Ubisoft is a very unique game studio. They’re one of the few studios that still believes with all their heart in innovation, and yet they’re also the studio that refuses to make titles that they can’t turn into a franchise. It’s a fascinating contradiction, but it’s that innovation that has led 3 of Ubisoft’s upcoming titles to be featured in this Most Anticipated of 2014.
It’s hard to talk about Ubisoft without mentioning how disappointing it was when Watch Dogs was delayed to 2014. Initially supposed to be a launch title for the PS4 and XBO, Watch Dogs was one of those quintessential ‘next gen’ titles. This was, by many, believed to be the title that helps us to truly understand the potential of the ‘next generation’. Between the limitless possibilities, the intriguing premise, the specific use of multiplayer and the unique nature of the world… this is a game that has many people excited and intrigued.
You play as a hacker by the name of Aiden Pearce. Aiden is a vigilante, and the game offers you an alternate reality Chicago where the city is controlled by a supercomputer named ctOS. This open world adventure’s core story has only been hinted at, but the gameplay allows you to hack this supercomputer to trigger a variety of effects. Need to know who is around a corner? Access the security cameras. Need an escape? Play with the train schedules. Need a distraction? Switch traffic lights to green at an intersection. Short on cash? Siphon some out of the bank account of a local drug mogul.
There is some fear that such a power will be hard to balance, but I believe Ubisoft can pull it off and give us a fun experience.
The Division is a title that has a lot of potential to be truly unique. At it’s surface, it appears to be a fairly ordinary persistent online shooter. The graphics are good, the gameplay appears to have a pretty interesting variety to it… but there are two aspects that are really unique.
First of all, The Division appears to be the first game that will offer a companion app that actually makes sense. If it is as fun and interesting as it appears, people may actually be able to get significant others, children, and friends of gamers to become involved. It seems like a really interesting addition. The companion app, as we’ve seen thus far, allows the person to control a drone within the gameworld the cannot die but gets to fly around and help the players.
Secondly, the way the multiplayer has been discussed is a breath of fresh air. The game appears to take into account your lifestyle and obligations when matchmaking and pairing you with strangers. This sounds like a small thing, but pairing a group of parents who all have small children together will allow for them to leave the game to take care of things that need to be done without fearing reprimand, and will also ensure that people with no obligations won’t have to deal with the sort of constant interruptions that can result from traditional matchmaking.
These two concepts, if they work the way they seem to be intended and if the game itself is solid, could well create some pretty huge ripples in the gaming industry that could impact the way the gaming industry looks at things.
Child of Light
It’s easy to lose sight of the little games when faced with massive ambitious titles like The Division and Watch Dogs, but Ubisoft is also working on a gorgeous little title called Child of Light. Child of Light is a modern Ubisoft take on a JRPG, using the UbiArt framework that will be coming out for nearly every modern console.
It is an absolutely gorgeous little title, once again proving that art style is far more important to a game’s aesthetic than any other consideration. The art team on this game has clearly taken queues from Studio Ghibli and early Square concept art… and what more could you ask for?
The gameplay takes the ATB, a concept that is both familiar and comfortable, and adds several wrinkles that adjust things in potentially fascinating ways. Early gameplay footage showcases features such as ally assistance, interrupting enemy turns, and multiplayer.
A common trend among recent and upcoming Ubisoft games are the innovative ways they look at multiplayer gameplay. In Child of Light, they offer a cooperative experience that allows for a second person to control one of the two characters, making the game easier, assisting in combat, and finding secret treasures. A perfect way to have a child involved in the experience, or possibly even a friend, girlfriend, wife, or other relative that might be interested in what you’re doing but who isn’t an experienced gamer.
It is these types of innovation and creativity that keep Ubisoft in my eyes, and have made them the feature of my penultimate ‘Most Anticipated of 2014’ article. Next week will be the final one… and you’ll just have to wait and see what the last category is, but I promise you it’s going to be good.