UPlay Plus subscription service rebrands as Ubisoft Plus, expands to Stadia and Luna
Ubisoft is overhauling its UPlay Plus subscription service with a new name — Ubisoft Plus — and launching integrations with both Google Stadia and Amazon’s new Luna service, all included in the same $14.99-per-month cost starting on November 10th.
The PC side of UPlay Plus will stay largely the same as it’s been since Ubisoft launched the service last year. Subscribers will still get access to over 100 Ubisoft titles, including soon-to-be-released games like Assassin’s Creed Valhalla, Watch Dogs: Legion, and Immortals Fenyx Rising.
But it’s the addition of Google Stadia (before the end of the year) and Amazon Luna (in November) that makes Ubisoft Plus interesting. Not only will you be able to access those games through your regular gaming PC, but you’ll be able to play them basically anywhere, thanks to Stadia and Luna’s game streaming technology.
It’s the fulfillment of a promise that Ubisoft made over a year ago, when it first announced that Ubisoft Plus (still known as UPlay Plus back then) would integrate with Google Stadia. “With Ubisoft Plus, our vision is to provide more options for our players to access their favorite Ubisoft games, wherever they are and whenever they want,” Alexia Brumé, associate director, subscription at Ubisoft, tells The Verge. “Ubisoft Plus is only available on PC — we really want to be able to cut this hardware limitation.”
But by adding cloud-based streaming, Ubisoft isn’t just making its games more accessible to players who own gaming PCs already. As Brumé explains, “it’s the opportunity to expand to new people — we’re going to have people that maybe cannot afford a proper rig, and that will be able to also enjoy our games [through cloud services].”
Ubisoft Plus will also be separate from Luna and Stadia’s existing Stadia Pro subscription and Luna Plus channel, meaning that (at least for the beta), that same $15 per month will give you access to a wide variety of cloud streaming games right from the start. (There’s an additional caveat for Luna customers, too: they’ll need to have already been selected by Amazon to have joined the Luna beta test to be able to link their Ubisoft Plus account. )
Furthermore, Ubisoft is promising that it’ll have cross-progression for a variety of games offered through Ubisoft Plus — meaning you’ll be able to start playing a game like Assassin’s Creed Valhalla on your gaming PC, and then pick up right where you left off on your phone or tablet through Stadia or Luna.
The game library for Stadia and Luna will be smaller than the 100-plus games on the PC side of Ubisoft Plus. The company is only confirming today that Assassin’s Creed Valhalla, Watch Dogs: Legion, and Immortals Fenyx Rising will be among those available, but Ubisoft says it’ll have more titles to announce ahead of the November 10th relaunch.
There is still a notable absence in Ubisoft Plus: console support for Xbox or PlayStation systems. There’s no news on any expansion in that direction today, although Brumé says, “We’re not closing any opportunities in terms of where this will take us, but it’s just that this [Stadia and Luna support] is what we’ve been working on so far.”
That $14.99 price still makes UPlay Plus one of the pricier options out there for game subscriptions: Xbox Game Pass Ultimate, for example, costs the same $14.99 but works across PC, Xbox consoles, Android devices (though xCloud), and will soon bundle in EA Play (which typically costs $4.99 per month) at no additional cost. Furthermore, Ubisoft would only commit to offering Stadia and Luna support for free “for the entire duration of the beta,” so there’s a possibility that the price could go up in the future.
Ubisoft Plus will relaunch in beta on November 10th for all current UPlay Plus subscribers. More details on the Stadia and Luna catalogs will be announced closer to that date.
Published at Tue, 27 Oct 2020 14:00:00 +0000
The 12 best new and updated games for the Oculus Quest 2
At its $299 price point, the new and improved Oculus Quest 2 headset is likely to draw a lot of new people into VR. And while the Quest platform is much more locked down and curated than the Wild West of SteamVR, there’s still a lot of stuff coming out all the time, so it can be hard to know where to begin with the library.
If you’ve just picked up a Quest 2, here are some new games to get started on. It’s not at all an exhaustive list, as we’ve focused on titles that make the most of the new headset’s improved capabilities. But it should give you a sense of the breadth of experiences available on the platform.
