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The biggest announcements from the Ubisoft E3 2019 press conference

Watch Dogs Legion? Check. Ghost Recon Breakpoint? Check. Some game about rollerskating? Check.

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Watch Dogs Legion? Check. Ghost Recon Breakpoint? Check. Some game about rollerskating? Check. Here are the biggest announcements from the Ubisoft E3 2019 press conference.

When we’ve been doing these conference round-ups, we’ve been titling them “the X biggest announcements” for a few reasons:

  1. Because it keeps the scope of the article down a bit. We’ve already got an article listing every announcement; this one is more of a commentary on what has been shown.
  2. Because people like lists.
  3. Because people like to know how long an article is going to be before them embark on it (and lists with the number right there in the title help with that.)

But we can’t really call this “the X biggest announcements from the Ubisoft E3 2019 press conference” and keep a straight face, because there was one really big announcement – Watch Dogs Legion – and then what felt like a bunch of DLC, expansions, and retooling of existing games. Oh, and a subscription service.

Not necessarily a bad showing, but compared to the impact of Watch Dogs Legion? The rest of the line-up doesn’t really stack up.

Assassin’s Creed Symphony

Rather than the usual Just Dance intro, a sampler of the 80-piece orchestra and choir for Assassin’s Creed Symphony opened the show with a medley of pieces from the Assassin’s Creed soundtrack. It was rather lovely.

Not an announcement, as such, but we thought it worth mentioning before the show kicked off proper.

Watch Dogs Legion

The big-ticket item at this year’s Ubisoft E3 press conference was, of course, Watch Dogs Legion. Leaked before the show and confirmed by Ubisoft in the run-in, we already had an inkling of what was to come: A Watch Dogs game set in a post-Brexit London, with a new mechanic that allows you to “control any NPC”. Which sounded interesting, but also, a bit like lobbing your cap onto passers-by in Super Mario Odyssey.

So when Ubisoft opened with a gameplay reveal of Watch Dogs Legion – complete with a budget Jason Statham alike shooting his way around Laaandon, calling everyone slaaaags – we were waiting to see how that was handled.

Then budget Statham died.

Watch Dogs Legion has permadeath, and that “control any NPC” mechanic? It’s actually the ability to recruit any NPC into Deadsec. We’re introduced to it with budget Statham trying to recruit a hacker to take down some aggressive drones, and getting himself killed in the process.

We then switched to a couple of other members of Deadsec – including Helen, the badass nana, who became an instant star – until the new recruit was rescued. Once he was, and he’d accepted the invitation to join Deadsec, he was playable. It’s an instantly accessible and incredibly clever mechanic.

In this instance, the recruit was a hacker and was in bother with the police, so he was a fairly easy NPC to persuade. But you can build your team however you want, with anyone from hoodie-wearing teenagers from the Ends to an army of grandmothers. You just need to use your hacking skills to figure out their motivation and how to recruit them, then set about bringing them into the fold. It sounds like basically anyone will be recruitable in this way – including antagonistic authority figures like police officers and MI6 agents – which makes for a very unique expansion on both Watch Dogs’ core mechanics, while riffing on permadeath squad games like XCOM or Suikoden.

We do have a couple of small concerns with Watch Dogs Legion, however.

First, there’s the game’s reliance on guns. That level of violence isn’t exactly typical for a hacking collective, but to try and do it in the UK, with our strict regulations on firearms? At best it’s unrealistic. At worst, it’s downright stupid.

Hopefully, the ability to build your team from anyone you want will mean you can tackle situations in whichever way you please, offering truly passive options a la classic Deus Ex.

The other concern was the tone. While Watch Dogs 2 is really goofy, it’s also a lot of fun. It’s a refreshing change of pace from the first game, with its relentless dirge of a personality vacuum of a protagonist, Aiden Pierce. The decision to set Watch Dogs Legion in London after Brexit ruins the United Kingdom – remember, Ubisoft is not making a political statement with any of its games – could have turned it back into a slog of maudlin misery, like the first game.

Luckily, it seems like the sense of fun from Watch Dogs 2 has been retained in Watch Dogs Legion, at least based on what we’ve seen, including the immortal line: “That fella over there? Proper bell-end!” (Which had us doing spit-takes). The stereotypical mockney characters are going to get annoying fast though, cor blimey Mary Poppins, they is!

