Play Tom Clancy’s Rainbow Six Siege for Free This Weekend — Again!

Hey, remember that time Ubisoft held a free weekend for Tom Clancy’s Rainbow Six Siege? Ah, good times.

Well, the good times keep rolling, as Ubisoft has announced that they’re doing it yet again! From now through November 18th (that’s this Sunday), players on Xbox One, PlayStation 4, and PC will have access to the full game! All maps, modes, and the 20 original operators are yours to command.

As usual, those who give it a go this weekend and decide to purchase the full game will be able to carry over their progress and continue uninterrupted. And until November 30th, participants who decide to go for the full game will find they get up to 70 percent off of the Starter, Standard, Advanced, Gold, and Complete Editions (with the discount depending on the SKU and platform).

For all the down ‘n dirty details on the free weekend (including some videos on how to play), click right here. You can also learn more about the game on the whole at rainbow6.com.

If you’re looking for something new and Canadian-made to try out for your virtual reality setup, Ubisoft has a possible solution for you. And if you don’t have a VR rig? That’s fine, too.

Developed by Ubisoft Montreal in a collaboration with Elijah Wood, Daniel Noah, and John C. Waller’s production company, SpectreVision, Transference is described as a “first-person exploration” game which sees you exploring a mysterious house and solving its mysteries. Along the way, you’ll encounter members of a family who each not only have their own story, but their own individual point of view regarding the events which took place there.

“Whether playing in VR or non-VR, players will find themselves in an escape room like situation inside the experiment of a troubled scientist,” explained Producer Kévin Racapé in a press release. “They’ll shift between the three perspectives of family members and attempt to find out the disturbing truth. Transference is a visceral, engaging experience, and we can’t wait for players to enjoy unraveling the mystery in this mind-bending psychological thriller.”

Rated “M” for Mature, Transference is available now for the PlayStation VR, Oculus Rift, and HTC Vive virtual reality platforms, as well as in non-VR forms on the Xbox One, PlayStation 4, and Windows PC at a suggested retail price of $33.49. There is also a free downloadable demo which serves as a prequel titled “The Walter Test Case” that is currently available for the PlayStation VR and PlayStation 4 (non-VR).

If you’d like more information about Transference, please visit the official website.

This weekend, Ubisoft is hosting another free weekend, this time for Tom Clancy’s Ghost Recon Wildlands on the Xbox One, PlayStation 4, and Windows PC. Through September 23rd, players can access not only the full base game, but also the “Ghost War” player-versus-player (PVP) and special themed player-versus-everyone (PVE) missions.

Once the free weekend has elapsed, those interested in purchasing the game can choose from two newly-released editions:

  • The Ultimate Edition will cost $146.99, and includes the game, the Year 1 season pass (includes the two major expansions, “Narco Road” and “Fallen Ghosts”), the Year 2 season pass (grants one-week early access to all six Year 2 “Ghost War” PVP classes and special edition packs), and exclusive perks (special weapons and attachments, four Battle Crates, one Skill Point Pack, one Resource Pack, and one Long XP Booster).
  • The Year 2 Gold Edition will cost $99.99, and includes the game and the Year 2 season pass.

Until October 2nd, various editions (including the two above) will be discounted for up to 60 percent off, while select Ghost Recon Wildlands merchandise can be as much as 75 percent off in Ubisoft’s online store.

On top of this, the game will soon be receiving Title Update 16, aka “Operations & Maintenance,” which is said to improve the overall quality of life in the game, and will also feature an update to the Year 2 season pass that offers a new item pack to owners of said pass with each future title update. If that wasn’t enough, there’s also a new Mood Matchmaking feature included, which allows players to “further customize their co-op experience with “mood” preferences and options in public matchmaking for PvE in both the main game and Ghost Mode, helping players find and join other Ghosts ready to take on the same objectives.”

If you’re interested in more info, then head over to ghostrecon.com, or follow them on Twitter @GhostRecon or Ghost Recon on Facebook. You can also find what others are saying about the game by using the hashtag #ghostrecon.

On Saturday, August 4th, theRainbow Six Canadian Nationals held the Live Finals for their first season at the Olympia Theatre in Montreal. There, Team Canada and the Northern Alpacas — the two best teams in the competition — squared off in a bid to win the top share from the $15,000 prize pool.

When the dust settled, one team stood victorious. The quintet of EvilWaffle, P3NG, Whiskerzz, FoxA, and EhhDannn — collectively known as Team Canada — took the crown and were named the champions of the inaugural Rainbow Six Canadian Nationals season.

With that said, registration is now open until September 21st for the Season 2 Open Qualifiers, which are scheduled to take place on the 22nd and 23rd of September. Following that will be an Online Circuit each weekend throughout the month of October, with the top-ranked teams going face-to-face in Toronto on November 3rd in a Grand Finale to determine who the overall national champion will be.

