It's a tad unfair to compare Ubisoft's conference to any of the Big 3, however they are not without their peers. EA and Bethesda have done theirs, and showed everyone how it shouldn't be done. Even Devolver found a way to get their very unique voice into the mix. So what was conference for Ubisoft like? Well, to put it simply: awful.
Ubisoft can give an ironic enjoyment with their conferences. Good and bad games aside, they're often awkward and cringey, and give the viewer satisfaction knowing they aren't on stage with them. Sadly this year Ubisoft did its best to avoid any mishaps of old, and yet still found a way to screw the pooch. Their conference started with two games that were the unfortunate victims of leaks: Mario+Rabbids: Kingdom Battle and Assassin's Creed: Origins.
Leaks do a disservice to the gaming industry, but it can be argued they're a good thing. They provide direct information, without all the flash and pageantry of E3. However, that element of surprise and hype is why so many people tune into E3 every year. It's exciting to get swept up in the mood the publishers' try to cultivate, successfully or not. This article isn't about leaks, though, so I'll digress. Regardless, big reveals for at least the Mario and Rabbids crossover was spoiled by leaked images weeks ago. Assassin's Creed: Origins was also leaked. Even without the leak, Ubisoft still showed off the game, officially, on Microsoft's stage, giving them the majority of the excitement. Nothing new was shown on Ubisoft's stage. Somehow Microsoft managed the same thing with Bioware's Anthem.
Miyamoto himself came out on stage during the Mario+Rabbids reveal, as if to add some legitimacy to its inception. This isn't about the specifics of each game, and whether or not they look good, just that some gameplay was shown, and to its credit we did get that with this game. It was surprising to hear such a strong and positive reaction to it being revealed, when on twitter the reaction was by and large negative. Baseless as it is to say, but…plants.
If you were watching on Twitch, you may have experienced some audio/visual hiccups, audio especially. During the South Park trailer, the music became so distorted and warped that the only recourse was to switch to Youtube, where the feed was clear. Speaking of music, Ubisoft continues its tradition of putting pop/rock songs into all of their trailers, regardless of the time period or whether or not it fits. What results is an hour of music videos, but at least they're entertaining.
Ubisoft did good by doing as many world premieres as they could, some with gameplay, some without. Sadly, after the massive excitement that the pirate PVP game Skull & Bones generated, they showcased a new toy-to-life game. Regardless of your position on these toys, like Skylanders and Amiibos, the way they implemented the model to Starlink is a new level of awkward. Rather than have a figure you tap on a reader and then put down, here you will attach a physical starship toy directly to your controller. This is nothing short of a terrible, terrible, idea.
The worldwide publisher capped off the event with the one thing people were hoping for, but were told they weren't going to get: Beyond Good and Evil 2. Though still no gameplay shown, the cinematic trailer was very entertaining to say the least (despite the money character somehow being more annoying than the Minions of video games, the Rabbids). Any missteps the company took will likely be overlooked for awhile as people talk about the upcoming prequel. That's one irritating issue to bring up. The first game ended on a cliffhanger. Fans wanted more because they both liked the game and they wanted some closure. Now they're getting a game, but it's a prequel, so the cliffhanger likely won't be addressed.
Despite the steps they took to not try so hard with on stage gimmicks, Ubisoft still managed to shit the bed, though not as badly as Bethesda did when they brought back paid mods. Plagued by leaks, awkward controller attachments, and a token Just Dance on stage dance number (featuring what appeared to be Sub-Zero; I'd play that game), Ubisoft just can't help but make a mess. The new games they showed off were very interesting, and will generated a lot of buzz and hype all the way up through their launch, so the conference wasn't a total loss. At the end of the day, Ubisoft walks away with an F+.
|+ Some surprises||– Trailers that are just music videos.|
|– Excitement undercut due to leaks.|
|– A dance number for Just Dance, but no trailer.|