Skull & Bones, Ubisoft’s multiplayer pirates title, put its large crews and customizable ships on display during their press conference. 

Skull & Bones takes place on the Indian Ocean, where trading ships are ripe for looting. Players board, rob, and raise flags in traditional pirate fashion.

The game’s gameplay trailer gave a look at ship-on-ship combat and all the options available to outfit a crew. Cannons, missiles, and battering rams all had their place on the high seas. 

Ubisoft stressed that Skull & Bones is a shared world, where changing weather patterns and faction alliances will have a global effect. 

There’s no release date planned for Skull & Bones, but there is a planned beta.

After a brief hiatus following the release of Trials of the Blood Dragon, the Trials series is back with Trials Rising.

While much of what was shown during the initial reveal should be familiar to fans of the series, Rising will take players on a world tour, with stages in crowded city streets, skyscrapers at night, Japanese temples, and more. Many of these stages change as you ride through them, too, with city streets collapsing as you approach and deadly contraptions going off as you trigger them.

The other major change is the presence of other riders. Rising emphasizes the competitive aspect of the series and as you ride, you see several other players attempting the same course simultaneously. It does not look like other players will interfere with your own runs, however.

The game also incorporates two years of feedback from prominent members of the Trials community, including track-builders and speedrunners.

Ubisoft also announced a few key (if vague) for fans to keep track of. First, there will be a closed beta for the game (which you can currently sign up for) later this year. Second, Trials Rising will release in February of 2019, on PlayStation 4, Xbox One, Switch, and PC.

Ubisoft’s annual dancing franchise, Just Dance, has become a regular fixture of the publisher’s E3 presentation. This year, it kicked off the Ubisoft show with an elaborate dance routine led by a panda. 

Though we didn’t see any actual gameplay or in-game footage, the opening number concluded with a screen informing the audience that Just Dance 2019 will be releasing this October.

After a strange opening featuring a panda and a marching band, Ubisoft opened up with a trailer on the publisher’s title that has the biggest question mark around it.  The cinematic trailer showcased a starship filled with familiar faces, including the piggy visage of Pey’j and the monkey fellow from Beyond Good & Evil 2’s  original trailer as they rested. An explosive disturbance soon takes the ship and its crew by surprise, culminating with Jade, the protagonist from the original game, stepping onto the deck, glaring at the crew with a sword in her hand.

You can watch the whole thing here:

You can check out our previous coverage of the game here.

As we learned at E3 last year, Ubisoft has grand ambitions for Beyond Good & Evil 2 that stretch far beyond the template created by the original cult hit. Today we learned the French publisher wants to enlist your help to bring its world to life using the HitRecord creative collaboration platform started by actor Joseph Gordon-Levitt (Brick, Inception).

“We’ve made all kinds of things – short films, books, music, a TV show that one an Emmy – but this is the first time that we’re ever going to make assets that can go into a video game, which is really, really cool,” Gordon-Levitt says. 

Many times, publishers invite creators to work on their games after they have already released. This time, they are asking for your help while they are still in the midst of development. 

“Forever in the game industry, there has been a wall between players and developers. Today with this collaboration, we are breaking that wall,” said Beyond Good & Evil 2 senior producer Guillaume Brunier. “People can contribute to the game they love right now, and anyone can come.”

The process starts with Ubisoft issuing a creative challenge, for instance, a call for more songs to put on the Space Pirate Radio station. Rather than take straight song submissions, the HitRecord team is looking for a seed they can build upon, like a good bass line. Once they put the seed into place, they ask the community to build around it with lyrics and other instruments. Once they feel the song has all the elements in place, they record a demo and send it to Ubisoft for evaluation. They may greenlight it or reject it, but if a project you worked on gets accepted and integrated into the game you will receive some sort of monetary reimbursement for your creative contribution. 

Ubisoft plans to use HitRecord in a variety of ways, from the aforementioned music submissions to street art seen in Beyond Good & Evil 2’s bustling Ganesha City. 

“I think that video games are the future – in many ways, much more so than movies – so I’m really excited to be working on art that’s going into a game,” Gordon-Levitt says.

To learn more about how you can participate, head to the HitRecord site

Many Battlefield veterans groaned when DICE announced the new battle royale mode coming to the next entry in the series. Whatever you feel about trend-chasing inarguably the most popular multiplayer mode on the planet right now, it doesn’t appear to be coming at the cost of the core Battlefield multiplayer modes that stress teamwork and communication. We got a chance to go hands-on with a slightly modified version of the new Grand Operations mode at EA Play, and came away with a better understanding of how DICE plans to evolve these long-form matches. 

