I admit it; my friends and I have been waiting for a new UNO ever since the launch of the PlayStation 4 and Xbox One. The 2006 version of UNO on Xbox 360 was one of the only games that we still used the console for (seriously, it’s an intense game). So I was of course, extremely happy when I saw that a new UNO was coming to the new consoles, and PC. But would it live up to the hype?
This version of UNO is published by Ubisoft, and while it doesn’t add much, it combines all the features of the last-gen UNO games into one shiny package. But it’s Ubisoft, so of course there’s already DLC plans for new themed decks, and Ubisoft Club benefits such as a ‘Rabbids’ themed deck, which can be unlocked with club points. I already had some leftover points from previous games, so I unlocked the deck instantly, but new players shouldn’t take long either, as points can be earned from achievements or trophies.
The Rabbids deck is equal parts confusing and annoying. Its power-cards have unique effects, but they all look very similar to each other. I didn’t actually know which card I had until I played it. Their effects will cause a Rabbid to do something chaotic to the deck, like dishing-out cards to everyone like Oprah dishes-out cars. I’ve never played a Rayman game with Rabbids before, and UNO made me glad I hadn’t. The Rabbids’ are often screaming or yelling, and I wanted them to shut up as soon as they started. Plus the deck just looks plain ugly.
UNO offers both offline play against AI and online against friends or strangers, with a ‘classic’ free-for-all mode or ‘2v2’. I’m not sure if it’s just bad luck or the beginning of Skynet, but I haven’t achieved a definitive win against AI opponents. Their terminator-esque programming seems to have them target me specifically.
UNO’s rules are fully customisable. One of the things that made UNO 2006 great was the ‘draw to match’ rule in the Anniversary deck, which could lead you to go from one card to over twenty. It’s devastating when it happens to me, but left me crying with laughter every time it happened to my friends. In the 2016 version of UNO, it’s still an option and is a must buy just for that. Other rules like ‘7-0’ and ‘Jump-in’ are great for keeping players engaged, and are particularly effective in 2v2 mode, allowing players to rely more on strategy with their teammate and less on luck.
The biggest disappointment is that UNO is still limited to four players. You’d assume that a $14.95 next-gen version would be able to support the up to 10 recommended players that your vanilla $8.50 deck from Kmart can. I should be able to play strip-UNO with nine of my closest friends. I wouldn’t actually do it, but I should have the option. And yes, strip-UNO is possible thanks to video support; but the option is limited to your friends, so no worries about any Chatroulette-style moments.
There’s also the lack of any ‘spectator’ mode or Twitch support. It’s a double edged sword due to the possibility of cheating, but without it, any esports potential is significantly hampered. And we all know that esports is where the money is at. You can’t even record clips or screenshots, so it’s unlikely that UNO will gain enough traction to be taken seriously within the circuit. UNO could have been the new Hearthstone.
UNO won’t be replacing your lounge-room party game either. There’s no option for local play, as it’s impossible to play without everyone seeing each other’s cards. But if you’ve got long-distance friends who are each willing to splash the cash for it, it’s a decent option. That being said, if you don’t have friends to play it with, you’ll be missing out on UNO’s best feature, trash-talking.
There’s nothing quite like shouting abuse at your friends over a Wild Draw Four.