The first day of the E3 presentations went how you would expect. A day without anything too exciting. There weren’t any bouncing out of the seats or shouting “GO!” about many games. All in all, it’s a pretty low issue. Yet in that stillness, part of the show rings out – noiseless but certainly all-encompassing.
Before Ubisoft’s E3 Forward event kicked off, the publisher ran an hour-long countdown stream. While most of this pre-show countdown has so far been unnecessary, Ubisoft took the time to really fill it with some content. We saw gameplay snippets and some messages from the developers at Ubisoft and its various studios during that time.
But between the trailers and the talking heads, Ubisoft has done a great job. It shows the slow, beautiful gameplay of the titles that have been released. These moments resemble ASMR, or Self-Controlling Sensation Meridian Response, and they were the highlights of Ubisoft’s rollout.
There’s no question that game shows aren’t exactly known for their subtlety. For the most part, they’re full of developers and CEOs standing on stage to thunderous applause and explosive music to announce a game, often with an equally loud trailer. And don’t get me wrong, I love that stuff – it’s part of the gaming conference experience. Still, having Ubisoft subvert that is a great way to lead up to a rollout.
Instead of being thrown right into a tsunami of trailers and developers bragging about how great their games are and changing the game world, we were let loose in it. Ubisoft’s stream countdown begins with a trailer for For the sake of honor, is getting some additional content. It was a jarring start to a game that was not in my sights and not often in the news. But after that, the gear shifter before the show, switches to a scene from Assassin’s Creed Valhalla. In it, Eivor doesn’t celebrate with their fellow Vikings in grassland corridors or behead. Instead, they live on a rough stone path, surrounded by fallen leaves and grieving pillars. The only sounds you hear are insects and birds, along with Eivor’s footsteps on rocks and earth.
I’m listening to that clip right now, as I write this.
There aren’t many people who just walk around (or “RP walk” as it’s sometimes called) in the game, and there’s a good reason for that. We always want to get to the next cool thing, the next cool piece of content. As a result, we sometimes miss the subtleties of hearing that go into the game. Ubisoft continues to animate the muscles of various sound designers with ASMR-like clips from Watch Dogs Legion, Crew 2, and even more Assassin’s Creed Valhalla. Each offers its own excellent sound profile, a nice, smooth treatment for the ears before they are attacked by more exaggerated music or human voices.
Ubisoft revealed some great games during the Forward event at E3. Mario + Rabbids: Spark of Hope looks great and needless, and Rainbow Six: Mining is the perfect game for me who is interested in Rainbow Six Siegemechanics but not its competitive gameplay. But the highlight of this buzzing, boisterous show is its quiet moments. I’ll be listening to what I’ll call Viking-core ASMR while writing for the next few months until I finally get tired of it, and it’s all thanks to Ubisoft.