At the 2017 Electronic Entertainment Expo, Ubisoft Toronto presented their latest creation: A Toys-to-life title called Starlink: Battle for Atlas, which garnered some positive attention.

At E3 2018, they presented it once again, and this time, it was a showstopper.

Starlink: Battle for Atlas is an open-world game, but one that differs from most in that it’s a space saga in which you traverse different worlds through use of starships. In fact, it seems to be inviting several comparisons to another such game, No Man’s Sky, albeit far more positive ones. Whereas that game’s regions were generated in a procedural fashion, Starlink: Battle for Atlas does things the old-fashioned way, making them by hand in the game’s Snowdrop engine.

Players will be able to travel across the star system and venture down to the surface of seven different planets seamlessly, according to Ubisoft’s press release. There, they’ll find alien worlds “teeming with life” and “unique challenges” to overcome. “Players’ actions and choices will impact their journey and no two player experiences will be alike,” they promise, as enemies are said to react and fight back intelligently

But “No Man’s Sky, but better” isn’t the main hook for Starlink: Battle for Atlas. Rather, its primary draw is the one which immediately snapped me to attention when the game was first shown off last year, and that’s the aforementioned Toys-to-life aspect.

I’m admittedly a big fan of Toys-to-life in general, even if there are some specific executions of the concept I don’t care for as much. I’ve got Skylanders, Disney Infinity, LEGO Dimensions, and amiibo for days, and not nearly enough time to play with them all.

Unfortunately, the Toys-to-life bubble has seemingly burst. Disney Infinity is dead, and LEGO Dimensions is no better off. Skylanders seems to continue as a franchise with its Netflix cartoon series, Skylanders Academy, but the actual game portion of that is MIA as its star, Spyro the Dragon, seems to be returning to his roots. As for amiibo? Nintendo is still producing them with each new game, but their in-game functionality seems to largely be an afterthought at this point, as they never got that one key game they needed for a breakthrough. (But at least they still look cool.)

So with that in mind, what hope does Starlink: Battle for Atlas have in a genre that’s all but completely evaporated? An ambitious one, it turns out, as Creative Director Laurent Malville and his team believe that “innovation can really bring life back into this market.” As he tells GamesIndustry.biz:

We think that toys-to-life brought a lot of younger players into video games, and that was great. But we think as they grew up, the expectation grew with it. So for us, we didn’t want to do just another one like those games. It was important for us to innovate in this category. We didn’t want to innovate on just the toy itself – and we think we did do that – but also to innovate with the huge open world. We’re not talking down to the players. This is a big open world that you can spend time in.

Where Starlink: Battle for Atlas differs from other Toys-to-life games is by putting control of the toys right in your hands — literally. Each version of the game comes with a special Starlink controller mount (or a Joy-Con grip, in the case of the Switch version) upon which the Starship of your choice is placed. During gameplay (in real-time or while paused), you’ll be able to swap out different modular parts, from the wings to various parts that attach to them, and even the pilot, each granting you different weapons and capabilities.

What’s more, there’s no singularly specific way to attach parts. Maybe you think those wings would look better swept forward? Or perhaps you’re tired of bogeys coming up on your six and taking you by surprise, so you want a rear-facing gun instead? It’s all possible, and even a bit more, as Producer Matthew Rose tells CNET, “We never want to tell kids they’re being creative wrong.”

However, some people who would enjoy these Toys-to-life games just don’t care for the “toy” aspect so much. But Ubisoft has good news for you: You don’t actually need the toys to enjoy the game. While purchasing various toys will unlock digital equivalents within the game, as Rose tells Nintendo UK:

It was very important for us to be extremely player friendly in what we’re offering. We want people to buy the collectibles because they think the collectibles are amazing. The modular play gives you all these cool creative things to do and build. But we don’t want to force you into buying them. You can complete the entire game just with the starter pass. Even if you are a minimalist, you don’t want more stuff on your shelves, you can even get digital versions of all the parts. You can play the entire game digitally, which is something we’re really proud of.

So, that all sounds great on its own, right? But what exactly would make it a showstopper at E3 this year that wasn’t there last year?

See for yourself:

“We are excited to give players a deeper look at Starlink: Battle for Atlas, the first all-new property from Ubisoft Toronto,” Malville stated in a press release. “Starlink is a project born from the passion of our collective team, and the opportunity to work directly with Nintendo to bring Star Fox to our universe is a dream come true. We believe the Atlas open star system is a perfect playground for Fox to explore and hope players will too.”

“The team at Ubisoft Toronto collaborated closely with Virtuos on the Nintendo Switch version of Starlink: Battle for Atlas,” the press release explains. “The partnership allowed Ubisoft to push the Nintendo Switch version to new heights, and fully support handheld, tabletop and docked play.”

