LOS ANGELES--Yesterday, Nintendo held a developer roundtable behind closed doors. On hand was the company's creative guru Shigeru Miyamoto, who used the occasion to announce a new Pikmin game for the Wii U. Off the table, however, were any questions about the just-announced console, which has wowed journalists and spooked investors with its tablet-based, motion-sensing controller.
Some of the questions members of the press had about the Wii U may be answered tonight at another, more secretive roundtable. Held at the same Los Angeles Convention Center theater as last night's event, the presentation will be hosted by an unnamed "Nintendo third-party developer" about an undisclosed subject.
One likely possibility is Electronic Arts, which threw its weight behind the Wii U in dramatic fashion at Nintendo's press event Tuesday morning. On hand was EA CEO John Riccitiello, who endorsed the new console while daring the audience to "imagine" such games as Battlefield 3 and Madden NFL on the console.
While EA is the prime suspect, there are several other candidates for Nintendo's mystery guest. THQ announced two games for the Wii U: Metro Last Light and Darksiders II, the latter of which will be a launch title for the console. Sega teased a "prototype" of Aliens: Colonial Marines, while Tecmo Koei announced Ninja Gaiden 3: Razor's Edge. Ubisoft also announced several Wii U games, including Ghost Recon Online and a new Assassin's Creed title.
[6:05] Though tonight's event hasn't officially started yet, its big secret has already been blown, thanks to a whopping big Ubisoft logo on a screen in front of the stage.
[6:06] The top Nintendo brass is here, with Reggie Fils-Aime posing for pictures with numerous fans.
[6:07] Shigeru Miyamoto is also milling about, speaking to several Japanese attendees.
[6:09] Though the stage is empty, two Wii U demo stations are set up on either side of it, meaning we're in for some actual gameplay on the console tonight.
[6:10] Correction: Three Wii U demo stations.
[6:12] Strangely, the hall isn't as full as it was for last night's roundtable, at which all Wii U questions were forbidden.
[6:12] Andy Simpson from Ubisoft US takes the stage, kicking off the show.
[6:13] And Nintendo president Satoru Iwata walks out nonchalantly.
[6:14] He says that many people must be puzzled why Nintendo's global president is at a Ubisoft event.
[6:15] He calls Ubisoft Nintendo's most important third-party partner, and to prove his point, he calls out Ubisoft CEO president Yves Guillemot onto the stage. Big applause.
[6:16] Reading from a piece of paper, Iwata says that Nintendo and Ubisoft have been collaborating on Wii U projects for a while.
[6:17] A Ubisoft title is the first third-party Wii U title in the Nintendo booth here at E3.
[6:17] Now Guillemot takes the mic.
[6:18] He says it's an honor to work with Nintendo so closely, and says his company was impressed by the Wii U and its "revolutionary" controller. He thinks that the controller's touch capabilities will expand Nintendo's user base even further.
[6:20] Ubisoft has five games on the way--a "multisport" brand, an Assassin's Creed game, a Raving Rabbids game, Ghost Recon Online, and a new brand that will be introduced today.
[6:20] Guillemot leaves the stage, Iwata walks out the door with a wave.
[6:22] First demo is going to be Ghost Recon Online, with Claude Langlais and Hugues Ricour from Ubisoft Shanghai.
[6:22] Ricour says that Nintendo has a track record of "redefining entertainment" so he's excited to be here.
[6:22] Ghost Recon Online will leverage two points--the touch pad controller and "always on" connectivity.
[6:23] Ghost Recon Online will differ from other shooters because it's a team-based shooter that encourages people to think and then act.
[6:24] Cue the trailer, which shows players selecting weapons, checking maps, and guiding drones all with the touchscreen.
[6:24] Four players engage in team-based combat, killing their opponents.
[6:25] The game will have a cover system and three different classes: assault, recon, and specialist.
[6:28] Now it's onto the Wii U controller, which the developers call Crosscom 2.0. Modeled on a real life communication system for the US military, the Crosscom 2.0 system will be an integral part of gameplay. It will let players activate and scroll around the map with the touch pad, and plant interactive beacons. Those beacons can be then seen on the in-game map by other players.
[6:29] Using the Wii controller's screen and gyroscope, players can use the controller to guide an observation drone and root out and mark enemies.
[6:30] Players can also use the controller to drag and drop weapons attachments onto the main television screen for weapons customization.
[6:30] Now it's time for a live demo.
[6:32] The first demonstrator customizes his weapon rapidly with the small screen for an assault class. Another demonstrator loads out for sniper duty.
[6:32] It's a 1-on-1 domination multiplayer match.
[6:34] The build is very early, and looks a little rough.
[6:34] The assault trooper captures the first checkpoint, while the other player--who is actually a specialist--activates a bulletproof shield.
[6:34] For demonstration purposes, the specialist lets the assault demonstrator kill him, and he respawns.
[6:36] Now the specialist demonstrator launches a drone, marks the assault trooper, and goes on the offensive.
[6:37] The assault trooper counterattacks, but the specialist activates his bullet shield and kills the assault trooper.
[6:37] And the demo ends.
[6:39] Ghost Recon Online will be a full online service, and will have ranking, matchmmaking, flexible friends lists, and a persistent profile that will track stats.
[6:39] The game will also have another social feature, called the "Ghost Feed."
[6:39] This mode will let players follow their friends' activities on the Wii U controller, even when someone else is using the main television.
[6:41] Ghost Recon Online will be playable at the Nintendo booth at E3.
[6:41] Reggie is ducking out.
[6:42] Now it's time for the new game--KILLER FREAKS FROM OUTER SPACE
[6:42] That's the actual name, people.
[6:43] From Ubisoft Montpellier, it's designed from the ground up for the Wii U.
