Ubisoft Then Vs. Now
Ubisoft is a game publisher responsible for producing a series of well-known franchises and games. The Assassins Creed franchise, Far Cry, and games marked with the “Ghost Recon” label are all games produced and published by Ubisoft, a company based in Montreal, France. Unfortunately, Ubisoft had been known for releasing some pretty lackluster games in recent years, and they were even compared to the likes of EA for only caring about money with most post-release content contained in DLCs protected by a paywall. Thankfully, the state of Ubisoft games in 2018 looks much more promising, and we will dive into the details that lead Ubisoft to reclaim its former glory.
My first taste of Ubisoft games back in the 90’s and the Assassins Creed franchise
Growing up in the 90’s way before being captivated by PC gaming, I had picked up the first PlayStation (back then when having a memory card was the biggest joy if you had one and the biggest disappointment if you did not have one). Besides some classic Games like the FIFA franchise by EA, one of the first games I ever played by Ubisoft was Rayman. At that time, it was the most fun and challenging game I had played along with the frustration that Crush Bandicoot gave me every time I lost. Rayman offered me the same experience, and I remember going back to it again and again and finishing the game multiple times.
I gave up playing PlayStation entirely in 2003, and I built my first PC 13 years later (yes I know a long time) in 2016, although I played games on a laptop I had bought in 2007. What got me into PC Gaming was the Assassins Creed franchise. I started devouring the franchise and playing through every game for endless hours. The exploration of the vast worlds in Assassins Creed, the game mechanics and the mysterious story surrounding the game fascinated me. Anyone familiar with Assassins Creed knows for a fact that the Ezio trilogy (Assassins Creed 2, Brotherhood, Revelations) and Black Flag are by far the best games in the franchise. Ezio’s story in the trilogy elevated the game to another level and the final digital manifestations of cities in the 15th century Italy like Venice, Florence and Rome gave Ubisoft a ton of options to make the trilogy shine, which they did. The most captivating part was the story, though. Following Ezio’s story, you meet some of the most influential people in the history of humanity like Leonardo Da Vinci and Niccolo Machiavelli. The traditional concept of conflict between good and evil (Assassins vs. Templars) in conjunction with the beautiful world and engaging game mechanics made Ezio’s trilogy stand out from the rest of the franchise.
Black Flag picked up where the trilogy left off regarding quality gameplay, and besides the pirate Assassin storyline, Ubisoft added naval combat to the mix giving the franchise the breath of fresh air it desperately needed keeping gamers coming back to the franchise time after time.
Ubisoft lost their creativity with Assassins Creed after Black Flag
After Assassins Creed Black Flag, Ubisoft lost their touch and creativity with the franchise. Additions to the series like Rogue, Unity Assassins Creed III and Syndicate did little to keep the franchise interesting. Ubisoft’s one-year circle of releasing games with little to no additions not only made the fans start talking about the quality decline of the series but the game developers themselves felt like they were caught in a vicious circle of recycling content with no innovations, creativity, and momentum. Unity, especially, is believed to be the worst Assassins Creed game ever not only being boring as far as gameplay is concerned but the game was also released in an unfinished state with tons of glitches and bad optimization. Ubisoft tried to redeem themselves with Syndicate, a game I enjoyed, but their attempt to bring the franchise back to its former glory failed. The game received many negative reviews, and Ubisoft was declared one of the worst game publishers by the community. Things were not looking good for Ubisoft, and the team in Montreal decided to re-invent the franchise altogether, which they did with Assassins Creed Origins.
Assassins Creed Origins was a complete game changer for both the franchise and Ubisoft
To put it in small words, Assassins Creed Origins not only saved the franchise but Ubisoft’s reputation as well. The most significant factor that gave Ubisoft the opportunity to revive the franchise was their decision to take a whole year off to create a new Assassins Creed game. This decision also allowed them to evaluate the direction they wanted to go to with the series. Briefly, a few key points they decided to change were:
- Add RPG elements to the game
- Make additional DLC content worth buying
- Polish the game by revealing a release date that made them feel comfortable releasing the game in a finished state
- Upgrade the game engine
- Make side-content worth playing
- Making the open-world exciting and engaging
- Telling the story of the origins of the Assassins in Roman Egypt of Cleopatra and Ceasar
- Assign the game’s development to the Ubisoft team that created Black Flag
For a full review of Assassins Creed Origins, click HERE.