I’ll admit to a little bias here, as I’ve been waiting 25 years for a toy Arwing I could call my own, and now someone has finally answered the call. (Makes me wonder if I should press my luck for a Great Fox, but one thing at a time here.) This pushes me from “completely sold” on the game to “why can’t I play this now?”

But “now” is sadly not in the cards, as the game doesn’t come out until October 16th, 2018, when the game will be available for the Xbox One, the PlayStation 4, and of course the Nintendo Switch in a Starter Edition priced at $99.99. Included in all versions of the Starter Edition are the game, the Starlink controller mount for your console of choice, and a poster.

In addition, the Xbox One and PlayStation 4 versions will also come with the following:

  • Zenith Starship – includes modular hull and two Armor wings
  • Mason Rana Pilot
  • Shredder Weapon
  • Flamethrower Weapon
  • Frost Barrage Weapon

As for the Nintendo Switch version? Hoo-boy, what an added value. You’ll get:

  • Arwing Starship – includes modular hull and two Arwing wings, with laser cannon weapons and charge shot built in
  • Fox McCloud Pilot
  • Mason Rana Pilot
  • Flamethrower Weapon
  • Frost Barrage Weapon
  • Digital versions of Zenith Starship and Shredder weapon
  • Exclusive Star Fox mission content

That’s right — you’ll not only get everything that the other Starter Editions come with (albeit digitally in some cases, but still), but also the Arwing Starship, Fox McCloud Pilot figure, and exclusive Star Fox mission content.

Beyond the Starter Edition, there are additional sets of ships, weapons, and pilots available to purchase. Here’s how it all breaks down:

  • Starship Pack (including one starship with modular hull and two wings, one pilot and one weapon): $39.99
  • Weapon Pack (including two weapons): $14.99
  • Pilot Pack (including one pilot): $12.99

It should be noted that all pieces are compatible, with a few small but expected exceptions: The Star Fox pieces will only work with the Nintendo Switch version of the game. So everything is compatible with it, and it’s compatible with everything else, but only so long as you’re playing it on Nintendo’s console.

And that’s pretty much it. October never looked so far away, but like any respectable Starship captain, I am ready for launch.

In the meantime, here are some renders, concept art, and screenshots for you to enjoy.

Do you love eSports? Are you a good shot? Then maybe you’ll want to try your luck in the Rainbow Six Canadian Nationals, presented by Ubisoft and Northern Arena.

Over the course of two seasons starting this month, teams of Canadian players will face off in the PC version of Tom Clancy’s Rainbow Six Siege as they vie for a piece of the prize pool, which is valued at $15,000 CAD.

Each season begins with a two-day open qualifier, with Season One running on June 23rd and 24th, whereas Season Two will be on September 22nd and 23rd, and online league play for each will occur every weekend of the respective following month. A point-based system will be used to determine the winners over these eight days, spread across four weekends.

The two top-ranked teams for each season will go on to face each other in a Grand Final, with Season One’s being in Montreal on August 4th and Season Two’s held in Toronto on November 3rd. The winner of Season Two will be the national champion of Year 1.

“eSports is one of the most important and fastest growing industries globally, and we are proud to partner with a renowned Canadian organizer like Northern Arena to continue to build eSports in Canada,” said Ubisoft Canada’s Managing Director, Olivier Ernst, in a press release. “Tom Clancy’s Rainbow Six Siege is a Canadian-developed game and we are excited to help more Canadians perform at higher competitive levels. Partnering with Northern Arena allows us to offer a competitive eSports playground for Canadians, by Canadians.”

“eSports is our passion and partnering with Ubisoft, one of the leaders in video game publishing, is an honor for us,” added Northern Arena Founder and Chief Executive Officer, Carl-Edwin Michel. We are excited to create this organized platform for the growing Tom Clancy’s Rainbow Six community in Canada. We look forward to fostering the amazing talent developing all over the country.”

For further updates as they develop, fans and those interested in participating are encouraged to follow Northern Arena and Ubisoft Canada on Twitter. To register and learn more about the competition, be sure to visit http://northernarena.ca/rainbowsix/. You can also learn more about Tom Clancy’s Rainbow Six Siege on its official website and Facebook group.

Following up on their free weekends for For Honor and Tom Clancy’s Rainbow Six Siege, Ubisoft has announced a different kind of free weekend to close out the month.

From 8am UTC on Thursday, May 31st until 8am UTC on Monday, June 4th, selected players on the Xbox One, PlayStation 4, and PC will have the opportunity to partake in a closed beta for The Crew 2. (Those selected will be able to pre-load the game beginning May 29th.)

