There's no underestimating Assassin’s Creed: the videogame franchise reignited my passion for open world adventure games and almost singlehandedly cemented Ubisoft as a giant of the gaming industry. It does, however, have its fair share of problems, many of which seem to be getting worse from game to game. Here they are.
1. Swashbuckling assassins
The problem with releasing a similar game every year is that players will expect their character to have all the same abilities and weapons as last year’s game – along with a few new ones. By the time Black Flag hit stores at the end of the last console generation’s cycle, protagonist Edward Kenway was so overpowered that the biggest threat to his life were the shoddy controls. One basic remedy: Remove in-game economies. They add absolutely nothing to a player’s experience.
Overhauling the way a player’s items and weapons behave from game to game as well as changing the way players receive upgrades would remove the invented need for in-game economies and keep a yearly franchise from getting too stale in its gameplay.
2. Face the identity crisis
To leave these problems behind, Assassin's Creed needs to solve the identity crises it suffers from. The game has continuously struggled between being an arcade-y action adventure and an open world stealth game. In order to modify its gameplay however and committing to one or the other, the franchise needs to change the way it designs environments. Instead of cities that only look different from game to game, cities that force players to vary the ways they interact with the surrounding environment could go a long way to solve this problem, while also allowing for a more varied items list from game to game.
3. One step forward, two steps back
The latest release, Assassin's Creed Unity did a great job of bringing back the tactical stealth that fans have been clamoring for, with great contained levels within the open world that allow a player more control over the way he approaches a target. While it was flawed at times, it was definitely progress. Other than that, however, the signs aren’t good. The game was labored with not one, not two, but three different currencies. As Ubisoft drool over the prospect of revenue from micro-transactions, its games suffer.
The leaks surrounding the upcoming Assassin's Creed Victory haven't been reassuring either. Ubisoft seem to be keen on maintaining the patterns held during the last generation of consoles by simply adding to a player’s already bulging abilities. The grappling hook ability seems to be an attempt to add a dimension to the game. However, these things belong in games like Just Cause where literally anything goes, not a franchise that’s been trying very hard to find a balance between stealth and action and has often erred on the wrong side of things. This grappling hook could very likely tip Assassin’s Creed firmly into full blown action territory, rendering the stealth mechanics they worked hard to put into the current gen games starting with Unity pointless.
There’s obviously still a lot we don’t know but from what we’ve seen so far, Ubisoft continues to have no clear direction on their most successful franchise.