Shortly after Ubisoft confirmed the existence, and Fall release, of Assassin’s Creed 4: Black Flag, a rumor from the reliable sleuths at VGLeaks surfaced reporting that Ubisoft had two Assassin’s Creed games in development for 2013.
Instinctively, speculation centered around the notion that a PlayStation Vita game, like last year’s Assassin’s Creed 3: Liberation, would release alongside the core console/PC installment. Days later, however, it was swallowed up in the maelstrom of fanfare swirling around Ubisoft’s full Black Flag unveiling — which came complete with a trailer; screenshots; story, gameplay and character details; and a minor animal rights controversy involving the whaling industry.
But then came Assassin’s Creed: Rising Phoenix. Well, a shadowy image and logo for something named Assassin’s Creed: Rising Phoenix that allegedly leaked internally from Ubisoft — but you get the idea. Umbral in composition but shining with intrigue, the image depicted what appeared to be an Animus staging facility adorned with insignias of the Erudito Collective (Abstergo’s sworn enemies). It rekindled rumors regarding the aforementioned, unnamed PS Vita project; however, crediting its creation to Ubisoft Digital Arts, the cinema production wing of the company, it also had many speculating on ties to the upcoming Assassin’s Creed film staring Michael Fassbender, a short film a la AC: Embers, or a more ancillary spinoff such as a Facebook or mobile phone game.
Today solidified the Vita theory. A second image — concept art this time; you can enlarge it below — has leaked online through AllGamesBeta, and while it contains the same Ubisoft Digital Arts disclaimer, its appearance coincided with a listing on Spanish retailer XtraLife’s website denoting Rising Phoenix as a Vita title releasing October 10. The listing, though quickly removed, was screen-capped by AGB and clearly displays a placeholder image for a Vita cover, as well as pricing and rating information and a pre-order button.
It’s a professionally prepared product listing as professionally prepared product listings go. And unless XtraLife, a prominent online retailer in Spain, concocted the collateral details on their own, it’s likely their information was received directly from the publisher, Ubisoft. Furthermore, the artistic direction of the Rising Phoenix concept art — rich arctic blue and gray coloring, shadow and lighting effects, more than a modicum of set detail — ranges far beyond what any studio would likely prepare for a Facebook game, or even a mobile phone title.
With all indicators pointing to the legitimacy of Rising Phoenix as an upcoming Assassin’s Creed Vita game, it’s interesting to note the contrasts between its two images. The characters in the concept art appear to be Abstergo, not Erudito, scientists — their coats bear a distinctly untilted triangular logo — and their facility seems decidedly more… remote; dark, cavernous, and frozen away somewhere at a temperature of -26 C. The events of Assassin’s Creed 3 dealt some significant setbacks to Abtsergo’s multinational, all-seeing corporate overlord ambitions. Could Rising Pheonix involve the two rival industries engaging in a power struggle, deciding who rules AC‘s post-2012 new world?
Follow Brian on Twitter @Brian_Sipple.