The Walking Dead: Saints and Sinners
The highest-profile “launch title” for the Quest 2 is The Walking Dead: Saints and Sinners. It’s a first-person horror survival game that originally came out for PC VR headsets earlier this year, then PlayStation VR a few months later.
If you’re looking for a substantial, lengthy game comparable in scope to what you’d find on non-VR platforms — and if you don’t mind extremely graphic violence — Saints and Sinners is a solid example. The game isn’t designed for quick bursts of play or fast action, instead plunging you into immersive missions in New Orleans where you’ll spend much of your time crafting weapons and managing resources.
The game looks reasonably good on the Quest 2, though some of its darker environments make me wish the headset used OLED displays like its predecessor. But the resolution and general graphical fidelity are much higher on the Quest 2, making it overall a better experience on the newer device.
For a headset that Facebook plainly hopes will expand the market for VR, though, this might not be the most appropriate marquee title. I wouldn’t recommend it to anyone as their first VR game — not only are the controls pretty complex, but it uses the analog stick for free movement, meaning you’re at much higher risk of motion sickness. The commitment to conventional controls extends as far as the game’s stealth mechanic, where you have to press a button to crouch rather than doing so with your body. Even as an experienced VR user, I sometimes found this a little much.
Still, if you know what you’re getting yourself into, this is an impressively intense showcase for the Quest 2 hardware.
Population: One just came out a few days ago, and it’s one of the most ambitious games available on the Quest: a full-scale, Fortnite / PUBG-style VR battle royale. The last-player-standing action plays out very similarly to those two games, even including a Fortnite-style construction mechanic.
There’s a pretty big twist, too, in that you can climb any surface and glide off any precipice. It’s a little like The Legend of Zelda: Breath of the Wild, except people are trying to kill you with machine guns, and you have to glide by holding out your arms and pretending to be a bird.
As a $29.99 release, it’s hard to say whether Population: One has a chance of building up as sustainable a player base as the world-dominating free-to-play battle royale games that are already out there. These games only really work at scale.
But from what I’ve played so far, I think it’s worth keeping an eye on. The controls are smartly designed — I actually find building in VR much easier than in Fortnite — and the VR format gives the action an intense edge that I haven’t felt since hiding in bathrooms during the early days of PUBG.
Phantom: Covert Ops
Phantom: Covert Ops is an extremely boring name, but it turns out to be one of the most hilariously contrived games I’ve ever played — in a great way.
This is, as the name suggests, a gritty stealth-focused game along the thematic lines of Splinter Cell. Trouble is, it’s still hard for VR controllers to realistically re-create the movements you’d make when infiltrating a enemy base on foot. So Phantom: Covert Ops takes place entirely in… a kayak.
It’s genius, really. Locomotion is still a problem in VR, and seated games that play out in cockpits or vehicles tend to be a lot more comfortable. And what mode of transport makes the most use of your arms while keeping your legs perfectly still? Yep. Kayaks.
Phantom: Covert Ops doesn’t just stop at making you paddle through the levels, of course. You have a bunch of equipment ranging from night-vision goggles to a sniper rifle lying within easy reach once you put your oar down, and picking up these objects at the right time is critical to success. The game is pretty forgiving when it comes to letting you blast your way out of situations when things go wrong, but you won’t score highly that way.
I love Phantom: Covert Ops for leaning into an extremely specific design that works so well on its hardware. The Oculus Quest is as well-suited to this as plastic guitars were to Guitar Hero. It’s not the most mind-blowing game you’ll ever play, and the design does feel a little rote eventually, but you can’t fault it for working as well as it possibly could within its limitations.
Holopoint is one of my favorite games from the early days of the original HTC Vive and Oculus Rift. It just got released on the Quest, and now I like it even more. This is not the game for you if you’re looking for a visually stunning experience, but it still manages to be one of the most physically intense VR games around.
Basically, you’re in a dojo with a bow and arrow, and cubes start appearing around you, and you have to shoot them while dodging their shots. That’s it. That’s the game. But shooting a bunch of arrows in quick succession turns out to be incredibly demanding, and the result is a giddily entertaining workout.
