib, without too many surprises.  There were a couple of big announcements appearing at the end of the stream, but one of those was slightly tempered by Nintendo accidently leaking the info a few hours before the stream went up.

Still no mention of Skull and Bones or Beyond Good and Evil 2 and fans of Splinter Cell and Rayman remain disappointed.  There was a lot of variety though and I’m sure most would find something to appeal to them.  There just wasn’t anything new announced or anything massively unexpected.

Here are some of the highlights

Rainbow Six Extraction

First off was the new game in the Rainbow Six series.  After Siege, which seems to have been around for years, it is good to see something new from the series and it appears to be taking quite a different approach from previous games.

Dropping the PvP of Siege and going for a co-op PvE experience, it almost could be a similar experience to the older Rainbow Six games and their covert operations.  Instead of terrorists with hostages though, teams will be battling aliens.

The cinematic trailer and the devs description sounded really interesting.  The design of the aliens and their oily gooey look was quite interesting, reminiscent of those in Prey.  They also talked about the cool idea that operatives could be captured and will be unusable by the players (including the unlocks) until you go on a mission to rescue them.  With persistent elements like that, you could almost see this playing like a first person XCom and losing your favourite operative could be a similar tough pill to swallow as losing a squad member there.

Unfortunately, the gameplay itself was a little underwhelming.  Everything just seemed too straightforward for the players and always all very calm.  Maybe this was just footage of everything going right and I could definitely see elements of the tactical gameplay the series is known for, but there didn’t seem much reason to be tactical based on what we were seeing, as there was demonstration of what would happen if you did go all guns blazing.  We only ever saw a handful of enemies at once and they all went down fairly easily, besides the larger types that would pop up in what seemed like boss battle sections.

Those enemies also lost the cool edge they had in the cinematic trailer and looked much blander.  They were just fairly grey looking and in general the graphics and art was quite dry.

There is still some hope though.  I really like the description of the game and there were some genuinely interesting game mechanics mentioned.  Also, I’ve always been put off Siege by the reputation of the community, so a PvE game in the franchise would be really welcome.

Riders Republic

I didn’t play Steep, which is the obvious touch point for this one.  Not sure how this compares, but it looks like quite a complete package, with the different downhill transportation options having plenty of gameplay to form their own game.

The rocket powered wingsuits stood out the most, but you also have paragliding, snowboarding, mountain bikes, skiing and bikes topped up with junk.  It looked like there was going to be some fun options available and possibly enough for those that want to take it a little more seriously.  The big races look pretty hectic and likely to be the main draw.

Far Cry 6

Just a cinematic of the main game showing off some more Giancarlo Espirato’s Anton.  Looks like he is going to be much more interesting than the Seeds in 5 and you obviously are going to expect good things from the performance.

Perhaps more interestingly though was the announcement of what the Season Pass will involve.  We will be revisiting those previous villains and get a chance to play in their shoes for a bit.  We even got Vaas saying his thing about insanity again!  Whether it will actually be enjoyable to play as those villains is to be seen, but it certainly made for some cool looking sequences.

There was also a mention of Blood Dragon, but not really sure if you just get a copy of that game with the season pass or if there was something a bit more involved than that.

Mario+Rabbids: Sparks of Hope

My personal highlight for the stream.  The first Mario+Rabbids game was such a pleasant surprise, something that on paper sounded like it would be absolutely disaster, but turned out to be a joyful cartoon XCom game.

The concept for the sequel sounds like it is going to be inspired by Mario Galaxy, which is as good as place as any to take inspiration from.  Nothing massively new is shown in the footage, besides a couple of new characters (Rabbid Rosalina looks great).  The final moment shows Mario using a flaming luma to call down a bunch of fiery asteroids, so perhaps we are just looking at more of the same but on a much grander scale.  That sounds great to me.  The original game was pretty much perfect, so messing with formula would be a bad idea.

Avatar: Frontiers of Pandora

Avatar made so much money that it is inevitable that the franchise would grow, even though it seems to be taking its sweet time over it.  A sequel film is supposedly coming next year and I imagine this game will be aiming to ride the coattails of that.

It’s a franchise that feels quite suited to Ubisoft’s style of game and I could see them aiming to get some of that Horizon energy going with it.  That is just speculation for now though, as the footage was just a cinematic.

Personally, Avatar’s massive box office takings has always been a bit of mystery to me.  The film itself was perfectly fine, but instantly forgettable.  It also doesn’t seem to be a film that everyone stopped talking about quite quickly, once the veneer of the supposedly revolutionary technology behind it wore off (3D cinema vanished pretty quickly after the release too, making it feel like a signal that it was really a creative dead-end).  The reemergence of the franchise isn’t massively surprising, given the money it took, but I’m not sure if there is a big appetite for it and I could see it all being a bit of a flop (come Christmas 2022, I will no doubt be eating those words when the sequel becomes the biggest selling film of all time).

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