E3 2015: Can Assassin’s Creed Syndicate Revitalize a Tired Franchise?

All of the information that Ubisoft Quebec has revealed about Assassin’s Creed Syndicate seems to revolve around a single tangible theme: innovation. While this is certainly admirable, and is something the series definitely needs, the main issue with the Assassin’s Creed franchise is its glaring lack of meaningful content.

Take the mini-map in last year’s minor disaster, Assassin’s Creed Unity, for example. While the layout of its gorgeous over-world looked ripe with things to do (and perhaps ripe is an understatement, as the map looked like every open world game vomited its icons onto a single screen), nearly all of these activities involved little more than collection. The vast majority of those who continue to flock to the popular series have long since abandoned the Assassin-Templar storyline, instead opting to immerse themselves in intriguing locations while checking things off of a to-do list in order to fill time. Sure, innovation might set Assassin’s Creed Syndicate Apart, but if this innovation takes place during bland fetch quests, escort missions and follow sequences, will anything have truly changed?

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It seems as though the marketing push for the Assassin’s Creed franchise has become all but formulaic at this point. Ubisoft will talk our ears off about the setting, the main character’s backstory and whatever new technology will be on display, but the massive publisher never seems to communicate its willingness to change. To be fair, there’s not really any need for Ubisoft to stray from its establish path, as the annual sales figures and continued release of franchise entries and spin-offs seems to indicate that what they’re doing is as correct as it gets. Still, does it really matter if players have access to revolvers, throwing knives and two playable characters if the general proceedings feel straight out of the first chapter of an open-world game design textbook from 2008? This is a new generation filled with intruiging new ideas, shouldn’t we expect our annualized franchises to step things up rather than maintain the general status quo?

If there’s one thing that Ubisoft can do to win this particular editor, as well as the general hardcore contingent over, it’s releasing information about how Assassin’s Creed Syndicate is set to change the way we think about open-world mission design. After the masterpiece that was The Witcher 3: Wild Hunt, a title that is packed to the bring with meaningful content, it’s going to be awful difficult to throw yet another open-world collect-a-thon at gamers and hope for the same results once again.