Why Assassin’s Creed Origins, Will Be Complete Shit
There’s no need to introduce the series for most people. Assassin’s Creed has been for many a repetitive piece of trash ever since the first installment for the series, for others, it has been a source of solace and awe in wonder at what past history mixed with a little fiction could offer us in terms of interactive entertainment. Sadly, in a world where publishers are interested in profit and not artistic integrity, there could only be one direction where the Assassin’s Creed project is headed, a bad one.
The reveal of Assassin’s Creed Origins was chilling. Usually accompanied with a stunning CGI prerendered feature, was the event, the excitement, a moment that distincts itself from boredom. It was the Assassin’s Creed cinematic trailer reveal. Now that was less of an issue with Syndicate as things got leaked earlier on and the company was forced to cobble together a bunch of in-game material to ride the hype, but this one was just a mess. Opening with a gameplay sequence in Siwa, what we first see is glimmerings of past glories; notably from the first game. And… that’s all about there is to compliment in this reveal. Cloth physics haven’t improved, the way sun reacts to black skins is atrociously bad for a game taking place in Ancient Egypt, and perhaps what surprised me most, is that the game barely looks any better than Unity, if maybe an eye sore to play at night for the dashingly vibrant colors, in contrast to the more noir, gritty and mudded look of Victorian London. Take notes from Mad Max for God’s sake.
I know what the first responder will say: It’s an Alpha Build. To which I’ll simply say:
How many times have we exactly seen reveals with games looking more incredible at early stages of development than they end up being at release?
We somehow forgot that demos are a way to flex muscles. To show the players what could be totally unfeasible, but still at some point “considered” during the development process. Origins at this point looks a mess.
I’m not exactly sure what Ubisoft was thinking by adopting the format of past iterations. Assassin’s Creed was always plagued by a problem that made the games look like they were supposed to come out three years prior. From lacking parkour animations, wonky combats, atrocious AI, and quite simply, the most abysmal, huge amount of retcons there has ever been to an extended universe. In writing, there’s supposed to be sustained coherency, consistency, to keep the story from falling apart, but it seems as though with each passing moment, there’s resounding will from Ubisoft to toy around with the story at a moment’s notice. It has almost become the Flash of video games; no real direction or intent behind the creative vision. Just a gobble of what the publisher thinks players will like, or would have liked, or are already liking, a bunch of market trend studies, and that’s your video game. Assassin’s Creed is no longer the creative sum of intelligent people, it’s the semblance of a frankenstein of ideas that runs through multiple builds before it gets approved by the filthy rich over at Ubisoft.
Do you remember when Splinter Cell and Prince of Persia were huge? Where are they now? The sole reason we have gotten a second Watch_Dogs and will likely not get a third one is the same reason we’re probably never getting a new entry in any of Ubisoft’s long fallen franchises: Lost interest. But it becomes more insulting when that is a direct result of the publisher meddling with the creative version, milk a given franchise until the very last drop, and then move onto the next thing.
In a way, Ubisoft has become a direct nemesis to creativity in the video game business. It’s a byproduct of creating genre games, carrying the weight of those games on the brand, and letting the whole ship sink, only with a few ideas floating for other new IPs or iterations to repurpose. That’s the main issue with Ubisoft; they still have no fundamental understanding of what makes gamers gravitate to a “game”. It’s the experience, the product, what it games and feels like, not what it entails by each individual element.
Damned I am if any of you is wondering “Gee, I’m really excited for the next Assassin’s Creed to hopefully open a bunch of chests.” No. That hasn’t happened, and will never happen in the history of video game making ever. Ever. I will eat the printed version of this article if this ever were true.
It somehow feels symptomatic of the recent but since dead open-world craze that has taken over since E3 2013. Everyone moved on, but Ubisoft hasn’t. The world isn’t interesting when literally, all you do, is have a file of a bush, a tree, a surface, rocks or what have you… that you replicate strategically in order to make it seem as if everything was hand-made. Assassin’s Creed IV: Black Flag was successful in taking in the open-world formula by building islands with characteristics that perfectly fit the bill of single player missions at a certain point in the story, and my fear is that Assassin’s Creed Origins will suffer from the same issue that Syndicate and Unity had, which is build the city first, then think about level design second.
There were echoes of good ideas in Syndicate, but none of them could’ve been properly executed just because the city was so god damn huge. It offered a wealth of opportunities in terms of approach, but it at the end limited the players to a sensation of chaos… the feeling that none of the level design elements were premeditated. As if moments of glory were the pure product of coincidence, not collective artistic effort. This is where the immersion completely falls apart.
Speaking of, there are RPG elements in which we can’t supposedly assassinate a target with a lower level than the character. Exactly why is a puzzle for future philosophers to resolve, because it’s as enigmatic for me as it is for you why can’t a blade penetrating a vital organ of the body suddenly be ineffective against a higher level NPC? Assassin’s Creed took its pride in realism, in that however ridiculous the combat system may be, the finish moves were understandably realistic. But this Origins business here is just… Ugh. I can’t even begin to describe how it reeks of unoriginality and a sense of “Hey look! They liked this! Let’s put it in our game!” in a stage so late in the development cycle that it doesn’t even make sense at that point.
If you feel the need to feel further disappointed. Watch the gameplays put out by Ubisoft. That’s literally how *much* confidence Ubisoft have in their product. None.
Update: I’ve since rescinded every claim I had made in this article, but I still maintain my point about the marketing campaign being abysmal.