Assassin’s Creed, one of Ubisoft’s staple franchises was once an annual game, that while entertaining felt as though it was riding the rails. The series kind of find a new breath of fresh air with the release of 2014’s Unity, an attempted multiplayer focused version of the series, but even more so with 2015’s Syndicate, which featured two playable twins (a male and female assassin) as the protagonists, with some story differences between the two. Now after announced that the long-running action series would no longer be receiving an annual release to improve development quality, the thus far shown gameplay for Ubisoft’s recent efforts Assassin’s Creed: Origins shows why a break matters when it comes to building a quality product, and why other publishers of annual series should take note.

Assassin’s Creed: Origins is a 2017 soft reboot of the action-adventure franchise Assassin’s Creed, it is developed and published by Ubisoft, and releases October 27, 2017 for PC, Playstation 4, and Xbox One.

Alpha gameplay of Assassin’s Creed: Origins.

Originally debuting in 2007, Assassin’s Creed has become one of Ubisoft’s mainstay IPs. With multiple settings, characters, and mechanic changes the series has had its far share of up & downs, but the last few incarnations had some positive upswings, especially 2015’s Syndicate which featured a particularly enjoyable pair of twins as the protagonists. After appearing on nearly every device available from its initial release, Ubisoft announced plans to release different entries for both last and current gen consoles. Ubisoft would again change development strategies by announcing that the series would not only remain exclusive to current gen hardware, but also take a year break to further improve the series’ quality. Having revealed the latest entry; Assassin’s Creed: Origins (which had been leaking for months as “Empire”), Ubisoft has shown why taking genuine time & effort to develop the next entry into a long-running franchise can make a world of difference.

Main character Bayek from Assassin’s Creed: Origins.

After showing off rather impressive first look gameplay of the Alpha build for Assassin’s Creed: Origins many were pleasantly surprised with how far along the game had come compared to previous entries (the last most impressive first showing probably being Blackflag). Two of the most requested locations for the long-running franchise were Japan & Egypt, the latter of which being realized in Origins. Originally, Ubisoft commented on Egypt not feeling appealing enough from a development front, even going so far as to refer to it as “boring”, however they were able to bring the country to life in their own way once they reconsidered their options with the extra two years of development time. Players will find themselves traversing sand and sea on foot, horseback, camel back, and boat in a re-imagined version of the Ptolemaic Kingdom.

New innovations are a testament to Origins’ longer development cycle.

Featuring Medjay lead Bayek, you once again play as an Assassin looking to liberate its people from the evil Templars who want peace through order. At it’s core, Assassin’s Creed: Origins’ story is for the most part the same general plotline we’ve received for nearly a decade. However, the real changes come from the new title’s gameplay, featuring reworked combat, more traditional boss fights, looting, and more story-driven side quests, as well as a more genuine open-world feeling experience, Ubisoft is looking to give players major replay value with Origins. For example while the game has always had some time killing side quests, the new entry is looking to give players a reason to actually do the optional content with a narrative being attached to them.

Yes, this is a legitimate in-game shot of a lion fighting a hippo.

Just from the little gameplay footage we’ve been shown, you can see that Ubisoft has made a real effort to make the Assassin’s world feel a lot more alive than ever before. There’s far more people, cities feel way bigger than in previous games, and there’s a much bigger focus on wildlife having a presence. Hippopotamus, lions, hawks (including one as an in-game companion), and other creatures roam the Ptolemaic setting, some of which can even aid you in battle if you’re smart enough to use them in a strategic sense. Annual franchises are something we can’t escape, they’re either Sport simulators, such as NBA Live, NBA 2K, etc or blockbuster IP that make a ton of sales both in digital or retail, but with proper amounts of time and effort, even a game that feels like it’s been coasting can become a classic again. While we’ve only seen the surface of Ubisoft’s development for Origins, it’s showcasing some excellent progress. Other publishers of annual titles should definitely look to it for inspiration to give some of their games a much longer development window for the utmost of quality. EA Sports would probably benefit the most from a title like NBA Live going bi-annual for quality assurance. Assassin’s Creed: Origin release on PC, Playstation 4, and Xbox One on October 27, 2017.





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