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E3 2017: Grading Ubisoft And PlayStation Press Conferences

13 June 2017, 4:43 pm EDT By Kevin Billings Tech Times
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Before the show floor opens, E3 held press conferences from some of gaming's biggest companies. These are full of news and announcements about the biggest titles of the year and a look at what's to come in the future.

Ubisoft and PlayStation were the final two to go before the show floor opens and fans can get their hands on some of the biggest titles from all companies. So just how did the two companies do?

Ubisoft

Despite the spread conference schedule, Ubisoft's press conference didn't stray far from its buffer spot between Xbox and Sony. While the last few had been hosted by comedian and actress Aisha Tyler, this year all the focus was on the games and developers, coming out of the gate hot and not looking back.

The show opened with Mario + Rabbids Kingdom Battle with none other than Shigeru Miyamoto on stage with Ubisoft CEO Yves Guillemot to official debut the game. There had been some trepidation going into E3, with the game feeling like a cash grab more than anything. The game was revealed to be a tactical, turn-based combat game akin to the recent XCOM games, catching everyone off guard. And, to no one's surprise, it will be exclusive to Nintendo Switch.

From there, the press conference got into some of its major franchises. There was a new trailer for Assassin's Creed Origins that went deeper into the game's version of Egypt and the work being done by the Ubisoft Montreal team. The Crew 2 was officially unveiled after and showed off the wider range of vehicles that will be at player's disposal this time around including planes and watercrafts. South Park: The Fractured But Whole also got a new trailer, but not much more since it releases in October. However, Ubisoft did announce that it was releasing a new app game, South Park: Phone Destroyer, for later this year. Just Dance 2018 was announced, as it is almost every year now. Far Cry 5 got another look at gameplay, showing some of the guns-for-hire that will help the player battle Eden's Gate. Steep also got a new expansion announced, themed after the 2018 Winter Olympics.

There were a few new games announced as well this year. Ubisoft was offered its own entry to VR with Transference, a psychological thriller game being co-produced with Elijah Wood's film company, Spectrevision. Aside from the announcement trailer, not much else was shown in terms of gameplay or what VR platforms will be supported. Then there's Starlink: Battle for Atlas, a sci-fi action game that will drop a player into one of three starfighters. The catch is that there will be toys that can be attached to controllers with swappable pilots and ship mods that will change the ship in game, like Skylanders minus the portal. The third big reveal was Skull & Bones, a pirate-based multiplayer naval combat game. This looks like Ubisoft's answer to all the requests for a pirate game after Assassin's Creed IV: Black Flag released in 2013.

The show then ended in big fashion with confirmation that Beyond Good & Evil 2 is indeed coming. The conference went right into the trailer, much to the joy of the audience in Los Angeles and watching online. While it still looks like its a ways out, it was revealed that the game will be a prequel to the original 2003 game and Michel Ancel, the creative director for the game, came out emotionally overwhelmed from the response.

This may have been the best conference of E3 2017, with a nice spread of expected and unexpected throughout the show to get fans excited for what's to come. And, let's be honest, closing with something like Beyond Good & Evil 2 left everyone reeling.

Grade: A

PlayStation

Last, but not least, there's PlayStation which stayed close to it's traditional late Monday slot. The show took a cue from Bethesda's conference, taking the hour it had to run through as many of its games as possible with little to no stage presence outside of PlayStation head, Shawn Layden.

It started with a new trailer for Uncharted: The Lost Legacy, the standalone spinoff starring Chloe Frazer and Nadine Ross that highlights the mystery and mistrust just between the thief and mercenary, respectively. In the vain of expansions, Horizon Zero Dawn: The Frozen Wilds was announced, and will continue Aloy's adventure. The show also took a few minutes to run down the games coming to PlayStation VR, most notably Elder Scrolls V: Skyrim

There were also a few third-party titles shown to help build excitement. Given the exclusive content deal with Activision, Call of Duty: WWII and Destiny 2 both got new trailers during the show. Call of Duty's was a multiplayer trailer showing off the chaos that will fill matches, and Destiny's went more into the story, offering the first good look at the villain, Ghaul, along with the exclusive content coming to PS4, most notably a Strike and Exotic weapon. Capcom also had a couple things to show off as well, a new story trailer for Marvel vs. Capcom Infinite that showed off several new characters, including Thanos. There was also Monster Hunter World, which will be the first Monster Hunter on a Sony platform since 2011 but will also be available on Xbox One.

Switching to first-party, Sony did have plenty to show off there as well. There was a new demo for Days Gone, the zombie game announced last year that showed off more of the human enemies that are as much of a threat as the freakers. A Shadow of the Colossus HD remaster was also revealed, adding a nice surprise dropped in the middle of the show. God of War also got a new trailer, showing more the journey Kratos and his son will be going on and the threats they will face thanks to the Norse gods. It was also given a release window of early 2018, which was to be expected. Detroit: Become Human also got another gameplay video, showing the branching paths available during the game. The show closed out with the first official gameplay video of the upcoming PS4 exclusive Spider-Man game, just called Spider-Man. It looks reminiscent of the Batman: Arkham games with a touch of Sunset Overdrive, not surprising since Insomniac Games developed the latter.

All in all, not a bad show, but outside of Shadow of the Colossus, there weren't a lot of surprises at this year's PlayStation conference. While a bit disappointing, it was bound to happen given how crazy the last two years was. It just would have been nice to see something from The Last of Us Part 2 or Death Stranding.

Grade: B-

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Kevin Billings Tech Times editor Kevin Billings is a born geek at heart. Whether it's video games, movies, tv, comics, or tech, you will likely find Kevin there. And he feels gratified in his passions now that geek culture has come to dominate mainstream pop culture.

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