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Editorial

Assassin’s Creed Taking the Year Off was the Right Call by Ubisoft

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Back in October 2015, during my infancy months with OnlySP, I wrote about how Yearly Single Player Releases Were Becoming Their Own Downfall with Assassin’s Creed: Syndicate releasing that week. The bigwigs at Ubisoft must have clearly read my article, as this year there will be no new Assassin’s Creed adventure.

As mentioned in my editorial, I am a fan of the Assassin’s Creed series. I have played every flagship console release since the first iteration during the Third Crusade up until the somewhat underwhelming Assassin’s Creed: Unity during the French Revolution with a general feeling of content during each playthrough (besides the first and last entries). The let-down of Unity after the exceptional Black Flag was especially disappointing and prompted me to forego purchasing Syndicate due in large parts to the competition Ubisoft faced last year.

Assassin’s Creed: Unity wasn’t a particularly bad game. In fact, it looked fantastic as the first fully next-gen AC, but the feeling of repetition over years of similar gameplay along with an uninspiring story littered with a myriad of bugs and glitches was the final straw for me and seemingly many others. For years, I had clamoured for an entry based in my home country of England, but not even the London setting of Syndicate could draw me back in. According to ibtimes, the first-week sales of Assassin’s Creed: Syndicate in the UK failed to match “any of the major entries in the famous series,” despite an assumed higher interest in the English setting.

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As series fatigue sets in, it’s essential that Ubisoft re-invigorate their stealth-based adventure series in future titles, which frankly just hasn’t happened in the last couple of years. Despite promises of multiple changes during E3 and other annual events, the gameplay is vastly similar to the previous years, give-or-take the odd new feature. Taking a year off is exactly what the developers need to do to re-establish their fanbase and win over all the critics (like me!).

It’s not like Ubisoft are twiddling their thumbs in 2016 anyway with the release of Far Cry Primal in the last couple of weeks as well as the imminent release of The Division (with OSP’s own Lance discussing its single player content here). Ubisoft is a huge corporation now with multiple offices all over the world dedicated to specific games, hence the ability to churn out such huge titles while taking a year out from what is arguably their most popular in Assassin’s Creed. In fact, Assassin’s Creed: Chronicles has seen the release of its final two entries in the first two months of this year, so those looking for their AC fix can still grab it. Chronicles is only published by Ubisoft, whereas it’s developed by Climax Studios and plays wildly different to the flagship titles so I’m not considering it a true addition to the main series of games for the purposes of this discussion.

Looking to the future, rumors are that Assassin’s Creed will potentially be heading back in time to Egypt, with a complete revamp of the series (words we are only too used to hearing). For some of the biggest rumors so far check out this piece on the mysterious Project Osiris, which includes ideas of a potential sequel to Black Flag (my personal favorite). Whatever comes next, some fresh ideas are certainly required, and there’s nothing wrong with ‘borrowing’ some features from other popular games of a similar ilk.

Ubisoft could look to epic adventures like Witcher 3: Wild Hunt or Mass Effect for ideas in storytelling and execution. The protagonist has often come under scrutiny in AC, especially since the popular Ezio Auditore bowed out in Assassin’s Creed: Revelations, so a believeable hero with a rich story and strong personality would definitely help matters.

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Combat could certainly do with an overhaul as well, perhaps with a little inspiration from Rocksteady’s work on the Batman: Arkham series. A bug-bear of mine over the years with Assassin’s Creed has been that for a game based largely on covertness, the stealth elements have been left severely lacking. Luckily, the days of eavesdropping from a bench are behind us, but sneaking up on a target through the conveniently-arranged branches and walls has never been totally satisfying. Perhaps a better reward system would help, but taking notes from games such as Dishonored and the (completely unofficial) king of stealth games, Metal Gear Solid, could provide a slicker, more satisfying completion of your hit-list.

Taking the year off was certainly the right call in my opinion, but Assassin’s Creed needs to come back better than ever or it will face a continuous downward spiral from now on. Expectations will rise for the next installment, so Ubisoft will have to nail it in order to regain their spot on the top of players’ most wanted lists. I think they can pull it off, and this year off will help them no end to re-evaluate, regroup, and regain the fans’ trust.

