When I heard the news from Ubisoft that they’re beginning work on the next Assassin’s Creed game, all I could do was let out a wistful sigh. In case you’re a little confused, the very nice, multicultural, people at Ubisoft have allowed the world to know that they’re working on the next instalment in the Assassin’s Creed franchise, which is likely to see a release in 2014.
The new game will feature a new main character, a new time period and a new development team, and despite promises that the game will be a huge leap forward for the franchise, I still can’t muster up the excitement for the series I had during the build up to the previous games.
The following contains spoilers for the Assassin’s Creed series.
If you read my thoughts on Assassin’s Creed III, you’ll know that I wasn’t all too keen on the third/ninth game in the series and the cap on Desmond Miles’ story. I lamented that Assassin’s Creed II, a game I loved, was the high point in the series, and rather than seeing a continued jump in quality, like between the first and second games, all the developers decided to do was use the same framework to make the same game over and over again.
I loved Assassin’s Creed II, and I really liked Brotherhood too, but by the time Revelations came out I felt a fatigue for the series that seemed to be leading me through the same hoops once again. I thought that maybe AC III would change things enough to make me feel exited to be playing the game again like I was when I picked up ACII.
To my disappointment, I picked up a game that not only seemed to still contain all the most monotonous parts of the previous games, but also took away all of the things I enjoyed the most and replaced them with boring characters, historical battle re-enactments and a number of pointless survival elements.
Not to mention an unfulfilling ending that posed a number of questions rather than wrapping up a character’s story. The way Desmond goes out is really a slap to the face to anyone who followed his story throughout these games, I’m getting annoyed again just remembering it, so I’ll get to my point.
If Ubisoft want to continue to grind out Assassin’s Creed games at this current pace, making another one while the foul stench left by the previous game is still in the air, they need to really think about making some major change to the basic experience the game provides. While there are games out there that manage to get a new release annually and still manage to succeed, they’re not games that create a world for us like this franchise does.
In Assassin’s Creed, we spent a lot of time roaming around a large area, exploring a city, getting to know the ins and outs of the districts as well as finding short cuts. It’s a labour intensive experience on both ends, for both the developers and the gamers. By the time Assassin’s Creed III came out, I think both sides might have been a bit burned out.
The series needs to find its roots again. There need to be less large scale action set pieces and more cloak and dagger. There was very little assassination in the latest entry of the game, the stealth, the misdirection and espionage seemed to be missing from a series that used them as the basis of their gameplay, at least initially.
Personally, if there is going to be another Assassin’s Creed game out so soon after ACIII, then it needs to mix things up pretty drastically. If developers insist on setting the game in the past again, they need to go way further back, further than ever before. While popular opinion wants the game to be set in feudal Japan, I think that if the next game is set in the past, it should be set all the way in the past, during the time Adam and Eve, during the time of the First Civilisation.
During a time where people lived in huge glowing cities and ancient aliens ruled over humanity. The stories of Adam and Eve themselves seem really intriguing based on the snippets of their stories we’ve seen in the game so far. Plus, getting to play in a completely alien and unknown environment should prove an interesting challenge for designers and gamers alike.
Alternatively, I’d like to see an entire game set in the present/future. Assassin’s Creed III ended with Desmond releasing Juno upon the world, who had aspirations to rule over humanity as a god. Seeing a game set during the Juno’s tyrannical rule in a contemporary/near future setting would also give us a completely foreign open world to play in as well as an entirely new motivation for our characters. Leaving the animus out of it all together would be another idea I could get behind.
The series started out trying to replicate cloak and dagger assassinations, pitting the perpetual underdogs of the assassins against the highly trained and well funded Templars who were too smug to watch their backs, it eventually turned into an excuse to shove a player into as many historical events as they could and turned the assassin into more of a military commander. I really hope the new development team can keep that in mind with the new game and give us something much more reminiscent of the first or second game than what the series seemed to become.
We’ll be keeping a close eye on Ubisoft for any more information that comes out regarding future assassin’s Creed games. But it’s going to take something mightily impressive from them to get me back in their corner now, although I wouldn’t be terribly shocked to see more of the same in the end.
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