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Editorial

Assassin’s Creed Didn’t Need Restructuring

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I believe that Assassin’s Creed didn’t need restructuring. I will get hate for saying this. I will get people who won’t agree with me. I will get very few people who actually do agree with me. But the common denominator among all of these: I don’t care, it’s my opinion.

The AC series, as I will refer to it from here on out, never became stagnant or repetitive to me. Syndicate was a welcome shift, but didn’t make a total change at the same scale that Ubisoft CEO Yves Guillemot teased in a recent Gamespot interview. Several of my fellow writers will vehemently disagree with me on my belief that every game in the franchise was good both on their own and looked at as a whole.

AC2 was a major departure from the mechanics of its predecessor. The same cannot be said for the next few titles through Syndicate. Anna Karasik, a fellow editorial writer for OnlySP like myself, wrote a piece recently that lauded the same well-publicized and mostly-positively-received Guillemot interview. In the editorial, Anna mentions how the series has seemed to only go downhill since the death of Desmond Miles in AC3. A few people on the official Ubisoft forums I used to frequent also droned on and on about why Ubisoft decided to take a pseudoscience route to resolve the present-day timeline conflict.

It’s odd — the direction of the plot of the series has really clicked with me. I started actively following AC back during development of Brotherhood. How they closed out the story of Desmond combined with the spinoff comics series (The Fall and The Chain) was very satisfying, but quite abrupt.

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But enough about story — let me get into gameplay. As I already mentioned, AC2 was the biggest all-around departure from its predecessor than any installment since then. From its breaking of the monotony and repetition of AC1 to its epic music and assassination/combat mechanics, I hope most of you, our dear readers, will agree that it was a great game overall. The innovations of Brotherhood and Revelations included a more fluid combat system and throwbacks to AC1’s Altair, with both also revolving around the pseudoscience-approach modern-day storyline while the player takes the role of Desmonds’ ancestor, Ezio Auditore. .

AC3 came next, wrapping up Desmond’s story with a nice bow on top of a visually jam-packed and quite-frankly stabby-stab-stab fun package. The addition of hunting and a revamped stealth mechanic kept things fresh and interesting. Unfortunately, the next installment, ACIV: Black Flag, didn’t add a whole lot that’s really different from AC3, with the notable exception of pirates (yay for flintlock pistols and cutlasses, and Blackbeard of course) and the stereotypes that come with them — no Desmond, and a disembodied, nameless and voiceless Abstergo employee. AC Unity brought players to the French Revolution as Arno Dorian, and introduced the crossbow/hidden blade hybrid phantom blade. Released on the same day as Unity was AC Rogue, a game that took the series on a darker story path. Shay Cormac is an assassin-turned-Templar, but for reasons that aren’t so black and white.

Last but not least is AC Syndicate, the latest installment in the series and the last of the major games in the franchise. Brutal and more visceral than any of the past entries, Syndicate introduced Jacob and Evie Frye, the first playable sibling main characters of AC. Cane swords and metal knuckles added flare and style to beating someone to a pulp in Victorian London. Bare-knuckle brawling wasn’t out of the question, however, since both Jacob and Evie are equally capable of dispatching anyone while armed or unarmed. I loved the combination of all that was good from the past games in Syndicate, such as fluid combat, multiple weapons, stealth, navigation and mission mechanics.

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So there you have it. Sure there was some necessary repetition in many of the installments. Sure there were some technical problems and issues. Heck, there were even some moments of “Why am I still playing this?” after my nth attempt at trying to get perfect synchronization in a memory or overpower Cesare Borgia in a one-on-one.

But despite all of that, I still don’t think AC needed the revamp everyone keeps saying it does. I don’t think Ubisoft needed to take such drastic development timeline choices. Let’s go over some tips for whatever Ubisoft ends up cooking up in Assassin’s Creed Empire: Take the games at face value; Try to have some patience and strategy; Trial-and-error never hurt anyone; Taste the story, so to speak; When frustration strikes, take a breath and try again; Whenever you think one of the titles sucks while playing, look for a silver lining; and most of all, play for fun.

Live by the Creed, die by the Blade.

Please stay with us here at Only Single Player (OnlySP.com) and our Facebook, Twitter and Youtube accounts for all the latest news, previews, reviews, opinions and much more on Assassin’s Creed: Empire and the rest of the world of single-player gaming!

The opinions in this editorial are the author’s (a.k.a. mine only) and do not represent OnlySP as an organization.

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Editorial

Three Single-Player Games to Watch Out for in July 2019

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Three Single Player Games (July 2019) - Sea of Solitude, Fire Emblem Three Houses, Wolfenstein Youngblood

July, the middle of winter down here in Australia. Even in the bizarre New South Wales climate, the biting cold makes for a great excuse to stay inside and play games. 

Weirdly for single players, quite a few prestige games this month include additional co-op modes. With acclaimed designers behind them, such games will hopefully avoid the pitfalls of accommodating multiple players, as too many games have done in the past.

