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  • Writer's pictureNate Hermanson

Summer Game Fest 2024: Star Wars Outlaws and Assassin's Creed Shadows can't come soon enough

Truthfully, it's not very often that our pure, unadulterated hype is reserved for something in the AAA space. But despite Ubisoft's otherwise paltry offerings during their Ubisoft Forward Showcase on June 10, they pulled together a strong enough showing to rival the dozen others of the week thanks largely to deep-dive looks at their two tentpole games scheduled for later this year: Star Wars Outlaws and Assassin's Creed Shadows.

Ubisoft opened the show in traditional E3 style, with an on-stage orchestra working through a fun little Ubi-medley that ended with a thumping beat that led straight into an extensive Star Wars Outlaws trailer and gameplay deep-dive.

You can watch the video above to watch the VGG team pore over what was shown to find hidden details and theorize about how things work, but know that we came away incredibly excited.

Each environment felt alive, it's looking good and smooth to play and feel, and it just feels appropriately, amazingly Star Wars. The brand has become so muddled in recent years, but Outlaws is embracing the parts of the more recent Star Wars media that's so exciting: the actual moment-to-moment lives of folks that aren't magical space heroes, the less-considered impacts of the Empire's control on people's lives, and generally embracing the diversity of locations and people showcased in a galaxy full of potential.

And that's nothing to say about the promise of the first-ever canon Star Wars video games in its world, the space horse betting, and faction-based decision-making. Team Jabba for life.

After that ended, Ubisoft stumbled through looks at their many live service games. A Prince of Persia showcase for the franchise's 35th anniversary that promised three big announcements teased a free story DLC for Prince of Persia The Lost Crown, an update to the Early Access game The Rogue Prince of Persia, and a further delay of the Prince of Persia Sands of Time remake first announced in 2020 and indefinitely delayed since 2021.

A man stands on a stage surrounded by traditional Japanese taiko drums. The lighting and the image behind him are awash in a red glow. The logo for Assassin's Creed Shadows sits on the screen behind them.

We do truly appreciate how long Ubisoft supports these games — it gives us hope for projects like Skull and Bones down the line — and when you see that For Honor has entered its eighth year of support, it's admirable to see a AAA studio keep games alive instead of moving onto the next thing year-in and year-out. But if you aren't in on these games already, the showcases here were clearly built for the existing player base and probably aren't going to pull you in anew.

There was a new Anno game announced, taking its strategy-loving players right up to the year 117. There was an Avatar: Frontiers of Pandora story expansion pack announced for a July 16 release, and it reminded me that game is one I was genuinely interested in that fell to the wayside late last year. But then, things perked back up when the taiko drums took the stage to introduce Assassin's Creed Shadows.

Once again, the video above has our in-depth thoughts, but what I think Assassin's Creed Shadows is doing so masterfully is the way it's keeping the two contingents of their historical-murder-franchise fans incredibly happy.

Assassin's Creed has strayed from the series' stealth roots in recent years, instead embracing giant open worlds and a deeper combat focus. Assassin's Creed Mirage, the latest game in the series, tried to pull fans back into the world of stealth with a tighter, more linear package. And now Assassin's Creed Shadows uses its unique gameplay structure to appease both sides, allowing players to embody the big, bulky, combat-heavy playstyle with the samurai Yasuke or go full stealth with the series' most logical fit for an assassin in the shinobi Naoe.

Through the extensive gameplay demo shown, you can see that both styles seem to have major evolutions, like the promise of musket gameplay with Yasuke and the ability to crawl through tall grass and pull enemies into stealthier positions with Naoe.

And when that ended, Ubisoft CEO Yves Guillemot came out for his annual thank you to the crowd and the show was over.

Ubisoft is not immune to the worst hazards of other giant AAA studios, and the fact that these two exciting games require the help of dozens of studios with hundreds of employees each is a testament to how untenably large the AAA development scene remains... but the work they're doing is some of the most exciting in the AAA space.


Want more news and game recommendations from the week of reveals? See more of our Summer Game Fest coverage or check out some of the videos that came out of our 30+ hours of back-to-back streams.


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