Check out what we know about Ubisoft's offerings, plus the next Skylanders outing.
Watch_Dogs - Preview by Zack Kaplan
Ubisoft continues its strong support of the Wii U with Watch_Dogs. This open-world game takes place in Chicago following the exploits of Aiden Pearce, a 39 year old vigilante/antihero who hacks his way through the city to deliver justice to those he believes deserve it. Besides hacking he also takes on his enemies face to face, using both guns and melee weapons. The game has a focus on stealth and will also feature parkour.
First revealed at E3 2012, Watch_Dogs is a completely new IP. No footage of the Wii U version has been shown, and it is not yet known how the GamePad will be utilized. Most likely the PS4 and Xbox One versions will be shown at Ubisoft’s press conference, but with Ubisoft’s support of the Wii U, it will probably be seen on the show floor.
Assassin’s Creed IV: Black Flag - Preview by Tom Malina
Whatever you may think about the annualisation of Assassin’s Creed, it’s always exciting to see a new interpretation of a historical period in this universe where Assassins and Templars have fought in an epic struggle for centuries. First the Crusades, then Renaissance Italy, then the American Revolution - now, in quite a shift away from those, Assassin’s Creed IV: Black Flag heads back to the early 1700s during the Golden Era of Piracy, and gives control to Edward Kenway, the grandfather of Assassin’s Creed III protagonist Connor Kenway.
Building upon the privateer side missions of the last game, the major new feature of Black Flag is the Jackdaw, Edward’s ship. The player can sail freely through the Caribbean, travelling between small islands and settlements, destroying other ships or capturing and plundering them for treasure, hunting marine life and partaking in other pirate activities. Meanwhile, the regular Assassin’s Creed gameplay of free-running and assassinations takes place back on land, in the cities of Havana, Cuba; Kingston, Jamaica; and Nassau in the Bahamas.
All of these details about Black Flag were garnered around the time of its initial reveal and debut trailer, but we have yet to see extended footage of the game actually being played. That should change at the Ubisoft press conference, which has had a tradition of providing an on-stage demonstration of each new Assassin’s Creed game going back to Brotherhood in 2010. Where will the Wii U version fit into E3? While it won’t be the focus at the conference, Ubisoft has been one of Nintendo’s prime third-party supporters, so the Wii U edition ought to get its due. Assassin’s Creed IV: Black Flag is coming out on October 29 in North America and November 1 in Europe.
Tom Clancy’s Splinter Cell: Blacklist - Preview by Zack Kaplan
Sam Fisher returns in a new entry in the popular stealth series. This time Fisher, as the commander of the newly formed Fourth Echelon, must hunt down the members of the Blacklist, a group of 12 terrorists. The game features online multiplayer including the return of Spies vs. Mercs, and a new gameplay mechanic, Killing in Motion, which allows players to kill multiple targets quickly in succession.
Splinter Cell last made an appearance on a Nintendo system at the launch of the 3DS with Splinter Cell 3D, a port of Chaos Theory. Splinter Cell Blacklist is an all new title coming to the Wii U among other systems and is set to be released on August 20.
Rayman Legends - Preview by Tom Malina
Forget the fact that it’s no longer a Wii U exclusive. Forget the fact that it’s coming out almost a year after we first expected it to. Rayman Legends, the sequel to the amazingly creative, colorful, Rayman Origins, deserves your attention if you have even the slightest interest in 2D sidescrollers, and if the currently available demo and free downloadable Challenge App are anything to go by, we could be in for another delectable treat of platforming goodness.
In the numerous avenues the game has already been shown, we have already seen a glimpse of the imaginative level design on offer. The particular highlights so far are the music stages - fast-paced, challenging levels with obstacles all timed to the beat of the background music, which could be an original track or remix of a licensed song (including mariachi-styled Eye of the Tiger.) In addition, even though the game’s Wii U exclusivity has gone, it may still be the version of choice because of the deep integration of GamePad interactivity. Controlling the new character Murfy, the player can interact with platforms and other objects on the touchscreen, and occasionally tilt the controller to change the orientation of the whole stage. This can all be performed with one person,, but it sounds like the asymmetric multiplayer is recommended to get the most out of this.
Rayman Legends featured significantly in the Ubisoft press event at E3 2012 for Wii U, but the primary reason for its delay and branching to other consoles was to find the game a wider audience, considering the modest sales of Rayman Origins. Therefore, a return appearance is likely on the table, and if it is true that the delay allowed for additional stages to be created for the game, there is undoubtedly plenty more to show.
Skylanders: Swap Force - Preview by Neal Ronaghan
Skylander’s third entry is a big step from a new developer. Skylanders: Swap Force is being crafted by Vicarious Visions, who ported Giants last year to Wii U, and the hook around the new entry is that it is running on a new engine, adds a jumping ability, and introduces the Swap Force. These new characters can be split in two (thanks to magnets) and then rearranged to create new characters. So the water-based Wash Buckler can be mixed with the fire-based Blast Zone to create Wash Zone or Blast Buckler, complete with different strengths and weaknesses.
The Wii version, which will likely just be a downport of the Wii U version, is being handled by Beenox and the 3DS version will once again be a wholly separate entry from n-Space. At E3 2013, we expect to hear lots more about the Wii U version, but probably scant details about the Wii and 3DS ones. Swap Force is currently expected to debut in October 2013.