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Ubisoft Pre-E3 2014 Media Briefing Summary

by Thomas Wilde on June 9, 2014 @ 4:20 p.m. PDT

During Ubisoft's Pre-E3 2014 Media Briefing, it presented new coverage for Assassin's Creed: Unity, The Crew, The Division, Far Cry 4, Just Dance 2015, Shape Up, Tom Clancy's Rainbow Six Siege, and Valiant Hearts: The Great War.

June 9, 2014, 3:00 PM
Orpheum Theatre

Swag: glowing rubber wristbands with a Uplay code on the back.

2:45 PM
They got started a little early with a pre-recorded message, showing happy fans, developer questions, and talking up their presence at the Standard Hotel.

2:53 PM
The Rabbids appear to have mugged the guy giving the safety announcement. They advise you get comfortable by sitting in a fresh pizza, empty your bladder into empty water bottles, free up bandwidth by preventing Rabbids from eating your router, and turn off your cell phones. Wise advice, Rabbids.


3:00 PM
A Buddhist mandala is blown away to reveal the Ubisoft logo as they start the show with Far Cry 4. You hand your passport to a man in the back of a bus, accompanied by a monkey, and he says, "I'll do the talking." You're about to pass through what looks like a military checkpoint, where armed men in blue check the tires. They find something, and two guys bolt; they're promptly cut down, which starts a firefight with the soldiers. You hit the ground and crawl out the back of the bus to find yourself staring at a helicopter and at gunpoint from the troops.

You and your buddy are on the ground as a gray-haired man steps out of the chopper; he finishes his cigarette and walks over to you, seemingly amused. "I distinctly remember saying... stop the bus," he says, "not shoot the bus. I'm very particular with my words. Stop. Shoot. Stop. Shoot. Do those words sound the same?"

"It got out of control," protests one of the soldiers, so the man guts him. "Now I've got blood on my fricking shoes! At least there's a silver lining; you didn't completely fuck it up. Get out of the way. I'd know those eyes anywhere. I'm so sorry about this," he says to the player. "We have a party waiting for you." He asks if the guy from the bus is your "plus one," then laughs and apologizes. He takes a selfie with you and himself and says happily that he has "cleared his calendar for you." You're going to "tear shit up."

3:05 PM
Dan Hay comes out to say on Nov. 18, you're going to play Far Cry 4. "You're fucked." "Every single second is a story."

3:06 PM
Aisha Tyler is back to host the show. She's "super excited to be here"; it's her third time hosting the presser. She keeps hosting because she "loves video games." Apparently "it's 420 in this bitch," so things will get sweaty and smoky.

Gratuitous Watch Dogs shoutout due to her appearance(s). This leads into Just Dance 2015, which has been played by over 100 million people since its debut.

3:09 PM
Just Dance 2015 trailer, emphasizing its fans more than gameplay, with plenty of shots of photogenic people playing it in their living rooms. Pharrell Williams and Ellie Goulding have songs on the soundtrack. Tagline: "We put you in the game" because it "brings people together like never before." It's coming out this October.

3:11 PM
There's a brand-new way to "break out of your living room." Jason Altman, executive producer, is here to talk about it. He introduces Just Dance Now. With a smartphone, you can play together with your friends in real time. It's a "breakthrough in latency-free online gaming."

With the free app, you use the phone as a controller and log onto a website to play with an unlimited number of people: 4, 20, 2,000, 20,000. We're surrounded by dancers in the aisles, balconies, and onstage all dancing together with phones in their hands, and GOD DAMN THIS IS LOUD.

3:15 PM
Aisha manages to segue somehow from Just Dance to The Division. "Bleeding from all your orifices just makes you want to jump up and shake it."

Peter Mannerfelt, executive producer, is here to discuss The Division, where New York has become a "hostile place in mid-crisis" due to a virus and the associated chaos. "Factions that have taken advantage of the break in our society" are involved in a conspiracy to take over New York.

"Now we're going to show how this all happened." A movie shows New York sped up over time, as days and nights move into each other rapidly, snow falls, ads change on billboards, and then we zoom into a window: a childlike shape under the covers in a bed slowly disappears as a woman cries. The apartment falls apart as the disease kills its inhabitants, leaving the man of the house as the last one alive, and he shoots himself. "When it came down, it came down hard, and we ... fell."

"Someone's gotta be there to pick it up ... and push back." The hero runs off a couple of looters who've got a guy cornered, but a new gang appears, led by a man with a flamethrower. That means it's time to take cover, however you can, as a firefight is about to erupt. "Take Back" New York City.

It's an impressive trailer for how it uses the passage of time, but goddamn, what a white game, and it's a bit of a disappointment to see the setting being used for some cover-shooter.

3:21 PM
Aisha's back to talk about The Crew.

Coast to Coast: Miami to Los Angeles. It's a race, delivered sped up, through a variety of tracks and streets: city, snow-covered mountain roads, highways, hills, in several different cars. The cars seem to be accumulating weather and debris as they go; the car in the mud has an appropriately thick coat of grime. The lighting is pretty phenomenal, too. "Where Will Your Crew Go?"

