Connect with us

Editorial

Are Assassin’s Creed: Empire and Project Osiris Somehow Connected?

Published

 on

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.

UbisoftForumShotcopy-Cedric

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:

  1. 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.
  2. Being in development by the same team behind Black Flag, there is not going to be a lot of climbing when outside of villages.
  3. Not many recycled assets, animations and other things from past entries
  4. 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.
  5. Lush, colorful, and hyper-realistic environments, including mirages in deserts.
  6. You can control the character’s pet eagle
  7. 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)
  8. Platforms: PC, PS4, Xbox One
  9. 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)
  10. Return of boats does not include naval battles. Boats add a means of navigation and an area to access quests
  11. Focus of game is adventure
  12. 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.
  13. 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.
  14. Total size of map you can explore is approximately 3 times that of Black Flag. No loading to enter cities, entry is seamless.
  15. Not even close to Alpha phase in development right now
  16. Online portion (including co-op) is completely cut out for right now
  17. 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?

Stay with us here at OnlySP.com and on Twitter, Facebook and Youtube for all the latest on Assassin’s Creed and Project Osiris/Empire, as well as other news, previews, reviews, opinions, and much more in the world of single-player games.

Editorial

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

Published

 on

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.

Continue Reading