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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.

Enjoyed this article?

Found it interesting, entertaining, useful, or informative? Maybe it even saved you some money. That's great to hear! Sadly, independent publishing is struggling worse than ever, and Thumbsticks is no exception. So please, if you can afford to, consider supporting us via Patreon or buying us a coffee.

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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A delightful indie game is free on the Epic Games Store

Pikuniku, a pleasantly daft indie adventure, is free on the Epic Games Store.

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Devolver Digital

Pikuniku, a pleasantly daft indie adventure, is free on the Epic Games Store.

Be sure to grab Sectordub and Devolver Digital’s brightly coloured delight, Pikuniku, before it’s too late. The deal is good, no strings attached, through next Thursday.

Our own Tom Baines loved it, writing in his review: “The dialogue in Pikuniku switches from casual, off-hand, inane chatter – delivered in all lower-case, with little punctuation – to statements shouted and all in caps, with multiple exclamation points and the text literally jumping up and down for dramatic effect. It’s a use of language and delivery that is born of Twitter, wholesome memes, and a degree of internet and media-savvy that most self-proclaimed ‘comedy’ games can only dream of. It’s genuinely very funny.”

In addition to its brilliant little main story, Pikuniku also features a fun co-operative mode, where two players get to play as the titular Piku and Niku. Some of the co-op levels feature little cars, and something really neat happens if you beep the horn to the right rhythm.

And I know I said there are no strings attached, but there is one string. You’ll need an Epic account. (You can sort that out here.)

Once you do, you’re all set to grab Pikuniku. And, now that Pikuniku is free, Epic has unveiled next week’s pair of freebies. Abzu and Rising Storm 2: Vietnam will be up for grabs on October 8.


You love free stuff, right? You could always bookmark our dedicated free games landing page – or follow us on Twitter or Facebook – to get the latest updates.

Enjoyed this article?

Found it interesting, entertaining, useful, or informative? Maybe it even saved you some money. That's great to hear! Sadly, independent publishing is struggling worse than ever, and Thumbsticks is no exception. So please, if you can afford to, consider supporting us via Patreon or buying us a coffee.

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Four new Minecraft fighters announced for Super Smash Bros. Ultimate

The shock reveal of Super Smash Bros. Ultimate’s new Minecraft characters coincided with a Twitter outage as delight poured in.

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Minecraft Steve Super Smash Bros Ultimate
Nintendo / Microsoft

The shock reveal of Super Smash Bros. Ultimate’s new Minecraft characters coincided with a Twitter outage as delight poured in.

Nintendo announced on stream that Minecraft’s Steve, Alex, Zombie and Enderman will all be joining as playable fighters for Super Smash Bros. Ultimate. Once this second Fighters Pass is through, the total roster will number an impressive 86.

The announcement coincided with widespread Twitter downtime, leading to many users (half-) joking that the announcement had “broken Twitter“.

Nintendo confirmed that Steve and Alex will either be available to players who purchase the Super Smash Bros. Ultimate Fighters Pass Vol. 2 for £26.99 or Challenger Pack 7, which can be bought separately for £5.39. This challenger pack includes the two fighters as well as a new stage and seven music tracks. 

The Fighters Pass Vol. 2 currently boasts only Min Min from ARMS, but four more characters/challenger packs are yet to be announced.

A full live-stream presentation on the Steve & Alex fighters is due October 3rd, which you can watch on the Nintendo UK YouTube channel. Expect a release date during that stream.

Minecraft seems a natural fit for the mega-franchise, given smashing is among Steve’s main activities. As for building, I’m not holding my breath that we’ll see a redstone calulator in Super Smash Bros. Ultimate anytime soon.


Follow Thumbsticks on Twitter and Facebook for daily video game news updates.

Enjoyed this article?

Found it interesting, entertaining, useful, or informative? Maybe it even saved you some money. That's great to hear! Sadly, independent publishing is struggling worse than ever, and Thumbsticks is no exception. So please, if you can afford to, consider supporting us via Patreon or buying us a coffee.

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Nintendo: Remember to charge your Switch at least every six months

Nintendo Support tweets out a warning to all those letting their console gather dust – it might not be the same when you return.

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Nintendo Support tweets out a warning to all those letting their console gather dust – it might not be the same when you return.

Lithium batteries are a pain as much as they’re a convenience. Whilst we’d love them to be magic items we can imbue with power, instead the darn things are subject to real-world physics and require good maintenance practice. Typical.

Nintendo Support took to Twitter to push this message home for the Switch, saying:

“The battery built into the game console may become unchargeable if it has not been charged or used for too long. Please charge it once every six months.”

