5 Ways the New Assassin’s Creed Game Can Save the Franchise
Recently, sources have leaked information about the next game in the Assassin’s Creed franchise. The game is rumored to be set in Ancient Egypt and will be released in 2017 not 2016, allowing more room to develop and publish the game. Apparently, there is a god and he occasionally listens to me. If there’s any franchise that’s in need of a serious reboot, it’s Assassin’s Creed. Their games have been plagued by bugs, excessively large maps, flimsy plots, and mediocre gameplay. I felt zero excitement when I saw the trailer for the most recent game Assassin’s Creed Syndicate. I thought “Goodie, it’s Unity in London.” Based on the underwhelming sales figures, I was not the only one feeling this way.
But for the first time in a while, a swell of hope began to rise when I heard the leaked rumors. Ancient Egypt is a perfect setting for an Assassin’s Creed game. It has sprawling urban environments, massive pyramids to scale, a deep rich history, and an intriguing mythology to delve into. The fact that Ubisoft is taking an extra year to develop this game increases my faith in it. Hopefully, this is a sign that Ubisoft is abandoning its year to year cash grab. Below are five ways that this new game can pull the franchise out of the quagmire it’s dug itself into.
1. Fix the Sandbox
The first Assassin’s Creed was a small, tight, open world. There were collectibles but they took a backseat to the real fun of the game: assassinating people. The levels provided multiple ways, either stealthily or bloodily, to take out your target. But as the series has continued, the sandbox became larger and larger, and the assassinating became less and less important. Now you can’t go five feet without tripping over a document, chest, or other collectible that you need to open. The time spent item hunting or going on fetch or tail missions greatly outnumbered my time murdering people. And if memory serves, the game is called Assassin’s Creed, not Errand Boy Creed.
The new game needs to return to its roots. The first game reminded me of Hitman: Blood Money. It’s been over a decade since I played that game and I still remember many of my assassinations on unwitting targets. The first Assassin’s Creed and Hitman: Blood Money were tightly focused. Your only goal was to assassinate a target and the map served that purpose. The map gave you various options for how to take out your target.
For example, in Hitman there was a level requiring you to execute an English lord and his son at their stately manor. You were dropped in the gardens outside the estate and set loose. You had to infiltrate the gardens before you can infiltrate the estate to reach your target. You could cut a bloody swath through the gardens and shotgun your targets. Or, you could steal a groundskeeper’s outfit and sneak into the house. The house opened up various ways to execute the lord. You could knock out the butler and kill them when you’re bringing their drinks into the study. You could hide in the bathroom and wait to garrote them when one was at his most vulnerable. You could steal a gasoline can from the shed, sneak into the boiler room, and set the house ablaze.
The map was small but focused in its design. It rewarded exploration with new ways to take out your target. You wanted to replay the mission over and over again to find the “best” way to take out your target. The way that made it look like an accident, or the way that only killed the targets without any collateral damage. The way that earned you the vaunted title “Silent Assassin”. The new Assassin’s Creed game would benefit greatly from this kind of map. Forget the collectibles and bring the game back to the bloody catharsis of its previous years.
2. Abandon the Templar vs. Assassin Plot
For its first first few games, the Templar versus Assassin plot was perfectly fine. It fit the Medieval period well and provided a lot of political intrigue. It was also set during a time period when assassination by knives and crossbows was much more commonplace. But as the series developed and began to be set in more and more modern time periods, such as Victorian London and the Golden Age of Pirating, this plot was stretched too thin. A secret war between guilds was believable during the crusades, but completely out of touch with reality by the 1700s. The games’ various magical MacGuffins did little to help this.
Simply forget about the Templars and the Assassins. Ancient Egypt existed centuries before the Templars, so it would be incredibly hard to shoehorn them into the story. Besides, Egypt has such a rich history that you don’t need the Templars or Assassins. There’s at least a dozen interesting stories you can make in this setting. For instance, Moses and the exodus of the Israelites would be a fantastic story for an Ancient Egypt game. The leaders on both sides are compelling. Moses was one of the greatest Israelite patriarchs, filled with charsima and capable of performing miracles and bringing death and disease. Ramses II, it’s disputed who the actual pharaoh was, was the most powerful of all Egyptian pharaohs and one of the greatest ancient rulers. The slaves fighting with righteous zeal against the entrenched establishment is a story as old as time. And it all culminates in a final confrontation within a parted massive river!
Even ignoring the Bible, there are other great plots. For instance, the pharaoh Akhenaton attempted to completely change the Egyptian religion. He decreed there is only one all powerful god named, Aten, and all other gods were false. He essentially tried to eliminate thousands of years of beliefs and negate gods such as Osiris, Anubis, Horus, and others. Akhenaton was afraid that priests were becoming too powerful because there were so many of them because of all the gods. This was an incredibly turbulent time for Egypt. The priests fought Akhenaton to retain their power and the people (as always) were caught in the middle of these two powerful forces. Akhenaton’s death remains shrouded in mystery . Not long after his death, the religious changes were dismantled and Akhenaton became known as the heretic king. This would be an excellent story for a video game. You could be playing both sides, or the assassin for one of the sides.
3.Embrace the Setting
As mentioned above, Ancient Egypt was an incredibly large, influential, and vibrant culture. It had large cities and gorgeous architecture. Dark rituals and strange beliefs filled its mythology. The new game should embrace all of this. You should be allowed to scale The Great Sphinx and the Pyramids of Giza. There should be temples to all the various gods. It’d be fascinating to take part in the mummifying process. Witnessing thousands of slaves erect a monument to one mere man would be so alien to our democratic upbringings that it would make for a haunting backdrop.
4. Tomb Raiding
Let’s borrow a few things from Tomb Raider. Remember, the pyramids were gigantic tombs for Pharaohs. Because of their belief that you could bring worldly possessions into the afterlife, these massive tombs were filled with gold and other treasures. To protect them from burglars and grave robbing, the pyramids were usually booby trapped or protected by an ancient curse that would punish those who desecrated the pyramid. The curse of King Tut’s tomb may have led to deaths of the people who opened it.
It’d be ridiculously fun and tense to explore these tombs. It’d require you to unlock puzzles to reveal secret doors or disarm booby traps. There could be human guardians. Real people were sometimes placed in tombs alive with the pharaohs. Or there could be mystical guardians defending the entombed pharaoh. Stealing massive amounts of gold and treasure then having to escape Indiana Jones style would be a blast. That could even be the the beginning of the game. The desecration of a pyramid would be an impressive set piece to kick off the story.
5.Use the Nile and Make Money Worthwhile
One of the elements that made Assassin’s Creed Black Flag better than its predecessor was that money actually had a use. In Assassin’s Creed III, money had zero purpose. All you could do was build things that would help you generate more money. It was circular since there was nothing worthwhile to spend your money on. Black Flag however made money useful because you could buy items or upgrades that enhanced the gameplay. You could buy upgrades for your ship or better swords or guns. Trade along the lifeblood of Egypt, the Nile, enabled them to grow incredible wealth. This allowed them to finance their massive construction projects and import the necessary materials from foreign lands.
The new game should have a similar system. You could navigate trade boats along the Nile, avoiding rival boats or the dangerous cateracts, and deliver goods for money. You could use this money to upgrade your character, weapons, or bribe powerful people for influence with the pharaoh. Having an actual purpose for wealth immersed me in Black Flag and would also increase immersion in a new game.
These are my suggestions for how Ubisoft can salvage its once great franchise. Comment below if you have any other suggestions or you’re a die hard fan who wants to string me up for daring to impugn on the honor of your beloved games.