Ubisoft Forward gave us a glimpse of the future, with details about Watch Dogs: Legion, Assassin's Creed Valhalla and some of Ubisoft's other flagship franchises. Have they done enough to grab your attention or is it just more of the same?
So much potential...
Assassin’s Creed Valhalla, Far Cry 6 and Watch Dogs: Legion - as different as these games may seem on the surface, they all boil down to the same rote formula.
Assassin’s Creed Origins mixed things up back in 2017 and I gave credit where it was due. I did, however, also hypothesise that the new direction would be recycled ad nauseum and the franchise would soon find itself feeling tired again. That happened immediately, as very little changed in Odyssey and very little looks to be new with Valhalla.
Far Cry 6 manages to be in a worse position. The series peaked with 2012’s excellent Far Cry 3, with every reskinned sequel thereafter getting more and more drab. It’s caused me to hate what FC3 now represents, despite loving the game initially.
Watch Dogs 2 was actually a decent improvement over the original, but the implementation of Legion's differentiating mechanic is really underwhelming. Being able to recruit and play as almost any NPC is certainly ambitious, but the characters lack true individuality and recruiting them is a simple case of granting tedious requests.
I’ve basically played all of these games before. Bothering to keep up with the most prevalent Ubisoft franchises is a genuine chore at this point, and something I’m not going to sign up for.
Will Valhalla be just another reskinned Origins?
I am too old and slow (in real life and video games) for twitch shooting and parkour, so as much as I thought Hyper Scape’s setting was a cool one, I’ll definitely be giving it a miss. Cowering by the gas and hoping people don’t notice me is my preferred battle royale strategy, and CoD Warzone allows me to do that just fine.
Far Cry 6’s cinematic trailer was very well made, and set the tone of the game’s story nicely, but it would have been good to see some actual gameplay. I haven’t enjoyed a Far Cry game since the underrated Primal, and I could be tempted back.
Assassin’s Creed Valhalla gameplay was what I was expecting it to be, but I thought the central map in your hub area that shows what alliances you’ve made was a cool addition. It gives me hope that we’ll be able to build and expand our settlement through other, less brutal means, and not just hours of violence.
Most impressive though was Watch Dogs: Legion. I had no interest in the previous games but being able to recruit random, throwaway characters off the street and utilise their unique skill sets for missions just seems like chaotic, silly fun.
Chaotic, silly fun just about sums it up.
Unfortunately for Ubisoft, a couple of things were stuck in my mind going into the reveals of its Forward event. Firstly, Far Cry 6 (while hardly unexpected anyway) leaked, including the inclusion of its Breaking Bad alumni antagonist, Giancarlo Esposito.
Secondly, and more importantly, there have been significant and widespread allegations of misconduct across the company, which has led to a number of executives being “allowed” to go on “extended leave” while investigations are made, while others have left the organisation.
That shouldn’t be cause to punish the hard work of the developers who have put these new games together, but it shouldn’t be ignored either.
As far as the games themselves are concerned, I found Far Cry 5 to be pleasant enough, but ultimately more bark than bite when it came to making a point. We’ll see if the sixth installment, this time set in the Cuba-esque country of Yara, has anything memorable to say, or will we be longing for the series’ past glories instead.
From the rest, Watch Dogs looks set to not live up to its gimmick, Assassin’s Creed has a lot to prove and Hyper Scape hasn’t quite sunk in just yet.
If Giancarlo Esposito isn't enough to get you excited, there's also an adorable pooch.
What was your highlight from Ubisoft Forward?