If not the best Assassins Creed game ever (which it is in my opinion) the game was praised to have restored some of the franchise’s former glory. Every new aspect of the game did its part of delivering an overall game worth playing. 100+ of worthwhile content, incredible graphics, a fascinating story and a refurbished combat system along with the RPG elements made the game a success. Of course, not everyone will agree with that, but anyone who had forgotten about the franchise after Black Flag has an excellent reason to come back to Assassins Creed thanks to origins and at least tryout Ubisoft’s new approach to the game. They made some risky changes, which, thankfully paid off. Ubisoft proved that they are capable of overcoming their set obstacles something EA should have done as well.
Ubisoft was known for creating huge but uninspiring and dull open-world games
Ubisoft’s inability to develop captivating games was not only showcased in Assassins Creed. Games like Rainbow Six Siege and Ghost Recon Wildlands were both accused of being games filled with potential but ended up uninspiring and uncreative. Rainbow Six Siege was first released in 2015 and was a tactical shooter trying to imitate close combat between two teams in buildings. The concept is straightforward: One team attacks while the other defends. You can choose operators each of whom has different abilities you can use in combat in favor of your team. The game is one of the most played first-person shooters in 2018, but back in 2015, it was criticized for the lack of a single-player campaign and the lack of adequate multiplayer maps to keep it interesting. Rainbow Six Siege was also developed to be a “niche” game, meaning that from the beginning it was expected to appeal to players who enjoy slow and thoughtful tactical shooters. Rainbow Six Siege is neither a game you jump right into and have fun nor is it Overwatch by any means. It is a game that requires attention to detail and patience.
Rainbow Six Siege is an impressive game that does better than ever three years later. Ubisoft has not stopped adding new operators and maps and polishing the game. If you have not tried out Rainbow Six Siege and enjoy tactical first-person shooter games that require some brain work while playing, now is the best time to get it at a cheap price.
The Season Pass also grants you access to all new operators without having to grind to get them. Get the Rainbow Six Siege Season Pass, HERE.
Ubisoft was considered a company releasing lackluster games after the release of the Division
In reality, The Division had enormous potential. A game captivating New York City during the winter period while a virus had killed most of the population by spreading disease all over the city. The few people who had survived were struggling with being alive while criminals organized themselves into groups devastating New York, destroying and stealing whatever they could. A special operation unit called the Division, comprised of special agents who are drawn only in emergency situations was deployed to save the city from its demise. You play as a division operator going striving through the city rescuing people, killing bad guys and finding supplies. Your ultimate deal is to find out how the situation went out of control and who is behind the virus.
A game plagued mainly by its lack of initial content and endgame. Ubisoft failed to deliver the ending to the game, and people got frustrated about that. The main reason, however, that The Division failed is because of its boring gameplay. Once you start playing, you do the same things over and over again, and the game gets boring fast. Ubisoft managed to create such a beautiful open-world and forget to fill it with exciting content. It is not that only the side content is blunt, but the main story itself lacks innovation. Furthermore, the game was released with glitches and problems in gameplay that would be fixed months later, but it was already too late for The Division. A majority of gamers, including me, quickly lost interest in the game and did not come back. What Ubisoft managed to do with Assassins Creed Origins and the Far Cry series, creating compelling content that got gamers to go back to those games, they failed to deliver with The Division. Ubisoft learned from their mistakes and made the game enjoyable a few years later by fixing glitches, adding an end story and exciting content, but the damage was too significant to convince gamers of coming back to it. Ubisoft did the same with Ghost Recon Wildlands, unfortunately.
5 things Ubisoft did wrong with Ghost Recon Wildlands
Ubisoft’s lousy reputation accelerated with the release of Ghost Recon Wildland in 2017. They had been advertising the game for almost three years and people, including me, were hugely hyped for the game. I believed that Wildlands would be what The Division had the potential to be: a modern shooter in a fictional today’s world Bolivia, Mexico where drug cartels have taken over the country. It sounded very promising. The game was huge, graphically beautiful and the game mechanics were exceptional, although the game lacked some aspects that would have made it great. Some of those characteristics were:
1. Boring gameplay
The gameplay itself, although greatly executed, got boring after a while just like The Division. In my opinion, Wildlands is far better than The Division, but its gameplay got stellar after a while. Your objective was to take down some enemies, blow up something or assassinate someone. The game is vast and repeating the same procedure over and over eventually made it annoying. Apart from that, the game did not reward stealthy gameplay like Metal Gear Solid V for example. The biggest fun I had with Wildlands is going full force into a mission, blowing up stuff, killing everyone and leaving. There was no incentive to keep it down and go stealthy. Your only option is to rank up the difficulty, making enemies more aware of your position and reacting much more efficient to your actions. However, this does not help new players who want to try out the game at a lower difficulty.