The Quest 2 version is great; the simple graphics and emphasis on physical movement make Holopoint a perfect fit for the standalone headset. This comes highly recommended if you’re interested in ultra-replayable arcade action that shows off VR gaming at its kinetic best.
If you like the idea of wielding a bow and arrow in VR but would prefer something with more of a story, Apex Construct is worth a shot. It’s a simple sci-fi adventure with a lot of charm and a clean art style that works well on the Quest, even though the PC version has a lot more detail.
On the Quest 2, Apex Construct has been enhanced to support higher resolutions, more advanced physics, and other visual effects. It’s a good example of a polished, substantial VR title that’ll show off what your headset can do.
In Death: Unchained
In Death: Unchained is a dungeon crawler with a neat traversal mechanic that sees you move around the level by shooting your bow and arrow. (Yes, another bow and arrow game for the Oculus Quest.) It was already one of the best-looking Quest games when it came out in July, and the developers have promised an update to improve the draw distance, among other visual upgrades.
The update isn’t available just yet, but the game is worth checking out either way.
Real VR Fishing
Real VR Fishing is an extremely chill fishing simulator that was already one of the most technically accomplished games on the original Quest, and it looks even better on the Quest 2. Developed by a team in South Korea, it lets you cast your line across several real-world, near-photorealistic Korean locations, and you can even listen to your own music or watch YouTube as you fish through a clever windowed interface.
The visual refresh for the Quest 2 is really nice, with more realistic fish and a sharper resolution. Watching YouTube while sitting on a riverbank is maybe not the most aspirational thing possible in virtual reality, but if the idea at all appeals to you, I definitely recommend Real VR Fishing.
Until You Fall
Until You Fall is a roguelite-style dungeon crawler for the Quest with a neon-soaked art style and a fun, arcadey swordfighting combat system. It’s not quite Hades, but it’s about as close as you’ll get in VR right now. There’s lots of scope to mix and match weapons to help you get as far as you can through the world.
It can get pretty challenging, but I’d also recommend this for anyone used to roguelites and new to VR action games. The combat is easy to understand, the visuals are clean, and there are various options to customize the experience to make it as comfortable as possible. It’s one of those games that just makes you feel cool when you play it.
Dash Dash World
Dash Dash World is a new kart racing game for the Quest that reminds me a lot of the incredible Mario Kart VR experience that was briefly available in VR arcades a couple of years ago. It’s nowhere near as visually impressive — and of course, it isn’t real Mario Kart — but it does nail the best thing about it: you can aim and shoot power-ups while driving alongside your rivals.
There aren’t that many Quest racing games, but this one is my favorite. While the presentation isn’t super polished and the art style is generic, this has everything you’d want from a kart racer: solid drifting, inventive tracks, and the ability to look over your shoulder and take out other racers with ridiculous weapons.
I can’t imagine there are many people buying a Quest 2 who aren’t aware of Beat Saber, but just in case, you should consider the lightsaber-swinging music game an essential purchase. It’s another one of those VR games that feels much better on the Quest than any headset that involves a cable, and it’s just been updated with a multiplayer mode. Plus, there’s a BTS music pack coming next month, if that’s your thing.
The VR version of Superhot is already part of the VR canon, and it’s yet another game that shines on the Quest. Dodging bullets and throwing coffee cups in slow motion feels a lot better in as much space as possible without wires.
It’s been updated for the Quest 2 already with higher-resolution support and better textures, although this is not exactly a game that was known for its textural detail. It’ll also support 90Hz refresh rate once that’s available in games.
Rez Infinite made its Oculus Quest debut alongside the Quest 2, and even though it’s already come out on basically every VR platform imaginable, if you haven’t played it before, you should absolutely put it at the top of your list. It’s maybe the only example of a decades-old game that feels like it was always made for VR; Tetsuya Mizuguchi’s techno-fueled shooter was always about heightening the sensory experience, and there’s no better way to do that than by strapping it to your face.
Correction: This article previously referred to Population: One as an Oculus Quest exclusive; it’s also available on Steam with cross-play support. We regret the error.
Published at Tue, 27 Oct 2020 13:43:32 +0000