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Editorial

Is Assassin’s Creed Odyssey Coming Too Soon?

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Assassin's Creed Odyssey

2007 marked the launch of one of the most popular action-adventure series in video game history: Assassin’s Creed (AC). In 2009, the franchise’s sophomore effort launched, and each consecutive year for six years an additional installment was released. However, the production value of each entry during that six-year period seemed to peak with 2013’s AC IV: Black Flag, which is arguably the most popular release to date. The franchise took a noticeable dip in quality with 2014’s AC: Unity, which was widely criticized for its bug-ridden multiplayer and lackluster story. The series seemed to improve slightly with the following year’s AC: Syndicate, but it still had a long way to go to regain its momentum and live up to the likes of Black Flag and its predecessors. After the lengthy, predictable release schedule, the franchise took a break for a year to focus on the feature film of the same name. Once that gap had run its course, Ubisoft released AC: Origins to critical acclaim. This year, the franchise appears to be returning to old patterns, meaning AC Odyssey may be coming too soon.

In 2016, instead of yet another video game, Ubisoft produced the Assassin’s Creed movie, which did not live up to its video game counterparts’ standards. However, taking a year off from producing a video game seemed to give Ubisoft the fresh eyes it needed to revamp the series and make a quality piece. 2017’s AC: Origins saw the franchise exceed the lowered expectations of fans and critics since the Unity debacle put the series in a hole. However, this renewed faith in the series is being endangered by Ubisoft’s return to old habits: releasing another game just shy of a year after the previous title’s launch.

Slated for October 2018, AC: Odyssey takes Ubisoft’s stealth series to Ancient Greece, promising representations of historical Spartan tropes and other Greek lore. While the thought of a Spartan Assassin is enticing, and Origins did restore much of the franchise’s former glory, the return to an annual launch model is cause for concern. The previous yearly releases were exciting with each addition, but that anticipation bottomed out with Unity—a single title all but halted the franchise’s momentum. Moreover, the rapid release of each game makes the next installment’s announcement go from a welcome prospect to white noise.

The buzz surrounding AC has lessened over time. When compared to the adrenaline-infused reactions that wash over news about a new Elder Scrolls or Grand Theft Auto, additional Assassin’s Creeds are mundane. Large time gaps between sequels in major franchises allow fans to build up the craving necessary to rally behind developers. For example, the build-up to Red Dead Redemption 2, a sequel eight years in the making, has created a palpable tension that will cause many gamers to flock to the Western on launch day. With AC: Odyssey, fans may not feel as strong of a pull to obtain the game the day it launches. The tedium of keeping up with annual entries is enough to make consumers roll their eyes.

Exasperation aside, the AC franchise has had a healthy life, and by no means does an annual release schedule automatically make a game subpar. Nevertheless, the chances of such a rapidly crafted game being a quality product are somewhat diminished when the developer has less time to work on the project. The Grand Theft Auto and Elder Scrolls series, while they have their bugs, are much more popular and well-crafted due to the extended time periods between each title. When developers have more time to work on a game, the chance of the title living up to the industry’s high standards are greater. Hopefully, Ubisoft’s return to annual AC installments is not a bad omen.

Time will tell if Ubisoft can maintain the momentum and revamped faith generated by Assassin’s Creed Origins. Unfortunately, the industry is rather cyclical, and old mistakes tend to remain as lessons unheeded. AC is an enthralling series and has the potential to reclaim its former greatness, but wariness currently grips the hearts of many of the franchise’s fans. Until Ubisoft proves it is up to the challenge of producing a quality product year after year, consumer satisfaction is certainly not guaranteed.

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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