If you read our preview from our Battlefield V first look, you already know that Grand Operations is the next evolution of the Operations mode introduced in Battlefield 1. This time, DICE plans to incorporate various modes into the sequential rounds of the long-form matches as well as switch out maps. For instance, the attackers may parachute behind enemy lines to take out artillery in the first round, then transition into a classic control point experience for the second round, move to a new map in the third round, and possibly face a resource-starved last stand for the final round where once your squad is wiped you can no longer respawn. That’s the way the first Grand Operations map plays out during the battle of Narvik in Norway. To get us more quickly through the mode, the version at EA Play took place on an accelerated clock, with only two truncated rounds. It also didn’t include the new squad-points system where the squad leader can spend acquire supply drops, smokescreens, or even V1 rockets to deploy if they save up enough.  

Like Operations before it, Grand Operations comes with a slight story wrapping that gives you the context for the war and outlines what’s at stake. For this battle, the Allied forces hope to airdrop in and recapture a vital port that gives the Germans access to a critical supply route. I played rounds on both sides of the war to get a better understanding of all the new tools DICE gives soldiers in Battlefield V.

Dropping in as an Allied paratrooper is nerve-wracking when the artillery is firing in your direction. You can wait to time your drop further behind enemy lines, but this comes at the cost of potentially going down with the cargo plane if the Axis soldiers take aim and fire. If you drop early you won’t face the same dire circumstance, but the Axis is in much better position to repel your advances. You must parachute into the map unless you can spawn on a squadmate on the ground. When you die, you can no longer skip the timer to avoid a potential revive. Now you have to wait it out, during which you have a 360-degree view of the area around your soldier. 

If you aren’t revived, the game immediately transitions to an over-the-shoulder view of a teammate, which you can cycle between. If you prefer you can go back to the deploy screen to see if there are any unused vehicles, but this is no longer the default view unless your squad is wiped. I wish they had an indicator of whether there was an unused vehicle from the over-the-shoulder cam, but at the same time, I appreciate getting the lay of the land from this new perspective before spawning in. This should hopefully keep patient players from immediately dying upon spawning in. I also noticed the system seems to be tuned more conservatively so you can’t immediately spawn on a teammate who is in combat. If implemented properly, it could cut down on the number of times you are firing on a lone soldier one second, and outnumbered by incoming squad spawns the next.

Once you land, you need a soldier to gather the charges necessary for detonating the artillery; you can’t just walk up to them and destroy them without grabbing the explosives like you would an M-COM station in Rush mode. We managed to take out a couple installations before the map suddenly transitioned to another day in the battle. Here, the game tallied the number of objectives met and also takes into account how many soldiers were left standing that day. These numbers are then applied to your ticket count for the subsequent round. The next round played like a traditional operations mode, where we had to capture forward points to push the enemies back.

 

When I switched to the defensive side, I familiarized myself with the new fortification system available to all classes. Each soldier has a hammer they can equip to fortify their position. Once the tool is out, you can see outlines of potential building options around you. One area may allow you to throw down some sandbags, while another may create a thicker wall to give forward defenders better cover. Engineers can also build stationary weapon emplacements. This system is much more restrained than I expected; don’t expect to build dramatic defensive positions like Fortnite or to create a sea of tank obstacles and sandbags.

The defenders can take up anti-air weapons, but the best options for repelling the early Allied advance are the giant artillery cannons. By running up to these giant installations and interacting with it, you can fire these devastating shells at the approaching aircraft and take out the paratroopers before they even drop. The massive cannons take a while to reload, which gives you time to run over to another nearby artillery emplacement if it’s unattended. I racked up several kills using this method. 

The fortification system and more modest amount of starting ammo both change the rhythm of play. When you clear out one set of advancing soldiers and have a minute, it’s smart to reinforce your position or run back to an ammo supply point to stock up. You have enough clips to take out a few soldiers, but I found myself running out of ammo way more than in previous Battlefield games. Requesting that a squad member drop ammo bags wherever you set up is a smart call. The same goes for medic packs considering you no longer regeneration full health by staying out of the crossfire.

It’s tough to get a full assessment of general gameplay during such brief hands-on sessions, but I did like a few changes. The new movement system produces more realistic animations, the destructibility looks more realistic,  and the recalibrated guns feel much more predictable once you figure out their characteristics.

The brief time I had playing Battlefield V was fun; this is still one of my most anticipated shooters of the year. But many questions linger about just how much content will be in the game at launch. DICE isn’t talking numbers, but senior producer Andreas Morell told me the maps are going to release sequentially adhering to the World War II timeline over the course of Battlefield V’s life. This means we won’t be potentially storming the beaches of Iwo Jima or revisiting Wake Island (which seems like a no-brainer) any time soon without booting up the backward compatible version of Battlefield 1943. Does this mean we’re getting a much smaller selection of maps off the bat? Time will tell.

