Rumours have been flying for the past couple of days that we might not be seeing a new Assassin’s Creed game this year and will instead have to wait until 2017, where the series will reappear reinvented in ancient Egypt with an all new character.
Reports of the delay started on 4chan from a poster claiming to be a Ubisoft developer. To be honest, I was quite ready to dismiss this claim. One person on 4Chan, why would I jump to believe that? But then the story appeared on Kotaku, who confirmed they’d been hearing the same rumours from reliable sources for months and that the new game would be code named Empire, marking the start of a trilogy set in the ancient world. Since this time period is before the formation of the Templars and the Assassins, we could be seeing the series take an interesting new direction. Much of Assassin’s Creed Syndicate focused on justice for the oppressed and I wonder if this new series could take that idea further, away from the Templar/Assassin dynamic. That’s purely brain storming though.
Every year since 2009 when Assassin’s Creed II was released fans of the series have been able to look forward to a new instalment. It was something you could count on. But, even as a massive fan of the series from the first game, it’s been a release I’ve been getting less and less excited about.
Despite feeling like the latest game, Syndicate, was the mark of a real return to form for the series after the widely acknowledged poor performance of Unity, I really do think the series could do with taking a year out to find itself and return with a new lease of life in 2017, whether that new lease of life is simply making sure the frequent technical issues are ironed out or it’s a completely revamped approach to gameplay. Ubisoft themselves admitted they thought that Unity’s bad reputation had a negative effect on the initial sales of Syndicate, so taking more time over their releases is a good way to rebuild trust in the series and continue to build on the good reception of Syndicate.
Because Assassin’s Creed really isn’t a game series I want to run out of steam; I love it! Exploring gorgeous historical settings, meeting interesting characters, wearing excellent clothes and performing free-running feats I would never even consider trying in real life are only some of the things I love about it, and I don’t want to see that go away. But I don’t want to feel exhausted by it either. In recent years I was beginning to feel that I’d barely gotten to the end of one Assassin’s Creed game before the next one would appear and I’d start the process all over again. It’s great getting the good bits of the gameplay with a fresh twist so soon, sure, but encountering the same bugs and glitches before I’d had time to forgive and forget them from the last game was beginning to become frustrating.
So, perhaps a break is a good thing. Besides, there really couldn’t be a better year for it since 2016 is already quite a busy year for the franchise. Not only are there two Assassin’s Creed Chronicles side-scrolling games coming in January and February, set in India and Russia, the movie starring Michael Fassbender is also being released in December. Another main game title could be overkill.
The idea of the series going back to an ancient setting, a new multi-game story arc and character to become invested in, and a break to really perfect things has me more excited for the Assassin’s Creed series than I have been for a long time. Let’s hope it’s true and Ubisoft lets the series chill in a haystack for a while.
UPDATE: Ubisoft have now confirmed what we all hoped – Assassin’s Creed will indeed be taking a break this year, free walking before it starts free running again. Although you couldn’t really call it a break with a movie and a spin-off series still on the go. The team have said in an official announcement that they’re “stepping back and re-examining the Assassin’s Creed franchise.” We can’t wait to see where they decide to take it.
Main Image via Flickr © Vlad[T]