The Assassin’s Creed series is among the biggest new franchises of the last console generation. Despite some rough edges in the original game, its intriguing alternate history setting with a dash of science fiction immediately captivated players. With Assassin’s Creed II, a game many still consider the best in the series, Ubisoft ironed out many of those rough edges and introduced us to likable new protagonist. After ACII’s even greater critical and commercial success, there was no doubt more Assassin’s Creed games were on the way, but if only we knew just how many more. Since Assassin’s Creed II there has been at least one Assassin’s Creed game released every year, and with potentially two new console installments set for this year (in addition to the already released AC Liberation HD from earlier in the year), one has to wonder just how long this series can sustain itself.
Assassin’s Creed Unity has already been announced as a current gen only Assassin’s Creed game set for release this fall. Skipping last gen and coming out only on Xbox One, Playstation 4, and PC, Unity will hopefully take full advantage of the new hardware. However, not content to miss out on any potential markets, it’s heavily rumored that Ubisoft is also working on an entirely different game for release on Xbox 360 and Playstation 3. With more and more fans getting fed up with the yearly release schedule for the series, it will be really interesting to see how fans respond to the idea of two entirely different games released in the same year.
However, it’s not just the frequent releases that many are growing tired of, but the games themselves. Assassin’s Creed IV may have a been a big success, but let’s not forget the two games that came before it. Assassin’s Creed Revelations was a very safe game that had pretty much nothing new to offer over the previous year’s game. It was competently made, but felt like filler as we waited for the next numbered installment to really move things forward.
After the very “been there, done that” feel of Revelations many were looking toward Assassin’s Creed III as the next leap forward for the series, but to say it most saw it as a disappointment would be a massive understatement. It’s by no means a bad game, and it’s once again extremely well put together, but many fans view it as a lesser entry in the series. Many of the complaints center around the main character, Connor, and his lack of much personality. Many also took issue with the mission design, which has been a consistent issue with the series from the very beginning, and the the multitude of tertiary gameplay systems that serve little purpose.
Assassin’s Creed IV may have won back a lot of good will the previous two games had eroded, but much of that was due to the aspects of that were a departure for the series. The main character, who wasn’t even really an Assassin but instead a pirate, lent the game a much more lighthearted tone. The wide of array of pirate based activities in the game were also a highlight for many, which is once again not very Assassin’s Creed-like. With Unity likely taking things back into more traditional Assassin’s Creed territory, are fans going to take to it like they did Black Flag?
It’s hard to really know what sort of leap these next two games are going to make, but I know I for one don’t see much appeal in another standard Assassin’s Creed experience. The success of Assassin’s Creed IV and the degree to which it was embraced, even by those that had begun to write the series off, may keep the series going for a bit longer, but releasing two games this year won’t help. With the extent to which fans were losing interest in the series prior to ACIV, I don’t see the series remaining the juggernaut it is for much longer if Ubisoft continues to pump out multiple games a year without really shaking things up.