Ubisoft CEO Yves Guillemot acknowledging that the video game development company had a “difficult” last year at E3 2021 is probably the closest we’ll get to any kind of acknowledgment of the widespread sexual misconduct claims percolating throughout the company. It’s an endemic problem for the entire video game industry, and while the company has taken some steps to address it, there’s yet to be a real public accounting of what’s going wrong.
The new entries from Ubisoft’s set franchises showed off at Ubisoft Forward also don’t do much to distract from things. In general, the company’s more oddball projects were dropped in favor of the ones that made it through the pandemic. The results are…mixed.
RAINBOW SIX EXTRACTION
One of the first things Ubisoft unveiled today was a new shooter starring the operators from the Rainbow Six series, RAINBOW SIX EXTRACTION. A spin-off the Outbreak mode from RAINBOW SIX SIEGE, EXTRACTION sees operators forming three-person squads and taking a parasitic alien life form known as the Archæans. Otherwise known by their less-of-a-hassle-to-type monikers “Archaeans” or even “Archies,” the aliens have infested various areas of the US and the Nomad team has been given various tasks in order to beat back the invading menace.
According to the gameplay trailer, missions consist of three different objectives with increasing difficulty. Each objective takes place in a different area of the map separated by airlocks, which act as LEFT 4 DEAD-style saferooms. After completing the first two tasks, squads can decide whether to end the mission there with the intel and EXP they’ve gathered, or go on to the much more difficult third mission. Completing missions allows players to level up their characters and unlock new tactical weapons and equipment to use against the encroaching alien mold menace.
The cinematic shown today highlighted the MIA mechanic, where if an operator dies during a mission they’re considered MIA and captured by the Archaeans. A player can no longer use that operator until a rescue mission is successfully completed, and no longer has access to their equipment and weapons. The idea here is to make players stop and consider whether they want to get out with what they have, or go for a bigger payout and risk losing the character they’re probably trying to level up anyway.
In a brief aside, It was also announced that RAINBOW SIX SIEGE will support crossplay starting in 2022 in addition to continued support and updates. Ubisoft also announced a new operator by the name of Thunderbird. A Native-Canadian helicopter pilot, she’ll reportedly be a defense character with a focus on healing.
Ubisoft’s premiere Guitar Hero But For Real game is celebrating 10 years of smug superiority over plastic guitar controllers by introducing ROCKSMITH+. With a focus on teaching guitar techniques and songs, ROCKSMITH+ offers a litany of features that connect novice strummers to the ROCKSMITH community and personalize their learning to their needs. The game will help with everything from how to properly tune your guitar to the key you’re playing in, the ability to slow songs down to a more manageable tempo, and even the ability to view notes in tablature form for “advanced” players. The game also promises to be able to connect to your mobile phone for use as a microphone, so you too can finally prove to your dad it’s time to let you in the family band.
On the heels of games like STEEP, RIDERS REPUBLIC is a racing game for various extreme sports, including biking, snowboarding, and even whatever the official term for wingsuit racing is. Introduced last year, this year’s trailer explained a little more what players can expect, showing off their hub world and multiplayer modes, including some of the massive races players can participate in.
The types of modes teased include standard races, trick attack sessions, and a sort of “Turf War” mode, where players gain control of the map by doing tricks off of its various elements, such as pipes and ramps.
The trailer also showed off some of the levels themselves, which include real-world locations such as Zion National Park and Mammoth Mountain. Players can also race on actual racetracks and courses, including a few sponsored by Red Bull. Or if you’d like to turn your frenetic racing game into a pensive walking simulator, the game is also to include a Free Explore mode, where you can stop by some of the landmarks of the various parks for in-game progress points.
MARIO + RABBIDS: SPARKS OF HOPE
Despite being leaked before the main event, Ubisoft announced that they’re making a follow-up to their groundbreaking team-up with Nintendo. Releasing exclusively on the Switch, SPARKS OF HOPE is a new adventure showing Mario, Luigi, and Peach teaming up with Rabbid versions of themselves. The new trailer also showcases the addition of characters from SUPER MARIO GALAXY, specifically Rabbid versions of Rosalina and a hybrid version of Lumas and Rabbids known as the titular Sparks.
Not much news in terms of gameplay has been released, other than the promise of “more action elements” and previews of various levels, one of which looks suspiciously like Delfino Plaza.
Other trailer elements included new characters such as the game’s villain, a cosmic horror with tentacles and hands known as Cursa, who is apparently draining the life from the Sparks somehow. Maybe something clever about draining their “spark” or something. Anyway, there’s also an anime Rabbi with spiky multicolored hair and a giant sword, so that’s mostly what I noticed.
FUCKIN’ AVATAR GAME
What is so far one of the first real “Holy SHIT” moments of the E3 season, Ubisoft waited till the end of their direct to drop their coup de grace, which is French for “I hope this distracts from all that horrible shit we’ve said about women.”
There is very little information circulating currently about AVATAR: FRONTIERS OF PANDORA, other than it’s been in development since at least 2017. The game’s description promises a standalone adventure on a never-before-seen part of the planet of Pandora. Players step into the loincloth and don the nervous-system-ponytail of an unnamed Na’vi to beat back the encroaching colonization efforts of the RDA, humans armed with mechs, tanks, and planes.
Again, all there is to go off is speculation from the trailer, but we got to see a lot of elements including aerial combat, beast training, perhaps a first-person mode, and a couple different ecosystems to run around in.
FAR CRY 6
No real news was announced for the upcoming FAR CRY 6 other than a cinematic depicting how much of a gleeful bastard Giancarlo Esposito’s character is when it comes to protecting his son and his son’s relationship to the game’s protagonist. What was announced was the Far Cry Season Pass, which includes a mode where players will step into the shoes of the villains from 3, 4, and 5. According to official descriptions this mode will be a rogue”lite” featuring the villains progressing through various levels of their own. There will also be FAR CRY 6-themed items in the new FAR CRY BLOOD DRAGON that will be included with the Season Pass.
JUST DANCE 2022
The new iteration of JUST DANCE will include a game-exclusive version of performer Todrick Hall’s single “NAILS, HAIR, HIPS, HEELS.” The version has different lyrics than the widely-released version, and players are also promised the chance to contribute to a music video for this version.
In 2019, Insider reported that Hall failed to pay several former employees and has been accused of sexual harassment. This might be traditionally outside of the purview of a JUST DANCE game, but worth mentioning considering several of the people Hall didn’t pay were dancers.
Ubisoft sure knows how to pick them.
ASSASSIN’S CREED VALHALLA
Ubisoft announced that there would be continued support for the game going into its second year (which is a weird thing to crow about but that’s another article), citing their dedication to improvements such as bug fixes and new weapon types. They also teased new expansions and other content for the game, specifically one that takes place in Ireland titled WRATH OF THE DRUIDS.
Other announcements include new Discovery Tours as well as a campaign featuring the Siege of Paris, which is regarded as one of the more important sieges in Viking history.