Sea of Solitude

Release Date: July 5, 2019
Platforms: PC, PlayStation 4 and Xbox One

At first blush, Sea of Solitude looks like yet another story of a young adult struggling with questions of identity and mental health while exploring a beautiful but harsh fantasy world.

Actually, that’s what it is. ‘Quirky, life affirming indie adventure’ is a whole cottage industry these days, but the fact that such games are now more prevalent should never dismay.

Hellblade: Senua’s Sacrifice was a masterpiece of refined design and storytelling, and Sea of Solitude appears be something similar—this time dealing with a fantastical vision of depression that turns ordinary people into literal monsters.

Players take charge of Kay, who has sought out the eponymous Sea—or rather, a flooded city based on Berlin—in the hope that there is a cure for monstrosity. However, despite its name, she is not the only person in the Sea. Avoiding the other monsters of the Sea seems to be a major part of the gameplay. These tense encounters are likely to provide rhythm and variety to the adventure and keep it from being a just walking simulator. (Not that being a walking simulator is inherently a problem.)

Although published by EA Originals, one would do well to remember that EA the company does not actually profit off the Originals that they publish. With a focused story and themes that still are not often explored in bigger games, Sea of Solitude should be of great interest to single player fans in a month otherwise dominated by multiplayer titles.

 

Fire Emblem: Three Houses

Release Date: July 26, 2019
Platform: Nintendo Switch

Almost certainly the biggest single player release of the month, and tied with Marvel Ultimate Alliance 3 as another massive Switch exclusive, Fire Emblem: Three Houses might be exactly what single players need right now.

Lately the Fire Emblem franchise has exploded in both its popular profile and sales success, buoyed by a hunger for both deep anime RPGs and polished tactics games. Three Houses seems to have doubled down on exciting trends and features in both genres: particularly a Persona/Harry Potter inspired magic school setting and an even deeper tactical battle system that ditches the rock-paper-scissors for more nuanced character progression options. As with many Japanese RPGs, the story is also a major focus and hinges upon a time-jump.

The early part casts the player as a teacher at the Officer’s Academy, situated in the center of the game world and attended by students from the three most powerful nations. Five years later, the second and likely larger part concerns the drama between the player’s teacher and their former students, whose nations are now locked in a massive three-way conflict.

As is to be expected for a series finally coming back to consoles after a long time on the 3DS, Three Houses is a massive technical leap over its predecessors. The game boasts better realised battlefields, more detailed armies, and a slick animated style that appears much more consistent compared with the three or four different art styles on the 3DS.

With such improvements, as well as the overall pedigree of the Fire Emblem brand, Three Houses should have no trouble satisfying single player fans looking for a meaty middle-of-the-year RPG.

Wolfenstein: Youngblood

Release Date: July 26, 2019
Platforms: Nintendo Switch, PC, PlayStation 4, and Xbox One

The recent Wolfenstein revival series is such a remarkable achievement in traditional shooter design and great, if goofy, sci-fi worldbuilding that the co-op focus of this latest instalment is somewhat disappointing.

Yes, as with F.E.A.R. 3 and Dead Space 3, following a well-received second chapter the Wolfenstein series now pivots to a co-operative focused chapter. Though the game is not a mandatory multiplayer experience, combat encounters and puzzles have been redesigned to accommodate the two player mode, giving single players an AI-controlled partner and bullet sponge enemies.

However, all hope is not lost for Wolfenstein: why else would it be the third game on the list? The narrative has been pushed forward in time, as B.J.’s twin daughters are now in their adolescence, now giving players a glimpse at the 1980s of Wolfenstein‘s skewed universe. Additionally, the level design itself is more freeform thanks to development assistance from Arkane, the developers of the Dishonored series.

Will Wolfenstein: Youngblood successfully deliver more of the series’s goofy charm and crazy alternate reality? Almost certainly. On the other hand, will the game be as fun to play alone as in multiplayer? That remains to be seen. Last month’s E3 demo that raised such concerns was naturally only a snapshot of a game in development, so MachineGames and Arkane have had plenty of time to resolve these potential downsides to a co-op focused game.

Those are our three big single player games to look out for this month. Other interesting titles coming soon include Stranger Things 3 on July 4 and Attack on Titan 2 on July 5, both games hitting Nintendo Switch, PC, PlayStation 4, and Xbox One.

On July 12 we will see the sequel to an almost-fantastic Minecraft-like RPG spinoff, Dragon Quest Builders 2 on Switch and PlayStation 4, as well as the Switch port of “anime Monster Hunter”, God Eater 3

The week after, July 19 brings us Switch-exclusive Marvel Ultimate Alliance 3: The Black Order, and at an undetermined time during the month Klei Entertainment’s anticipated survival-sim Oxygen Not Included will finally leave early access on PC.

Have we missed anything that you’re looking forward to? Let us know in the comments below and be sure bookmark OnlySP and follow us on Facebook, Twitter, and YouTube. You can also join the discussion in our community Discord server.

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