Sources: Next Big Assassin's Creed Set In Egypt, Skipping 2016 As Part Of Possible Series Slowdown

Sources: Next Big Assassin's Creed Set In Egypt, Skipping 2016 As Part of Possible Series Slowdown

Every spring for the past six years, Ubisoft has released at least one big new Assassin's Creed game. This year, the mega-publisher could be breaking tradition, skipping spring for the first time since 2009, according to a number of sources speaking both to Kotaku and others. The next Assassin's Creed, which we believe is set in ancient Egypt and code-named Empire, won't launch until 2017, according to both a new online rumour and sources speaking to Kotaku. One person familiar with Ubisoft's upcoming gaming plans told me today that the decision to delay Empire from spring 2016 was made after 2014's disappointing Unity, and that this bump will allow the development team more room to improve and polish the game. The source said this bi-annual approach could be a new trend for Assassin's Creed, which has suffered from franchise fatigue in recent years.

Rumours about Empire originated this morning on the 4chan boards, of all places, where an anonymous poster claiming to be a developer at Ubisoft wrote that Assassin's Creed would be skipping this year and that 2017's big game would be set in Egypt. Although I haven't been able to confirm the veracity of this 4chan poster — whose posts are compiled on NeoGAF here — everything he wrote matches up with what I've heard independently for months.

I'd heard last year from three different people familiar with goings-on at Ubisoft that the next big Assassin's Creed would be set in ancient Egypt. Since this morning, two other independent sources have contacted me to corroborate that. I heard about the code name Empire from two of those sources. Three of them told me the game would indeed launch in 2017. Months ago, one source told me the game would also take place in ancient Rome, although that may have changed; the 4chan poster says some sections had been removed from the game. ("There are talks about making a trilogy of this same character, so they might explore Greece/Rome next," the poster wrote.)

It's a good time for a change in Ubisoft's annual schedule. Although last spring's Assassin's Creed Syndicate was excellent, it still had some of the technical awkwardness — fidgety controls, easily confused enemy AI — that had become accepted as part of the annual, not-fully-polished Assassin's Creed norm. It also continued to raise questions of franchise fatigue among even the most hardcore series fans. With staggered development teams working on each release for roughly two-year periods, Ubisoft has released nine major console and PC-based Assassin's Creed games since the franchise started in 2007.

Many have called for the company to take a break from the annual schedule, especially after the spring of 2014. That year, Ubisoft released two major Assassin's Creed games — the buggy Unity and the surprisingly good Rogue — on the same exact day. The disappointment of Unity may have even negatively impacted sales of Syndicate, according to Ubisoft executives.

With or without a big game, we'll still see plenty of Assassin's Creed this year; Ubisoft will release two sidescrollers in January and February as well as the Michael Fassbender movie on 21 December 2016. Ubisoft also recently registered the website domain "assassinscreedcollection.com," which preferably refers to a compilation of older games. That could make for a nice stopgap this spring.

A possible Ubisoft substitution for this spring's big Assassin's Creed could be Watch Dogs 2, which we hear will be out later this year and set in San Francisco.

We've reached out to Ubisoft for comment, but they probably won't get back to us.


Comments

    Skipping 2016 As Part Of Possible Series Slowdown

    OH MY GOD, FINALLY.

      This might be just the change I needed to actually jump back into the series. I might even pick up Syndicate in the interim, which seems to be the first people actually liked since Black Flag.

        I've been thinking the same thing. I nearly went for it in the Steam sale but the currency conversion is still a big killer for me buying things on Steam lately.

          As a fan of the series who was burnt out. I really enjoyed Syndicate. Just finished last night, I'm even going to buy the DLC

    Controversial statement time: I play all the Assassin's Creed games and really enjoy them all...

      I played I, II and Brotherhood back to back to back, got part way through Revelations and gave up, skipped III, came back to IV and loved it, skipped everything since then.

      Never missed a launch too. It's not as bad as people say but you know, everything gets blown out of proportion when the Internet is involved.

        Yeah. Especially with Unity. I actually thought it was really good. Maybe i just didnt get as many bugs as other people...

          The story in unity is not bad at all.

          It's a shame that Elise needed to die.

          Hopefully we get another new character in the new ac and not just be a faceless first person now called initiate.

