Like Other Ubi E3 Presentations, Ubisoft Forward 2021 Was a Wild Ride
Ubisoft just wrapped up its E3 presentation for 2021 and although there weren’t a ton of surprises, a lot of games already on everyone’s radar became a little less shrouded in mystery and in most cases a bit more excitement-worthy. The hour-long event included a few release dates, some new trailers, and cut-scenes from already hyped games, with a reminder that Ubisoft just doesn’t make games, they make television and movies, too. There were the usual stilted host segments filled with bad jokes, awkward developer clips, a rather self-conscious animated film introducing a new First Nations Rainbow Six Siege character named Thunderbird, and a surprising new game that will return us to the Land That Time (and everyone else) Forgot, Pandora.
Disappointingly, a lot of games already in the pipeline or announced at Ubisoft Forward 2020 were nowhere to be seen (Scott Pilgrim, Beyond Good and Evil, Prince of Persia) but cynicism aside, this year’s show showed off a lot of pretty exciting things to come, plus updates on games like Rainbow Six: Siege (now with cross-play on PC and Stadia!), For Honor, Trackmania, The Crew 2 (people still play that?) and Watchdogs: Legions. One of the legit highlights of the presentation was a new, terrifying trailer for Far Cry 6, highlighting the acting chops of Giancarlo Esposito as the ruthless dictator Antón Castillo.
Fight Aliens, Be a Guitar Hero, and Fly a Wingsuit
Ubisoft Forward’s first big reveal was a look at Rainbow Six Extraction (formerly R6 Quarantine), the next installment of the long-running series of co-op team shooters that looks like a genetic mashup of Aliens, Every Zombie Game Ever Made, and traditional Rainbow Six tactical mechanics. This time around things get interesting as you have to rescue a lost operative captured by an extraterrestrial race called the Archaeans. Your toolkit includes a lot of new hi-tech toys focused on detecting and defeating the vaguely Zerg-like alien technology and biology.
As I was tossing my old Guitar Hero gear into a dumpster the other day, I thought: I wonder what happened to Rocksmith, and Ubisoft answered my question with its reveal of Rocksmith+, the new version of its music education application slash game. Rocksmith+ allows would-be acoustic or electric guitarists and bassists to plug in their axe to a computer, smartphone or mobile device and play along to popular songs while their technique is critiqued and they are humiliated by the application. In all seriousness, the original Rocksmith was a legit and useful learning tool and I’m excited to try out the new version. A lot of Rocksmith+’s features are available on other devices (like the Spark amplifier) or apps but its great to see some effort put behind music education. If only we’d had Rocksmith+ during the pandemic lockdown, we’d have thousands of shredders.
Riders Republic wasn’t a new reveal but it seems to be the game that’s captured the attention of the COGconnected crew. Riders Republic is a multiplayer action sports game that allows players to race and out-trick each other on snowboards, hang gliders, mountain bikes, skis, and jet-powered wingsuits. The environments, competitive solo and team modes and the crazy stunts look like a lot of high-energy fun. Riders Republic releases in September.
Eivor Goes to France, We All Learn to Dance like Todrick Hall, and Mario and the Rabbids Have Sparks of Hope
Ubisoft made a big deal out of the fact that it was committed to supporting Assassin’s Creed: Valhalla for two whole years, and proving it by releasing a second DLC chapter called The Siege of Paris sometime this summer. In addition to the new (and no doubt, immense) expansion, Valhalla will continue to be supported by a trickle of free updates, new modes and seasonal events. The recent Wrath of the Druids DLC was excellent.
Just in case you weren’t convinced by the feel-good trailer for Rocksmith+ that music makes us all better people, an inspiring intro to Just Dance 2022 by rapper/choreographer Todrick Hall underlined it. Short on gameplay or much new information, we did learn that Just Dance 2022 will feature new, exclusive choreography created by Hall for his hit Nails, Hips, Hair, Heels.
Ubisoft almost ended with a bang by showing off a trailer for Mario+ Rabbids: Sparks of Hope, a recently leaked sequel to 2017’s Mario+Rabbids Kingdom Battle. Exclusively for Nintendo Switch, the new game brings together many of the same favorite characters from the first game (Mario, Luigi, Princess Peach, Rabbid Peach, Rabbid Luigi,) and takes players across the galaxy in search of the Sparks.
Finally, in answer to the question no one was asking, Ubisoft ended its Forward show with a look at Avatar Frontiers of Pandora, which in all fairness looks impressive and sort of shockingly reminds us that the Avatar-verse has never really received its due in a high-quality game. Frontiers is an open-world action game that looks a little like Horizon Zero Dawn but instead of post-apocalyptic animal machines, the setting is the exotic, colorful planet of Pandora and the conflict between Corporate Greed and the ancient Pandorians. Avatar Frontiers of Pandora releases in 2022.
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