What's Next for Assassin's Creed?

After the great Assassin's Creed IV: Black Flag, where does Ubisoft's flagship series go?

Article by Mike Williams, .

So Assassin's Creed IV: Black Flag turned out pretty well this year. After the misstep that was Assassin's Creed III, Ubisoft righted the ship and came out with a truly great entry. The adventures of Edward Kenway look amazing on every platform I've played so far and the solid gameplay translates over to each system.

So where does Ubisoft go from here?

Assassin's Creed IV: Black Flag backs them into a corner a bit. The game is heavily focused around open-world sailing, but what other time period is that mechanic going to factor in? The Great Pirate Age in the Carribbean is the high point of that particular idea; Ubisoft climbed to the top of the mountain and now they have to find a way down that won't kill the franchise.

Sailing is great, but isn't applicable to every era.

It's not just a story-based problem, it's a tech-based one as well. They're spent two games refining their technology to produce a satisfying sailing experience. Most publishers and developers would be reticent to throw that all away to do a title in another era. For example, and Egypt-bound Assassin's Creed would feature little sailing, instead focusing on survival in the desert.

Ubisoft may skip the issue by just continuing Edward's story in another game, like Assassin's Creed: Brotherhood and Revelations, but that's not a road I want to see the series go down. Assassin's Creed should be like a wonderful travelogue of murder: go to new eras, meet interesting people, assassinate half of them. I want to see more assassins in new eras, not necessarily continue down the Kenway family line. A Black Flag spinoff series is a possibility, but I'm not seeing much longevity in the idea.

Ubisoft has already done away with modern-day protagonist Desmond Miles and the new framing sequence gives the studio more room to play around in. The Templar-controlled Abstergo Entertainment that serves as the modern-day for ACIV seems to be metaphor for Ubisoft's development studios and there are emails you can find the modern sequences that point to where the series may go in the future.

Assassin's Creed has come so far already.

Possible eras stemming from Desmond's DNA include 13th century Egypt, 14th century Japan, the French Revolution, 19th century Taiwan, and the Napoleonic Wars. The emails also mention that sticking to just Desmond's family history isn't the only option anymore. Some of these ideas mirror an Ubisoft marketing survey released in 2011, which adds to Imperial China, Victorian England, Ancient Rome, the Russian Revolution, and the invasion of America by Spanish conquistadors into the mix of possible settings.

Egypt is brought up a lot, but some within Ubisoft find the setting "boring".

Assassin's Creed III's creative director Alex Hutchinson already veto-ed three settings as too boring, because fans are overwhelmingly asking for them and Ubisoft wants to surprise people.

"People on the internet suggest the most boring settings," Hutchinson told OXM. "The three most wanted are [World War II], feudal Japan and Egypt. They're kind of the three worst settings for an AC game."

In contrast, Assassin's Creed IV: Black Flag creative director Ashraf Ismail mused that he'd like the series to move to Egypt in the future. Sadly, eras that lean towards modern times are probably a no-go, at least as far as Ubisoft-insert Abstergo Entertainment is concerned. Why?

"Let's avoid digging into any modern periods (i.e. 20th century) unless we find something incredibly compelling," reads one of the Abstergo emails found in ACIV. "Because, as fun as a World War II setting might sound, we'd do well to avoid any settings with vehicles: cars, motorcycles, helicopters, tanks, etc. Our research has shown that 'memory imprinting' in individuals is actually hampered by the semi-catatonic state most people enter when driving for medium and long periods of time... and this makes data retrieval somewhat more difficult. In short, we don't want to go through the effort of coding extra Animus features just for the sake of digging up memories of people driving around in cars."

The puts the cap point around 1908, which was when the Ford Model T hit and revolutionized the automotive industry. World War II as an era falls after that, but it's certainly possible to get around the widespread use of vehicles due to the wartime setting. Of course, do we really need a modern-day Assassin's Creed with Watch_Dogs on the horizon? That game takes place in the same world as Assassin's Creed, according to more Easter Eggs found in ACIV.

One ACIV Easter Egg. CTOS the operating system that controls Watch_Dogs' city.

No matter where the series heads next, the core gameplay of Assassin's Creed is not changing anytime soon. In an interview with GameReactor, ACIV lead game designer Jean-Sebastien Decant said Ubisoft is sticking to what works in the series and improving upon that base.

