Reporting by Adam Rosenberg
There was some confusion at the Nintendo press conference at E3 2011 over the Wii U. Is it an extension of the existing Wii? A totally new console? EA boss John Riccitiello offered some clarification later in the presentation when he actually used the words "new console," but Ubisoft was the focus of Nintendo's third-party roundtable, which revolved entirely around the 2012 console and its tablet controller.
The session kicked off with a few words of praise for the French publisher from Nintendo prez Satoru Iwata, who was eventually joined onstage by Ubi CEO Yves Guillemot. We soon after learned that Ubisoft currently has five Wii U titles in development: Ghost Recon Online, Killer Freaks from Outer Space, an unspecified Assassin's Creed game, a Raving Rabbids game a fifth mystery title.
Ghost Recon and Killer Freaks are the furthest along, as they were showcased with actual gameplay demos during the session. Rabbids was completely absent, but Assassin's Creed got a quick little presentation running through some of the possibilities for a Wii U-powered entry in the series.
The console tech wasn't discussed in great detail -- in fact, a Ubi rep revealed that even the dev kits continue to evolve even now -- but the multi-core architecture and high memory capacity will be powerful enough to support the same level of visual flair we've become used to with PlayStation 3 and Xbox 360 releases. It's fair to guess that the AC details given durign the session were light because the Wii U release will be whatever follows this year's Assassin's Creed: Revelations.
As far as Wii U-specific features fans can expect to see worked into the game, it's all in the planning stages at this point. Several obvious touchstones have been discussed however, including a persistent on-tablet map, an interactive database of historical and in-game information, fast weapon selection, tactile puzzle solving and some sort of integration with the game's Eagle Vision mode. That doesn't mean that all of these features will be packed onto the Wii U's controller, or that the list of possibilities won't grow longer, but this is where the development team is at right now.
Which leaves a great, big elephant in the room that Ubisoft is reluctant to talk about at this point: the unannounced fifth Wii U title. Given the unique features of the console's controller, Beyond Good & Evil 2 seems like a very likely bet. That game has been "in the works" for some time now, but only a scant few details have been revealed.
It was made clear at the roundtable that Ubi has a lead on other developers in the time that's been spent with the Wii U hardware... so maybe that early access accounts for BG&E2 practically disappearing from all discussions of upcoming releases. This is all speculation of course, but the facts are pretty compelling. In any event, the Wii U controller and its camera would be a perfect complement to the long-awaited sequel, so it's a safe bet that a release for Nintendo's shiny, new toy will happen at some point.