Breathing fresh air into the Assassin’s Creed series is what Ubisoft needs to do to keep the series original, because eventually, sticking yet more daggers into the backs of even more Loyalist Lobsters is going to grate on us. That’s likely the reason why they’ve recently put out a survey asking players for their thoughts. But this isn’t your average run of the mill ‘did getting blasted to smithereens by a Man O’ War in Assassin’s Creed 4: Black Flag make you cry like a wimp or spur you on?’ as Ubi’s suggested changes could be completely mind blowing or utterly disastrous for the series. Having taken the survey, I’ve rounded up the juiciest bits of info from it, which you can read about here.
DISCLAIMER: Participants of the survey weren’t allowed to reproduce any of the material in it, hence why there aren’t any screenshots or direct quotes from it in this post. However, while I’m fairly certain that discussing what was asked in the survey doesn’t violate the terms, Ubisoft could potentially ask me to take this down, so share it around while you can!
1. Was There Too Much Naval/Land Gameplay?
One of the key questions Ubisoft were keen to get answered by players of Assassin’s Creed 4 was how well the naval/land balance worked in the game. Of course, we know that Ubisoft were keen to stress ‘naval combat with no loading screens’ as a copy shifting feature before the game’s release but now they’d like to see if it paid off. And why would such a question prop up in a survey? My next two points can answer just that.
2. Did The Pirate Theme Fit The Game?
Did the swashbuckling gameplay put a fire in your belly like a gallon of rum? Or did it appeal to you as much as much as a bout of scurvy? Ubisoft seem to be hoping for the former as the responses to this question could gauge whether or not take to the seas once more in Assassin’s Creed, or if the days of doubloon robbing and Royal Navy bothering are over.
3. Would The Pirate Theme Work as Standalone Gameplay? Would You Be Interested in Playing a Pirate Game?
By far the most intriguing question of all the ways that Ubisoft used to gauge opinion in the survey was to outright ask whether or not players would approve of a standalone pirate title. We know that it’s been a massive draw to the series, but it seems like Ubi are very much interested in letting Assassin’s Creed do its own backstabby thing while they use the interest in peg legs and privateering to launch an entirely new franchise. Ubisoft have more than enough teams in their wheelhouse to do it and, as the survey suggests, they’re certainly keen.
4. Was Assassin’s Creed as Open World as GTA V and Skyrim?
Another round of questions that struck me were various comparisons to other hit games. Did you like Far Cry 3? Have you played The Elder Scrolls: Skyrim? Well yes to both of those, Ubisoft, but why does it matter? Apparently Ubi are looking to beef up Assassin’s Creed on the open world front, even doing so much as to ask to compare Assassins’ Creed 4: Black Flag’s dense Caribbean world to that of GTA V and the aforementioned Skyrim. This bodes well for the series’ future as some criticism of the game was that there just was not enough diversity in activities.
5. Did You Like Charles Vane and James Kidd?
Vane and Kidd were not the only ones they asked about but it seems that Ubisoft are really pushing the agenda for a star-studded standalone pirates title. There are obviously a whole host of characters that they could include, with anyone who made it out of AC4 with their eye-patch and Captain’s hat in one piece being fair game for future titles. I’m guessing, however, that their inclusion will very much depend on the survey (it was sent to Ubisoft newsletter sign ups, so the scope for this thing was pretty big).
6. Tablet and Smartphone Apps
Another boat that Ubisoft are also chomping at the bit to push out to sea is that of a second screen. It’s kind of a no-brainer that it helps the publisher to get the word out about updates and DLC when it rolls around but extra interactivity has been somewhat polarising, with those who can’t access these apps feeling left out and those who can often feeling underwhelmed by the prospect of smearing a touchscreen with digits when far more interesting action on your TV is more deserving of your time. The survey asked what we thought of the Assassins’ Creed 4 smartphone app at least, so I would expect this second screen business to continue long on in the future.
7. Multiple Historical Figures
Also delved into by the survey was the very specific question of whether or not Assassin’s Creed 4: Black Flag’s insistence on having multiple ‘key enemies’, as well as the inclusion of plenty of historical figures to pique your interest (AC4 had multiple Templars pitted against you as your worst enemy, rather than Assassin’s Creed 2’s selection of Borgias). Personally, I preferred it when the dastardly Borgia pope was the main target of your anti-Templar hatred, as opposed to a smorgasbord of main players vying to be the next dead target at the end of your blade, but depending on whether a lot of people dis/agree with me, Ubisoft will likely be shaping the next games (of which there are rumoured to be two this year, for last and current gen) around the responses.
8. Customisable Hero
Assassin’s Creed has always been a quasi-RPG, with its world upgrades and extremely non-linear activities, let’s face it. The only thing stopping AC from the next level of RPG-dom is the character that you get to play. Long has the series been a supporter of diverse characters and protagonists (Altair and Aveline) but if Ubisoft’s survey suggestion is anything to go by, we’ll soon be stuck for choice. The obvious downside to this is that character-led stories could be a thing of the past unless Ubisoft are willing to tailor the game to predetermined relationships (to avoid having things like Edward’s relationship with his wife not fit a player-made character whom the player might have decided isn’t hetero/bisexual).
9. Adewale and Aveline
Disappointing as it may be, but it looks like the future for our favourite female protagonist, Aveline de Grandpre, may be bleak, as she as the only character not asked about in any capacity during the survey. A character who was asked about, however, was Adewale, a former slave and Edward Kenway’s right hand man, who was also granted his own DLC in Assassins’ Creed 4: Black Flag. Suggesting that he is one character who we will be lucky enough to see in a spin-off game or few of his own.
UPDATE: Since the time of writing, Ubisoft have announced that Adewale’s DLC, Assassin’s Creed Freedom Cry, will be released as a standalone title that you won’t need Assassin’s Creed 4: Black Flag to play.
Do you think that these changes to Assassin’s Creed will improve the series or hinder it? – Leave a comment below and let me know.