"The core pillars are still social stealth being able to blend into the crowd and finding a way to reach your target without being seen," said Decant. "There is this idea of having the parkour - you can jump around - and then the notion of freedom that combines everything. These are the roots of Assassin's Creed. We will try and work and build upon them."

There's so many places Assassin's Creed can go.

"We cannot tell you that we're happy and this is how we want the game to be and we're going to do ten more games with exactly that same gameplay," he added. "No, we are unhappy. We want to do more. There are lots of things we want to refine on the combat side, on the parkour, on the stealth. So on that we're very happy and I also think we kind of totally exploded the limits of the game by bringing the naval and the ship customization and the ship battles. So we made progress, thanks actually to the thematics that we chose. Next time we will have to find thematics that will help us also to expand the game once again."

Will this be like Naughty Dog's work with the Uncharted series? In each game, Naughty Dog tried to improve its effects in different directions, from Uncharted's water, to Uncharted 2's snow, and Uncharted 3's sand. Can the same be done for Assassin's Creed? Could the team at Ubisoft behind that impressive ocean in Black Flag outdo Naughty Dog with sand in Assassin's Creed: Pharoah's Reign?

Whatever Ubisoft decides to do in the future, I want the series to move forward, not backwards or into stagnation. That's not to say that established assassins like Edward, Connor, or Aveline can't be involved in some respect, but I want to go to new places. I was horrible at history in high school and college, but Assassin's Creed is an interesting glimpse into the past, or at the very least a more exciting one. So what do you want from Assassin's Creed after the excellent Black Flag?

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Comments 15

  • Avatar for touchofkiel #1 touchofkiel 4 years ago
    Everyone seems to be really interested in what setting the series chooses next - which is important, no doubt - but I'd rather see a bigger overhaul of the game mechanics. A bigger emphasis on stealth - challenging, but not the arbitrary elements that the series deals in. Really taking the time to blend in with crowds, using some form of "camo," etc.

    The game is all about illusion, it would seem. It gives us the illusion to climb anything - but all we're doing is holding down a shoulder button and pointing. There's the illusion of stealth - jump in a crowd, or a pile of hay - but these are pretty damn basic. Would love to see something more substantial.

    And of course, do away with escort and following missions.
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  • Avatar for cscaskie #2 cscaskie 4 years ago
    I say this on every "what next for Assassin's Creed" article: I desperately want a industrial revolution era England setting. Rainslick cobblstone streets, filthy smokestacks & coal-faced street urchins. The weapons could be so cool, ala. the recent Sherlock Holmes films.
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  • Avatar for alexb #3 alexb 4 years ago
    I don't have a problem with the mostly automated parkour mechanics, but they really do need to re-emphasize the clandestine aspect of being an assassin. They seemed to be a lot more focused on that in the original game. Even if walking slowly through a security checkpoint with a bunch of monks was not the most exciting time, at least they were thinking about the social stealth thing instead of having you doing a 100 meter dash across a crowded city plaza dressed in a jangling, brightly colored wizard costume.
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  • Avatar for Captain-Gonru #4 Captain-Gonru 4 years ago
    I can understand not wanted to go too modern, but I would still like something right around the turn of the 20th century. Annd the groundwork is there. They have touched on the Tesla vs. Edison issues (Brotherhood's puzzles, I want to say?), and having a new Da Vinci-type character could be fun (and a missed opportunity with Franklin in AC III, I think).
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  • Avatar for jacobrobincg #5 jacobrobincg 4 years ago
    A Wild West type of theme would be great you could make Templars rich coal or gold miners that are actually looking for ancient civilization artifacts and it would fit perfect because there was not many cars out just horses and coal powered trains the only problem is the gun system but assassin creed made muskets work and you could probably make revolver, shotguns and rifles work to.
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  • Avatar for jacobrobincg #6 jacobrobincg 4 years ago
    A Wild West type of theme would be great you could make Templars rich coal or gold miners that are actually looking for ancient civilization artifacts and it would fit perfect because there was not many cars out just horses and coal powered trains the only problem is the gun system but assassin creed made muskets work and you could probably make revolver, shotguns and rifles work to.
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  • Avatar for Arkaprabha #7 Arkaprabha 4 years ago
    I would find no harm if there was a feudal Japan type of thing. But, I would really prefer if the setting of Assassin's Creed V takes place in The Imperial Roman Empire in the BC era to find the origin of the pieces of Eden. Or better if they could put it in the Holy Roman Empire, the predecessor of the Renaissance, where Charlemagne reigned. Or they could also put it in the Norwegian conquest of England; the empire of England from 1200-1300. So many smashingly cool historical settings could be used.Edited December 2013 by Arkaprabha
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  • Avatar for ZetaOzz #8 ZetaOzz 4 years ago
    Why does the next title have to involve open world SEA exploration? It can involve open world LAN exploration just fine, that is what the witcher 3 is going to pull off in this up coming year.