The map is "gigantic." Julian Gerighty, executive producer, comes onstage to talk about their "two-hour-plus" missions that take you from Miami to Los Angeles. "We've been struggling to put the gamers at the heart of our experience," so they've been using the community to give feedback on the game. They let an operation called Route 909 "out into the wild," so players in Dubai, Montreal, and a few other places got to play the game. Currently, the two top teams are in New York and Copenhagen, but Gerighty's money is "on the Brazilian crew." They'll have two motion seats for the demo at Ubisoft's booth.

You can register for the beta right now at, which opens July 23. The game launches Nov. 11.

3:27 PM
"Ubisoft has been making history seem insanely real for years" with Assassin's Creed.

Creative director Alex Amancio comes onstage to talk about AC: Unity, set during the French Revolution.

Trailer: a bird flies over revolutionary Paris, where the streets are full and the military are about to make a move. The music appears to be a really slow cover of "Everybody Wants to Rule the World," which is oddly fitting; yep, there it goes.

The peasants go after the military, which scatters, and the group of four Assassins make their move, infiltrating the keep as the bridge comes down. The soldiers fire on the peasant mob, killing the ones in front, and the Assassins join the melee to cut the soldiers down, moving further into the camp and cutting the soldiers down with the aid of a smoke bomb. Their target seems to be the soldiers' commander, who tries to hold them off with a lit fuse and a pile of gunpowder...

... but they just put the fuse out and leave him for the surviving peasants, who rush him.

Oct. 28, 2014.

3:32 PM
"Are you ready to rule the world?" Arno Dorian, armed with a French cutlass and a "Phantom Blade," is the new game's protagonist, accompanied by three other hooded Assassins.

Dominick Butler, lead level designer, takes control for a mission called The Reign of Terror, in Paris 1793.

"A thousand terrors I mean to cure, day by day, street by street, Templar by Templar." The mission is to kill Captain Xavier, and it begins high above crowded Parisian streets. He parkours across the walls to get to ground level, and his new objective is to "Protect Civilians," then "Catch a Thief"; there's a side mission called Murder Mystery which distracts him, with numbered bodies found throughout Paris. He then bypasses an incident of violence on the street, in factor of attacking a pair of swordsmen in red clothing. He takes them on with his cutlasses and his off-hand, using foot sweeps and the occasional haymaker punch.

They were door guards; he moves into the building and goes up the stairs, moving quietly, and hides behind a table. He waits for a man's back to turn and moves around the guards on the second floor without being detected, getting to the stairs. His target has a single bodyguard; he gets killed with a stab to the throat, then interrogates the target, who knows where Captain Xavier is.

He's back out to the rooftops, then, after sparing the interrogatee. The parkour seems very smooth and natural, the way he's using architecture and strung wires to go from the roofs to the ground in seconds.

The streets are packed, and people are killing each other constantly, but he ignores the street crime in favor of reaching Xavier, who's heavily guarded and protected by the crowd. He moves quietly after Xavier, into a restricted area, then climbs up a wall to the rooftops again to trail him. Xavier's actually on his way to preside over several executions by guillotine; the Assassin moves across a rope to the balcony above the gallows as an execution takes place, then leaps from the roof to the guillotine to Xavier and cuts him down. The crowd panics and flees, and that's the end of the demo.

3:40 PM
"Fitness is boring," says Charles Huteau from Ubisoft Montreal, who's introducing Shape Up for Xbox One. The idea is to turn your workout into a game using, I presume, the Kinect.

They show off two challenges: the first is Piano Step, which turns a cardio workout into a rhythm game. Huteau is going to try to beat his own high score in what's essentially a Guitar Hero clone played with your feet, or if you prefer, DDR, set to a "Eye of the Tiger" cover. Huteau actually did beat his high score by just over 200 points.

The second challenge is America vs. France, the red team vs. the blue team, San Francisco vs. Paris, in a competitive game called Push Them Up. They're doing push-ups against each other, although the graphics are pretty funny; they're getting tanks, arcade cabinets, animals, etc. stacked on their backs as they compete. Looks like America won, although I'm not entirely sure...

3:48 PM
Next up, "on the 100th anniversary of World War I, comes Valiant Hearts: The Great War." It's a "unique puzzle adventure" through the "horrors of the Western Front," done in partnership with a show called Apocalypse: Western Front. It's coming out June 25.

3:51 PM
"We've laughed, we've cried, we've learned some stuff..." but it's not over until we hear from Yves Guillemot, co-founder and CEO of Ubisoft.

He's here to thank the fans, both in the theater and watching the stream; the developers; and to show one more game.

It's pre-alpha footage of a 5v5 multiplayer match: one team is scouting a house with some kind of small camera on a drone and finds a hostage in a second-floor bedroom. They opt for a helicopter drop onto the roof, rappel down to a window, plant a breaching charge, blow out the window, and neutralize all the terrorists... but then lose a guy to gunfire through the wall. The gunfire just shreds the drywall; the house is falling apart around them in real-time as their gunfire cuts through everything. They escort the hostage to the stairs despite the terrorists firing straight through the walls at them. The terrorists can deploy a bulletproof shield and retake the hostage; they've got one KIA to the terrorists' two.

They deploy the drone again to go under a closed door and find out which way the terrorists are facing; they use another breaching charge to cut through the wall above them and then go straight through the floor to the hostage's location. Now it's 3 on 1; the last terrorist neutralized their sniper, then comes in once they've got the hostage and takes out one of the last cops. The hostage takes a round.

It's Tom Clancy's Rainbow Six Siege, which is the first Rainbow Six game in six years.


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