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Their three reasons are funny and could be summarised as:

 

1) Need more innovation.

2) Need better game development.

3) Go to 1.

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Being a fan of GH Wildlands I was disappointed to hear about Breakpoint's poor reception. I'm sure I could find a lot to enjoy about it, but not at full price. On the other hand I bought Division 2 in the sale last week and I'm really enjoying it. I've played almost 30 hours and I'm at level 25, the loot and progression I feel has been pretty much perfect. I have been playing it exclusively like a single player game too.

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Yeah, some of their business decisions over the past couple years have been questionable. Take Starlink, which was actually a pretty decent game (just £10 in Smyths now!) but it was totally bogged down by Ubisoft’s open world bollocks (which thankfully you can ignore) as well as having annoying characters that talked constantly over when you were trying to do stuff. 

 

Ironically it would have been a lot better stripped of all that shite, but even when playing it you couldn’t help think just how many people must have worked on it. 

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Maps littered with icons and a screen full of objectives are generally not much fun to play in my opinion. Most open world games aren't much good, imo. 

 

Someone called them "shopping list games" when I spoke about it a while back and I think that's about right. It's a chore to navigate to spot A, perform task 5 then go to spot B and do another of task 3 and on and on. 

 

It's why most open world games aren't much fun for me. Travelling somewhere for 5 minutes to do a 2 minute objective that relies on AI reacting to your arrival often feels like a shallow experience. ...The actual bit you play when you arrive isn't very exciting. 

 

If we had more focus on fun and less on ticking things off, games would have to be designed differently, I assume. If an entire game was a series of ubisofts assaults on strongholds (or whatever they call arriving at a wasteland and killing patroling guards who will call in reinforcements half way through) they'd have to be better. Put those into an open world game and they might be one of the best bits. ...if that's the case, surely the game can't be all that good? That's hidden by loot, ranking up and daily challenges. As noted above, a second job doesn't sound like much fun. 

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3 minutes ago, Wahwah* said:

Maps littered with icons and a screen full of objectives are generally not much fun to play in my opinion. Most open world games aren't much good, imo. 

 

Someone called them "shopping list games" when I spoke about it a while back and I think that's about right. It's a chore to navigate to spot A, perform task 5 then go to spot B and do another of task 3 and on and on. 

 

It's why most open world games aren't much fun for me. Travelling somewhere for 5 minutes to do a 2 minute objective that relies on AI reacting to your arrival often feels like a shallow experience. ...The actual bit you play when you arrive isn't very exciting. 

 

If we had more focus on fun and less on ticking things off, games would have to be designed differently, I assume. If an entire game was a series of ubisofts assaults on strongholds (or whatever they call arriving at a wasteland and killing patroling guards who will call in reinforcements half way through) they'd have to be better. Put those into an open world game and they might be one of the best bits. ...if that's the case, surely the game can't be all that good? That's hidden by loot, ranking up and daily challenges. As noted above, a second job doesn't sound like much fun. 

 

If anything, Breath of the Wild showed how you could make a truly engaging open world game that really felt like fun (and exciting) when you found new tasks or goals. Underneath it's still a shopping list, but it encouraged you to explore and find those tasks.

 

Going back to an Ubisoft open world game showed you just how blatantly scripted it all was.

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The inventory management collectathon killed Division 2 for me. I don't mind a bit of sensible inventory management for items that are genuinely valuable and I want to keep - Resi 4 - but in Div 2 it felt like I was hooning around collecting binbags full of disposable stuff that was just boring to sift through - knee pads? Gloves? Just impossible to care about any of this stuff. More time spent in menus than the actual game. Terrible balance.

 

Would have been great as a regular shooter with none of the inventory madness.

 

 

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I think it is a real shame that all their games feel similar because in terms of environmental design pretty much nobody can compete with Ubisoft.

 

The Assassin's Creed games definitely need an engine change (the PC ports are absolutely awful - they need to steal the engine used for the Division) but otherwise they are beautiful historical wonders - the educational museum modes are fantastic.

 

They just need to do some real thinking in terms of gameplay design and how to make their games distinct, individual entities.

 

The Division 2 was much better than the first, I completed it and really enjoyed it, but they did make a mistake in rushing it out before Division 1 had run its course, and also hiding all of its best gear behind an 8 person raid.

