As it has been an annualised franchise since the release of Assassin’s Creed 2 in 2009, reports that there will be a new Assassin’s game coming out are hardly surprising. According to sources speaking to Kotaku this morning, the next game in the series is codenamed “Empire” and might be set in ancient Egypt, with a possibility of sequels expanding to ancient Rome and Greece.
But the most interesting part is Kotaku’s sources are alleging Empire will be released in 2017, thereby skipping an October launch for the first time in six years.
The reasoning for this is apparently twofold. Firstly, the decision was made following the buggy launch of 2014’s Assassin’s Creed Unity, as the negative consumer/critic fallout that ensued became a harsh lesson that more time is needed to polish future releases. This is clearly on developer/publisher Ubisoft’s mind as Kotaku’s Jason Schreier points out they believe disappointment with Unity negatively impacted the sales of the series’ latest iteration: Assassin’s Creed Syndicate.
The second reason is much more speculative but no less convincing: that the series’ fan-base is experiencing “franchise fatigue” thanks to regularity of the annual releases. There have been nine major Assassin’s Creed games since the franchise began in 2007, and eight of those titles launched within the past six years. That’s a lot, and players becoming disinterested in each new entry is understandable.
While I personally rather enjoyed Syndicate, I acknowledge that may be in part to do with the fact I skipped Unity and actually never finished Black Flag. I’d had a break from Assassin’s Creed, a two year break in fact, and coming back to it to review Syndicate was refreshing, like meeting an old friend sorely missed. But had I been playing the series consistently over that time? I can see how it would have felt “samey”, so taking another year off before we take another Leap of Faith into the proverbial bale of hay will probably be a good thing.
Ubisoft has commented on the original reports, saying to IGN: “We can’t comment on rumour or speculation. We’re always happy when players are excited about our games, past, present and future. In the meantime, we hope that the latest images from the Assassin’s Creed movie set will keep fans of the franchise happy and eager to find out more!”
That’s right, the Assassin’s Creed film adaptation starring Michael “The Fass” Fassbender is coming later this year on December 21, so we won’t be completely devoid of the franchise come the holiday season. Say what you will about video game movie adaptations, The Fass is going to act the crap out of that role.