During the closed beta, players will experience the first level of the progression system as they compete in races across all first four disciplines – Street Race, Rally Raid, Powerboat and Aerobatics – against the backdrop of a fully redesigned USA, via land, water and air. To create more adrenaline-fueled experiences, players can use the Fast-Fav feature and instantly switch their vehicle type depending on the type of terrain they will encounter: an airplane flying underneath San Francisco’s Golden Gate Bridge can turn into a boat with the touch of a button. Fueled by original series, exclusive events, top personalities and leading experts, Motor Trend is the #1 destination for automotive super fans via the Motor Trend app on iOS/Apple TV, Google Play, Roku, Xbox, Chromecast and Amazon platforms or via MotorTrend.com.

Sound good? If you’re interested, then head on over to thecrewgame.com/beta to sign up for a chance to take part.

Hey, remember that time Ubisoft Canada had a free weekend of For Honor? Good times.

So good, in fact, that they’re at it again. This time, however the game du jour is Tom Clancy’s Rainbow Six Siege on the Xbox One, PlayStation 4, and PC. And it’s happening this weekend, from May 17th to May 20th.

As before, you’ll have access to the full game, and your progress will carry over to the full version, should you decide to purchase it. To help you along with that decision, participants will receive up to 50 percent off the purchase of the Standard, Advanced, Gold, and/or Complete Editions from May 17th to 21st on the PC, and up to May 28th on consoles.

For more information about the free weekend, visit rainbow6.com/freeweekend.

In addition, Ubisoft Canada has announced that two new Italian operators and a new map known as “The Villa” will be introduced alongside “many gameplay improvements,” such as a “Pick & Ban” feature, in the upcoming “Operation Para Bellum.” The full reveal of Year 3 Season 2’s content will be made at the Pro League Finals in Atlantic City, from May 19th to 20th.

For more news on that and everything else Rainbow Six, visit www.rainbow6.com.

Ubisoft Canada has announced that beginning May 3rd and running through May 6th, players across the Xbox One, PC, and PlayStation 4 will have the opportunity to check out Ubisoft Montreal’s hack ‘n slash action fighting game free of charge.

The full game will be yours to explore, from a campaign playable solo or with a friend in online co-op to all of its many multiplayer modes. So pick your favorite from the original roster of 12 distinct heroic individuals, and have at it!

Since its release on February 14th, 2017, there has been more than a year of updates to the game, including five seasons’ worth of content, making now the ideal time for new and returning players alike to check out the game as it stands today. There’s even been a recent deployment of dedicated servers, which Ubisoft says will enable the most stable and balanced version of the game to date.

Over the course of the free weekend, players can take part in the Warrior Training Program, which rewards existing and new players alike for working together. “Seasoned warriors who complete five matches while grouped with Free Weekend players (who do not own the game) will receive two weeks of revamped Champion Status, valued at 8,000 Steel, which will deliver even more XP boosts to players and their team as well as more loot following a match,” says the press release.

Those who decide to stick around after the free period will have the opportunity to take advantage of a discount of up to 75 percent off of the For Honor game in all available digital storefronts before May 15th, keeping progress made over the free weekend in the process. For further details, please visit the For Honor official website’s Free Weekend page.

Oh, and if you’re into checking out livestreams before diving in yourself (or for any other reason, really), the Warrior’s Den livestream will kick off the weekend at 6pm ET on May 3rd at twitch.tv/ForHonorGame. Players will be able to participate in Twitch Drops, and are guaranteed three scavenger crates after watching the stream for an hour. What’s more, they’ll be entered for a chance to win 100,000 Steel every 10 minutes. More information about activating Twitch Drops can be found here.

In honour of the upcoming release of Assassin’s Creed Origins, Ubisoft is inviting fans across Canada to explore and discover the mysteries of Ancient Egypt in a mobile-first campaign.

By visiting ExploreAncientEgypt.com, you’ll be able to take a guided tour that will reveal worlds both dangerous and beautiful while also being treated to exclusive in-game content. Three unique tours are available (as described by the press release):

  • Mysteries of the Ancient Kingdom – enter the bowels of the Egyptian tombs before anyone else.
  • Into the Nile – discover the impressive and dangerous wildlife of Ancient Egypt on foot, horseback, and by boat.
  • Extreme Egypt – brave sandstorms, slide down the Great Pyramid, and dive into the mighty Nile.

These interactive experiences will be available to Canadians until October 25th, and you’ll be able to share your own personal highlight reel of up to three 5-second videos by using a tool that will allow you to add your own filters and stickers before posting to social media with the hashtag #ExploreAncientEgypt.

What’s more, all those who participate will also have the chance to win a variety of prizes, including an Xbox One X console, and you can increase your odds by sharing your tale on social media.