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3 minutes ago, Nate Dogg III said:

Someone told me recently that the big publishers realised a few years back that the difference in sales between a Metacritic average of 82 and 95 was basically zero, but the development cost of turning the former into the latter was absolutely enormous. Ubisoft embody this imo, they've spent this generation getting an amazing structure of 24-hour global development up and running but they don't seem remotely interested in making something amazing. They have a template that works for them, their games get mostly good scores and sell mostly very well, but they rarely trouble any end-of-year lists and I've never detected much appetite from them to change that. Ultimately they've spent this generation iterating on one idea and it's no surprise to see it finally running out of steam. If anything I'm surprised it's lasted as long as it has.

 

There's something short-sighted about creating something that sells rather than creating something of value, of worth. When a new AC is an annual occurrence, where's the room for conversation about the older games? I don't doubt that they shift enough copies of everything, but they're more of a formality than an event at this point.

 

(I was going to end with "imagine if [cult hit series that hasn't gone stale yet] stuck to a rigid template for the sake of turning out annual sequels" but some games could probably get away with it... ;) )

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18 minutes ago, Isaac said:

 

I respectfully disagree with this.

 

It's not for everyone, but if it's for you, Assassin's Creed Origins (and Odyssey) really is amazing.

 

They're both fantastic sandbox games with some of the best environments ever created in a game.

 

The attention to detail in Origins' Egypt is really something. 

Think these are valid points. Origins and Odyssey were both fantastic game worlds and they were vast in terms of missions and objectives. However, playing through Odyssey it just felt like there was an awful lot of repetition. Fetch quests, assassinations, etc. After a while, the sheer scale of the game put me off. That's my issue not the game's necessarily; if I had more free-time and hadn't had that kind of all-encompassing gaming experience before then I'm sure I would have lapped it up. 

 

To give Ubisoft their due, the Discovery Tour/Tourism mode in Origins was a great addition. My son was doing an Egyptian scheme of work at school and using Origins was a really useful and engaging way of learning about Egypt. I think the frustration with Ubisoft is that they have the skills, talent and ability to introduce the Discovery Tour, yet don't utilise those same abilities on the wider game. They've adopted the McDonalds approach, that regardless of the Ubisoft game, the basics should be consistent. Ultimately, familiarity does often breed contempt. 

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13 minutes ago, Isaac said:

I think it is a real shame that all their games feel similar because in terms of environmental design pretty much nobody can compete with Ubisoft.

 

The Assassin's Creed games definitely need an engine change (the PC ports are absolutely awful - they need to steal the engine used for the Division) but otherwise they are beautiful historical wonders - the educational museum modes are fantastic.

 

They just need to do some real thinking in terms of gameplay design and how to make their games distinct, individual entities.

 

The Division 2 was much better than the first, I completed it and really enjoyed it, but they did make a mistake in rushing it out before Division 1 had run its course, and also hiding all of its best gear behind an 8 person raid.

 

I am not a big one for open world games, I agree with @Wahwah* that they seem a bit too much of a grind and a lot of traversing the world to get to an objective that needs to be completed before heading back where you came from to do something else. It's lazy padding out of a game experience for me. But I do like some of Ubisofts games as I think they take the environment they are set in and make it shine, making it the star of the show. I love AC Black Flag and am currently playing Far Cry Primal, both of which follow the template but wrap it up in a very different experience. I've got the Paris and London AC games sat ready for the future for this same reason, they do give you an immersive world to get involved with. Its also the reason I am playing FFXIV and happily paying a sub each month, the world is immersive, vast, and there is tons of stuff to do in whatever way you want to do it. 

 

But I can see how this is a lot harder for them to do when they are pushing a Live Service and multiplayer focus. And the fact that a shooter can only be innovative with setting and gameplay changes to a certain point, there are a lot more expectations set around that. But I also can't talk with much authority around any of that as I am definitely not the target market for that kind of game. But I can see that differentiation has to be a massively important factor and I can't believe that they didn't spot the shortcomings in this until after the games release.

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Ubisoft are easily my favourite of the big publishers but they've definitely gone off the rails over the last few years. It's such a waste that they make these enormous, beautiful worlds with slick animation and controls, and yet they give them all the same bland structure.

 

Since Assassin's Creed Origins it's all been about the tiered loot, pointless upgrade trees and level-gated areas that requires tedious side-mission grinding. You spend half your time navigating overly-complex menus using a shitty cursor system, changing numbers that make no discernible difference to the actual game. This seems to be mandated from above, because it's in every game no matter whether it fits or not. It serves to take you out of the historical settings of Assassins' Creed and totally destroys the feeling of being in a tactical shooter in Ghost Recon.