2. Interesting main missions but blunt side content
What Ghost Recon Wildlands managed to do is create an engaging main story. Your task was to capture drug cartel leaders one by one until you reach the Pablo Escobar of the game, El Sueno. The missions were great, you had to infiltrate, capture, kill and manipulate. If it was not for the somewhat dull gameplay, the primary missions were quite fun to play. What the game lacked were exciting side missions. Steal a helicopter and deliver it to your allies, kill someone or interrogate a person. Side missions dragged the game down, and when you have a game at the size of Wildlands, side missions are just as important as the main ones. Assassins Creed Origins was even bigger in size than Wildlands but the game’s 100+ hours are enjoyable because of the side contents’ quality.
3. The responsiveness of enemies left much to be desired
The only time when the game got exciting was at the highest difficulty. AI enemies did not do much to give you a hard time taking them out or challenge you overall. Ubisoft should have focused more on making the enemies more responsive even at lower difficulties.
4. Bad Optimization and Performance
When Ghost Recon Wildlands was released, it would bring a GTX 1080Ti down to its knees even at 1080p. Yes, the beautiful could partially justify the low framerate, but the best graphics card in the world should be able to play the game above 100 FPS at 1080P at all times, which it did not. Optimization was terrible and the game was always GPU bottlenecked. It did not require much CPU power, so the GPU was still the limiting factor. The game was almost unplayable with the GTX 1060 getting frame dips to the 30s especially when driving in-game leading us to my last point.
5. Bad driving mechanic
Is driving that important to mention it separately? Well, for a game like PUBG probably not that is 1/100th the size of Wildlands, but Ghost Recon Wildlands is a colossal game that requires you to move from region to region either by car, motorbike or helicopter. While the helicopter was acceptable, driving in a car was a painful experience. Besides the unjustified frame drops to the 40’s I got with my GTX 1080, the driving itself was atrocious. Having been used to driving in GTAV, the jump to Wildlands was painful. The steering was extremely bad, the handbrake would screw you if enemies followed you and the overall driving experience left much to wish for.
For a full review of Ghost Recon Wildlands, take a look at this link.
Ubisoft Games in 2018
Ubisoft is a company that learned from its mistakes and re-invented themselves in 2018. Newest games like Assassins Creed Origins and Far Cry 5 are interesting and fun to play, loaded with great content only overshadowed by the games’ repetitive game mechanics, which can not be altered in any way. For example, Far Cry 5 is still a Far Cry game and has to oblige you to do some things repeatedly, however, the diversity of missions filled with creativity makes the game enjoyable. Ubisoft’s older releases like Rainbow Six Siege, Ghost Recon Wildlands, and even The Division are continuously updated with new content and are worth revisiting. An exciting upcoming Ubisoft game is Assassins Creed Odyssey. Based on the same game engine as Origins, Ubisoft will let us explore the beauty of ancient Greece in the era of the Peloponnesian war and put us right in the middle of the conflict between Athenians and Spartans at that time.
For more details on Assassins Creed Odyssey, CLICK HERE
For a full review of Far Cry 5, CLICK HERE
Ubisoft games in 2018 are in a much better place than they were a few years ago. A company that used to create beautiful but uninteresting games transformed into a company that started innovating again and putting their heart and soul into both new and old releases. Ubisoft should be seen as an example for other prominent game publishers (EA anyone?) and are the living proof that you can make profit as a company while still delivering great games that gamers enjoy. Making money and keeping fans satisfied is possible and Ubisoft just proved that by changing their business model and making their games interesting again.
What is your opinion on Ubisoft games? Do you enjoy what they have come up within 2018 or do you avoid their games completely? Leave a comment in the comment section below.