E3 Week: Ubisoft and I Love Open Worlds

I might actually be suffering from a hype overdose. That doesn’t happen very often with me, even at events like E3, but something about Ubisoft’s conference this morning just hit me hard, and now I’m restraining myself from tweeting in all caps and shouting about the games I’m falling in love with. It’s all these open world games Ubisoft keeps showing off. I’m a sucker for a good open world.

With two big open world titles on show – one already surrounded by hype and another being freshly announced today – I naturally got to thinking about Assassin’s Creed, as I always do. Imagine, if you would, an E3 iwthout Assassin’s Creed. A year where Ubisoft doesn’t devote a good ten minute chunk of their own conference – and maybe more time with Sony or Microsoft – to the next instalment in the franchise.

That’d probably be like imaging an E3 without Call of Duty or Halo. At this point in time Assassin’s Creed is just expected at E3. That’s what happens when you become a yearly franchise. Since Assassin’s Creed II, since 2008, Assassin’s Creed has been a persistent presence at E3. Maybe even the star of Ubisoft’s show. Only now, I don’t really think it needs to be.

Last year we were all surprised when Ubisoft announced Watch Dgos on the tail end of their conference, a conference which also heavily featured Assassin’s Creed III. It was a surprise – I love new IP – that quickly built up momentum among audience. Watch Dogs made a splash, became the gem of E3 2012, and in the year since we’ve watched with excitement (well, I have) as more and more information has come out. It looks like a fantastic game. I’m totally hyped.

Ubisoft’s 2013 conference has just finished. Both Watch Dogs and Assassin’s Creed were in full force for the show, and more is promised for Sony’s conference which at the time of writing is less than an away hour (get more hype, guys!). Aisha Tyler presented both games with a sort of ‘and now, the moment you’ve all been waiting for’ vibe, and for good reason. They both look great. I’m not even going to pretend I won’t be buying Assassin’s Creed IV. I know I will, I can’t lie to myself, and the more I see of the game the more interested I find myself. I can’t fight it! But maybe I don’t even want to fight it anymore. And if any game is going to be my first next-gen purchase it has to be Watch Dogs. I’m more hype for that game than anything else right now, even with The Last of Us hitting stores this week.

But then Ubisoft ended on another game. Well, first they revealed more Trials games – excellent! I look forward to the next generation of epic bailouts and swearing at my TV. But it was the game that ended the show that drew in the all caps tweets and the general excited panic that comes with an unforseen game announcement.

A new IP! Remember, I’m a sucker for these. or not really? It has the Tom Clancy name attached to it, but otherwise it seemed like an entirely new concept. Let’s all get hyped for Tom Clancy’s The Division! (let’s just call it The Division)

An online open world RPG, it’s nothing particularly groundbreaking but damn if it isn’t still exciting. The Division is set in a post-apocalyptic New York as a super virus destroys much of society in one fell swoop. The gameplay reveal showed a very communicative team reclaiming a police station. Even if that communication was scripted, it felt compelling. There’s a lot to react to in the game and experiencing that with friends sounds like it’ll make for some good times. The reveal was all about demonstrating the co-op and the drop-in-drop-out experience and it worked for me because those are the kinds of online worlds I’m not interested in. And it’s an open world!

It’s the second year in a row that Ubisoft has made a splash by unveiling a new open world game. I’m completing on board with it, because both have entirely different focuses, The Division doesn’t feel like another Watch Dogs or a cheap attempt to generate the kind of hype that Watch Dogs had (even if it might succeed in doing so). It looks like a quality game, and the thought of two upcoming open world experiences from Ubisoft is bringing out the ALL CAPS IN ME AH MAN HYPE.

It’s the second year that Assassin’s Creed hasn’t been the star of Ubisoft’s show, despite its marketing and despite how popular or well-known the franchise is. I’m not really calling for a break in the series here. But Assassin’s Creed has always felt like a pillar for Ubisoft to lean on and, if the series ever wanted to take a break for a year, now would be a good time. When you’re announcing new Trials games, The Division, building hype for Rayman Legends and Watch Dogs, you don’t really need the presence of a yearly franchise.

You got me, Ubisoft. You got me hyped.

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