Ubisoft will kick off the next-gen PlayStation 5 and Xbox Series X console cycle with a bang, and plans to release three heavy-hitting sequels in six months' time.
Ubisoft is planning a huge comeback. In its recent Q3'20 earnings call, the publisher announced that it plans to ship 5 major AAA games in Fiscal Year 2021, and three of these will be massive entries in its biggest IPs. We didn't get any official confirmation on the games, but Kotaku's Jason Schreier, who has knowledge of Ubisoft's plans, says the slate includes a new Far Cry, a new Assassin's Creed, and the previously announced Watch Dogs Legion. All of which will be optimized for next-gen consoles, as per Ubisoft's previous words.
"We are very excited about the idea of releasing five new AAA games in 2020-21. Although the competitive environment is looking especially tough, production of these games is progressing well and each of them comes with great features that set them apart," Ubisoft CEO Yves Guillemot said in the call.
As for the timing, it looks like the new Viking-themed Assassin's Creed will be a next-gen launch title, just as we predicted. Ubisoft will reveal new details in May 2020, and will showcase the games at E3 2020.
Ubisoft's Investor Relations branch clarified the game release cadence to Twitter user DomsPlaying. Ubisoft will release three games in the critical Holiday 2020 quarter (October - December 2020) during the launch of the PS5 and Xbox Series X, and two games during its Q4 time period (January - March 2021).
Here's how I expect the timeline to look based on spacing out title genres:
FY Q3'21 (October - December 2020)
- New Viking-themed Assassin's Creed
- Far Cry 6
- Gods and Monsters
FYQ4'21 (January - March 2021)
- Watch Dogs Legion
- Rainbow Six Quarantine
Watch Dogs Legion devs aim to push next-gen consoles to their limits
"We're confident that our Fiscal 2021 lineup will deliver amazing experiences to players. E3 would be a great opportunity to show our upcoming lineup. We would also benefit from the arrival of the new generation of consoles, which will be a great catalyst for industry momentum in 2020," Guillemot said.
Considering Assassin's Creed is far and away Ubisoft's biggest property, we should expect the game to push next-gen consoles to their limits. We could see smooth frame rates, utilization of on-hardware raytracing for amazing atmospheric lighting effects and reflections, high-end visuals up optimized for 4K TVs (and maybe even 8K displays), and of course ultra-fast loading thanks to each console's respective SSD storage.
After disappointing monetization of The Division 2 and Ghost Recon: Breakpoint, Ubisoft is eager to make a big splash in the next-gen hardware pond with its biggest heavy-hitting franchises. The company is now doubling-down on differentiation, a new focus aimed at separating its games from the monotonous live service fabric connects its current titles together.
Ubisoft recently made big changes in its creative teams to help make its games look, feel, and play more uniquely across the board.
I for one am extremely excited to see what kind of craziness the publisher will roll out with the raw might and brunt of next-gen console hardware, especially with the new Assassin's Creed and Watch Dogs Legion games--the latter of which literally lets you take control of every NPC in the game.