    As far as another era that would work with open world sea exploration, would be the viking era, only one to really come to mind...

    Of course, that is going farther back in time than maybe even ubisoft will want to go, but who knows, they CAN amaze us, ACIV showed us that. As long as they have imagination and knowledge of worlds past, they can put this game into ANY setting of our thousands year+ existence.

    Egypt would be an excellent setting, there would be a lot more AC roots, as it would most likely feature a lot more temple runs and ruin dwellings than AC IV did.

    Of course, if you take egypt into account, you are going to face the same problem as you would with a western setting. Ubisoft sucks at horse animations, but of course, like with the ships, they can improve on this tech obstacle. Once they get horses down, I can see egypt and western settings in this franchises future.

    Don't give me the barren wasteland excuse either, the world didn't just deteriorate over time, there is just as much stuff to climb and swing off of in the egypt era as there would have been in the renaissance or pirate era's.

    I agree that each AC title should feature a new era, but I think the next few games need to sum up the blood/family connection between kenway and ezio, and then we can move forward(or backwards)in time. We have to remember, all of these assassins are related to desmond, correct? Meaning the period from ezio to kenway is somehow erased. This needs to be summed up in a future release, imo.

    True desmond is gone, but we should still follow his blood line, that is what this series is based off of, don't turn this into a SH and spin off into some mythical crazy story that has nothing to do with the original games, that is how a series gets shitfaced. imo

    I like all of those eras mentioned, I could go for an ancient rome assasin.

    Simply can't wait for watch dogs, though...
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  • Avatar for littleredzombiekille #9 littleredzombiekille 4 years ago
    Lets face it whatever they do is gonna kick ass
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  • Avatar for jüśtįñd&#2 #10 jüśtįñd&#2 4 years ago
    To be honest what I'd really like to see is an African American Assassin and that the story took part during the Civil War.
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  • Avatar for mattmolayal15 #11 mattmolayal15 4 years ago
    I would really like to see an assassin in rome with a commander thing where he is more tactical and he leads a group or something. I feel that the series focuses too much on the fact that assassins are fast and strong and doesn't spend enough time on the fact that they are tactical and cunning. IN AC3 Connor say's that for every physical thing he learned,he spent double the time on his mind but we don't see that. Is a smart assassin too much to ask?
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  • Avatar for realdrizzy13 #12 realdrizzy13 4 years ago
    Assassin's creed 3 wasn't a misstep
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  • Avatar for matt31315 #13 matt31315 3 years ago
    There's a couple places I'd like to see assassins creed go, i guess Egypt would be pretty cool, but i wanna see the in places like Ireland and Scotland, there could be some sailing in it that. Australia could have you start out as an Aborigine with boomarangs and other weapons in the Australian Outback, and travel to more Northeast Tropical ares of Australia and even sailing to The Great Barrier Reef. You could be in Africa and could have some tribal weapons and fight off the people trying to take you as slaves and stuff like that. Those are just some ideas that i think they could elaborate on and would make for some pretty cool Assassins Creed games.
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  • Avatar for brycebum3 #14 brycebum3 3 years ago
    I have really been wanting Assassins creed to go to the battle of Thermopylae Pass between the Spartans and the Persians. But I would also like to go to ancient Rome or Japan
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  • Avatar for thomasshaw65 #15 thomasshaw65 3 years ago
    When ubisoft run out of ideas for assassin creed games they should use some of their old ideas maybe make the story different but also make it better
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