Assassin’s Creed Origins arrives for Xbox One, PlayStation 4, and Windows PC on October 27th. For more details about the game, please visit the official website.

David Oxford is a freelance writer of many varied interests. If you’re interested in hiring him, please drop him a line at david.oxford (at) nyteworks.net.

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It’s been a hectic week for the folks at Ubisoft.

A report by The Globe and Mail (via USgamer notes that the France-based publisher is facing the possibility of a takeover by Vivendi SA, the former parent company of Activision Blizzard who sold their remaining shares in that company earlier this year. To that end, they’ve begun courting Canadian investors in order to secure the company’s future, as Canada is home to several of the company’s studios in Toronto, Halifax, Quebec City, and their largest of all in Montreal.

“We want to increase the number of Canadian shareholders in Ubisoft to have better control over the capital,” Mr. Guillemot said, adding he’s approaching investors with longer-term investment horizons who have a feel for the company’s history and corporate culture. “We feel it’s a good defence.”

The Globe and Mail notes that part of the risk of this move by Vivendi is that if they cannot reach an amicable agreement with the Guillemot brothers, founders of Ubisoft, then there is a risk that they could walk — and take some of the company’s best talent with them. Chief executive Yves Guillemot notes that while he doesn’t believe that there is a need to worry about Vivendi shutting any of the Canadian studios down, the autonomy they enjoy independent of the group would be greatly compromised. “Our intention is and has always been to remain independent, a value which, for 30 years, has allowed us to innovate, take risks, create beloved franchises for players around the world, and which has helped the company grow into the leader it is today,” said Guillemot in October 2015.

This coincides with a February 24th report from Global News about Ottawa attempting to help fund innovators in the tech sector and revive growth in Canada. Gamasutra reports that this spurred Prime Minister Justin Trudeau to pay a visit to Ubisoft’s Montreal studio in advance of the next Canadian federal budget on March 22nd, where such investments would be discussed. There, he is said to have tried out their upcoming Eagle Flight virtual reality title for the Oculus Rift, as seen in this tweet from the studio:


Trudeau would go on to tweet the following on February 25th, featuring Guillemot looking on as Trudeau speaks to the Chief Executive Officer of Ubisoft Montreal, Yannis Mallat:


Suffice to say, it looks like Trudeau is quite enjoying himself. How that may or may not help Ubisoft’s situation remains to be seen.

David Oxford is a freelance writer of many varied interests. If you’re interested in hiring him, please drop him a line at david.oxford (at) nyteworks.net.

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Last week, I reported that Xbox was bring you two new ways to get with the One crowd. However, since then, they’ve announced a third option as well.

XboxOneTheDivisionBundle

Beginning March 8th, Tom Clancy fans will be able to get their hands on the new 1TB Xbox One bundle featuring Tom Clancy’s The Division bundle, which includes a full download of the game, at participating retailers and the Microsoft Store for $449.99 CAD.

Tom Clancy’s The Division takes place weeks after a devastating pandemic sweeps through New York City on Black Friday. One by one, basic services fail and in only days, without food or water, society collapses into chaos. The Division, an autonomous unit of tactical agents leading seemingly ordinary lives among us, is activated to save society. In this immersive online open world action RPG, discover a hostile and dynamic environment where exploration and player progression are essential. Team up with other players to investigate the sources of the virus and reclaim the city from the overwhelming turmoil.

Unfortunately, those fans north of the border won’t be able to partake in the closed beta that begins on January 8th; that’s for those who pre-order in the States only, unfortunately.

David Oxford is a freelance writer of many varied interests. If you’re interested in hiring him, please drop him a line at david.oxford (at) nyteworks.net.

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Throughout the Fall of 2015, Ubisoft Canada is holding a series of competitions to crown the best team in their latest entry in the Tom Clancy-based series, Rainbow Six Siege. If you’ve already heard about this previously-announced tournament, then know that the change in the game’s release date has led to some rescheduling of some of the events.

Blast away the competition and your team could win great prizes including Xbox One game consoles, HyperX Cloud headsets and an Ubisoft prize pack! Plus, Canada’s 2 top-performing teams will get to battle it out for the chance to represent Canada in future competitions, take part in elite training sessions & win the $5,000 Grand Prize!

The Toronto event comes up this Thursday, September 24th; Calgary on Thursday, October 22nd, and Vancouver on Thursday, October 29th. Each city’s tournament takes place at the local Shark Club Sports Bar & Grill from 6pm to 10pm local time.

Toronto’s event specifically notes that registration begins at 5pm, so it may be wise to be there at such a time if you’re going to participate in one of the other cities. Registration is first-come, first serve for the first 100 people. Bring your team of five people, or (if necessary), people without a full team can fill out the ranks until there are 20 teams formed. Those not taking part in the tournament can be spectators, but the venue seats only 350, so you might have to wait.