 

If you fiddle with the settings enough and ignore the cruft you can often find the fun at the core of each game, but I can see why people don't want to make the effort. There is so much potential in these games but the structure is stultifying.

 

I see Watch Dogs Legion has been delayed to later next year. I really hope this is because Clint Hocking said "see?" and is being allowed to strip that crap out of his game in favour of focusing on the more innovate gameplay that he's known for. It shouldn't be too hard – their games often play really well, it's just the meta-crap slathered over the top that holds them back.

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There's a lot of Ubisoft bashing in here, but I think they probably fund more new IP, or at least "out there" games and passion projects than any of the other big publishers.

 

They also support their games for bloody ages, with free content, instead of selling you battlepasses and the like. Their first point references this - why would anyone jump ship when the last game has been so well supported and has 2+ years of content and quality updates?

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It’s kind of reassuring to at least see that they recognise what these issues are and will try to mitigate them. The tone of these sorts of reports usually seems to be an executive scowling at a descending line graph for ten minutes before throwing his papers off the desk and howling about the fickleness of the market and the inevitability of the decline.

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I've never felt like my actual skills are improving in a Ubisoft game. Assasins Creed, Far Cry, Division, they're all the same in that your ability to take down higher level enemies is just a numbers game. Compare that with Dark Souls where you can take down a high level boss with your fists or a broken sword if you put the time in - your skills improve and it's rewarding. There's none of that in Ubisoft games, they're not satisfying or rewarding. You're just grinding away to complete them. They ruined Far Cry with this structure.

 

 

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1 hour ago, Uncle Nasty said:

The inventory management collectathon killed Division 2 for me. I don't mind a bit of sensible inventory management for items that are genuinely valuable and I want to keep - Resi 4 - but in Div 2 it felt like I was hooning around collecting binbags full of disposable stuff that was just boring to sift through - knee pads? Gloves? Just impossible to care about any of this stuff. More time spent in menus than the actual game. Terrible balance.

 

Would have been great as a regular shooter with none of the inventory madness.


I think a big mistake they made with Division 2 was planning to rely on the free updates, supported by cosmetic lootboxes model. I don’t like lootboxes at all, but in terms of business we know it’s a system that can make big bucks.

 

Problem was the uninspired generic design of Ubisoft's shootmen. You can understand why people go gaga for something like Overwatch where they're pumping out skins like this:

 

spacer.png

 

Hard to get people excited and reaching for their wallets when your big win items, with a small change of attaining them, are beanie hat but it’s a slightly different colour or Oakley style sunglasses variation #8473773837373.

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1 hour ago, Nate Dogg III said:

Someone told me recently that the big publishers realised a few years back that the difference in sales between a Metacritic average of 82 and 95 was basically zero, but the development cost of turning the former into the latter was absolutely enormous. 

 

Is this really true? I very much doubt the recent God of War, for example, would have sold 10 million plus with a Metacritic of 82 instead of 94 or whatever, given it was a franchise in quite severe decline sales-wise before then. I don't think that's the only example I would think of either (would The Witcher 3 have turned into a behemoth with an 82 Metacritic? Would The Last of Us have sold over 20 million?) 

 

A Metacritic in the mid 90s has actually become quite rare this generation. For an AAA game, at least, it boosts the hype around it enormously, surely?

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Ubi have had this particular moment of clarity a few times now. Seems like it doesn't stick too well!

I think they ignore some elephants in the room - their own live service games compete all the other ones in the market, some of which are even their own. I also think some people might take issue with the contention that what is wrong with the latest GR is too much gameplay innovation.

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3 minutes ago, SozzlyJoe said:

I also think some people might take issue with the contention that what is wrong with the latest GR is too much gameplay innovation.

 

For "gameplay innovation" read "tiered loot, multiplayer social hub and level-gating".

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31 minutes ago, Uncle Nasty said:

I've never felt like my actual skills are improving in a Ubisoft game. Assasins Creed, Far Cry, Division, they're all the same in that your ability to take down higher level enemies is just a numbers game. Compare that with Dark Souls where you can take down a high level boss with your fists or a broken sword if you put the time in - your skills improve and it's rewarding. There's none of that in Ubisoft games, they're not satisfying or rewarding. You're just grinding away to complete them. They ruined Far Cry with this structure.