I’d go further and recommend you cut that to every month. Keep your batteries at room temperature and aim for partial discharges over full ones (around 50% is the sweet spot). Since batteries are under the most strain when they’re fully charged or completely empty, neither overcharging nor completely draining is ideal.

A few months ago PSPs were similarly suffering from underuse, leading to battery swelling and even bursting.

Who are these Switch-owning monsters who leave their consoles so unloved for half a year at a time? Have they not seen that Super Mario 3D All-Stars is out? That said, I know I’ve been guilty of leaving my own console discharged for perhaps two months at a time. Don’t look at me.

Whether it’s the battery of your Switch, your phone, (or for god’s sake check that PSP now!), we could all probably do better to look after the future explosives we sleep next to at night.


Follow Thumbsticks on Twitter and Facebook for daily video game news updates.

Enjoyed this article?

Found it interesting, entertaining, useful, or informative? Maybe it even saved you some money. That's great to hear! Sadly, independent publishing is struggling worse than ever, and Thumbsticks is no exception. So please, if you can afford to, consider supporting us via Patreon or buying us a coffee.

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Super Mario Bros. 35 is out now on Nintendo Switch

The new Super Mario battle-royale game is out now for Nintendo Switch Online members.

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The new Super Mario battle-royale game is out now for Nintendo Switch Online members.

The Super Mario Bros. 35th anniversary celebrations continue apace with the release today of Super Mario Bros. 35 on Nintendo Switch. The game is based on the 1985 NES classic but adds a battle-royale gameplay twist similar in format to Tetris 99.

The game sees 35 players compete online across classic Mario courses, beginning with the iconic World 1-1. The platforming gameplay comes as naturally as breathing, but this time, defeated Koopa Troopers and Goombas are sent over to other players’ courses to disrupt their progress. You’re also up against the clock which counts down from 35 seconds and has to be topped up by stomping on enemies. The fun continues until there’s one Mario left standing.

It’s a simple concept, and in our brief time with the game, a well-executed one. Matches are chaotic and pleasingly clumsy with familiar levels made significantly more challenging. The game is also exquisitely produced with a user interface that echoes Super Mario Maker.

Here’s the launch trailer.

Super Mario Bros 35 is free to download and play for Nintendo Switch Online members at no additional cost. Weirdly – and just like the recently released Super Mario 3D All-Stars collection – the game is only available until March 31, 2021. To get it, navigate to the Nintendo Switch Online section of the Switch eShop.


Get updates on the latest Xbox One, Switch, and PlayStation 4 video games via our new releases page. And follow Thumbsticks on Twitter and Facebook for daily news updates.

Enjoyed this article?

Found it interesting, entertaining, useful, or informative? Maybe it even saved you some money. That's great to hear! Sadly, independent publishing is struggling worse than ever, and Thumbsticks is no exception. So please, if you can afford to, consider supporting us via Patreon or buying us a coffee.

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October’s PlayStation Plus games are fast and frightening

Sony has confirmed the two PlayStation 4 games coming to PlayStation Plus in October 2020.

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Sony has confirmed the two PlayStation 4 games coming to PlayStation Plus in October 2020.

First on the starting grid is EA’s Need for Speed Payback. Which Need for Speed is that you ask? It’s the 2017 effort from Ghost Games. The racing isn’t actually that bad, but the game is dragged down by creaky storytelling and aggressive microtransactions. It’s worth a quick spin.

Next up is Vampyr, Dontnod’s 2018 tale of bloodlust and revenge set in Edwardian London. It’s a distinctly AA game but not without merit for fans of gothic fiction and Hippocratic hokum. In our review, we said that a “vivid sense of time and place, and a fantastic central idea, soon turn pale with repetitive combat and a forest of conversation trees.” It certainly doesn’t suck.

Both of next month’s free PlayStation Plus games are available to download from October 6, 2020.

PlayStation Plus free games – October 2020

  • Need for Speed Payback
  • Vampyr

September’s PlayStation Plus games – PlayerUnknown’s Battlegrounds and Street Fighter V – are available to download until next week. And if you’re playing on Xbox One, Microsoft has also confirmed the four titles coming to Games with Gold in October.


Take a look at our new releases page for regular updates on the latest Xbox One, Nintendo Switch, and PS4 games. You should also follow Thumbsticks on Facebook, Google News, Twitter, and Flipboard.

Enjoyed this article?

Found it interesting, entertaining, useful, or informative? Maybe it even saved you some money. That's great to hear! Sadly, independent publishing is struggling worse than ever, and Thumbsticks is no exception. So please, if you can afford to, consider supporting us via Patreon or buying us a coffee.

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