Watch Dogs Legion releases on March 6, 2020.

Ghost Recon Breakpoint

Jon Bernthal had a dog with him on stage for some reason, as he talked about the story in Ghost Recon Breakpoint. There was also mention of some DLC, confirmation that the game has AI teammates for solo players, and details of a beta starting on September 5, a month before the game’s release.

That’s really all we have to say about that.

Mythic Quest

Mythic Quest is a new TV show from Rob McElhenney and Apple TV, developed in collaboration with Ubisoft. Set in the studio behind a popular MMO, it didn’t make us laugh once in the clip we saw. And setting it in that sort of studio (*cough* Riot Games *cough*) means that if they don’t directly address some of the awful business practices that are endemic in the industry (like crunch, sexism, and other nasty stuff) then it won’t be a particularly effective show, either. Better off with Dead Pixels, we think.

Rainbow Six

There was confirmation of the next season of Rainbow Six Siege, including two new operators, but that wasn’t the most interesting bit of Rainbow Six news.

No, the announcement of Rainbow Six Quarantine, a 3-player, co-operative, PvE survival horror was the interesting bit. It looked rather scary. We probably won’t be playing that.

Uplay+

Ubisoft announced Uplay+, its own subscription service to rival the likes of Xbox Games Pass and PlayStation now. It promises to bring over 100 games to the catalogue, including both new titles and classics from the back catalogue.

It launches in September of this year, and will be available on both Windows PC and Google Stadia.

Gods & Monsters

The final game shown was Gods & Monsters, which sort of looks like what would happen if you put Assassin’s Creed Odyssey and Breath of the Wild into too hot a washing machine together. It’s a stylised world with monsters of Greek Legend, but we don’t know all that much about it, and then the conference ended in a really low-key way as the trailer ended.

It was a bit weird.

Assorted other musings

  • A nice treat from before the show was the announcement of two new modes for Assassin’s Creed Odyssey. The first is a historical tour mode, like in Origins, while the second is a story builder that will allow players to make their own quests, which is really neat.
  • There will be a Just Dance 2020, of course, and it will be celebrating the game’s 10th birthday. Someone said: “This is why Just Dance is more than just dance,” which made our heads hurt a bit.
  • Finn and Jake from Adventure Time will be coming to Brawlhalla. So if you think about it, Marcus Fenix from Gears of War is kind of in Brawhalla now? It’s like an alternate reality Smash Bros. cross-over.
  • Roller Champions, another of the pre-show leaks, was officially revealed. It looks like they’ve copied Speedball 2 to take on Rocket League, which isn’t a bad idea on paper, but it didn’t really excite us.
  • There was talk of the next season of For Honor, which takes place in Japan.
  • There was no talk of Beyond Good & Evil 2. We suspect that one has been pushed back to Project Scarlett’s generation.
  • The Division 2 is going free to play this weekend, June 13-16, to get people excited for its year two content and additional DLC.

To keep up with all the biggest developments at E3 2019, don’t forget to follow us on Twitter and bookmark our E3 2019 landing page.

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Tom is an itinerant freelance technology writer who found a home as an Editor with Thumbsticks. Powered by coffee, RPGs, and local co-op.

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Xbox Games with Gold lineup for February confirmed

Microsoft reveals the four free games coming to Xbox Games with Gold in February 2020.

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Microsoft

Microsoft reveals the four free games coming to Xbox Games with Gold in February 2020.

The Force is strong with Xbox Games with Gold for a second month with Pandemic Studios’ Star Wars: Battlefront free to download for Xbox Live Gold subscribers. The popular third-person shooter was released on the OG Xbox way back in 2004 and is still one of the best Star Wars games ever made.

Not quite as loved is Fable Heroes, the 2012 hack-and-slash spin-off from Lionhead’s patchy but beloved RPG franchise. It’s a sublimely average experience that’s inoffensive and most notable for Robin Beanland’s strident soundtrack.

February’s games also include motorcycle racer TT Isle of Man and Focus Home Interactive’s dreary adaptation of pen-and-paper RPG, Call of Cthulhu.

The Xbox Games with Gold titles for February are available during the following dates.

