E3 2013: Ubisoft’s Wii U Line-up Impressions – Watch Dogs, Rayman Legends and Black Flag
While third party support was thin on the ground for all but a few companies at E3, Ubisoft had a number of titles to show me. Having already seen Splinter Cell in action the previous month I was left to watch two gameplay demos of Watch Dogs and Assassin’s Creed IV: Black Flag. I also got to play close to half an hour of Rayman Legends with one of the games developers – in short, it’s an amazing game.
There was no hands on with Watch Dogs at E3, just a gameplay demonstration from the development team consisting of two demos. The one that played at the Sony press conference on Monday (the T-Bone demo) and a second demo, the latter of which I was allowed to watch.
The developers said from the outset that there would be no mission based structure, just interacting with the open world and seeing what would happen as a result. The demo started off with Aiden exploring one of the more poorer parts of the fictional, futuristic Chicago that the game takes place in.
In this new section of the city Aiden doesn’t yet have the ability to hack anyones mobile phones, so he must first break into and hack the ctOS base station of the region. The Ubisoft team told us they had done this a different way each time and were going to try and break in using a stealth approach for our specific showing.
Aiden opens up the compounds fence using his phone, the guard is distracted and he swoops in for the take down. Unfortunately, the developers stealth approach is quickly thrown out the window today as he is spotted and the rest of the guards start to shoot. Aiden takes the guards guns and disposes of the guards on the roof.
Once the ctOS complex is hacked, the fun can begin. You can steal from ATMs, see in any security camera or even find out key information about people. The next thing demoed, however, was the crime prediction meter. This gameplay mechanic sees each person having a rating – the higher the rating the more chance they’re going to become a victim.
The developers then decided to make Aiden follow a young woman, and following her saw her rating steadily increasing like clockwork as a jilted ex-lover approached her. Beating her in the alley way, Aiden pulls a gun on the lover, scaring him off (but not before the ex-lover fires a few shits back, mind you). Taking chase, he steals a car, but thankfully Aiden is able to hack some parking bollards and stop him dead in his tracks.
Stopping the crime increases your street cred, a big thing in the game. You don’t want to be known as a douche bag in the world of Watch Dogs.
Similarly, you’re able to hack any available wireless access points, not to steal internet and download countless amounts of data from your torrents, but instead to follow relevant cables into peoples apartments. If you want, you can hack their webcam and watch them get undressed or steal their money digitally. The apartment that was entered into on our demo was that of a young mothers, moral fortitude was strong this time around.
Aiden doesn’t appear to be the only one who can hack into ctOS, however, as in the demo an alert appeared to let us know that Aiden was getting hacked. Ubisoft used this moment to reveal it was another player, hidden away in the booth. You can infiltrate your friends’ game and hack their characters. This will usually then result in a cat and mouse chase to find the perpetrator before you lose your money.
This happened all in real time and all with no loading screens. While the Wii U version wasn’t demoed the game did look great but obviously still in development. We are quite excited by it’s ambitious nature, that’s for sure.
Even though we should be playing this game right now, I spent 20 minutes with a member of the Ubisoft Montpelier development team playing through what appeared to be finished or at least very closed to finished version of Rayman Legends.
Knowing I was from a Nintendo site and having played the Rayman app on the eShop we jumped into some co-operative play in some later levels of the game. This game is intense, there’s no other word. While I held my own, I was left in the dust as my demonstrator showed me all the moves, even then there were many deaths.
So what else is there to talk about here? Rayman Legends feels like its going to be great, there’s tons of content and a new Kung Foot mode. It’s a football or ‘soccer’ game with up to four players, there’s goals at each end of the screen and you must work as a team to score the most points. But you don’t just kick the ball, you can kick each other and being the end of the day we were allowed ‘just one more’ about three times.
Rayman Legends got delayed, it was probably a dumb move by Ubisoft but there’s no denying that Rayman Legends deserves a big audience. It’s one of the few games outside of the Nintendo booth I played that left me with a smile. A big dumb french smile.
Assassin’s Creed IV: Black Flag
For anyone who follows me on Twitter you’ll know my history with the Assassin’s Creed games. I never played the first 3 or 4 and then when Asssains’s Creed III was released on the Wii U I took it back after a week. That game was just too much of tough nut to crack.
Assassin’s Creed IV could probably change this and after watching this behind closed doors demo of it, I think I will least give it another shot.
Like the Watch Dogs demo, Ubisoft wanted to show off the game outside of a main storyline mission. Instead a side mission was activated to kill two twin brothers with boringly large long names. That was their crime.
While the first assassination went down without a hitch, the brother legs it and runs to his ship and sets sail. Edward Kenway, Black Flag’s main character then jumps into his ship, the Jackdaw(son) and makes chase.
The game then moved into an open sea battle, with the two ships in an intense battle. The first mate takes the wheel as Kenway pops on over the sails to take the other twin out. Once successful the other crew give up and you have the choice to either take them out, have them join your crew or scrap the ship to repair yours. In our demo the Ubisoft developer took the crew on board and the ship was now ours.
The ship doesn’t follow behind in the main game, but however on a tablet device. You can send the other ship now on missions around the West Indies and have it loot and pillage as much as you please. We asked Ubisoft if the Wii U version would have this tablet integration built into the GamePad but the staff members on hand weren’t sure.
After the ship fight was a over, a vicious storm was brewing. With the intentions of finding treasure, we knew the storm wouldn’t stop the Jackdaw from sailing away. As we were doing so, in the distance we could see several ships fighting – players can make the choice to help them, but us? We continued singing our merry and drunken hearts out. In the game, of course.
All of this – the fight with the twins, the ship battle, the treasure hunt was all done without the use of a loading screen, no pausing and no menus either.
The demo itself was very impressive – and if the whole game is as thrilling as this, along with Ubisoft tidying up the issues fans had with the previous game, they could easily be onto a winner with Black Flag.