 

 

 

I'm quite happy for the mild challenge, upgrading and interesting settings of the last two Assassins.  I don't want Dark Souls level combat very often.  I want to chill out and relax in a game world.

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29 minutes ago, SozzlyJoe said:

Ubi have had this particular moment of clarity a few times now. Seems like it doesn't stick too well!

I think they ignore some elephants in the room - their own live service games compete all the other ones in the market, some of which are even their own. I also think some people might take issue with the contention that what is wrong with the latest GR is too much gameplay innovation.

 

Yeah they seem to take the wrong thing away from the lessons they learn.

Far Cry New Dawn was better than 5 but it was literally the same map and all the same gubbins and so got tired. I was surprised by Division 2s lacking sales because as live service things go they did everything right; there was shit to do, it had an endgame, it worked straight off. I guess people really did get burned by the first and decided to fuck it off.

 

EA found out the hard way that you can't pull the wool over the game buying publics eyes any more. The Battlefront 2 debacle fucked them more than anything they've ever pulled before. While there'll always be people buying blind and persistently the declining sales of these types of games is very telling. If its not already doing so the triple A game industry will eat itself.

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I'd blame

  • The Division and Ghost Recon sequels were far too soon and not good enough.
  • Too many GaaS titles. Players don't have the time.
  • The lack of teeth when taking a political stance in their games has also harmed them imo. eg. Far Cry 5 should've been against the far right, not non-descript religious zealots. They didn't have the balls to follow through with the aesthetics they appropriated. Same with Watch Dogs 3 I expect. It makes their games feel bland, safe and difficult to invest in, which exacerbates the cookie cutter open world design.

 

Also their support of Siege gets praised but actually a lot of what they do is a mixed bag and low effort. The game has an identity crisis and if anything, the direction they've taken has turned me off the game, speaking as it's previous biggest fan. Eg. they spend a lot of time homogenizing design elements to please the professional e-sports players, and don't invest enough in improving the game for home users, they don't react quickly enough, and their focus is on extorting more money via season passes, limited bundles, limited loot boxes, and soon battle passes. They've neglected the strengths of the base game: a tactical stealth game with cool gadgets, and instead add cheap or duplicate abilities and have sped-up the game into something more like COD than Rainbow Six. Their most recent addition is a grappling hook operator, a concept that does not fit the gameplay style or design brief. Also, in an attack-defense game, it should never be viable for the defense team to win by playing aggressive attack. But the pro players and 14 year olds love to play this way, so Ubi has made it part of the meta.

 

They're making a ton of money from Siege now, but that isn't re-invested into offering fresh or deep gameplay changes, PvE missions, new PvP modes or improving the engine / graphics etc the way Epic invests in Fortnite.  There's still no quick access communication wheel for non-mic players, for example. Or gameplay-relevant emotes like instructing which wall to breach or enemy sighted etc. The slow, tense game Siege used to be in 2016-17 doesn't exist so much anymore, an unexpected consequence of the GaaS trend.

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I had this exact problem yesterday with Far Cry New Dawn. I love the Far Cry games and picked this up for £20 and I've put in an hour to it and I'm ready to give up.  It is not that the map is similar to Far Cry 5, it is that everything is similar, the opening section, the starting with no weapons, the driving, the enemies, the perks and levelling up, the crafting - it just reminds me exactly of Far Cry 5 and reminds me I've already done all of this bullshit on that game. I'm sure down the line it might have some new ideas, good weapons and some differences but right now it simply feels like a retread of Far Cry 5.  I almost want the game to see my Far Cry 5 save and instantly level me up to about 50% instead of starting from zero again. 

 

I love the early Far Cry games such as 2, but the latter Far Cry games have come up with a decent rinse and repeat concept - excellent gunplay, securing outposts and some bonkers story missions. But, 20 minutes into New Dawn, I am being asked to hijack some petrol and deliver it to the location marked on the map and I'm just done.  It is just busy-work and I cannot be bothered to put 5 hours in on pointless tasks because there might be a decent game that appears eventually. I never did finish Far Cry 5 so I think I'm just going to sell Far Cry New Dawn on and head back to 5. Thank god I purchased it physically. 

 

The underlying Far Cry formula might still be fundamentally good (although it might also be a bit old hat now) but clearly there do need to be some more physical differences than some different animals on the same map to make it work in future games. And stop with the fucking get item x and deliver it to location y missions.  Unless you're going to put in a surprise along the way these type of missions are literally just tedious busy work. 

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