Following a series of teasers and highly celebrated gameplay debuts from this year’s E3 event, Ubisoft revealed further developments in the worlds of “Far Cry” and “Assassin’s Creed,” alongside a host of other projects such as “Transference,” with new playable missions and demos.
The fifth installment in Ubisoft’s beloved action-adventure first-person shooter series, “Far Cry 5” takes place in Montana’s fictitious Hope County, where Joseph Seed, known as “the Father,” leads a glorified doomsday cult in the countryside. As a sheriff’s deputy, the player must investigate Joseph’s violent and unsavory methods of supposedly saving the residents of Hope County, all while leading the resistance against the Father himself.
Like previous “Far Cry” games, “Far Cry 5” requires the player to strategize in order to tackle the enemy in the fast-paced shooter — simply walking into a town guns blazing is not feasible. With the introduction of Guns for Hire, such as pilot Nick Rye and sniper Grace, as well as Fangs for Hire through the dog companion Boomer, “Far Cry 5” challenges the player to appease the nuances of their chosen companion. Setting targets for Nick or Grace to shoot down or for Boomer to attack is as necessary as using environmental distractions to employ stealth. A variety of guns and melee weapons evoke this playstyle, making the game an enjoyable challenge even for the most seasoned “Far Cry” veteran.
“Far Cry 5” goes as far as ditching the traditional on-screen minimap, relying on place markers for organic open-world exploration. In typical “Far Cry” spirit, the game manages to make even the most mundane American countryside exotic and exciting, with hunting tactics inspired by “Far Cry Primal” and brand-new fishing mechanics that add unique, interactive gameplay.
Perhaps the best intersection of the refined combat system of “Far Cry 5” and its interactive environment is the aerial combat encountered when fighting the cult in Nick Rye’s plane. Although the flying controls are challenging to master, aerial combat is a unique twist on the otherwise close-quarters combat and is well worth the effort.
Also a hallmark of strategic stealth gameplay, the main series of the “Assassin’s Creed” universe has been expanded by Ubisoft’s 10th installment, titled “Assassin’s Creed Origins.” Taking the player into the distant past, “Origins” chronicles the journey of Bayek of Siwa, the last Medjay, during the height of Egypt’s prosperity before its impending fall. Bayek is joined by his wife Aya, a close confidante of the notorious Cleopatra, hinting at a potential conflict between husband and wife over justice and loyalties.
“Origins” conveys a sense of depth beyond that of “Unity” or “Syndicate,” both of which left something to be desired in terms of gameplay. The game’s emphasis on storytelling is also evident in the previewed mission showcased in “Origins,” which relies on investigation and exploration around the reconstructed city of Memphis, rather than giving the player a laundry list of targets to assassinate.
Considering the elimination of the minimap, the player can use Bayek’s eagle companion Senu to quickly identify points of interest or targets, giving the eagle vision motif of the “Assassin’s Creed” series a renewed meaning. “Origins” revisits the intrigue of the original “Assassin’s Creed” series in this way — exploring the breathtaking views of the enormous open-world map and raiding crypts deep inside pyramids is just as enjoyable as taking down the next target.
That being said, the true highlight of “Origins” is the evolved combat system, which expertly brings a “Dark Souls”-esque melee experience and versatile bow mechanisms together, even when deploying stealth or riding on horseback. The game also features parkour mechanisms that feel more natural, showcasing climbable pyramids.
However, despite the fast-paced combat and stunning graphics highlighted in both “Far Cry 5” and “Assassin’s Creed Origins,” the most impactful game previewed at Ubisoft’s showcase was undoubtedly the psychological thriller “Transference.” Developed by Ubisoft and Spectrevision, “Transference” uses virtual reality to recreate a series of haunting events that lead to the protagonist Walter’s PTSD.
In an ominous introductory video shown to the player, a doctor reveals that revisiting Walter’s trauma may be the key to relieving his PTSD. The player is then thrown into Walter’s mind, moving back and forth between the 1990s and the 2000s as he attempts to unlock his son Scott’s bedroom by exploring his abandoned home and completing a series of environmental puzzles.
“Transference” sets itself apart from the typical AAA-rated, jump-scare-riddled first-person horror game and creates a nightmarish environment that evokes a sense of fear in the player. Even after the Oculus is removed and the player returns to reality, Walter’s unnervingly intense experiences continue to encroach upon the player’s mind, leaving a lasting impression that is unmatched by even the goriest of games.
With solid gameplay and refined storytelling elements in both its future installments of established franchises and its foray into the realm of VR, Ubisoft’s latest ventures in the worlds of “Far Cry,” “Assassin’s Creed” and “Transference” are met with anticipation and high expectations for the finished products.
Contact Manisha Ummadi at [email protected].