When the dust settles, the best-scoring team from each city will be able to compete in the finals being held at the Scotiabank Theatre in Toronto.

More details are available at this link, with individual event pages providing addresses and further info at the following links: Toronto | Calgary | Vancouver | Finale

Sorry this one is coming in so late (and I missed Montreal‘s back in August entirely), but I’ve only just found out about it. If you hear about anything of this sort happening throughout Canada (or you’re a PR person looking to spread the word), you can drop me a line at tips@marios-hat.com, and I’ll post about it as soon as I’m able.

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playassassinscreedsyndicateWant to play Assassin’s Creed Syndicate before it’s officially released on October 24th? Ubisoft Canada, PlayStation, and EB Games are teaming up to give you the opportunity.

First, they’ll be coming to Montreal on Saturday, September 19th at the EB Games Complexe Les Ailes, 667 Ste-Catherine Ouest from 11am to 5pm. Then on Sunday, September 20th, they’ll be in Brossard during the same set of hours at EB Games Cartier DIX30, 9160 boulevard Leduc #210.

The following week, the fun comes to Ontario as the EB Games PlayStation Lounge at 267 Yonge Street in Toronto hosts the event from 11am to 7pm on Saturday, September 26th. Mississauga is the next stop on Sunday, September 27th when they pull in to EB Games at the Erin Mills Town Centre, located at 5100 Erin Mills Pkwy, and it runs from 11am to 6pm.

From Buckingham Palace to Big Ben, fight and triumph across the massive open world of Victorian London. Parkour across moving vehicles to track down enemies or escape after a daring raid, hijack carriages to engage in a no-holds-barred street race, or blaze a trail of destruction aboard steamboats. along the River Thames.

We hope to see you there, Ontario. The London Underworld awaits.

For more information about the Quebec stops, you can visit the Facebook event page set up here. Likewise, you can check in for the Ontario events here.

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The big day for Xbox fans across Toronto is here! While the public part of the event is just getting underway as of this writing, the doors were open earlier in the day for members of the press to get in and check some things out. As such, Nadia and I donned our best black t-shirts for the occasion and headed out to the Sound Academy down by the lakeshore. And what things there were to see!

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More than 100 consoles and over 30 developers were on hand to talk about the latest and upcoming titles that are headed to the Xbox One and PC. There was some other fun as well, including a bar (not paid, unfortunately) and various snacks ranging from bite-sized grilled cheese sandwiches (with optional ketchup), pretzels, and kettle cooked potato chips. And in case anyone was worried about their calorie count, there were ways to work it off:

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We’re going to assume Ms. Croft foot the bill for that one.

In addition to Rise of the Tomb Raider, there was a massive Halo 5 stage set up with a giant screen. Just in case any shenanigans were afoot, these two gents (or possibly ladies — I’ve seen the anime and Dead or Alive 4) were on hand to keep the peace:

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Among the many, many games on hand were several sports titles which had their own special “sports bar” section:

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I can’t say I gave that one too close a look; the order of the day included NBA 2K16, NHL 16, FIFA 16, and Madden NFL 16. Me, I’m more of a WWE and NBA Jam kind of guy.

For those eager to put the pedal to the metal (and many were), there was another section for them to get in gear:

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Moto GP 2015, Sebastien Loeb Rally Evo, and of course, Microsoft Game Studios’ own Turn 10-developed Forza Motorsport 6 were on hand here.

Other titles without any specific affiliation were all around as well. Skylanders SuperChargers was one, but I passed on that for others since we’re checking a separate showing out tomorrow. Mad Max, Gears of War Ultimate Edition, Fable Legends, Quantum Break, Gigantic, Dark Souls III, Plants vs. Zombies Garden Warfare 2, and more were all around — some more subtle than others. I wish I’d gotten to sit down with many more, but to do so would be more to nibble when I wanted to nosh, so I ended up focusing more on a smaller selection of titles which held my interest.

For what it’s worth, not everything I had hoped to see was there — Killer Instinct‘s third season (featuring Battletoad Rash) and Scalebound most prominently. Still, most of what I did get to see sent me away happy and still hoping I’ll be able to invest in an Xbox One sooner rather than later. (On an unrelated note: have I mentioned that I have a Patreon? Contributing to that could help me expand my coverage here…)

With that said, here’s where I directed my focus:

Deus Ex: Mankind Divided

Some years ago when I was working for Examiner, I had the opportunity to visit Eidos Montreal and check out what was the then-unreleased Deus Ex: Human Revolution, and I absolutely loved what I saw. I had hoped to be able to follow up that series of coverage with a review upon its release, but things happened and that didn’t. When the game was brought to the Wii U, complete with some issues addressed from the Xbox 360/PlayStation 3 version, I still wanted in, but it just never happened.