Xbox Games With Gold – February 2020

Xbox One

  • TT Isle of Man – February 1 – 29, 2020
  • Call of Cthulhu – February 16 – March 15, 2020

Xbox 360 and Xbox One

  • Fable Heroes – February 1 – 15, 2020
  • Star Wars Battlefront – February 16 – 29, 2020

In the meantime, three of January’s Games with Gold titles are still available to download. Styx: Shards of Darkness and Lego Star Wars 2: The Original Trilogy are free until January 31. Batman: The Telltale Series is free until February 15, 2020.


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Ukie report outlines regional impact of UK video games industry

The Ukie “Think Global, Create Local” report outlines the regional economic impact of the UK video games industry.

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Ukie

The Ukie ‘Think Global, Create Local’ report outlines the regional economic impact of the UK video games industry.

Ukie, the UK video game industry trade body, often undertakes research. This is to help the body to best advise its members and policymakers, and to assist with lobbying for the industry as a whole.

Its latest report, ‘Think Global, Create Local’, examines the regional impact of the industry on the UK’s economy. Building on BFI’s 2018 ‘Screen Business‘ report, which showed that the UK games companies directly employed full-time roles and collectively generated £2.87b, Ukie examined the impact of the games industry on the regional economy.

Spoiler alert: London isn’t the only show in town.

Admittedly, four of those eight games hubs mentioned are in the South East, within a stone’s throw of the M25. But it’s still heartening to see the likes of Edinburgh, Manchester, Newcastle Upon Tyne and Leamington Spa represented among the biggest video games industry hubs.

That’s backed up by figures that show 55% of roles are based outside of London and the South East, and that Scotland generates £131m GVA (Gross Value Added) annually.

Ukie Think Global, Create Local – Key findings:

  • Eight games hubs contributed over £60m in GVA to their local economies: Edinburgh, Newcastle Upon Tyne, Leamington Spa, Crawley and Horsham, Manchester, Guildford, Slough and Heathrow, and London.
  • 55% of game development roles are based outside of London and the South East.
  • The North West, East of England, West Midlands, Scotland and the South East all employ over 1,000 FTEs in development studio roles.
  • London’s game sector is a billion-pound industry, generating £1.4bn in GVA for the economy and directly employing over 5,100 FTE roles
  • 23 towns and cities across the UK are home to more than 20 local game companies.
  • Scotland is home to a thriving games industry, with three major hubs generating £131m in GVA for the nation.
  • The North East games industry has the biggest impact on the local economy outside of London, contributing £1.90 of every £1,000 of regional GVA.
  • 99.5% of UK games companies are officially SMEs (Small to Medium Enterprises, employing less than 250 people), which collectively contribute £1.6bn in GVA.
  • £339m in GVA is generated by micro-businesses of less than 10 employees, representing 13.7% of the industry total, and employing 3,664 FTEs.
  • The very largest games companies, each employing over 250 people, are hugely important to the UK economy, alone contributing £840m in GVA and employing over 4,200 FTEs, or 26% of the industry workforce.

You can read the full report on the Ukie website.


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Fair play, Apex Legends – that was an entertaining character reveal

Apex Legends apparently just murdered its latest character in a “televised interview” stream.

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Respawn Entertainment

Apex Legends apparently just murdered its latest character in a “televised interview” stream.

Last week, Respawn announced Apex Legends season four, subtitled Assimilation, launches on February 4, 2020.

Along with all of the other new season content, Apex Legends would also be getting a new hero, called Forge. He’s a big dude with a mechanical arm, who will excel at punching enemies. (Yes, he’s basically white Doomfist from Overwatch.)

Forge was not the character fans had been expecting. In the run-in to the season four reveal, fans of Apex Legends had been expecting the next character to in fact be Revenant. Revenant is a scary looking person in a red mask, who has been cropping up around Apex Legends since Halloween 2019.

So when Forge was announced, and was subsequently confirmed by Respawn in a dev stream, it left fans confused. Who was Revenant? Why were they being teased for the past three months? Was this all some sort of joke? Well, yes, as it happens. The Forge reveal was part of a larger and more elaborate plan to–

Why don’t you just watch for yourself?