The Battlefield V Play First trial begins October 11 on Xbox One and PC. Players who buy the deluxe edition can join the fray on October 16, and the standard edition launches on October 19 for PlayStation 4, Xbox One, and PC.

The next generation of gaming was teased numerous times during E3 press conferences yesterday. During the Microsoft conference, which showcased 50 games reveals, Phil Spencer, the head of Xbox operations, briefly talked about what will come after Xbox One.

“In this significant moment, we are constantly challenging ourselves – where can we take gaming next,” he said. “Our answer? We commit and harness the full breadth of our resources at Microsoft to deliver on the future of play. Our experts in Microsoft research are developing the future of gaming A.I., so the worlds and characters we enjoy will be even more rich and more immersive. Our cloud engineers are building a game-streaming network to unlock console-quality gaming on any device. And of course our hardware team, the same team that delivered unprecedented performance with Xbox One X, is deep into architecting the next Xbox consoles, where we will once again deliver on our commitment to set the benchmark for console gaming.”

This fairly revealing hint of what is to come next, hit on two big things: game streaming and multiple consoles. Spencer’s comments come on the heels of Ubisoft’s co-founder and CEO, Yves Guillemot, telling Variety the future of games won’t be tied to boxes.

“There will be one more console generation, and then after that, we will be streaming, all of us,” he said.

In a world where game streaming is still experimental and problematic, hearing the head of one of the biggest AAA publishers commit so heavily to it is terrifying, but also exciting. The excitement comes from Guillemot perhaps knowing something we don’t about the future prospects of cloud gaming.

OnLive promised to bring us the future of gaming through the cloud in 2010, but it crashed and burned, and gave cloud gaming a bad name well before it should have been in the public’s hands.  Sony’s PlayStation Now streaming service offers plenty of titles, but struggles in the same way OnLive did with unwanted latency in games that need precision. NVIDIA is taking a shot at cloud gaming with its forthcoming GeForce Now platform, which will turn any PC or MAC into a high-end gaming rig. Impressions from the beta are delivering similar results to PlayStation Now: the promise of something great that stutters.

I don’t fault game publishers for wanting gaming to move in the direction of Netflix, where you can click on a game and instantly play it, but let’s not forget that games aren’t movies or television shows. Games are an entirely different beast where the speed of light matters when it comes to player input. We’re not just watching something; we’re interacting with it.

Spencer’s talk of new consoles seemed like a look into the distant future, but we may have gotten a glimpse of it later that night during Bethesda’s press briefing. The showcase focused mostly on games for current devices, yet veered into the unknown when game director Todd Howard talked about his studio’s future beyond the development of Fallout 76.

“We have also been working on a brand-new, next-generation, single-player game,” he said. We were then treated to a short teaser video for Starfield, the first original franchise for Bethesda Game Studios in 25 years. Howard didn’t stop there. He ended his talk with an even shorter look at the studio’s next game after Starfield, The Elder Scrolls VI.

Howard clearly didn’t misspeak in throwing out the words “next generation.” These games are apparently for whatever comes next. After the show concluded, game developers and press alike were abuzz with chatter. Numerous sources told me the future is coming soon, and several even confirmed Xbox’s next console is currently codenamed Scarlet.

We’ll have to wait to see if Sony addresses the future in its PlayStation press conference tonight, but we may already have been given a hint about this console manufacturer’s next machine. In the weeks leading up to E3, Sony said it is focusing mostly on four titles during its press conference: The Last of Us: Part Two, Spider-Man, Ghost of Tsushima, and Death Stranding. Is the lineup limited in number to shine a brighter spotlight on the company’s biggest games? Or is Sony limiting the number of games because it’s other development studios are working on what’s next?

This console generation, which kicked off in 2013, still feels new to me. I hope we get a couple of more years out of it, but the future is clearly closing in. We may already know about two games that we’ll be playing on new hardware. I hope traditional consoles and bulky PC rigs are always an option, but it sounds like we won’t need them anymore. If this is the case, game companies had best be investing in a future that holds true to what we know and love, and isn’t sacrificing it to a cloud that is better for their business but worse for gamers.

Square Enix’s E3 2018 press conference was filled with a lot of stuff we’d already seen, but we did get a teaser for a new Platinum title and some Shadow Of The Tomb Raider gameplay. You’ll find all the news from the press conference below.

Livestream Archive:
Watch Square Enix’s E3 Press Conference With Game Informer

New Game Announcements:
Babylon’s Fall Is Platinum Games’ Next Title
Square Enix Announces The Quiet Man

Game Previews:
Square Enix Shows Off The Beginning And Gameplay Of Shadow Of The Tomb Raider
Trailer Offers Another Look At Dragon Quest XI

Miscellaneous News:
Monster Hunter: World Invades Final Fantasy XIV This Summer