Just like how the scheming templars complete the Assassin’s Creed story, a gamer’s journey would be incomplete without an antagonist. From the dastardly disc takeover to the grievous pay-to-win model, enemies take many forms throughout history. In this day and age, the live service genre is enemy number one. Whenever a new trailer drops for a game such as Redfall or Suicide Squad, fans pray it won’t delve into live service territory. In fact, there are a few companies that use this hatred to their marketing advantages such as Square Enix and their single-player-focused Guardian’s of the Galaxy.
The truth is, fans have been burned too many times. The most recent example is Marvel’s Avengers, which suffered from the live service trope – tedious grind. Anthem failed due to an empty world among several other issues. Considering all this, it’s no surprise that people are disappointed by the announcement of Assassin’s Creed Infinity, a live service take on Ubisoft’s premier franchise. In a headline that mentions Assassin’s Creed and live service, it’s only natural to freak out, a reaction based on jumping to conclusions.
It’s easy to think of live service as multiplayer, looting, and grinding, but it doesn’t need to be that way. A live service model means that the developer keeps player longevity by continuously updating a game. This approach – a living, breathing Assassin’s Creed Hub – is a better formula than the annual $70 mainline game.
What We Know
This immediate frustration was sparked by a single headline. Journalists, or in most cases editors, face a neverending struggle to create the perfect headline. It must encapsulate a story’s main idea while teasing what is to come. That’s exactly what Bloomberg did with their Assassin’s Creed story, which forced an official reveal by Ubisoft and created the next industry talking point.
Naming the story “Ubisoft Plans Assassin’s Creed Live Online Game Service ” was a clever decision but, of course, many people don’t read past the headline. Taken at face value this reads like an ongoing Assassin’s Creed multiplayer game in the vein of Destiny. Before jumping to such conclusions, let’s dive into the story itself and explore Jason Schreier’s reporting.
Schreier describes the project as a platform for different Assassin’s Creed games. Rather than releasing a new location every year or every other year through different mainline games, Infinity consists of an ever-growing set of locations in a single game. The Assassin’s Creed games have always revolved around different historical settings and figures, whether they were the Vikings of England or Victorian London gangs in Syndicate. Infinity is rounding all the settings and experiences under one cohesive umbrella.
Cohesion goes beyond the game itself but the development teams, as well. Whereas Ubisoft Montreal and Ubisoft Quebec took turns heading specific Assassin’s Creed projects, Infinity will result in a collaborative effort between the two teams. Of course, with the release over three years out, there are many details left to be uncovered. However, the Massive Multiplayer Online game that people fear seems pretty far-fetched for Assassin’s Creed and the facts we know now. In fact, the MMO echo chamber is so profound that Schreier re-enforced his knowledge through a Tweet emphasizing Infinity as a platform. He also confirmed that any multiplayer elements are unknown at this point.
What It Could Be
The following is only speculation based on what we know. It shouldn’t be taken as fact, but hopefully, it will inspire fans to ponder the potential positives of this announcement.
Assassin’s Creed Infinity could be a fully playable animus, a departure from its limited implementation in the past. This simulation device was once subjugated to the time and setting of a specific historical figure, but it must grow like the series itself. As an alternative to being forced into a specific storyline, the animus now lets the player choose between a variety of stories from across time. Essentially, the hub nature of Infinity already fits into and improves an established plot device.
If that’s hard to grasp then picture Hitman 3. Along with the conclusion of Agent 47’s storyline, Hitman 3 also comprises every level from Hitman 1 and 2. In other words, Hitman 3 could be considered the Hitman hub – the go-to place for everything Hitman. That’s the dream for Infinity except on a much larger scale.
The developers will add new stories, following new assassins and characters until eventually, the player has a whole history to choose from. Consider logging into Infinity and playing as an assassin in ancient Japan. After hitting a good stopping point, the player can load into the 1920s and follow an entirely different character. It’s the whole Assassin’s Creed universe at your fingertips.
Another positive implication is the possible experimentation with the Assassin’s Creed formula. Currently, the annual Assassin’s Creed release has to top the last in size and scope. Infinity will create a platform where development teams won’t have to subside to that pressure because it’ll contribute to an ever-growing platform of context.
This is especially exciting because the words “big” and “large scale” often harms Assassin’s Creed. Games like Assassin’s Creed Valhalla and Odyssey grow tedious due to their overindulgence in repetitive side content. Infinity would allow developers to stray away from that formula and make a more concise game where every action actually matters. If Assassin’s Creed can diversify its formula then Infinity will provide a diverse set of games for each individual’s specific desires.
A franchise as big as Assassin’s Creed garners a lot of fans with conflicting needs. Some fans enjoy the open-world RPG format while others miss the stealth-heavy, smaller cities of older entries. Infinity can provide varying experiences to satisfy every player. The 100 hour RPG will be offered alongside an Uncharted-inspired linear adventure. It’s Ubisoft’s best approach to pleasing their massive fan base.
Of course, everything we’ve said is speculation based on limited facts. We only hope fans can see the positives of Infinity before jumping to the negatives. For sure, though, Assassin’s Creed Infinity will not be an MMO, and that’s a comfort for us all. Until we get more concrete information, we’ll choose to give Infinity the benefit of the doubt. At the very least Ubisoft is trying something new with an already successful franchise, and that should be celebrated.