Despite their recently perplexing obsession with radio towers (I’m serious, they desperately need to see a psychologist), Ubisoft remain one of my all-time favourite major videogame publishing conglomerates. Unlike the dystopian regime popularly known as Activision and the all-consuming monstrous entity of EA, the French/Canadian multinational still manages to retain a welcomed sense of artistic integrity that has been all but lost within the current climate of triple-A videogame development.
As such, I’m always eagerly anticipating their annual E3 conference, especially given that it is the only time of the year where the company throws open their gates and divulges to the world what delightfully delectable titles they have in the works. Every year we are treated to surprise announcements that awaken a fiery passion within the hearts of even the most cynical of critics, alongside tantalising glimpses of already-announced titles that gift us with new information that is as sweet as freshly gathered nectar.
It’s always a cause for celebration, and this year promises to be even more exhilarating than normal as, perhaps for the first time in forever, we have little to no concrete knowledge of just what Ubisoft has in store for us. Of course, we have the usual swirling maelstrom of rumours, leaks, and speculation to guide us somewhat towards a reasonable conclusion with regards to Ubisoft’s upcoming line-up, yet for the most part their entire catalogue remains shrouded in secrecy. Almost all of their big-named studios have remained tight-lipped – frankly a remarkable feat in this day and age of undercover internet espionage – and as such the excitement going into the company’s E3 presentation is palpable to say the least.
However, it would be a travesty not to at least speculate what Ubisoft’s vast array of talented teams are working on, and so after donning my Inspector Gadget cosplay and indulging in some internet sleuthing, I’ve come up with some educated and (hopefully) insightful conclusions with regards to what we should all expect two months from now in the simmering heat of Los Angeles.
Based in Düsseldorf, Germany, this small studio is responsible for the highly-coveted Anno and Settlers series of strategy games, often sharing development duties with Blue Byte Mainz, formerly known as Related Designs. Their most recent game release was the real-time strategy/action RPG hybrid Champions of Anteria for Windows PC back in August of last year. Originally called The Settlers: Kingdoms of Anteria, the name was changed in order to establish a new intellectual property – a strange decision indeed within the triple-A development space – and remains the studio’s most recent release. As of time of writing, there is no word of any of the studio’s upcoming projects, though it can be safely assumed that a new entry in the Anno franchise is in the works. As for Settlers, the series has been on a hiatus since 2010’s The Settlers Online, and despite continued assurances from Ubisoft that the acclaimed strategy franchise remains an active IP, there is little evidence to suggest that a game is currently in the works.
A studio still in its infancy, Ivory Tower has as yet only produced one game – 2014’s The Crew – a title they developed in conjunction with Ubisoft Reflections. Since the game’s launch, Ivory Tower have supported The Crew with numerous free content updates as well as two paid expansion packs, Wild Run and Calling all Units, the latter of which released in November last year. While continued development of the open-world racer is likely, I’m all but certain that a new title is in the works. Given the studio’s previous work, in addition to a development team comprised of racing game aficionados, it’s highly likely that their next project will also fill the air with the smell of burning rubber and nitrous oxide. Given the three years since The Crew’s release, an upcoming E3 announcement seems probable, if not certain. Possible 2018 release.
The Swedish developer behind the polarizing Tom Clancy’s The Division is one of the few Ubisoft studios we know of to confirm their upcoming roster of titles in development. Based on James Cameron’s Avatar, precious few details currently exist – the game doesn’t even have an official title yet – so one can only speculate exactly what type of game this mysterious Avatar project will be. All we currently know is that the game will be released for booth PC and consoles, and will utilize Massive’s Snowdrop engine. We’ll likely find out more at E3, though given the Massive recruitment drive currently in progress in relation to this particular title, we won’t see a release unlike late 2018 at the earliest.
From the Massive to miniscule, this tiny French studio of but forty employees currently have two confirmed titles in the works: Shootmania Cryo and Questmania. An FPS and RPG respectively (though you would never has guessed from their titles…), precious few details are available, though E3 could certain change all that. Given the studio’s small size, as well as the relatively recent release of Trackmania Turbo, I wouldn’t expect a 2017 release for either title, though 2018 remains a distinct possibility.
It’s been three whole years since the release of Trials Fusion, and it’s about damned time for a new entry in this pulse-pounding stunt-tastic series. The Trials games are masterpieces of skill-based platforming, and I fully expect Ubisoft to announce a sequel this upcoming E3. The game might even release later this year, though that might be some wishful thinking on my part.
Don’t expect anything from these guys this E3, nothing whatsoever. The company’s first lead project, Steep, only released last December, and with the upcoming Switch edition expected to release later this year, it can be safely assumed that Ubisoft Annecy will be entering hibernation for the foreseeable future. Then again, never say never.
