While there are plenty of reasons to be fearful of the rise of subscription-based gaming, there are also a few benefits worth noting. One of the biggest, especially in the case of publisher-specific services, is that it gives companies incentive to raid their back catalog. Thankfully for Ubisoft, they’ve been more proactive about this than most. A browse through Uplay’s existing library reveals plenty of obscure titles to fill in the gaps of Uplay+, the publisher’s upcoming all-access pass. While we’re not sure that any of the below games will be included in the subscription service at launch, they’re all currently up for purchase on the digital storefront. Furthermore, they’d all be great deep cuts to bring players in and make the service stand out from the competition. So here are the best Uplay+ games you’ll want to track down when it launches.
Best Uplay+ Games to Play | From Dust
A collaboration between Out of this World creator Éric Chahi and Ubisoft Montpellier, From Dust is a small scale god game released during the glory days of Xbox Live Arcade. You’re overseeing a tribe of masked islanders who seek to relearn ancient knowledge and restart their civilization. The main mechanic (and the game’s main claim to fame) involves solving problems by moving various elements via giant spheres. You use sand to create land bridges, lava cools to create rocky terrain, and water spheres erode away the beaches. Chahi describes the game as a sandcastle simulator with volcanoes, and he’s not wrong.
Released in 2011 exclusively on digital platforms (a novelty at the time for a big publisher), From Dust broke records and paved the path for future games like Grow Home and Valiant Hearts. Despite the popularity of the game at the time, there’s never been a follow-up, and Chahi is only just recently getting back into game design with his upcoming PSVR title Paper Beast. For those who’ve never tried it, From Dust is a wholly unique experience that’s well worth the time any strategically minded players.
Best Uplay+ Games to Play | Ode
It’s completely understandable if you’ve never heard of Ode. Ubisoft Reflections’ 3D platformer released to little fanfare back in 2017 and remains a Uplay exclusive to this day. Just how obscure is this game? As of this writing, it lacks a Wikipedia page and a GameFAQs guide, quite the feat for a modern release. This leaves Ode with less web presence then Reflections’ other obscure 2017 release, Atomega. The developers of Grow Home were certainly experimenting with a lot two years ago, as Atomega is a Steam exclusive and theoretically couldn’t be included in Uplay+ without some maneuvering.
You really have to seek out Ode to play, which is a shame considering that it’s an intriguingly surreal experience. You play as a little dude in a sphere rolling around and picking up a trail of smaller spheres. The environment is very musical, reacting to your every movement with some whimsical addition to the soundtrack. Progressing can be difficult in places since Ode is designed to be a bit obtuse, but that’s just to encourage exploring every nook and cranny of the environment. If you’re looking for something on the service that your kid might just love, Ode will probably do the trick.
Best Uplay+ Games to Play | POD
It’s surprising to see 1997 post-apocalyptic racer POD (also known as Planet of Death) on this list. However, it’s right there on the Uplay store alongside the latest Tom Clancy and Far Cry games. If it’s on the store, it’s eligible for inclusion in Uplay+, filling a big retro gap in Ubisoft’s current offerings. Ubisoft’s back catalog is mostly confined to console releases that stand alongside unoptimized PC ports that just don’t run on modern machines. Without putting in the work to get some of these games running again, the Ubisoft library drops off a cliff if you go back a decade. It’s a real problem, both for Uplay+ and any future plans to offer an all in one streaming solution.
At least players will get to revisit POD. An early technical showcase for 3dfx GPUs, many gamers at the time swear by the many courses on offer here. It has atmosphere and simplistic racing gameplay that were amazing to see at the time and fun to look back on just to see how far we’ve come. The multiplayer, a big draw of the original release, is long dead due to the GameSpy shutdown. This does hurt POD‘s playability, but it is certainly a unique entry in Ubisoft’s catalog that’s well worth a brief glance.
Best Uplay+ Games to Play | Driver: Parallel Lines
The game industry loves nothing more than hopping onto a trend. Whether it’s more recent auto-chess also-rans or World of Warcraft killers, developers put a lot of time and money into games that are mostly similar to whatever is the king of the mountain at the current moment. If you’re a fan of whatever genre that is, it means you get a nice pocket of variety that you can mine whenever your heart desires, as long as you’re willing to play through an older experience. 2006’s Driver: Parallel Lines draws many parallels with the Grand Theft Auto games of its time, but there’s plenty to like if you’re into open-world crime games.
Starting off in the 1970s, Parallel Lines tells a by the numbers crime story with some flair. It’s basically Vice City for the disco set, a line that was probably written verbatim by some of the reviewers at the time. Speaking of, most of the coverage of the game was focused on how improved it was over the disastrous Driv3r. Removed from that context and placed into the modern day, Parallel Lines serves as a lost PS2 GTA that’s worth messing around with if you’ve already wrung out every bit of gameplay from Liberty City.