Ubisoft came to E3 2013 with a lot to show off, and there’s no denying that they’ve got some incredibly exciting new games coming out over the next couple of years. Assassin’s Creed is getting its next annual installment in the form of Assassin’s Creed IV: Black Flag, a pirate-themed tale that will take advantage of the widely popular naval battle mechanics from Assassin’s Creed III, as well as introducing new features such as underwater explanation.
Other highlights on Ubisoft’s roster include Watch Dogs, their new IP set in an open world environment where just about anything that uses electricity can be hacked, arcade racing game The Crew – which Game Rant tried out and decided was probably going to find a fanbase amongst hardcore racing gamers – and end-of-days sci-fi Tom Clancy’s The Division. However, there were a few games that many are waiting for news on, but which didn’t even come close to getting their own booth or announcement at the expo.
Eurogamer met with Ubisoft’s EMEA director Alain Corre at E3 and pursued the matter of three rumored series follow-ups that many gamers are desperate to know more about: Far Cry 4, Beyond Good and Evil 2, and the next addition to the Prince of Persia franchise.
Of those three titles, you’d think that the one most likely to be on Ubisoft’s priorities list is Far Cry 4, since Far Cry 3 outperformed the publisher’s original sales projections, recently passing the six million units mark in sales of the main game, with Far Cry 3: Blood Dragon becoming Ubisoft’s fastest-selling DLC title in the history of the company. Even with a sequel that seems guaranteed, Corre warned that Ubisoft might be planning to take its time getting to Far Cry 4:
“We haven’t announced anything yet. We’re thinking of the future of this brand. We don’t know yet when it will emerge. Again, it’s cooking. Something is cooking!”
There’s been a definite sense from those involved with Far Cry 3 that they’re excited about what’s coming next in the series, whilst at the same time not being allowed to say anything about it. At least year’s launch party, executive producer Dan Hay reportedly responded to an inquiry about the Far Cry 4, “I won’t answer that question, but what you can say is that you saw me smile.” Most interesting of all, however, is lead writer Jeffrey Yohalem’s reveal earlier this year that he was working on a new Far Cry experience. Game Rant has since heard confirmation that Yohalem wasn’t involved in the making of Far Cry 3: Blood Dragon at all, which makes it seem likely that Ubisoft has brought the writer back to work on Far Cry 4.
A far less sure bet is the much-pined for sequel to Beyond Good and Evil, which went quiet for many years and was recently announced to be a next-gen title (though that could simply mean that the delay will continue on into the next generation of consoles). Somewhat predictably, Corre remained optimistic but non-committal when pressed for details about how close Beyond Good and Evil 2 was to being put back on the front burner:
“There are some iterations on it. Some games are taking longer to be done, depending also on the creativity the creator can bring. You see the level of quality of the games today is very high. It takes time to find the right angle and message… These kind of brands are part of Ubisoft’s DNA. It will happen when it will be perfect.”
Rumors of a new Prince of Persia game being in the works came to light earlier this year when some concept art for what appeared to be a new entry to the series was leaked online. With that in mind, Eurogamer pressed Corre for more details on whether fans of the genre-defining adventure platforming franchise could expect to see a continuation in the near future. If you’ve noticed the pattern forming over his previous quotes, you can probably guess that the Ubisoft boss wasn’t about to give a simple yes or no answer.
“All our franchises are always in gestation. We are iterating. We are thinking about what can be done. But we can’t bring all the games and all the franchises every year. We have a lot on the show floor this year already… It will happen when we feel it is ready, when the creators have brought something interesting. That’s the case for all our franchises. They’re cooking. Some are cooking longer than others, but they’re cooking.”
Such comments could be taken as either very encouraging or extraordinarily frustrating for fans of Ubisoft series that are currently in limbo, but considering the negative backlash that there has been against the publisher choosing to release an Assassin’s Creed game every year, it’s actually quite encouraging to hear Corre say that other series won’t move ahead until there are some genuinely good ideas in place. After all, it would be easy to churn out sequels as soon as possible and milk multiple cash cows simultaneously, but putting developers under that kind of pressure could well lead to a drop in quality overall.
As an educated guess based on Corre’s words, it sounds like Far Cry 4 is the project most likely to be announced first (unsurprising, since the series so far has become progressively more successful with each entry), but Beyond Good and Evil 2 and the next Prince of Persia game are on hold until Ubisoft finds the time and resources they would need to invest in them, and the developers come up with story ideas that are strong enough to be considered worthy of investment.
What do you think of Ubisoft’s “cooking” recipe? Do you want your sequels on a slow simmer or – in the case of games like Beyond Good and Evil 2 – have you been waiting for so long now that you wish the publisher would just flash fry them into production?