It’s easy to overlook Ubisoft Barcelona due to its history as a supporting studio on titles such as Assassin’s Creed Unity and Watch Dogs, but given Ubisoft’s recent trend of allowing previously unknown to embark on their own projects (namely the aforementioned Annecy as well as Ubisoft Quebec), don’t be surprised to see a brand-new title from these guys in the coming future. The fact that the studio hasn’t officially worked on anything since 2015’s Tom Clancy’s Rainbow Six Siege lends credence to this theory, though the lack of any evidence scuppers any attempts to firmly establish the studio’s future.
Like the aforementioned Barcelona studio, Ubisoft Bucharest’s résumé as of late is comprised of little more than supporting roles for the likes of Ghost Recon Wildlands and Assassin’s Creed Rouge. In its previous guise as Ubisoft Romania, the studio was responsible for the PC-centric Silent Hunter franchise, in addition to the fleeting Tom Clancy’s H.A.W.X series. Since then, the studio has done little of any consequence, and as a result are unlikely to be leading the development on any upcoming projects. No impending E3 announcement to be expected.
Finally, we come to one of the big hitters in the vast Ubisoft line-up, and undoubtedly my favorite of them all. Known for the iconic Rayman series as well as the critically acclaimed Michael Jackson: Experi…wait, sorry, I mean Beyond Good & Evil, Ubisoft Montpellier remain one of the very few mainstream developers willing to take risks and instill their games with a sense of artistic flare. The studio has not released anything since 2015’s Rayman Legends for Android and iOS, so expect the announcement of their latest project at this year’s E3. The rumor mill would suggest that the title in question is Beyond Good & Evil 2, and although Ubisoft have ascertained that the game is still in development, we have seen nothing of any consequence since its initial unveiling way back in 2008, and it is believed that development on the game has been restarted from scratch after years of progress. As such, the possibility of seeing Beyond Good & Evil 2 at E3 is fleeting at best, though not in the realms of impossibility. Personally, I would love for the studio to announce a sequel to the utterly brilliant Rayman Legends, though it is suspected that soft sales have sank any immediate possibility of a new entry in the franchise. One could always hope, however.
Here it is, the one we have all been waiting for. In case you’ve been living in digital isolation for the last decade and a half, you’ll know that Ubisoft Montreal is the epicenter of Ubisoft’s gargantuan development network. This goliath of a developer is responsible for all of the company’s major works over the years, including: Prince of Persia, the mainline Assassin’s Creed games, Far Cry 3 and 4, Watch Dogs 1 and 2, Tom Clancy’s Rainbow Six Siege, and most recently, 2017’s For Honor. With an output to rival that of China, we’ll undoubtedly see at least one, if not two brand-spanking new announcements from the Montreal folks at this year’s E3 conference. Expect one of these to be the oft-rumored Egyptian flavored reboot of the Assassin’s Creed series. Ubisoft need a landmark title to launch this fall, and nothing in their roster compares to the likes of Assassin’s Creed. Expect this near one hundred percent certainly at least an announcement of the New Assassin’s Creed this June, with the possibility of a 2017 release-date as well.
With Tom Clancy’s Ghost Recon Wildlands having only release but a month ago, the likelihood of any major E3 announcements from them are about as remote as Activision cancelling Call of Duty once and for all (we can only hope!) The studio is, however, responsible for bringing us the popular embarrass-em-up, Just Dance, so we’ll at least see something from this baguette-munching bunch come June.
Another relatively unknown studio, Ubisoft Quebec has only recently been catapulted into the gaming public’s consciousness thanks to their leading role in the development of 2015’s Assassin’s Creed Syndicate. While little is known of their upcoming project, it is believed that they are once again working on their own game, possibly a IP. Unfortunately, this is nothing more than blatant speculation at this point, yet there is a good chance we’ll see their project at E3.
Having recently worked alongside Ubisoft Paris on Wildlands, it’s unlikely we’ll see anything this E3 from the Newcastle-based team aside from a smaller project akin to 2016’s Grow Up. Although, there’s the remote possibility that the studio might be working on a new Driver game, perhaps in collaboration with Ivory Tower ala The Crew. It’s been six years since Driver has graced the digital tarmac, so it’s high time for the series to make its current gen debut.
Last but certainly not least, we have Ubisoft Toronto. Founded in 2010, the studio’s first solo project was 2013’s Splinter Cell: Blacklist, though since then they haven’t done anything of note aside from assisting other studios on titles such as Far Cry Primal. However, despite the studio’s relative obscurity over the last couple of years, we do know that they are working on an as yet unannounced new AAA IP. First revealed way back in 2015, it’s possible that we could see this mysterious new property make an appearance at E3 later this year, especially given the current lack of confirmed titles for the company’s upcoming June presentation.
And with that, we come to the end of this predictions piece. I’ve undoubtedly missed out some studios (I didn’t even mention South Park: Fractured But Whole) yet I’ve managed to cover all of the major Ubisoft-owned studios in addition to some relatively obscured and overlooked ones as well. Ubisoft’s E3 press conference is still shrouded in unbridled speculation, and this piece does little but speculate what are as of yet unconfirmed possibilities, yet I wholeheartedly believe that at least some of the predictions I have made here today come true.