LOS ANGELES—Ubisoft is branching out into several different directions. At its E3 press event, the publisher showed off new games, along with a new subscription service, TV show, symphonic tour, and a deal with Netflix to produce a movie.
PC fans of Ubisoft are already familiar with the UPlay platform, a game launcher and store that coordinates achievements, social media, and various other elements of Ubisoft-published games. That platform will be getting its own subscription later this year with Uplay+, an on-demand games service similar to Microsoft’s Xbox Game Pass and EA’s Origin Access.
Uplay+ will directly download games to your PC, so you can play them without the need for an internet connection. In addition, Ubisoft wants to make the service available to users without serious gaming hardware, so it will bring Uplay+ to Google’s upcoming cloud game service, Stadia in 2020. Interested customers will still need a 10Mbps internet connection, preferable without data caps.
The Uplay+ service will appeal the most to people who’ve yet to fully explore Ubisoft’s game catalog, which includes the popular Far Cry series, along with the Assassin’s Creed games. If you’re interested, Ubisoft is granting gamers about a month of free access if you sign up between now and Aug.15.
Doing so will let you try out Uplay+ from Sept. 3 to Sept. 31 at no cost. However, you’ll have to provide Ubisoft with a valid payment card, which will be charged the full amount the next month, unless you cancel your subscription before then.
Among new games, Watch Dogs: Legion stood out as the biggest announcement for Ubisoft. The third game in the Watch Dogs series takes place in a dystopian London that has become a surveillance state.
While not explicitly a direct commentary on Brexit, the game’s creative director Clint Hocking mentioned Brexit by name at Ubisoft’s presentation, noting that (in the context of the game) “London is at a turning point,” and specifically that one of the threats in Watch Dogs: Legion’s London is “deportation squads.” Ubisoft has brushed against social commentary in the past with games like Far Cry 5, but has largely shied away from making explicit and specific statements on modern politics.
Mechanically, Watch Dogs: Legion is a departure from the previous Watch Dogs games in that it lacks a singular protagonist like Aiden Pearce or Marcus Holloway. Instead, players can recruit and play nearly any non-player character (NPC) in the game, convincing them to join the DedSec hacker collective and contribute their own abilities. The gameplay shown at Ubisoft’s press conference indicates that different characters can have different classes, like hackers, fighters, and robotics specialists. Watch Dogs: Legion comes out March 6, 2020.
While Ghost Recon: Breakpoint was previously revealed at Microsoft’s Xbox press conference the day before, Ubisoft also highlighted the game and brought out Jon Bernthal to talk about it. The Punisher star plays Cole D. Walker, a former special forces agent and leader of the Wolves, an army of ex-Ghost operatives that will serve as the antagonistic force in Ghost Recon: Breakpoint. The game comes out on Oct. 4, with an open beta launching Sept. 5.
(Rob McElhenney teases Mythic Quest: Raven’s Banquet)
Bernthal wasn’t the only celebrity Ubisoft had on stage. Rob McElhenney of It’s Always Sunny in Philadelphia also came out to talk about a new TV series he’s working on for Ubisoft, Mythic Quest: Raven’s Banquet. McElhenney plays Ian Grimm, the egomaniacal game director of the fictional massively multiplayer game Mythic Quest, as his studio prepares to release its first expansion. The live-action show will be exclusive to Apple TV+ later this year.
Special operative Sam Fisher isn’t getting another Splinter Cell game yet, but he will be coming to a new title on mobile devices later this year. Tom Clancy’s Elite Squad is a mobile action RPG that brings together various special forces from the myriad Tom Clancy games Ubisoft publishes, including Splinter Cell, Ghost Recon, Rainbow Six, and The Division. The release date has not been announced, but pre-registration is open, and the game will presumably be free-to-play, based on its platform.
(Just Dance 2020)
The Just Dance series is celebrating its 10th anniversary with Just Dance 2020, which stands out as the most impressively cross-platform game we’ve seen so far at E3 2019. It will be available for PlayStation 4, Xbox One, and Nintendo Switch, along with Google’s Stadia service and the Nintendo Wii.
This could be the only time the Wii logo will be seen alongside the Stadia and eighth-console generation systems. It’s particularly interesting, since no Wii U version was announced; it will be available for the Nintendo Switch and Nintendo Wii. The Wii is 13 years and two console generations old, but it was wildly successful, while the Wii U is largely considered to be a flop.
A movie based on Tom Clancy’s The Division had already been announced, and Ubisoft didn’t show a trailer or teaser for the film at its presentation, but Ubisoft confirmed that the Division film will be a joint project with Netflix.
On the sports side, Ubisoft announced a new competitive team-based sports game, Roller Champions. The roller derby-inspired game takes visual and mechanical cues from Rocket League, with large, curved stadiums with glowing tracks and goals, and plenty of opportunity for acrobatics while fighting for control of the ball. Roller Champions will be released in 2020, but a pre-alpha E3 demo will be available for anyone to play on PC until June 14.
Finally, Ubisoft head Yves Guillemot came out to introduce Gods & Monsters. It’s a mythical adventure game developed by the team that made Assassin’s Creed: Odyssey, with a visual look much more cartoonish and less realistic than any of the Assassin’s Creed games. The teaser didn’t show any gameplay, so specifics outside of art style and theme are sparse. Gods & Monsters will be released Feb. 25, 2020.
Ubisoft didn’t mention the long-anticipated Beyond Good & Evil 2 in any form at its E3 presentation.
The Assassin’s Creed Symphony, however, begins a world tour June 26, starting at the Palais des Congres in Paris.
Michael Kan contributed to this report.