We won’t be seeing another entry in the annualized Assassin’s Creed franchise this year, as Ubisoft steps back to re-examine the series.
We’ve donned the beaked hood of a fictional assassin every year since 2007. If you account for sequels and spin-offs, this year brings us to seventeen franchise installments in 9 years. For sheer market saturation, Assassin’s Creed puts even the Madden NFL and Call of Duty licenses to shame.
The series has continued a steady decline in creativity and a growing penchant for the absurd. It began when they replaced series protagonist Desmond Miles with a faceless hacker in Assassin’s Creed IV: Black Flag, and further deteriorated with the technical disaster that was Unity and the force-fed grinding of Syndicate.
Multiplayer has continued a slow but steady decline since its mid-series introduction, and the latest entry stripped it entirely. At the same time, a confusing mess of pre-sale versions and a reliance on microtransactions have all but destroyed the initial wonder that the series brought to its historic settings. It’s the sort of franchise fatigue that would make Final Fantasy cringe.
Ubisoft has apparently come to the same realization and will be taking a year off from releasing a central installment of the series. That’s not to say they’ll be abandoning it completely — Assassins Creed Chronicles: India and Russia will be leaping nimbly onto current generation consoles in the first and second halves of the year, respectively, while Michael Fassbender will bring the hidden blade to the big screen in December. We’re not exactly starving for content.
The response to the post that announced the series’ intermission has been overwhelmingly positive, with a deluge of comments on their official blog commending the move by Ubisoft. With little to no exceptions, fans are praising Ubisoft and thanking them for not releasing another game in the series until it’s been thoroughly re-evaluated.
Ubisoft claims to have updated their development processes and “recommitted to making Assassin’s Creed a premier open-world franchise.” They’re also “taking this year to evolve the game mechanics and to make sure [they are] delivering on the promise of Assassin’s Creed offering unique and memorable gameplay experiences that make history everyone’s playground.”
As a long-time fan of the series, I share the community’s overwhelming support of this decision. I miss the days of Desmond Miles and Ezio, when the series still felt as if it was brimming with possibility. If it takes Ubisoft a couple years or more to recreate the sense of wonder and strong character development arcs it had in the days of Patrice Dessilets, then by all means, do.
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