Ubisoft prepares a new installment that has not yet been officially announced, although everything points to a story within the Viking universe.
Time draws the line of history, of the creatures that lived and those that perished; of those that remain and those that were extinguished forever. More than 2.5 million years have passed since the appearance of the human being, a period large enough for flourishing civilizations to emerge, which then withered to give way to others: Egypt, Greece, Rome, Mesopotamia, Spain where it was not put the sun, the British Empire and a very long etcetera. Assassin's Creed, one of Ubisoft's most important sagas, focuses on some points of that timeline and reproduces a fictional story within real historical periods.
After two deliveries in the Ancient World, the first rumors indicated that Rome would close that trilogy. However, Kotaku stepped up and published a story stating that the next project, codenamed Kingdom, would be set at the time of the Vikings. The sources of the North American medium did not detail more information on the matter, but later new data came out, although Ubisoft itself denied its veracity.
A clue that points to the Vikings as a future setting.
Assassin's Creed changes course
There is no doubt that the setting is one of the attractions of the franchise, as well as its stories, which mix reality with fantasy. But far from the lining of all that mythology that has been built around Assassin's Creed, game mechanics play a crucial role. They had it in their first deliveries, which forged the bases that sustained the rest of the chapters: climbing, watchtowers, lots of straw, parkour, boats and other elements that make it recognizable as a series. But there came a point where the classic formula felt worn. After the publication of Syndicate, it seemed clear that the franchise needed a helm turn, and Ubisoft made the determination to simmer the next chapter.
The saga of the murderers had been a stealth action adventure from the beginning, but from Assassin's Creed Origins, they sought a more role-oriented approach within a vast open world. At that time, there were already 19 games in the saga, so the developers thought about redesigning the combat system completely. "When we started developing Assassin's Creed Origins, right after the launch of Black Flag, we knew from the beginning that we wanted more depth and challenges in the Assassin's Creed experience," said Ashraf Ismail, creative director of the title, in statements to Dream Team Gaming. “We have created the combat from scratch”, that is, with a system that drinks from Dark Souls and that was improved in Assassin's Creed Odyssey, the most recent work in the saga.
Bayek of Siwa, protagonist of Assassin's Creed Origins.
To look to the future, it is necessary to analyze the past, be clear about the basis and modify the pieces without losing the essence. The most recognizable features of Assassin's Creed are still present in Odyssey, however much the playable foundations have mutated. Even so, the latest production of Ubisoft Quebec, which began to be developed in 2015, follows the path opened by Origins, but delves into RPG mechanics as never before seen in the franchise. The dialogues direct the story in different directions, since the decisions branch the argument. It has always been said of The Witcher 3 is a pioneer in offering secondary missions that are based on the narrative to capture the interest of the player. In Odyssey we try to reproduce that same idea, which allows us to deepen the world and its characters. It is true that not all missions have the same quality; the mechanics and the objectives are also repeated (for example, the rescue of characters within the forts), but the plot plots are able to arouse interest.
A live game
One of the novelties that will undoubtedly follow in the deliveries of the future is the focus on the service model, which goes through a good post-launch plan. In the case of Assassin's Creed Odyssey, two additional plot arcs were developed in an expansion format, although the distribution was done in chapters. Ubisoft drew up a schedule in which not all content was paid. The weekly events with rewards and the Hidden Stories of Greece added more and more content, within a game that already felt unattainable by its dimensions. “We knew that we were facing a different type of game and that people would stay and commit to it, so we approach it a bit like a multiplayer game in that sense,” explained Jonathan Dumont, creative director of Assassin's Creed Odyssey, in an interview with Game Informer: “Every time you return to Odyssey, we want changes, new things. We needed a very powerful structure to back that up. ”
Epic mercenaries visited Assassin's Creed Odyssey on a regular basis.
The incorporation of new features is not only in new missions and rewards, also in stability improvements and error correction. “One of the things we take from other Ubisoft video games that are going very well – For Honor, Rainbow Six, The Division – is a regular cadence,” said Andrée-Anne Boisvert, associate producer of post-launch content. "At the beginning, we published new updates every three weeks, with new features, improvements in the quality of life and bug fixes." That in contrast to providing a powerful update with big changes, although it will be released later.
According to Ubisoft, the content of the updates was designed through prior planning, but also through community feedback. Before it was marketed, the team shared a roadmap, but many of the most important changes were not in that initial plan, such as the New Game Plus mode or the ability to customize the equipment. "Among each of the features, sometimes the suggestions of the community were applied, such as the autocrafting of the arrows, which was not on the road map," says Boisvert. But as the community wanted it, they added that kind of elements before other features. "So the important thing is to have an idea of what you want, but then be flexible."
Customization of the protagonist.
