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Liberté, Égalité, Réalité Virtuelle: Ubi's Eagle Flight

Ian Ubisoft, is this here virtual reality bird game Eagle Flight [official site] you’ve just announced set in a version of the Paris you created for Assassin’s Creed Unity? If not, you should do stuff like that. If so, splendid! Share your cities and worlds freely around the Ubioffices, let people play and make weird things out all of them. A game about eagles exploring and fighting in the skies above a post-humanity Paris is a fair start, but let’s go further.

Ubi have shown Eagle Flight before but as a prototype. Now it’s an actual game coming into 2016 for Oculus Rift and HTC Vive, they’ve confirmed. Set 50 years after humanity vanishes, it’ll let folks soar around a deserted, overgrown Paris. Along with singleplayer – Ubi talk about “missions that include ring parkour and shooting challenges” – it’ll have multiplayer team-based dogfighting for up to six. It’s made by folks from Ubi’s new-ish Fun House team, which is a space for folks to try strange and new things.

“But Alice,” you say, tugging at my arm, “I thought you’d been going on about how boring all these unremarkable tech demos are, and how this latest VR craze is a fad?” You’re right, and I don’t feel too differently about Eagle Flight (though eagles fighting is pretty cool). But I’d be astonished if it’s not built on re-used assets from other Ubi games, and I really dig the idea of them re-using these beautiful, sprawling worlds for other things.

As a vast company with thousands of employees and dozens of studios across the world, Ubisoft do already have folks chip in on others’ games and sometimes hand ’em assets like weapon models, but it’s a shame that their worlds are ousted by the next annual sequel. One level artist spent two years recreating Notre-Dame for AC Unity. So if they’re letting folks lark about with unexpected games like Grow Home, yeah, absolutely let them into the cupboard where you keep levels too. Let them play with all of your toys.

I’ve heard folks grumble that re-using assets is lazy development, but mostly it strikes me as efficient. What difference does it make if a gun’s from another gungame? (Same goes for games using store-bought Unity assets, while I’m at it.) If Ubisoft have a virtuaParis kicking about, heck yeah give it to a small team who likely wouldn’t get to make their own.

Sticking with the bird theme and Assassin’s Creed cities, I’d like a game with pigeons in Trafalgar Square cooing around and begging for seed. Or maybe singing cockneys dancing across the rooftops. An Endless Express-type game about trying to navigate the night buses from some far-flung corner of London. Game about tracking the lost rivers of London. Heck, straight-up walking simulators.

What might you like to see Ubi do with some of the worlds they have lying around?

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Alice O'Connor

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When not writing news, Alice may be found in the sea.

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