The Assassin’s Creed Franchise Has An Ending But Don’t Expect It Anytime Soon
Assassin’s Creed is a major point of frustration for me. As a franchise, it is one of the few with the possibility to keep going endlessly. There’s a finite yet large pool of potential historic settings to draw from for any AC game, each with its own quirks and unique mechanics. Despite this the franchise is pandering and put us through five games of what was initially conceived as a trilogy before finally (hopefully) ending Desmond’s saga.
Assassin’s Creed is an annual franchise, you’ll get a new one every year for as long as Ubisoft keeps making money from them. However, there will eventually be an ending to the franchise and Ubisoft already knows what it is.
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In a conversation with Eurogamer, Assassin’s Creed 4 game director Ashraf Ismail explained the franchise’s bosses had a rough idea of how they wanted the series to finish.
“We have multiple development teams, then we have the brand team that sits on top and is filled with writers and designers concerned with the series’ overall arc,” Ismail explained. “So there is an overall arc, and each iteration has its place inside this.
“We have an idea of where the end is, what the end is. But of course Yves [Guillemot, Ubisoft’s overall boss] announced we are a yearly title, we ship one game a year. So depending on the setting, depending on what fans want, we’ve given ourselves room to fit more in this arc. But there is an end.”
One curiosity about the way Ubisoft churns out AC titles is that they are not developed sequentially but rather concurrently. At any given time there is one team working on the Assassin’s Creed we’re anticipating and another working on the one that’s yet to be announced. This means that teams can share notes and implant different hints at what the future holds for the series without giving much away.
“We’re now able to seed stuff earlier and earlier in our games,” Ismail continued. “So for example in [AC4] we have Edward, who was seeded in AC3. But there’s a lot more stuff in our game that is hinting at other possibilities.”
Each game gets around two solid years of development time but this is still not much with which to flesh out a sprawling open-world game so there are always features which get cut and will have to wait till the next installment to get into the franchise.
Ship boarding had to be reduced to a cut-scene in AC3, despite originally being planned as a real-time event. AC4’s team have now managed to implement this in Black Flag, but found themselves too ambitious in another area.
“The biggest cut we made – which we were pushing hard for but we felt we couldn’t achieve at a high enough quality – was multiplayer with naval [battles],” Ismail said.
“We had really cool prototypes but to get it to work and to balance the systems – the balance of naval is tricky – to do that in multiplayer… we just couldn’t do it in this iteration.”
Where the series goes after AC IV: Black Flag will be interesting, especially given that Ubisoft Toronto will be involved in development of the next AC game. Why’s this of interest? Because Jade Raymond, one of the creators of the franchise, heads up that particular studio.
Black Flag may restore some of my faith in the franchise if it turns out to be as good as it looks but where should Assassin’s Creed go from here?