Love it or hate it, you can’t question that Assassin’s Creed is one of the most prolific game franchises of the last fifteen years. With twelve main entries in as many years, and a total of seventeen games if you include the spin-offs, it is nothing if not consistent. But recent news has many stans of the series recoiling in terror:
The next AC game called Assassin’s Creed Infinity is going to be an evolving, live service game.
Good lord, Ubisoft, what in the hell are you actually doing? Well my friends, let’s speculate.
What is Assassin’s Creed Infinity?
Right away when you look into Assassin’s Creed Infinity, you are met with some very strange details. The first that seems to stick out to people is that there will not be just one world (or map) in this game. Though Ubisoft has not explained how, early teases seem to indicate that all the locations of past AC games are going to be included.
What? How can that possibly be?
They will probably make the Animus some sort of hub, with you going to different maps from there. While that could be cool, it could also be immersion-breaking.
Let’s dive deeper.
It Will Feature a Changing Map (like Fortnite or Destiny 2)
I can literally hear the sighs of a million gamers as they read that. What makes an evolving map concept stand out as awful here is simple:
Fortnite has a changing map because the core game is free and it has next to no single player story. And while Destiny 2 also adapts this model more successfully, we need to remember that Destiny 2 is a polished game, like it or not, whereas most AC games come out broken and buggy.
If the single player Assassin’s Creed games come out broken at launch almost every time, why do we think an evolving map will help and not hinder it completely, when they can’t even put out a single-player game that plays right?
Anyone who knows anything about Ubisoft’s recent games knows that the publisher is moving in a worrying new direction when it comes to in-game payments. Slowly, microtransactions that actually affect gameplay are encroaching into their titles.
Level-gating started showing up in Assassin’s Creed: Odyssey and now Valhalla, with some areas suspiciously way above your level that would force you to grind old-school MMO style or alternatively splash out for XP boosts to speed up the process.
Some of the more powerful armors in Valhalla, meanwhile, are locked behind real-world money. You could tell in the last few Assassin’s Creed games they were really pushing the in-game purchases. The best armor and mounts couldn’t even be found or used – they needed to be purchased.
Is all this testing the water for a full-on move to *whisper it* Pay-to-Play?
Word of advice: keep that credit card close at all times.
Ubisoft, Please Don’t Adapt a “Pay to Play” Model
The “buy things in-game with real money to make our game better even though you paid the full price” model has been haunting the last batch of Ubisoft games from Far Cry New Dawn to the last three AC entries. Just look at gamers’ reactions to Odyssey level gating:
While it has not come to a head yet, the point of this piece is to mention that AC Infinity could be a death blow in terms of how Ubisoft charge players for things.
Even the idea of an XP Boost is offensive to some gamers. They want you to buy something to make the time you play the game shorter. Why would a company want you to skip the levelling system they designed unless they know it’s an unfair grind? Most developers want you to play all their games, not pay money to skip parts of it.
I think a genuine fear about this is how far Ubisoft is willing to take it with Infinity. Let’s pray we don’t have to pay actual cash for every single thing in this game – from mounts to armor to maps. As of right now, we just don’t know yet. But we do need to reserve judgement for the actual game, as tough as Ubisoft is making that.
Will It Still Focus on Single-Player Stories?
The chances of Assassin’s Creed Infinity being designed around single-player seem small. In Ubisoft’s own words “the future of Assassin’s Creed is live-service”, as expressed on Twitter by Ubisoft’s own Jason Schreier . But honestly, who is surprised by this? Not anyone who has been following Ubisoft’s track record.
While AC has done multiplayer before, most fans are in it for the single-player story and adventure. But the thought of quietly emptying out an enemy encampment perfectly only for some jackass to stroll through and game-end you would be appealing to exactly zero people. Not to say that is the direction they will go, but worth talking about.
Which is why we also need to hold out hope that this won’t be how it plays. PvP seems like it would be a terrible model for a normally single player game. But maybe you can opt in and out of co-op or PVP, or maybe Ubisoft will come out with some new approach to it, but we can only form opinions at this point based on Ubisoft’s past behaviors and how other online games function.
Also, some people (myself being one) adore single player games and getting lost in a world with no other actual humans to bother you – Assassin’s Creed has traditionally been one of the best series to offer that. Surely Ubisoft won’t forget that?
Let’s hope they work that aspect out before launch. Speaking of bad launches….
Could This Be the Next Fallout 76?
As a lifelong gamer, I can honestly say Assassin’s Creed Valhalla was the most broken game I ever played. I counted well over 60 game-breaking bugs in my playthrough. I’m not talking about funny NPCs ascending to the heavens in a T-pose, more like me getting physically stuck in the map on almost every occasion I played the game, or an NPC just getting swallowed up by the Earth and vanishing.
But here is the kicker: I still put 120 hours into it. That is how much I actually enjoy this series. I love the parkour and combat of the first batch of games (Ezio for life) and I really enjoyed the turn towards RPG (Witcher-Lite) we saw with Origins and Odyssey. The game loop is very satisfying, Ubisoft’s approach to history is quite fresh, and I am always impressed by the scale of their worlds and stories.
But that said, Assassin’s Creed is broken and has been since Unity. Ubisoft get so focused on getting the game out on an almost semi-annually basis that they rarely seem to care if it’s finished in a technical sense. Now imagine how bad this could be once this is an evolving, live-service game? If they can’t make a single player game glitch free, how can they expect to deal with the never-ending complexities and evolutions of a live-service game?
So could this be the next Fallout 76 in terms of bugs and player backlash? Hell yes.
But Could It Be Amazing?
Why, but of course! The series has unprecedented scale when it comes to open-world design, and Ubisoft know how to weave complex narratives that can be truly engrossing. While it may be easy to throw stones at a company like Ubisoft (for various reasons), they obviously are very skilled and take the medium seriously.
In knowing that, sometimes you just need to have faith. Perhaps Assassin’s Creed Infinity will be Ubisoft’s attempt to address some of the gripes mentioned in articles like this and iron them out. For as much as Infinity has a chance at failing, this is Ubisoft and there is an equal chance AC Infinity could blow our minds.
When Will Assassin’s Creed Infinity Come Out?
Well, the good news is, we have to wait until at least 2024 for AC Infinity to release, according to Schreier, which tells us something else: we are very likely to get one more proper Assassin’s Creed game between now and the release of AC Infinity. And also, that does give Ubisoft ample time to make this game shine and to sharpen every aspect of it.
How about for the next article we speculate about what time period and location the last, true, single player Assassin’s Creed game could take place in?