‘Assassin’s Creed’ Writer Talks Future of the Series

Jan 30, 2014 by  

Edward Kenway in Assassin's Creed 4

Success in the triple-A video game space is hard to find, but with Assassin’s Creed, Ubisoft hit the jackpot. Every fan and gamer knows the story: a promising first title gave way to a polished and refined sequel, and the publisher has kept annual entries and spin-offs coming ever since.

The story has changed, but the series’ lead writer doesn’t see that as cause for concern. Citing the recent critical success of Assassin’s Creed 4: Black Flag, he believes that the future of the franchise has never been brighter; even if traditional storytelling becomes less and less important.

While fan enthusiasm for the modern day portions of the game – which followed modern-day Assassin Desmond Miles – and the historical memories – Miles’ ancestors – may be somewhat uneven, especially in terms of gameplay, it became clear that the series was, for better or worse, Desmond’s story. But with Desmond now gone, and the developers having claimed that there certainly is an ending for the series in mind, where does the franchise go next?

Assassins Creed 3 Desmond Juno

Speaking with Edge, Darby McDevitt – story and script writer for both Assassin’s Creed: Revelations and Black Flag, as well as other series tie-ins – explained that Ubisoft’s plan for the series has been changing for some time. First, it was the shift from an Abstergo satellite to the end of the world as the event driving the plot, and now it includes stepping away from its former hero:

“The end of the Desmond trilogy changed slightly but it was always intended to end that way. And then about two years ago we planned for another story – there’s been a bit of confusion in that [Black Flag game director Ashraf Ismail] once said that Assassin’s Creed has an ending – that’s not exactly true. This storyline has an ending, but because all of history is open to us we see the universe as a Doctor Who type thing. There are so many possibilities we don’t want to definitively end the universe, but we can have storylines that have endings.”

The fans may debate just how much of an ending Assassin’s Creed 3 really offered, other than removing Desmond’s presence in the overall fiction. The developers left themselves with a wide-open modern setting in which to expand on the mythology of the Animus, the Assassins, and the Templars.

That being said, the surprisingly successful response to the pirate theme of Black Flag is already building buzz that Ubisoft might consider launching it as a standalone series, tied to the core AC fiction in a less pronounced fashion. But even if Ubisoft chooses to “end” that particular story – and Black Flag left hero Edward Kenway with more than enough sequel potential – they’re faced with a new problem: make another naval title, or tailor the next story to include it due to its popularity?

Naval combat in 'Assassin's Creed IV: Black Flag'

It’s grounds for a ‘damned if you do, damned if you don’t’ deseign dilemma – or is it? According to McDevitt, the next game won’t need to be a pirate tale to build on the breakthrough:

“There’s often ways to creatively use old technology for new things. One of the things that made ACIII’s naval combat possible – and then of course ACIV – is that we were able to have characters climb and walk around on dynamically moving objects. With ACIII we started working on that technology and it fed into the naval combat because the boats are constantly moving as opposed to being fixed to the ground, so all of this technology, it might appear in future games – it might just not be on boats. It might appear in a completely different way.”

We can’t even begin to imagine what other forms the core gameplay of Black Flag could take, but it’s good to know the developers are up to the task. Especially since the success with which Black Flag‘s open world fed into the story experience, challenging players to live as Edward Kenway would have, not wasting hours as the -always-pressed-for-time Ezio Auditore.

It might sound surprising to hear it coming from a writer, but McDevitt sees the gameplay of Black Flag doing much of the work as a good thing, and something players will likely see more of in the coming years:

“I think that the future of open world storytelling is actually more experimental than people give it credit for… I’ve always looked at something like Joyce’s Ulysses as the model, where you don’t focus on plot so much as world building and character over a driving, focused single person narrative. And you focus on making sure the character matches the theme as closely as possible so that when the player goes off on his or her own, it feels in character.

Assassins Creed Watch Dogs Sony Exclusive 6 Months

“I think we hit that pretty well in Black Flag. I was less interested in driving the plot forward and more into making the player feel like a pirate – this theme of constant acquisition that’s so common in games fits the setting so well.”

The development team has already claimed that the perpetual, MMO-like world of Watch_Dogs will be blazing a trail for the rest of Ubisoft’s franchises, so how it will work to help the singleplayer experience, not just multiplayer will be interesting to see.

Of course, one can’t bring up the future of Assassin’s Creed without descending into conspiracy theories or speculation. But anyone pointing to the Abstergo Entertainment emails suggesting future settings may want to relax, as McDevitt owns up to giving the community a taste of its own medicine:

“The email thread that’s in the game, I wrote that very swiftly in an afternoon… the time periods I picked were not necessarily the ones we were considering, it was just me parodying the ones that the fans had asked for back to them. So the fans generated that list, we didn’t generate that list.

“I will say that fans definitely think alike. We have the same goals for the series, let’s say. I’ll leave it at that. We always want to surprise.”

What are your hopes for the next Assassin’s Creed game given how much Black Flag got right? Have any theories on what the studio could be up to next, or is it too soon to even speculate? Apparently we might be in store for not one, but two sequels this year, so who knows what’s possible.

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Follow Andrew on Twitter @andrew_dyce.

Source: Edge

9 Comments

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  1. Personally I dont care about the navy battles. Thats not an assassin to me. Assassins creed was cool because you had to be stealthy.
    I am done with this series until they bring back being a true assassin as a front and center theme. Not pillaging and plundering.
    But to each their own.

    Plus I still want to see a shogun assassins creed.

    • To me 4 had almost nothing to do with Assassin’s creed he wasn’t even an assassin he never once joined the ranks he had the mind set of one but never became one so the assassins creed brand should have never been applied to this game… but I’m with you 100% they need to make the assassins the main focus of the game again I thought they would be going to Japan after the Embers film but they totally disregarded that whole thing… I wanna play as Ezio’s apprentice!

  2. I personally loved the navy sea battles because I’m so damn tired of Assassin’s Creed and have been since Revelations. I see the story as never ending and was looking for a good piracy sim. If the ships hadn’t been there, I wouldn’t have bothered.

  3. Ending the story was never the goal. I don’t know why they’d pretend it ever was. Ubi is in the business of making the same money the same way whenever possible, just like EA.

  4. That is why IMO i think that Japanese setting could be re-freshener to the franchise because certainly you will have stealth and melee, and on the other hand you will again have a good diversity when compared to previous games

    1.Middle-East
    2.Reneiscance
    3.Founding Fathers (America)
    4.Pirates
    5.Dynasties

  5. Am I the only one who thinks AC4 is dreadfully dull?

    • No you are not. Once we start seeing true next gen gameplay elements from other games the AC franchise will either need to make huge adjustments or it will crash and burn. The gameplay is way too generic.

  6. AC4 was a good game to play with excellent mechanics and graphics- but the story was very, very lite. The morally ambiguous story of AC3 was far superior.

    Very disappointing to hear Ubi going back on the “There IS an overall end planned” for the sake of $$, but what else should we expect? Sadly it means that one day the series will run out of steam (ie, sales) and then it will be unceremoniously killed off.

    And no to the Japanese samurai stuff. Done to death in other media. Dull, dull, dull.

  7. I loved AC4 after having never played any other Assassin Creed. I think the naval battles made it interesting. As far the stealth aspect, you can always play splinter cell. I could careless about the multiplayer aspect of game. Hope for added content.

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