[6:44] The game is a hardcore first-person shooter with an emphasis on competitive multiplayer.
[6:45] The game will also have a focus on "living room fun."
[6:45] Here comes the first trailer for the game.
[6:46] Set in London, the game shows a man walking devastated streets with a .44 magnum, as small-but-voracious aliens harass him.
[6:46] They look like vicious little Rabbids with green scales.
[6:46] Then a huge alien steps out and a Grindhouse title screen comes up.
[6:47] The game is due out in 2012.
[6:47] The game's story centers on a giant "cloud of green pus" that, after floating through space for eons, hits Earth.
[6:48] The cloud then starts spawning all manner of flesh-eating "freaks" of all shapes and sizes.
[6:49] A Ubisoft Montpellier staffer comes out to demonstrate, and says the emphasis will be on a new kind of control.
[6:50] Gamers play as the character Darren Boyle, who is "obsessed with shooting things."
[6:50] "Let's go hunting."
[6:51] Using a non-iron sight point of view, the player goes out onto a darkened street and starts shooting freaks, making profane comments with a cockney accent.
[6:53] Aiming is done by panning the controller around the room. Called "spatial gameplay," it has the player panning the controller around to scan the environment for enemies. The demonstrator is pointing it at the ground, up in the air--all around.
[6:53] This makes whipping around 180 degrees very easy--and quick.
[6:53] Boyle wields a variety of weapons, including shotguns and rocket launchers.
[6:54] Now he's fighting some kind of energy portal that is spewing out freaks and plasma bolts.
[6:55] He blows it up and gets a nasty gun that shoots an array of explosives in an arc. That blows a wall out of a building's side, where he encounters one freak spanking another one. Laughs all around.
[6:56] Then a huge alien reminiscent of the War of the Worlds' tripods lurches into the screen.
[6:56] First demo ends, second demo kicks off with a "totally unique" use of the Wii U controller.
[6:58] The game will allow one player to play on his Wii U controller screen while the other uses a Wii Classic Controller attached to a Wii Nunchuk.
[6:58] The mode is called "real-time enemy director."
[6:59] The mode has one person playing in first-person perspective as a human fighting the aliens.
[7:00] The other person sees the battlefield from a top-down view and use the Wii U controller's touchscreen to select spawn points for various alien freaks.
[7:00] The object being to kill the humans.
[7:01] The human kills the first wave of freaks, causing the alien player to take a more "tactical" approach and start laying down more and more freaks like a real-time strategy game.
[7:01] The alien player loses--his screen says "You Lose!" and the victor's says "You Win!"
[7:01] The mode is abbreviated the "RED System."
[7:02] "It will allow anyone to be a game master." Demo ends to big applause.
[7:02] The last demo is Assassin's Creed for the Wii U.
[7:03] The game will add new features.
[7:04] He said the Wii U's "powerful multicore" technology will allow the developer to use assets and shading technology from other games in the series.
[7:06] The Wii U controller will "offer many possibilities" including using the screen as a map for Eagle Vision, a portable database, and to access the Animus.
[7:06] There is a dedicated team at Ubisoft Montreal working on the game, but its development status is unclear.
[7:07] Oops, guess there's no demo of the game, as all the developers get back on stage for questions.
[7:08] The first questioner asked if Assassin's Creed for the Wii U will be all-new or a port. The developer declines to answer specifically, just saying it will be the "best Assassin's Creed experience it can be."
[7:08] Next question--will any of the games use two controllers on the same television? They decline to answer again.
[7:10] Next questioner asks why the Killer Freaks look like Raving Rabbids. The developer jokes that since many of the developers worked on the Raving Rabbid series, they wanted to just blow them away. He then reassures the audience there will be many different types of freaks.
[7:11] Next question asks how Ghost Recon Online will guarantee security for always online services like the Ghost Feed.
[7:11] The developer reassures the questioner that all precautions are being taken.
[7:12] Ghost Recon Online's online service will be specific to the Wii U version of the game, and won't extend to other Ubisoft games.
[7:13] Next question: Ghost Recon Online is free-to-play on the PC, will it be so on the Wii U?
[7:14] The developer says they are still exploring options, and they can't answer this at this time.
[7:14] Next question: How does the Wii U compare in terms of power to the PS3 and Xbox 360?
[7:15] Answer: "It's too early to say" as the developers are still figuring out how to best exploit the system. "It wouldn't be fair to say just yet," says a developer.
[7:16] Next question: Will the Wii U's many features increase the development cost for Wii U games?
[7:16] The developer says that the core teams are pretty much the same size, but they have more toys to play with.
[7:17] Next question: Ubisoft is excited about the Wii U--what will it take to get other developers and consumers to get as excited about it?
[7:18] Answer: A developer says that only a few people have played with the new console, and once other developers examine the technology and consumers see the console in action, they will get enthusiastic.
[7:19] Next question: Will the spatial gameplay of Killer Freaks eventually tire players out after an hour or two?
[7:19] Answer: The game can also be played on the couch using small movements in conjunction with the control sticks.
[7:21] Next question: Will Ghost Recon Online's always-online service be able to alert players of events in their circle of friends?
[7:21] Answer: "That's a good idea. I am going to take note of that," jokes a developer.
[7:22] Next question: The Killer Freaks demo was local multiplayer--does local multiplayer still have a place in the always-online era?
[7:22] Answer: Yes.
[7:22] The developer says trash-talking is much more satisfying in person with friends.
[7:22] A second developer adds that online multiplayer will also be in the game.
[7:23] Next question: What kind of range does the Wii U remote have? Will players be able to take the controller into other rooms and play the game?
[7:23] Answer: They haven't determined the range just yet.
[7:24] And that's it!