So, E3 came and went. We saw the resurgence of timeless classics like Rainbow Six as well as new IPs such as Codename STEAM, with big companies and indie developers taking their turns at showcasing their very best to the entire gaming community. Amongst all of these, the one game that stood out the most to a lot of people was Valiant Hearts: The Great War.
Ubisoft’s avant-garde side project served as a much-needed tonic amid the bombastic trailers for the publisher’s other heavy hitters, namely The Crew and The Division. For Valiant Hearts is set in a time period that not many developers have looked at, and rather than focus on the war itself, it concentrates on the characters who live through the battles, atrocities and pain of the entire conflict. A spin that other games have done before, no doubt, but never with a real, non-fictional event.
The historical concept isn’t the only thing that intrigues people about this game, though, as it’s also the way that it could possibly change how tripe-A developers look at their roster of IP that has us excited. Let’s face it, Ubisoft isn’t exactly known for publishing serious games; the French studio does not usually tackle heavy topics so much as they have fun with a specific theme and leave it at that.
And yet, here we see a game that’s firmly out of the developer’s comfort zone, and the small team they have behind it is truly giving it their all.
Rather than going for a story that’s larger than life, where the characters are just along for the ride, we see them actually develop and go through real issues and problems that would happen in this type of situation.
The same goes for the way the visuals are handled, where the emphasis isn’t on big lights and loud particle effects anymore but rather subtle details and beautiful graphics that catch the eye in a subtle, and ultimately more intriguing manner. We also see more of a focus on stories that aren’t just vehicles for gameplay mechanics, but rather a way to compliment and create characters that we get attached to, that we don’t want to see fail.
The biggest change, however, is that a huge game developer like Ubisoft is actually taking a considerable amount of time promoting the game, as evidenced by the amount of screen time Valiant Hearts was granted during E3 last week. Not only that, the fact that a reputable studio is allowing its workforce to balance a title like this alongside the bigger, more anticipated projects such Far Cry 4 is a great sign for the industry all around. Because for Valiant Hearts, commercial sales and potential sequels are far, far from the company’s overriding goal, and that’s a good thing.