Ubisoft isn’t shy when it comes to adopting new technologies and media. It was one of the early supporters of the dual screen Wii U experience when it was first announced with the survival horror game ZombiU. The company has taken full advantage of motion sensing technologies like the Kinect and PlayStation Move with games like the popular Just Dance series and Child of Eden. Now the video game publisher is looking to help pioneer the VR era, which has already gained over $1 billion in investment this year.
As virtual reality technology continues to grow, Ubisoft wants to be among the first in line to provide memorable content. Here are some of the experiences we have coming our way.
The publisher started on the fast track to VR during last year’s E3, where it announced the high-speed arcade racing game, Trackmania Turbo. Although it looks like the game is set to release this month as a non-VR title, the developers have promised VR support using PlayStation VR and Oculus Rift. That means, Trackmania players will one day find themselves racing through a loop at breakneck speeds in virtual reality. The open beta begins this weekend, so fans should strap in for a crazy ride.
Ubisoft’s E3 2015 presentation also featured a VR demo using the “definition of insanity” scene from Far Cry 3, which gave players the experience of being buried up to their necks in sand while a lunatic named Vaas taunted them with a monologue. Although these experiments were done mostly as a proof of concept, they clearly demonstrated the great potential of virtual reality, and how it could fully immerse players in a scene.
Ubisoft made its official move, or (more appropriately) flight, into virtual reality with the announcement of Eagle Flight as a full game at the PlayStation Experience conference in December. Until then, it was regarded as an experimental VR experience that was showcased alongside a number of other prototypes at E3. Now, fans can look forward to soaring through the skies, dodge obstacles, and exploring iconic landmarks as a virtual eagle. Best of all, players don’t have to take the trip alone. They can fly alongside five friends for an amazing experience. Eagle Flight will be available for PlayStation VR, Oculus Rift and HTC Vive later this year.
Werewolves Within takes a decidedly unique approach toward virtual reality gaming. It isn’t a fast-paced race, as seen with Trackmania Turbo and Eagle Flight, nor does it have the intensity of the Far Cry 3 VR demo. Instead, it challenges players to be social, crafty, observant and outspoken. The goal is for players, whose avatars are seated around a campfire, to question each other and figure out who among them is a werewolf. Meanwhile, the wolf must find ways to make everyone else think it’s someone else.
Developing a fully multiplayer game is a bold move, and relies heavily on groups of friends (or social players) all picking up VR technology. But, at the same time, this could be the kind of game that will lead players to encourage their friends to jump into virtual reality with them… and perhaps howl at the moon.
Assassin’s Creed Experience
The Assassin’s Creed movie, starring Michael Fassbender, is due to release in December and it promises to bring the game series to all-new heights of popularity. So, it’s no wonder Ubisoft is eager to promote the film using virtual reality. The Assassin’s Creed VR Experience was announced this week during AMD’s GDC press conference. Developed in partnership with FOX and Practical Magic VR, the experience uses footage that was filmed alongside the movie, and includes locations such as Malta, Spain and the United Kingdom.
Little else is known about the VR experience, other than how it is expected to release this year as a promotion, and not as a full-featured game. Neither Ubisoft nor Practical Magic have revealed specifics about the experience’s contents, or which devices will be supported. Still, the idea of taking a virtual “Leap of Faith” from a towering landmark is enough to get fans excited for both the experience and the movie. Who knows? Perhaps this could lead to VR support for the next Assassin’s Creed game when it’s announced in 2017.
Just announced: Assassin's Creed VR experience – based on the film – is coming this year from FOX & Practical Magic. pic.twitter.com/YZUCJwfPY3
— Ubisoft (@Ubisoft) March 15, 2016
Although the Assassin’s Creed Experience is a big highlight, Ubisoft isn’t done revealing VR projects yet. In January, the publisher announced a partnership with SpectreVision to create original interactive virtual reality programming. Founded by actor Elijah Wood with partners Daniel Noah and Josh Waller, SpectreVision’s projects include the zombie comedy Cooties. Now the independent film company can dive into creating VR content for games like Zombi (a re-release of ZombiU), Assassin’s Creed, and Far Cry in addition to Ubisoft’s most successful game in its history—the recently released Tom Clancy’s The Division.
There’s no limit to what’s possible in virtual reality, and it looks like Ubisoft wants to be a big part of those experiences.