That love for what I saw still hasn’t gone away, though, so once I had the opportunity to view its follow-up in action, I leaped at the chance. Just as before, though, it was a hands-off demo as something of a vertical slice was shown. For his part, Adam Jensen looks more badass than ever with his suite of different abilities.

Following the trailer and demonstration, I got to speak briefly to one of the developers (whose name I regrettably did not get among all the bustling crowds) about a cause for concern from the previous game. The aforementioned issues related to the game’s structure, which allows you to play and build up skills for sneaking, hacking, and combat. Generally, the game is supposed to allow you to choose the method that fits your preference and you can go through from there, but there were instances such as bosses where people who focused on hacking and stealth were at a disadvantage due to not dumping points into their combat stats.

I asked about this, and was assured that they were developing Deus Ex: Mankind Divided so that players would not have to worry about being “bottlenecked” into such situations. If you come across such a boss, for instance, you’ll be able to find other ways around them.

Another thing I asked about with the customization of the first game in mind was if there might be some way to use data from Human Revolution in Mankind Divided. While that is not in the cards, they did mention a New Game + feature that will allow you to replay the game after beating it with your enhancements and stats from the end of the last playthrough. Perhaps with enough time and effort, one can even craft an “ultimate” Jensen?

He didn’t ask for this, but I certainly am.

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Tom Clancy’s Rainbow Six: Siege

Some poor, unfortunate souls ended up coercing me into playing Tom Clancy’s Rainbow Six: Siege. If that wasn’t bad enough, it was a multiplayer demonstration.

They couldn’t have known. I told them, but even then, they couldn’t have known.

I am not good at first-person shooters, so the events transpired thus: other players got irritated with me as I tried selecting a character that had already been chosen (my past experiences allowed more for choosing “types”; I didn’t realize it was character-driven), and I followed my squad mates up a building, then we went back down the building. Fire started being opened on us, I tried to shoot back, and I died.

I don’t think I lasted more than a minute, and while there’s apparently a time limit to revive a fallen comrade, no one bothered. I can’t say I blame them. Then my view went over to a camera perspective of someone else for the rest of the match. I think out of a 15 minute match (give or take), I was in it for maybe two.

I sincerely apologize to everyone whose time I ruined in that match, though I guess I didn’t likely affect much of it.

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Cuphead

Oh man, Cuphead. As someone who grew up watching vintage Looney Tunes and other classic cartoons on Nickelodeon and TNT every weeknight, the visuals here really resonate like nothing else. Part of me wonders why no one ever bothered to do this sooner.

Fascinatingly enough, it’s not just the visuals that are oldschool, but the gameplay as well. It’s a shoot ’em up not unlike Contra, and it is surprisingly tough. The fact that the demo only pits you against bosses and you have only one life only escalate matters. I don’t know if those matters — the single life in particular — were because it was a demo, but as someone who is a die-hard Contra fan, this was a bit tough for even me.

On the other hand, Nadia — who is kind of intimidated (?) by Contra — managed to beat one of those bosses. She thinks the difficulty was increased with two players on hand, though.

Suffice to say, this one warrants further study.

LEGO Marvel’s Avengers

I’m really not too sure what to say here. It’s LEGO. So it’s good, it’s solid, but not especially surprising. If you’ve kept up with LEGO games, then you have a pretty good idea of what to expect here. Not a bad thing, just a very safe thing.

This one is based on the movies, and the demo took place during the Battle of New York from the first movie. You’re playing as the squad of ground-based heroes — Captain America, Black Widow, Hawkeye, and Thor — as the Chitari swoop in all around, police officers are trying to take them down, and Iron Man is providing support from above (this is presumably before Hulk arrives). You use their different talents to proceed, though sometimes things seem a little obtuse — a LEGO staple of sorts.

Also, you get to rescue Stan Lee from a car trapped under a bridge.

The demo lacked much in the way of the humor the series is known for (aside from seeing Thor’s godly hair roll across the ground after he was taken down), but with audio straight from the film, the overall quality seems to be there on this one.

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Rare Replay

Saved this one for last, since I got to play more of this than anything. Even so, that’s three games’ worth, so that’s something.

Battletoads Arcade – At long last.

When Rare and Tradewest brought Battletoads to the Nintendo Entertainment System (also included) in 1991, ostensibly to compete with the red-hot Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles, I — and I think a lot of others — were expecting a beat ’em up in a similar vein to the TMNT’s greatest hits. And for the first stage, that’s what we got. The second stage involved descending down a long shaft, but still involved plenty of smacking enemies around — you were just moving more vertically than horizontally. The third stage had some more, and… that’s about as far as any of us got. The stage shifted to the notorious Turbo Tunnel, and the game was essentially changed from then on. This carried over into Battletoads in Battlemaniacs for the Super NES (not included) and the Game Boy titles (ditto) as well.

