Earlier this week, our editor Ian and I were invited to Ubisoft Singapore for a studio tour. This year marks the 10th anniversary of the gaming giant Ubisoft on our very own sunny island. In its decade here, Ubisoft Singapore has made waves with its extensive contribution to the Assassin’s Creed series and the creation of many other games including the F2P shooter, Tom Clancy’s Ghost Recon Phantoms.
Having proven their capabilities, Ubisoft Singapore is now responsible for the development of the highly anticipated pirate game: Skull and Bones. We took a spin at the E3 demo versions for both Skull and Bones, in addition to the newest installation of Assassin’s Creed and here’s the scoop.
Skull and Bones
The development of Skull and Bones commenced shortly after Assassin’s Creed IV: Black Flag – Ubisoft’s best-selling pirate-themed instalment of the AC franchise. Evidently, Ubisoft’s obsession with naval battles did not stop there. Since AC4, naval battles have been a recurring theme for the AC series which culminated in Skull and Bones, the company’s attempt at an industry-leading water graphics and physics-centric release.
Ubisoft designers and developers have developed a recipe to produce all the types of sea states you see in the game. By changing the levels of sediment, phytoplankton and many other things, the colours and visibility of the oceans are grafted to replicate the biomes of various regions. We watched as the team tweaked several parameters to create all sorts of sea states imaginable.
Skull and Bones takes place across parts of the Indian and Pacific ocean and is set during the 1700s Anglo-Dutch wars. It’s the golden age of piracy. And you, as an upstart pirate captain, want to dominate the seas and strike fear into the hearts of other crews in this open-world multiplayer game. In this RPG-like progression game, you can pick your ship based on your playstyle and upgrade it with the loot you’ve plundered. To become the pirate king you must not only master the sea but also build a loyal and powerful pirate gang. Allied with other players, you can accomplish feats like taking down massive merchant ships and outsmarting rivals, though you have to be wary of betrayals and looters – there’s no honour among thieves.
The demo starts off by letting you choose between 3 ships that have different stats, such as acceleration, wind profile, armament load-out and special attacks. You then set sail to loot, plunder or take part in the suggested side-quests (which I’m sure no one did, especially me). You can engage merchant ships to plunder, or opt to attack a fellow pirate to steal his loot. Of course, the navies of the various seafaring nations will be constantly on your tail, so you can choose to ally with a fellow pirate to counter-attack.
The demo we participated in had about ten fellow journalists in the same lobby, and I found myself at the bottom of the ocean pretty soon after a fellow pirate participant turned on me. I found the controls a little difficult to get at first, but that’s expected since I’ve not played many naval-centric games, especially not on console. I’m sure most gamers would familiarise pretty well with enough hours spent swashbuckling.
Personally, I’m pretty excited to see where Skull and Bones will take us, especially with Ubisoft’s uniquely Singaporean team at its helm. Skull and Bones is slated for release in 2019.
Assassin’s Creed: Odyssey
A game coming much sooner than Skull and Bones is Assassin’s Creed: Odyssey. Set in ancient Greece, players have the choice of characters for the first time in Assassin’s Creed history. Odyssey could aptly refer to Homer’s epic poem of antiquity, and could also refer to the title’s open world nature where players have to pen their own odyssey.
Large portions of Odyssey’s open-world map was designed by Ubisoft’s team here in Singapore. They brought on board their naval expertise, which allowed the franchise to innovate by providing a wealth of experience. The Ancient Greeks were a seafaring nation, so it is befitting that Assassin’s Creed: Odyssey explores the maritime aspect of Greek history. While Assassin’s Creed: Origin had a game mode that allowed players to explore Ancient Egypt freely like on a tour, Ubisoft was unable to confirm if a similar game mode would be found on the franchise’s latest Greek counterpart.
Something unique in this latest AC is the interactive dialogue – every choice you make matters in how your story progresses. This means multiple endings, and you can decide if you want to be a meanie or the brave respectable warrior. Time will tell if the 30 hours of interactive dialogue truly impacts the story and road of the hero but for now, it’s an interesting feature that hasn’t been seen in previous AC games. Socrates, the famous (and annoying) Greek philosopher, makes a cameo as an NPC, with which players can interact with to explore different mission options.
Assassin’s Creed: Odyssey isn’t just all just epic battles (though there’s plenty of that). You will also be able to customise your hero with a variety of different weapons and outfits according to your playstyle. From hiking snowy mountain peaks to diving the depths of the Aegean sea, the scenes in the game will definitely be as captivating as its predecessor, Assassin’s Creed: Origins.
We got to play the demo where we take part in a full-scale battle and have to engage their hero who is a giant. Needless to say, we got wrecked, though it was great fun. I’m sure AC fans will be just excited as I am for the game. Assassin’s Creed: Odyssey will be released on October 5th for the Xbox One, PlayStation 4 and Windows PC.
Ubisoft’s studio tour and introduction to the two games were entertaining and insightful. I’m personally proud that their studio has achieved so much in a decade and I’m looking forward to the games that they are developing and all their future games.