For sheer Hollywood-worthy entertainment value, leave it to the French, or at least French videogame publisher Ubisoft among all the pre-E3 presentations so far. The company’s presentation to journalists and analysts at the Orpheum Theater in downtown Los Angeles mixed stunning trailers and intense game play with distinctive music and the very entertaining emcee work of comedian/actress Aisha Tyler (in her third straight year in the gig). Hollywood types may find little new to mine for spinoff potential, but in truth, Ubisoft already has licensed several of its most film-worthy franchises to Hollywood and the cupboard may be a bit light for the moment. The biggest news today was the return of Rainbow Six, a long-beloved and long-missing franchise based on the books of the late techno-thriller writer Tom Clancy and focused on tactical small-group interactions. The company showed early-early-stage multiplayer gameplay of Tom Clancy’s Rainbow Six Siege, a gripping hostage-extraction title involving five-on-five play. It would be the first new Rainbox Six title in six years, a couple of lifetimes in the game universe. Afterward, Tyler exclaimed, “Have you ever been so excited you’re laughing and crying at the same time?”
Ubisoft also showed off more of its much-awaited post-pandemic shooter The Division, also based on a Tom Clancy concept. Don’t expect either game to arrive this year, however, as even The Division is now, ahem, shooting for 2015.
One of the most unusual titles showcased by anyone so far was Valiant Hearts: The Great War. It had perhaps the most unusual setting, World War I (coming now a century after the Great War chewed up the French countryside and much of Western Civilization) with a look and feel reminiscent of the Oscar-nominated animated feature The Triplets of Belleville, which also was made in France.
The Ubisoft presentation opened with a lot of bangs, with an introductory cut scene for another of its coming big titles, Far Cry 4. The scene features a James Bond-worthy villain arriving by helicopter after a shootout on a bus in some place that looks like Central Asia or Southern Russia. After dispatching an underachieving and doomed underling, the villain guy embraces the protagonist. Afterward, apparently, things get complicated. The company also offered an intriguing mobile extension of one of its big dancing titles, Just Dance Now, with the ability to have hundreds or even thousands of users simultaneously compete through a smartphone app (a few dozen did it on stage today). Now, on to Sony’s presentation tonight and Nintendo’s tomorrow before the show floor opens up.