But Battletoads Arcade, which I only discovered just a handful of years ago? This is what I’ve been wanting from them this entire time, and what I played here delivered. It’s a bit edgier than most iterations of the Turtles, with blood splatters coming from enemies on the receiving end of particularly powerful attacks and their skeletons appearing and crumbling when defeated.

I got through several stages before pulling myself away to focus on other work. I can imagine it only being even better with all three characters running at once with three players, and in such a scenario, possibly being worth the entire price of the game for that alone.

Then there are the 29 other games included.

Blast Corps – Another game I’ve never gotten to play before, I toyed around with this one for a little bit, having heard its legend sung by those who had experienced it during its heyday. For the little bit I played — about two levels’ worth — it seems to live up to the legend.

I like games where you can just destroy stuff with reckless abandon, and between the bulldozer and jetpack-guided robot who smashes down into skyscrapers from above, this one delivers. I can see myself playing this one over and over just for fun.

Killer Instinct Gold – This is where things got a little bit awkward.

I own both this and the Super NES version of the first Killer Instinct. In this and most fighting games, particularly where only four face buttons are involved, I usually configure the controls to put the strong attacks on the front of the controller — my coordination isn’t so good as to allow me to work the shoulders/triggers with the directional inputs as I can with the face buttons, which takes a lot of punch out of my offense. Unfortunately, you can’t adjust the buttons here — at least, not through Rare Replay. It didn’t occur to me to check for in-game options until after I’d left, though having brought it up to the developers who were on hand, they didn’t mention such an option, either.

Another point that hurt this one was the visuals. There’s nothing to smooth the graphics out here, so it’s very pixelated; I find that’s usually okay for games with a more pixel-based appearance, but rendered and pre-rendered models, not so much. I noted the same thing when reviewing Rare’s Super NES Donkey Kong Country trilogy in Nintendo Force magazine — the games looked better on the lower-resolution Wii U GamePad, and as noted on this very site in my review of New Super Mario Bros. for the Wii U Virtual Console, I used blurring there as well.

I’d have gone to the CRT television-styled filter, but that was only available for pre-Nintendo 64 titles, leaving Killer Instinct Gold in a bit of an awkward place. They said they wanted to present the games as they originally were, “warts and all,” except I have to say my old standard-definition television was a lot better at making said warts more presentable.

Considering you can get the original arcade Killer Instinct and Killer Instinct II when you purchase seasons of the awesome new Killer Instinct, KI Gold isn’t a terrible loss in the face of the greater package.

That said, I never got to see the arcade Killer Instinct in my heyday — it was never in any arcades around me. And when I did find one years later, I was pretty lousy at it. I bought and played the Super NES version of Killer Instinct when it came out, and it very much has its own unique feel and quality to it.

I asked the developers on hand about the prospect of completing the set with a release of that version somehow… and they told me that was what was on Rare Replay. I was pretty sure it was the Nintendo 64 sequel, but when one of them asked another and he agreed that Killer Instinct Gold was the Super NES game, I figured I might as well drop the line of questioning. I could have pulled it up on my phone right there, but thinking about it, what would that have accomplished?

Oh well. At least I still have my Super NES and my original copy (complete with Killer Cuts CD, which I’m listening to as I write this), convenient as having it released on Xbox One in some way would be.

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This was the one Nadia was immediately attracted to, an old favorite from her childhood. Her takeaway from it was that it would take some getting used to, particularly as it featured a control scheme that she was less comfortable with (utilizing the A and B buttons, rather than the more natural X and B buttons).

Despite a few hiccups, Rare Replay was a hit, and it’s something I’d gladly drop $30 on for the wealth of gaming history included within. One disappointment I’ve been none too shy about mentioning is the absence of my first Rare game and a favorite, Wizards & Warriors. We took the opportunity to ask about its absence, and were informed it simply didn’t make the cut.

Fortunately, people have been vocal about wanting to see it and its follow-ups, so maybe some downloadable content is possible? The developers there would commit to nothing, but said to make our voices heard on social media, and maybe something will happen there. I wonder if it’s possible to get a #Wizards&Warriors hashtag going on Twitter? (I just tried — the “&” kills it. Any suggestions? #WizardsAndWarriors, maybe?)

So there we have it: the X15 Media Showcase was a good time, and I hope those of you who might have attended the evening portion had as great a time as I did. With each passing year, the Xbox One library keeps getting better, and even without Scalebound or Season 3 of Killer Instinct on the show floor, there was still a lot to see and a lot to look forward to. Hopefully I’ll have one of my own soon enough!

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