A new year, a new Assassin’s Creed, right? I wonder if we’ll finally go to Japan this time, or if we’ll get further into the present day? Hopefully we’ll find out in just a few months with a CG trailer set to a dark version of a classic song!
…Is what I would be saying, were rumors not floating around that the series’ yearly installment may not be happening in 2016. That’s a pretty big deal, considering Ubisoft has annualized the series since the release of Brotherhood back in 2010. Granted, it hasn’t entirely been smooth sailing with that choice; AC3 wasn’t exactly well loved by fans, and the less said about Unity from 2014, the better. You know something’s wrong when the Assassin’s Creed game meant to placate people who still own last generation systems is a lot better than the one meant specifically for the current generation of consoles.
According to a report from Kotaku, this is Ubisoft’s game plan for the year: the main Assassin’s Creed game, supposedly set in ancient Egypt and subtitled ‘Empires’, will be pushed back to fall of 2017 to allow for more development time and for the big budget movie to get its due time under the sun (also for those two other episodic games to do their thing, I guess). This is a smart idea, and not only because it gives the folks at Ubisoft a chance to make the game its best.
Time is something that, quite frankly, the series has needed for the past few years or so. Yearly releases are a double edged sword for games; while each successive game is (presumably) guaranteed to be even more successful than the last one, eventually, there’s going to be a brick wall to hit in terms of success. When you hit that brick wall, there’s two things you can do; you can either just ignore the wall and try to break it (the Call of Duty method), or you can try to reexamine things and figure out what you did wrong. Ubisoft chose the latter option after Unity, as anyone who played Syndicate well knows. That entire game was pretty much made with the implicit mantra “We’re so sorry for Unity, we really are” in mind. Hence the shift from multiplayer to single player, hell, hence the existence of Evie Frye, the game’s breakout star.
Ubisoft as a developer seems to be good at responding accordingly to criticism as far as this series goes. Syndicate is the most recent example, but don’t forget that they revamped Assassin’s Creed 2 because of the issues folks had with the original, and ditto with how they handled 4 after the release of 3. But franchise fatigue has been a constant concern for even the most die-hard fan for quite some time now. While the games receive pretty good reviews year after year and still sell like hotcakes, the modern day plot feels like it’s stuck in park, and glitches and issues have been migrating across each successive game for a while now. We saw you, not so smart enemy AI in Syndicate.
Unless reports that Watch Dogs 2 is arriving this year are bunk and Ubisoft has literally nothing planned for the fall of this year, which seems very unlikely, there’s little downside to this choice, either for the fans or for the company.
Assassin’s Creed taking a year off to find itself? Perfect idea. Here’s hoping that when it comes back, it’ll come in full force like we know it can. And that we can eagle dive off the pyramids, or at least slide down them. That’d be pretty sweet.
What do you think about the series not releasing a main game this year? Let us know in the comments below.