I know, I know: you’re all as tired of Assassin’s Creed-related news as a grumpy old man is of yelling at kids to get off his lawn. But tell me honestly: is the albeit-small chance for an Assassin’s Creed in Egypt involving a “complete revamp” with an ancient Egyptian setting and timeline not tempting enough to get your interests piqued?
Earlier this month, we reported on a 4chan post by an anonymous user in which it was “announced/leaked” that Ubisoft would not only be taking a year off from the franchise but would use that time to revamp and restructure the series’ gameplay elements. Egypt being the first word of the post already has me salivating at the possibilities. Hold that thought, though: wasn’t the post on 4chan? How can anything posted on 4chan claiming to be official be taken seriously? Here’s what the post said:
Egypt. There won’t be an AC in 2016. You may screencap this and refer to it when nothing is shown in E3 2016. You’ll have to wait until 2017 for it. The reason: It will be a complete revamp of the series. The game is going for a Witcher feel, with player progression, freeform combat system. Horse is back, and boats too. It’s made by the Black Flag team. You may leave any question you want answered.
Well, we actually have some hope to hang on to that gives credibility to the 4chan-borne claim, including actual confirmed game releases for the franchise this year as well as an interesting screenshot and trailer released back in late 2012 and 2013 respectively, supposedly by Ubisoft itself, which first gave rise to speculation on what the codename Osiris is hiding. However, there’s also plenty of evidence to refute/disprove both the screenshot and trailer in question.
Let’s start with what we know for sure. Indian and Russian-based Assassin’s Creed titles are a real thing and set for release later this year. But don’t get too excited yet about assassins interacting with the Maharaja and Karl Marx, the latter having already been explored in Assassin’s Creed Syndicate, because both the India- and Russia-based titles are part of the Assassin’s Creed Chronicles saga. Chronicles features three separate but intertwined chapters as a trilogy. The first of these, released in April of last year, was in China and featured Shao Jun, a Chinese, Ming dynasty-era Assassin who, not-coincidentally, was introduced and shown to be trained by Ezio Auditore da Firenze himself in the animated short, Assassin’s Creed: Embers.
The India and Russia chapters follow the stories of two separate Assassins: Arbaaz Mir and Nikolai Orelov respectively, both of whom were introduced by their respective comic book entries in the franchise – Nikolai Orelov in Assassin’s Creed: The Fall and The Chain, and Arbaazz Mir in Assassin’s Creed Brahman.
If what China showcased is a testament to what the India and Russia chapters have to offer, then all three of the Chronicles are deceptively-tough 2D/side-scrolling games imbued with the spirit of the franchise main titles, but which are themselves an entirely different monster to master.
You can enjoy Assassin’s Creed Chronicles: India now on PC, PS4, and Xbox One. Look out for what Assassin’s Creed Chronicles: Russia has to offer when it comes out for the same platforms on February 9th. In addition to Russia’s solo release, the entire trilogy will also be released as a retail and/or digital bundle for the same platforms on the same date. A Playstation Vita bundle is planned for release on April 5th.
Let’s move now into the uncharted waters of rumor and speculation. Upon doing some preliminary research, I found an article on Polygon that calls attention to a screenshot published on the Ubisoft forums purporting to show an early screen cap of a new revamp of Prince of Persia. Posted by Ubisoft forum user blueobelix, the screenshot, labeled “POP_ZERO_2,” depicts a muscle-bound, dark-skinned man in a courtyard-like area surrounded by people who seem to be dressed in Egyptian-like garments. Blueobelix claims the screenshot of the man is an early leak of Ubisoft’s current work on Prince of Persia.
Looks legit, right? Well, this Blueobelix has no credibility to his name, but it does look pretty convincing.
The next link in this chain I found was when I came across another Polygon article that first made mention of Osiris. The article details a NeoGAF user named GitarooMan who posted in early 2013 the link to a Vimeo post of composer Mark Kilian. GitarooMan claims in the NeoGAF post that this Vimeo post is all he can find that’s related to Osiris. Now no longer available on Vimeo, the video/trailer, which you can view below, is a whole lot more tease than solid confirmed reveal, showing alternating flashes of raw motion capture video, concept art/animation, as well as the first indication that the teaser is set in Ancient Egypt, all with a very AC vibe. The silhouette of the character in the animation generated from the raw motion capture in the video, as well as several of the flashes of animation, looks a lot like the atmosphere and style of the screenshot above. One only has to look at the Ubisoft forums to see the debate that raged over this possibility, but that’s exactly what we’d expect from Ubisoft with their track record on the franchise.
I hope you didn’t get too excited about it being an Assassin’s Creed or Prince of Persia reboot though because in the same Polygon article, it was reported that, following an inquiry on the leaked screenshots and video, a Ubisoft representative has stated that the assets in question “[were] from a Ubisoft project that is no longer moving forward.”
