With the newest entry in the Assassins Creed franchise out tomorrow Id like to share an opinion that’s been causing me to feel less and less enthusiastic about the series: It may have too much variety for its own good.
One of the most exciting parts of the annual Assassins Creed hype cycle is the reveal of the new game. Rumours and questions inevitably start flying about, where will it be set? Who will the main character be? What will the launch trailer look like? It’s thrilling to speculate and cross fingers for the dream A C setting, it helps to invigorate the fan base and keeps the games at the forefront of the Triple A scene.
But with the franchise being an annualised one, a new setting is turned out every year. By the time you’ve finished one game, you’re already anticipating and guessing the next. This can lead to Assassins Creed games feeling like a whistle stop tour of their settings rather than a deep investment in a period of history. Assassins creed, has for some years now, been perfect at historical fantasy fulfilment, with the franchise simulating everything from the American and French revolutions to the age of piracy. but is this coming at the cost of emotional investment in the worlds, characters and stories that the games feature?
Many fans will tell you that their favourite character of the series is Ezio, who appeared in several of the games. It could be suggested that by tying the player to one character in multiple games, the player would feel more connected to the settings that character encountered. Ezio’s journey through the series meant that rather than a total overhaul every year, players instead got to experience the continuation of a story they loved in a new setting and this meant connecting to and valuing that setting was easier.
The conflict of focused storytelling versus varied, enticing new locations and characters is one the series has been dealing with since Assassins Creed 3 and is likely to be dealing with for some time to come. But this is not the only issue caused by the variety of the franchise.
Something else that has to be considered is the differing mechanics of each game. Since the original Assassins Creed the developers of each game have tried to remain, to an extent, historically accurate. This means that the mechanics of each game have been informed by the time period the game takes place in. This often makes the game play feel authentic and enhances the believability of the environment the game is set in.
However that means that the mechanics from one game to the next can differ greatly. The mechanics that a player learns and loves will not necessarily be present in the next game, in fact they may absolutely no bearing on the way the next game plays. This means that whilst the game play may feel authentic it may also alienate players who enjoyed specific mechanics and it runs the risk of damaging the experience for veteran A C fans.
Assassins Creed has relied, for the past few years, on the excitement generated by its choice of setting. Whilst the historic fantasy of the games is undeniably thrilling I worry that this constant refreshing of the franchise will be damaging in the long term. We don’t have long to wait to find out whether Assassins Creed Syndicate will be counted among the franchises best but one thing is for sure. It won’t be long until we start hearing speculation as to where and what Assassins Creed 9 will bring to the table.