For me, Ubisoft are on an absolute roll. Not that long ago I’d associate Ubisoft with usually high profile releases dogged by bugs and server issues. Yet lately I find myself playing almost exclusively Ubisoft titles – how has this happened?
It dawned on me the other day as I looked at my list of games on PS4 – ordered by most recently played. All four of them were Ubisoft titles. Not even recent releases either, but games I’ve been frequently going back to.
Assassin’s Creed Syndicate was the first. Actually, this isn’t really the best Assassin’s Creed game in my opinion, but I’ve enjoyed playing it. It’s fairly standard open world type affair really, towers to climb and reveal stuff on the map, people to hunt down and kill. But each year it becomes more refined and this is probably the most refined and complete offering yet. Set in ye olde London, the characters draw from the same time period and the missions are varied enough, with an onslaught of side quests as you would expect and collectibles dotted around.
Next up on my playlist was Rainbow Six: Siege. This is where the mould starts to bend a bit – another first person shooter but it’s (mostly) online only, requiring teamwork to have any sort of success and one life before you’re sitting and watching. Yet it’s riveting stuff, it’s been well received critically an importantly word of mouth seems to have been strong with people telling their friends and others as the price has dropped and more and more people are picking it up. Some bugs have quickly been ironed out with patches, it’s a great game to stream and watch being played and you can contribute without needing to voice communicate – by pinging locations, scanning baddies, even when you’re dead.
Rainbow for me has massive replayability – I am still regularly playing it! Map and character support is planned in well through this year and free (although there is a bit of a grind to pay with in game currency for the free characters) and even feedback is being considered: Terrorist Hunt mode is locked to 30 frames. Ubisoft patched this allowing you to disable v-sync and enable 60 frames in this mode.
Next up is Far Cry Primal. Much like Blood Dragon, Ubisoft are taking a punt at something new. Take an established name, a familiar formula (open world first person shooter, lots to unlock, collect, bonfires/towers to uncover) and set it thousands of years ago. Remove guns and explosions and replace with bow and arrows, and spears. It works. It’s brave, it’s new, it’s a great twist on something that’s a bit too familiar. It looks fantastic and the level of detail is amazing too – sending a sabre tooth tiger to take down a tall elk and you’ll see a few different animations each time. Thinking back to Syndicate and Rainbow and this detail carries through as well – walking into a house and you’ll see a home gym, spilled cups of coffee, motivational posters. You can shoot computers in an office and the motherboard falls out. Why this is level of detail in a very minor part of a game? Not sure, but it’s great.
Now the Division is out. Again, a tried and tested formula is changed. The loot-em-up style of Diablo and the open world MMO connectivity of Destiny is applied to third person military shooting. There’s nothing else really like it, it seems to have bettered Destiny (although it’s early days) in terms of things to do with a realistic and incredibly detailed seamless open world. A novel and new PvP element which hasn’t been done before to any degree on a console and everything has been working fine since launch. Many hours in and I’ve barely scratched the surface, with the detail as seen in the previously mentioned games also present here – and in such a big world, it must have taken an amazing amount of time.
There’s a theme here. Ubisoft are trying new things within the safety of existing ideas, styles or IPs. It’s being refined, nearly perfected, streamlined, and the community is being listened to. I can’t wait to see what’s next in their portfolio – in only a few weeks Trackmania is released on consoles. Aside from Rocket League, there isn’t much else out like this. Coming out at a budget price, it features fast car racing, stunt performing and insane tracks with a strong community element supported underneath.
It’s looking like it will continue to be a strong year for Ubisoft. I can’t wait to see what they come out with and not just for new releases but support for existing titles. At the moment it’s looking like I could get to my five most recently played games being Ubisoft titles.