          Last edited 05/01/16 3:45 pm

            I should have known better than to be on the internet with a plot spoiler like that :(

              Well I didn't spoiler tag it since unity is a 2014 title. Sorry :(

                Sure, it's an almost 2 year old game, but many fans skipped it after the initial buggy reports came in. After Syndicate has done so well, several fans may decide to return to Unity, hoping they have fixed some of the problems.

                Elise is a major character of Unity, and the game uses her for emotional effect. It is not clear the outcome from the beginning of the game. I'd recommend spoiler rags, even though time has past, in light of all this.

                Haha that's OK, I have had plenty of time to play I was just being facetious :P

        I partially agree with you, I think some people blow things out of proportion. But I also think a lot of people are fatigued with this series and tbh I have been a fan since AC2 and have played every major entry (except rogue) but I really wouldnt mind a break

          Agreed too. They need to take a break and put the franchise on the table and discuss the future of it. The game is actually going nowhere at the moment.

      I've played them all and only havent finished black flag (bought it at xb1 launch and still havent gotten around to it.... even though I finished Unity).

      I'm about 1/3 to 1/2 way through Syndicate and all I can say is.... thank heck they're skipping a year. Even though I enjoy the narrative, the gameplay is pretty damn old and just "meh". I'm going through the same motions I've done a million times before, and like I said the only thing driving it is that it feels like a movie to me, i'm on autopilot.

      I don't expect a huge amount of innovation from an AC game, heck I've played so many now it's clear that I enjoy the series. But even within that framework I feel that the series is getting very repetitive (to the point where tunnels in AC Syndicate have the same layout as tunnels in Unity, like a complete copy and paste haha).

      I'll happily skip a year and eagerly pickup the next one :)

        But... but.. BLACK FLAG WAS THE BEST ONE. What are you doing?! Get on to that!

          I got about 5-10 hours into it and enjoyed it a lot, I found it dragged a fair bit. Will get onto it eventually..... Rocket League is my current time vampire.

            That's when it started to drag for me as well, although mostly because I started to actually do the Assassiny Creedy bits around then. Prior to that I was just pretending that it was "Sid Meier's Slightly Janky Real-Time Pirates!" and loving it.

            Last edited 05/01/16 11:38 am

      I've also played all the main games in the franchise + Liberation and Freedom Cry (except for Syndicate, as I've had too many other games on my plate to get to it yet).
      I love the AC series and believe they are all good. The worlds alone are stunning and amazing to wander through. The story gets a bit silly in a few of the games and Unity was definitely the worst in terms of lore building, but even with how quick they pump them out I still am amazed with how much is in each title.
      Still, hearing that the developers will be taking a break from the yearly release formula makes me happy. Hopefully this will help to polish the game to a higher degree.

      Same. 3 didn't live up to my hype but had the best combat and better climbing then any last gen AC. Unity was great when it worked but it's probably the one I like least. I don't remember shit about the story though.

    Sounds like a good idea to me!

    I would more likely purchase the new AC game at a higher price if they:
    1. Build up more hype between titles (at the moment it seems too short, I feel I am only just getting through the remainder of the previous title before the new one is out... that or, you know, I got old and wish I had more free time).
    2. If I knew the quality of the game would be more polished.

      Build up more hype between titles

      You mean lie right? Cause thats what ubisoft does when its generating hype. Well i guess just about every publisher does it but i'm of the opinion that ubisoft are the worst at it.

      If I knew the quality of the game would be more polished

      Hopefully by moving to a biennial schedule production quality increases (especially eliminating bugs).

    Good that they are taking more time but why skip the year the AC movie comes out? Unless they change everything about the game, mainly the movement and combat then I won't be playing it.

    Hey Kotaku.... People will still buy Ubisoft even if they don't get back to you because you're a twat Schreier. Nice pity parade though.

      Real journalists obviously get their investigative news from a 4chan board.

        He says that the 4chan leak confirms what he's heard from employees off the record. That adds a little more weight than just a random person posting to 4chan.

        It also means his sources are likely to continue talking to him, since he hasn't directly reported on what they said.

    I'd like to see Assassin's Creed in Ancient China or Feudal Japan.

