“Crash & Burn”

Following the standout conference delivered by Microsoft this morning, Ubisoft took the stage for their annual briefing with a large roster of games to showcase. Unfortunately, it was an exhausting and prolonged affair, with a few triumphs sprinkled about. Headlining Ubisoft’s best efforts was the incredible looking South Park: The Fractured But Whole and an intense showing of Tom Clancy’s Ghost Recon Wildlands. If looking at Ubisoft’s upcoming library of games, you’d likely expect a solid briefing purely due to diversity of titles on display. From the brutal For Honor, to sleekly presented Watch Dogs 2, Ubisoft isn’t hurting for fresh experiences to highlight. What hurt their briefing was a bewildering exhibit of disorganized pacing, causing for a show that didn’t know when to stop.E3 2016 Ubisoft's Briefing Impressions (Braxton Haugen) Tom Clancy's Ghost Recon WildlandsPossibly one of the strangest beginning notes an E3 conference has ever kicked off with, a troupe of costumed dancers crowded the stage to promote the upcoming Just Dance. Heavily juxtaposed by what came next, the briefing turned its attention to Ghost Recon Wildlands, one of the more impressive titles revealed at last year’s show. A cinematic trailer and extensive gameplay demo debuted on stage, both of which added to my already substantial anticipation leading into its March 7, 2017 release date. Some canned voiceover commentating throughout the gameplay demo was laughable, but it fortunately didn’t take away from what was actually happening on screen. This was the first deep dive we’ve seen into Wildlands, and it was an impressive one. The briefing then proceed to put its best foot forward, with the absolutely hilarious showcase of The Fractured But Whole, the followup to 2014’s extraordinary Stick of Truth. When I completed The Stick of Truth, I figured it would be a long time before we’d see a South Park game again, due to its tortured development leading up to it’s excellent final product. Thankfully, I was proven wrong during last year’s Ubisoft briefing when The Fractured But Whole was formally revealed. Just as humorous as the original, this year’s South Park title is a strong contender for game of the show, in my eyes. Unfortunately, when its showcase wound down, so did the overall quality of Ubisoft’s briefing.

We got a look at what’s to come from The Division’s upcoming expansion, followed by an extensive look into Ubisoft’s VR projects, and a delve into For Honor’s single player offering. The VR section tanked the pacing of the conference, and moving forward from it, was never able to bounce back. Everything shown from that point, on, felt extremely long in the tooth, detracting most of the potential investment that could have been dedicated to specific demos and reveals. Worse yet, Ubisoft spent an exorbitant amount of time on things that shouldn’t have made their way on stage in the first place. Chief to this would be the stage time allotted to the upcoming Assassin’s Creed movie, a wholly unnecessary move that absolutely murdered the cadence of the already apparent shaky pacing. Watch Dogs 2 attempted to salvage the downhill ride of the briefing with a very promising slice of gameplay, but even it overstayed its welcome; also, it’s getting a movie, ugh. The conference was concluded with the reveal of a new IP, Steep, an extreme sports title coming this December. The game itself looks fine, if not a little half-baked at first glance. Its presentation on the other hand wasn’t as excusable, for it slogged on much longer than it should’ve, draining the initial intrigue the demo invoked.E3 2016 Ubisoft's Briefing Impressions (Braxton Haugen) South Park The Fractured But WholeBelow is the biggest news from Ubisoft’s E3 2016 press conference.

The Big Announcements

Walking away from Ubisoft’s briefing exhausted and perplexed, it goes without saying it wasn’t the publisher’s strongest E3 in recent memory. The underwhelming nature of the conference is strange considering the wealth of experiences Ubisoft has in the pipeline over the next couple years. When not confined to the jumbled briefing which showcased them, many of these games look great on their own. For Honor, Watch Dogs 2, and Ghost Recon–just to name a few–all have my interest, but the presser that encompassed them, didn’t do them justice. I found myself increasingly disengaged with whatever it was on stage, as unnecessarily prolonged talking bits and scripted interviews played out. By the end I was just thankful the ordeal was over, despite considering myself extremely excited for a handful of the games on display this afternoon. It was a disappointing letdown to see so many games ripe with potential, haphazardly strewn about this messily managed of a conference. Better luck next year.

Note: Be sure to check back everyday for continually updated and exciting content surrounding this year’s show.

To keep up with my thoughts on all things E3 2016 as they go down live, connect with me on Twitter @BraxHaugen.