So that’s Revenant, turning up while Forge is being interviewed, and murdering him. It’s a clever bit of trickery from Respawn, and is the sort of stunt that helps keep focus on a service game as interest inevitably wanes over time. In an extra neat touch, if players visit the location of the interview in-game, they can even find Forge’s death box.

Presumably, that means Forge is out of Apex Legends, and Revenant is now in? We’ll find out for sure when series four kicks off next week.


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Final year one DLC for The Division 2 is going to Coney Island

“So goodbye, farewell, so long forever; goodbye my Coney Island babe.”

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“So goodbye, farewell, so long forever; goodbye my Coney Island babe.”

The Division 2, Ubisoft’s absolutely-not-political loot shooter that’s set in the ruins of modern America, released almost a year ago. In that time, Ubisoft studio Massive has put out three pieces of post-release content:

  • Prologue – Invasion: Battle For D.C
  • DLC 1 – D.C. Outskirts: Expeditions
  • DLC 2 – Pentagon: The Last Castle

And now the fourth and final piece of year one DLC for The Division 2 has been revealed. It looks like we’re going on a trip to Coney Island.

In the trailer, operators from the titular Division are tasked with travelling to Coney Island to rescue a scientist who might just have a cure for the global pandemic that wiped out huge swathes of the population.

For some reason, some criminals are keeping the scientist in a box? In the middle of a theme park? Look, the exposition isn’t perfect. It rarely is in The Division. But it’s time to don your glowing orange wristwatch, exercise your second amendment rights, and shoot some US citizens who’ve fallen on hard times and turned to a life of crime in understandably difficult circumstances.

The Division 2’s Coney Island excursion – called Coney Island: The Hunt – will release in February 2020. We’ve not been given an exact date, yet, but Year One pass holders will get to play it seven days earlier than everyone else.

Expect to see more post-release content for The Division 2 in its second year, as Ubisoft looks to maximise the lifespan of (and therefore, its return on investment in) the game. The developer and publisher will be changing its strategy in 2020 after “a sharp downward revision in the revenues expected from Ghost Recon Breakpoint and, to a lesser extent, The Division 2.”


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How to get a refund for Rocket League on Mac and Linux

Rocket League developer Psyonix is ending support for the game on macOS and Linux. Here’s why, and how you can get a refund for the game on Steam.

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Rocket League developer Psyonix is ending support for the game on macOS and Linux. Here’s why, and how you can get a refund for the game on Steam.

Psyonix announced last week that support for the Mac and Linux versions of Rocket League will end in March 2020. A final update for the game will disable all online functionality, including in-game purchases, and online multiplayer modes.

Why is support ending for Rocket League on Mac and Linux?

In a post on the Rocket League sub-Reddit, Psyonix has provided detail on the decision to end Mac and Linux support. The studio’s Psyonix_Devin explains that the forthcoming update to DirectX 11 is the primary factor, saying:

“Unfortunately, our macOS and Linux native clients depend on our DX9 implementation for their OpenGL renderer to function. When we stop supporting DX9, those clients stop working. To keep these versions functional, we would need to invest significant additional time and resources in a replacement rendering pipeline such as Metal on macOS or Vulkan/OpenGL4 on Linux.”

Coupled with the fact that macOS and Linux users account for only 0.3% of the game’s active player based, it becomes a little easier to see why the decision was made, however infuriating it may be.

Psyonix has now opened a refund programme on Steam for anyone who purchased the game on Mac or Linux. Its launch was not without a few problems, but things now appear to be running smoothly.

How to get a Steam refund for Rocket League on Mac and Linux

To get a refund on the Mac or Linux version of Rocket League, follow the following instructions.

  • Visit to the Steam Support website
  • Select Purchases
  • Select Rocket League
  • If necessary select View complete purchasing history
  • Select I would like a refund
  • Select I’d like to request a refund
  • From the Reason drop-down menu, select My issue isn’t listed
  • In Notes, enter the following statement: “please refund my Mac/Linux version of Rocket League, Psyonix will be discontinuing support”
  • If you encounter any issues, you can also try raising a ticket via the Steam Support page

Good luck!


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We hate to ask, but global advertising revenues are the lowest they've ever been. It's killing the online publishing world. If you like what we do and want to support free, quality games writing, then please consider supporting us via Patreon, buying us a coffee, or subscribing to our newsletter.


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