Bummer. That’s a depressing bit of news as an Assassin’s Creed fan myself. But there are two final bits of light at the end of the tunnel before you lose all hope.
In early October of 2013, Examiner.com published an interview with Assassin’s Creed Black Flag game director Ashraf Ismail. In the said interview, Ismail is quoted as having said that although it is in no way a confirmation of such, he would love to explore Egypt as a setting for the sequel to Black Flag. Of course, this didn’t happen, as Unity (Paris) and Rogue (America, mostly) were the two direct and interconnected sequels instead.
Remember that 4chan post I mentioned at the beginning of this post? We previously reported on a NeoGAF post detailing the original 4chan post via a story by Gamereactor. The NeoGAF post and both their source, Gamereactor, and their source story in turn from Autoomobile, all feature the same 4chan quote, which was already shown at the beginning of this post.
The anonymous poster asserts the next Assassin’s Creed is definitively in Ancient Egypt and will be released in 2017, which would finally break the annual schedule of Assassin’s Creed games that existed since 2009. Therefore, the poster claims, there won’t be anything major that’s AC-related at E3 this year, a claim we’ll just have to wait and see to determine the accuracy of. Ubisoft wants to revamp the series and go for a Witcher feel, according to the poster, and will feature improved player progression, freeform combat, horses and boats.
The NeoGAF post also includes clippings of replies from the anonymous poster to questions, which he freely welcomed at the end of the original quote. If you would like to read it yourself, click the link above but if not, here is a condensed form of it:
- Ancient Egypt affords the least amount of historical documentation, so Ubisoft has a large amount of freedom to explore and experiment plot-wise and history-wise. Being in Ancient Egypt, the Assassins and Templars don’t even exist yet, so their struggle doesn’t exist yet either, essentially making this a prequel.
- Being in development by the same team behind Black Flag, there is not going to be a lot of climbing when outside of villages.
- Not many recycled assets, animations and other things from past entries
- Players will be in the shoes of a slave/ex-slave who will be similar to Altair but dark-skinned. He will be a man of very few words and will actually barely speak at all.
- Lush, colorful, and hyper-realistic environments, including mirages in deserts.
- You can control the character’s pet eagle
- No more going back to Prince of Persia for Ubisoft, especially with the fact that they had to pay the owners of that IP versus milking Assassin’s Creed (their own IP)
- Platforms: PC, PS4, Xbox One
- The average PC needed compared to what the devs work on is an i7 64gb ram and 670gtx (no development on console devkits, because ports to next-gen consoles very easy with new tech)
- Return of boats does not include naval battles. Boats add a means of navigation and an area to access quests
- Focus of game is adventure
- The original version of the game included a segment in Greece, which you could travel to. It was ultimately cut due to game scale concerns.
- With that (#12) in mind, the character and entry could be stretched into a trilogy like Ezio was so Greece, and even Rome, could be in the future for the franchise.
- Total size of map you can explore is approximately 3 times that of Black Flag. No loading to enter cities, entry is seamless.
- Not even close to Alpha phase in development right now
- Online portion (including co-op) is completely cut out for right now
- A future entry in Japan or China is unlikely for now because doing so would mean needing to reconfigure/redesign mechanics to fit those kinds of settings. Entirely new characters would have to be designed, and his/her controls would have to be schemed and mapped from scratch. Recycling would be next to impossible and recycling is necessary at some point to avoid sacrificing quality of other sections/gameplay elements.
The Polygon article previously mentioned above was sourced from a Kotaku article. The author references information and insider intelligence from sources he knows have trusted ties that give them good info on what Ubisoft is up to. Three in particular are who he writes about the most. Two of the three agreed that the official code name of the Ancient Egypt title is Empire. The author was told that part of why the developer and publisher giant decided on a 2017 time frame was the flop in sales of AC Unity in 2014, and that the two-year frequency of new games in the franchise could become the official trend following Empire.
Five independent sources the author cites as trustworthy and credible all confirmed that the next big entry in the franchise would be set in ancient Egypt. Three of the five sources agreed that the game is set for 2017 release. Another source told the author some months ago that one of the settings would be Ancient Rome, but the 4chan post I mentioned indicate that that may have been axed; we’ll just have to wait and see.
Waiting and watching and waiting again seems to be the endless cycle of writing about Assassin’s Creed, but it is this writer’s opinion that, although all of the waiting may or may not end up resulting in a better product, every title in the franchise is worth the money, bugs and all. Console and PC games of old had plenty of problems, but it was having the patience to work out the trick to gaming the system and conquer it that yields the true satisfaction, a sentiment I absolutely share.
But I digress. We’ll be on the lookout for more information as it comes in, most likely from Kotaku again. What do you guys think? Yea? Nay? Too early to say? Is anything even true?
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