Assassin’s Creed is one of the most popular franchises across video gaming. Ever since its ropey start in 2007, it has grown in popularity, slowly evolving. The original parkour and stealth mechanic has been overhauled, recently moving towards the hack ‘n’ slash experience delivered by the latest instalment, AC Valhalla. The series is about to make another deviation from the expected norms, with Assassin’s Creed Infinity announcement.
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Game Rant explains that the new title isn’t a standalone game, instead a live service intended to act as a platform for all future games. It sounds very much like a cross between Grand Theft Auto Online and the Fortnite seasons model. The ambitious project is in the early stages of development, according to Frederick Duguet of Ubisoft. “Regarding the project codename Infinity, we have exciting plans for the future that have the potential to significantly expand both the brand’s reach and the recurring profile while holding true to Assassin’s Creeds’ legacy of rich narrative experiences. It is in the early stages of development, and we will share more details in due time.”
The developer aims to bring together its Montreal and Quebec studios in unison, allowing for a more collaborative approach to game releases. There has been a feeling that the two locations have markedly different ideas for the series, with Montreal’s Valhalla consider by some to be a step back from Quebec’s excellent Odyssey title.
What will it mean for gamers?
Assassin’s Creed tends to lean heavily on specific historical periods for its narrative, which certainly isn’t expected to change. Whilst many other game developers try to create a particular period, few do it with quite the panache of Ubisoft and their Assassin’s Creed team. For example, Civilization V uses Ancient Egypt as its setting, whilst some mobile games do the same. Foxy Games have several slots dedicated to Ancient Egypt, such as Pharaoh’s Daughter and Riddle of the Sphinx, and many more can be found across mobile gaming. However, AC Origins doesn’t just lean on Egypt; it brings it to life, teaching the gamer about the customs and habits of people living there. The same goes for Greece and Sparta – games such as Spartan Firefight and Spartan Wars Empire use it as a setting, but AC Odyssey illuminates the lore and mythology and educates and brings a gaming experience.
That is an essential part of the AC series, and the last couple of games have included a teaching platform. That element would certainly be more accessible under the Infinity banner. As well as new releases, Ubisoft will likely build upon their additional features, such as the educational resource, and make it more accessible from a central interface. That means not only will you have the most realistic depiction of Ancient Egypt to enjoy at your leisure, but also a wealth of interactive resources under the same banner.
Scope for episodic releases
There is also the scope for episodic releases, in the same vein as IO’s Hitman series. They dropped a couple of new chapters each month when releasing a rebooted Hitman in 2016. That wasn’t well received at the time, but it could work for Assassin’s Creed. It is more relevant when you consider the backstory, often a source of irritation for gamers. The saga of Abstergo Industries has always served as an annoyance, taking away from the main historical content.
Still, it could now feasibly be the vehicle by which they launch new material, potentially even testing eras on the public. They could release a few hours of play in the Austro-Hungarian Empire to see if it worked before exploring a full game. Bethesda Studios does something similar with Fallout 76, releasing new content on certain servers as a playtest before dropping them as a full release.
There are concerns around AC Infinity that it may dilute the single-player experience around which the game is rooted. Very few titles in the modern age deliver a fully immersive and enjoyable single-player campaign, and old-school gamers do appreciate such titles.
If Ubisoft can retain the balance between their core demographic and the new direction, they might just have yet another winning formula on their hands.