User feedback is undoubtedly valuable, but not all requested content can be moved to video games. Dumont himself thought of possible additions that in the end it was impossible for them to materialize. “I wanted a Kraken in the ocean, but it was too complicated. It was very complex for the ship to face him. ”
Adding new content sometimes implies succumbing to microtransactions. While Odyssey has them, the team worried that they were optional and not intrusive. “We wanted (the game) to be perceived as an endless odyssey when you played it; I wanted you to be able to lose yourself, although if people wanted shortcuts, they are there. The game was not built for microtransactions ”, as it has a good number of its own rewards.
The last two entity additions were, in fact, free. On the one hand, Discovery Tour: Greece, the educational aspect of the video game. It was premiered for the first time in Assassin's Creed Origins, and although it follows the same line, some aspects were improved to make it more attractive. Without battles, without conflicts, the only objective is to observe the world and accompany great historical figures through the most important corners of Greece. On the other hand, Ubisoft provided players with the tool to create their own stories. It is an editor that works through PC and extends the life of the title almost to infinity.
Discovery Tour allows us to learn about history and everyday life in Egypt and Greece.
Other important changes that will mark the future
One of the peculiarities that will continue in future Assassin's Creed is that there will no longer be a unique character. Odyssey outlined two different protagonists, in this case the brothers Kassandra and Alexios. Both are basically the same once chosen (they have the same lines of dialogue), but it is the player who shapes his personality through decisions. In an article published by GamesIndustry.biz, director Scott Phillips is blunt when he states that there is no going back, that they want to cover more public by including. "I think it would be a mistake to limit our players," he says. "We must continue to press in that direction, get the attention of more users, more fans who enjoy the experience and make it their own."
Changes, again, are a necessity. “Like anything that has been for 10 years and has had many, many, iterations and changes, we wanted to try new things too. We know that our fans don't want exactly the same, ”says Phillips. “Finding the real balance between the new elements and the more familiar and old aspects is a huge challenge and we face it during the whole time we are developing the game.
Jump of faith.
Serge Hascoet, from Ubisoft, is aware that not everyone is happy with the direction the series has taken. The essence of the saga, a relatively ethereal and difficult to define concept, must be maintained in all its products. Origins and Odyssey has meant a playable turn that has influenced the way the stories are told. In an interview with Game Informer, Hascoet does not avoid the question and answers without ambiguity: “We ask ourselves that same question internally in a quite habitual way. With Odyssey we talk about that. I have realized that we have lost part of the essence of the assassin, so we are working on it. We don't want to put it aside, we want to respect the brand, but we also want to improve it. I think RPG mechanics have improved it, but we need the leap of faith, the sound, all the good things from the previous games. ”
The developer reflects and concludes that it has been "good decision" to redesign the combat system. “We are careful with the brand, we work on it. When we allow the player to customize the character so that they can take off the hood, it is fine because it is the user's decision. We don't have to force players to look like we want. The philosophy we follow is that games are the expression of the players, their freedom and their autonomy. ”
Assassin's Creed Syndicate.
Assassin's Creed, in a way, ended up burned because it had failed to renew itself. The strategy of launching a new game annually (which does not mean that the development lasted a year, since the studies rotated), together with conservatism in terms of redefining the playable system, caused not a few problems. In Ubisoft they maintain that it is not an annual saga. In the words of Hascoet: “It depends. What we have done is build two teams – one in Montreal and one in Quebec – to which we give enough time. I played Assassin's Creed Odyseey last November (of 2018) and I almost finished it. For us it is not a matter of annualizing it, it is more a matter of quality. If the team has enough time to produce and polish the experience, if it is at its highest quality point, I think people can enjoy an 80-year experience every year. It is possible, but I am not saying that we are going to have one every year, that is not the plan. ”
Assassin's Creed Kingdom did not go on sale in 2019, as the French preferred to wait and launch the game later. Officially it has not been announced, although it is important to note that there have been some changes within Ubisoft, mainly motivated by the performance of Tom Clancy's The Division 2 and Ghost Recon Breakpoint. None of the games have met the company's expectations, so they delayed several of their most important future titles, Watch Dogs: Legion, Rainbow Six Quarantine and Gods and Monsters, the latter of the creators of Assassin's Creed Odyssey.
Ezio Auditore, protagonist of Assassin's Creed II, The Brotherhood and Revelations.
In a predictably advanced state of development of the new Assassin's Creed, it is unclear to what extent these changes will affect you. However, the Gauls have made a restructuring in the editorial team of Paris, a group of developers and creative directors who do not produce video games, but who ensure the quality of all products. Given the complaints that many Ubisoft products are very similar, the company has chosen to offer more freedom to the studios to develop their own ideas. We will see which direction the next Assassin's Creed points. The road opened by Origins and built by Odyssey still has spaces for the reform and improvement of its systems. Kingdom will face the challenge of doing so without the formula being perceived expired.