That’s how I feel about Assassin’s Creed. How about you? Are you still committed to buying every entry each year or have you had enough too? Let us know in the comments below or via Social Media on Twitter (@Official_OnlySP) and Facebook.

The opinions in this editorial are the author’s and do not represent OnlySP as an organization.

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Editorial

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

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May

May offers no respite from the big, bold games that have released so far in 2019, bringing with it a host of games almost certain to appeal to gamers of every stripe.

Close to the Sun

Release Date: May 2, 2019
Platforms: PC, consoles later in the year

May’s first major release may also be its most intriguing. Close to the Sun has regularly attracted comparisons to BioShock for its art style and premise, though the relationship between the two titles is, at best, spiritual.

Players take the role of journalist Rose Archer as she steps aboard Nikola Tesla’s ship, the Helios in 1897. Like Andrew Ryan before him (or after him, depending on perspective), Tesla has created a microcosm in which scientific freedom is unrestricted, with disastrous outcomes. Rose’s first impression is of a quarantine sign at the entrance to a still, dead ship, but she presses on regardless in search of her lost sister.

With Close to the Sun, developer Storm in a Teacup aims to provide an intense horror experience. The Helios holds none of BioShock’s shotguns or Plasmids. Instead, players have no means to defend themselves, with gameplay focusing on hiding from and escaping the threats on board.

Check out OnlySP’s final review of the game here.

RAGE 2

Release Date: May 14, 2019
Platforms: PC, PlayStation 4, Xbox One

For anyone to whom the slow, meditative approach does not appeal, Bethesda is busting out the big guns with the long-awaited, little-expected sequel, RAGE 2.

This time around, id Software has tapped Just Cause and Mad Max developer Avalanche Studios for assistance in developing an open-world game. The result, if the trailers are any indication, is a breakneck, neon-fuelled experience that focuses on insanity and ramps up all the unique aspects of the earlier game.

One focal point of development has been ensuring the interconnectedness of the game’s structure, and the teams have promised a greater focus on narrative this time around. Perhaps in keeping with that, RAGE 2 is being distanced from its predecessor, taking place 30 years later with a new protagonist and a whole new story, though some callbacks will be present.

Although id’s legendary first-person gunplay is a driving force throughout the game, it will be supplemented by some light RPG elements, robust vehicular combat, and post launch challenges and support (though the developers deny that RAGE 2 is designed with a games-as-a-service model in mind).

A Plague Tale: Innocence

Release Date: May 14, 2019
Platforms: PC, PlayStation 4, Xbox One

Out on the same day as RAGE 2 is the vastly different A Plague Tale: Innocence. A historical adventure, the game challenges players with overcoming obstacles with brains rather than brawn.

Players become Amicia, an orphan girl struggling to survive in a plague-infested medieval France while also keeping her younger brother safe. With the landscape rife with rats and members of The Inquisition, one of the core tenets of gameplay is reportedly the need to use these threats against each other. As such, though Amicia has a sling to use, the gameplay is designed more as survival puzzles than combat ones.

Developer Asobo Studio is not a household name, though it has a lengthy history of adaptations and support on major titles, including Quantum Break and The Crew 2. Furthermore, even though A Plague Tale is yet to release, publisher Focus Home Interactive has displayed remarkable confidence in the project by extending its partnership with Asobo.

Honourable Mentions

Although RAGE 2 is the incontestable action-blockbuster of the month, gamers in search of another kind of frenetic may want to wait until May 21, when Curve Digital drops American Fugitive, which has a more than passing resemblance to the earliest Grand Theft Auto games. Alternatively, PlayStation VR owners may want to look into Blood and Truth come May 28.

Sega also shines this month, dropping Team Sonic Racing on May 21 and Total War: Three Kingdoms two days later.

Anyone looking for an RPG has indie’s answer to The Outer Worlds, Within the Cosmos, to look out for on May 30, while those looking for slower stories get the latest episode of Life is Strange 2 on May 9, Observation on May 21, and the fjord-noir Draugen at a yet unspecified date.

Have we forgotten anything that you’re excited for? Let us know down below or on our Discord server.

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