      Preeeetty sure the entire world would want that. But they've been pretty up-front since early days that Japan is one of the places they don't want to go because 'that game has already been made'.

      Which I can understand. I mean, Assassins are basically ninja, and we've got a billion 3rd-person stealth/action ninja games. The settings they've hit so far are expressly because we haven't explored those to the same depth in other games.

      That said... the codex/lore entries that come with these games and their attention to detail when recreating geography? Most games don't do that. With the improvements in engines allowing increased immersion, I'm kind of glad they haven't done the big obvious one yet. When they do finally get around to Japan (and I'm assuming they will relent at some point), it's going to be amazing.

        What about ancient China with kung fu? Assassins creed is also the last franchise to be saying they won't make a game because it's already been done. Ha! Their games are so alike it's ridiculous sometimes.

          Well, mechanics-wise, this is true. But in terms of setting, they're kind of nailing it. Revolution-era Paris, Victorian-era London, Renaissance Italy, Jerusalem around the crusades... The piratey one has been done, perhaps, but it was also one of the best games ever, so all is forgiven.

          ...Done well, this could be the case with Japan.

    Unquestionably a good thing. From a gamer's point of view, that is.

    For the business? Not sure how that will pan out. Will taking one game over two years yield double the returns of two buggy/exhausted games over two years?

    (I suspect not for the next two years, but wouldn't be surprised if they were able to make the argument that franchise fatigue, a reputation for bugs/uninspired play and the resulting brand erosion would only get worse in 5-10yrs, making the annual cycle unsustainable long-term.)

    Interesting to hear that they're going to Egypt for the next one. I've been wondering when they would take the series back to the Middle East and the origin of the word assassin.

    Cool yet another Assassins Creed game I wont play. That is until they finally just hurry up with feudal Japan.

    If true, this is probably the best news that could come out of Assassin's Creed. I've played every entry in the series, and annual fatigue has definitely set in. Even though Syndicate is certainly better than Unity, it's still "just" an AC game at this point.

    I think taking a break would do both the audience and the devs a favour. Hopefully come back with a more polished and overall better product than they could produce with the annual crunch, and sell it to a (hopefully) more receptive audience who have actually had a chance to "miss" the series.

    Plus, if true, I quite like the idea of an ancient Egypt setting. I'd prefer to see them go back in time to a pre-gun period again.

    Alternatively, this is all false, and Ubi will instead release their regularly scheduled annual AC game this year - one where we play as Desmond Miles for the entire game, probably.

    Woo back in time and a year gap. Both things I wanted to hear.

    Called it on Egypt too, wanted a proper India or China but I'll take that.

    I remember playing AC 1 when it first came out and absolutely loved it. I always wanted to play AC 2 but didn't get round to it until AC 4 was out. I think when I didn't pick it up immediately and all of a sudden there's a 100 games in the series, I felt like I had missed too much and it was too great of an investment (time and money) to get back in.

    Sidenote:
    I never understood why everyone hated on the modern part of the story, it always seemed the most mysterious and interesting part.... Until I finished AC 2. What a disappointment to cap off a decent (but ageing) game. It just killed my interest in the series completely.

    I have now played AC 4 'cause pirates! But don't give a shit about finishing it.

    Moral of the story is, a great narrative, together with time for anticipation is a recipe for a sustainable franchise. It's too late for AC though.

    When are we going to get the proper pirate game from them?

    Those boat and water mechanics from Black Flag were just screaming for a pirate game without all the Assassins Creed rubbish.

      Around a year ago (maybe 2), I filled out a survey from Ubi. One of the questions was gauging interest for a non-AC pirate game. While this isn't proof one is incoming, it's definitely something they've considered.

    On another note, series fatigue has been a problem for this franchise for a long time. I remember when I burned out on Revelations, much like a lot of gamers. Enough was enough in quick succession.
    In the case of Revelations, this is a real shame. When I went back to it several months later, the end of Ezio's tale really got to me. Totally real tears and all. It's a shame that most gamers won't experience it. Going back after this amount of time won't be the same, as the impact from earlier adventures will have been lost.
    It's a delicate balancing act, and one I hope companies get right in the future. Give us two or three years to forget what we hated and let rose-tinted glasses settle a little on our faces.

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