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E3 2021: Ubisoft kicks off event with Avatar and Mario + Rabbids reveals

media captionToday at E3: Politics, polygons and palm trees

A new game based on James Cameron’s Avatar film and a fresh collaboration with Nintendo kicked off E3 2021.

Ubisoft was the first game-maker to demonstrate their upcoming games at the annual gaming show, the first in two years due to the pandemic.

It also showed off the upcoming Rainbow Six: Extraction and a new Rocksmith guitar tutor, among other titles.

But it was the surprise reveal of Avatar: Frontiers of Pandora which excited many viewers.

The partnership with the film franchise was announced in 2017 but little has been revealed about it since then.

The first-person action-adventure game was shown off through an in-engine trailer, highlighting the the visuals but with few details of what the game’s style would be.

Ubisoft said the game would be “new, standalone story” in which players play as the Na’vi, the blue-skinned alien natives of the planet Pandora who were the heroes of the original 2009 film.

It is not due for release until 2022. James Cameron’s sequel to the original film, known only as Avatar 2, is currently scheduled for a December 2022 release after several years of delays.

Extraction replaces Quarantine

Ubisoft kicked off its presentation with tactical shooter Rainbow 6 Siege: Extraction, the new name for the next entry in the Tom Clancy-inspired series.

Originally known as Rainbow Six: Quarantine, the company changed the name due to the global pandemic.

image copyrightUbisoft

image captionThe alien infection was behind the original “Quarantine” name, which was dropped

Unlike its predecessor, which was a player-versus-player game, Extraction is a squad-based co-operative shooter for three players to team up against AI-controlled opponents.

It focuses on players joining forces to take on an alien species which is infecting people all over the world.

The previous game, Rainbow Six Siege, will continue to receive updates as the competitive team combat game in the series, Ubisoft said. It also announced it would be adding cross-play for players on different platforms – such as PC and Google Stadia, and Xbox and PlayStation – but not between PC and console.

Mario mash-up

It also announced a sequel to Mario + Rabbids Kingdom battle, a surprise hit of 2017 which mashed together Nintendo’s iconic Super Mario characters with Ubisoft’s Rabbids in a turn-based tactical game.

The next title in the series, Sparks of Hope, is also a Nintendo Switch exclusive. The adventure leaves Mario’s Mushroom Kingdom and takes to space, leveraging some of the imagery of 2007’s critically-acclaimed Nintendo game Super Mario Galaxy as characters move from planet to planet throughout its levels. It is due to launch next year.

While the game is developed in collaboration with Nintendo, the Japanese game titan’s own presentation about its games is due to happen on Tuesday.

image copyrightUbisoft

image captionThe Mario + Rabbids mash-up was a surprise success for Ubisoft and Nintendo on the Switch

A new Rocksmith title was also announced. The game allows players to hook up a guitar to their PC or game console and learn to play guitar by following along with official recordings.

The original game was widely seen as innovative, but required a cable to connect a guitar to the computer, which many players felt did not work well.

The new version, Rocksmith+, also includes a phone app that will allow acoustic players – or electric guitar fans using an amplifier – to use the game through their phone’s microphone. Rocksmith+ will also have more features such as a chord mode for beginners and community help videos.

But the game will be a subscription service costing £12.99 a month, the company said, in line with its billing as a premium educational tool rather than a game.

image copyrightUbisoft

image captionThe reveal of a game based on the 2009 Avatar film was a surprise closer to Ubisoft’s conference

E3 – short for the Electronic Entertainment Expo – usually takes place at the Los Angeles Convention Center, with thousands of industry professionals and gaming journalists in attendance.

Attention will now turn to Microsoft’s key presentation on Sunday, the first E3 event for the company since it acquired Bethesda, the maker of Skyrim and Fallout, for $7.5bn last year.

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