Editorial

Yearly Releases Are Becoming Their Own Downfall

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Assassin’s Creed: Syndicate is released this week, marking the series’ 7th flagship title to be released in as many years. Despite its ups and downs, Ubisoft continue to churn out their favourite title year after year on such demanding deadlines. 2015 however is turning out to be a huge year for games and the competition, especially in the open-world genre is outstanding, showing Assassin’s Creed that quality is certainly favourable over quantity.

Since the first Assassin’s game back in 2007, there have been 7 sequels, as well as many more spin-offs on various consoles/tablets/phones meaning that at least one game has been released each year.

Personally, I actually quite like(d) the series! The first one was disappointingly repetitive, but since then I’ve really enjoyed my time with Ezio, the Kenways and company. However, since Assassin’s Creed: Revelations in 2011, picking up and playing the game has become more of a habit than anything else.

The third entry with Ezio as protagonist in three years started to grate with me a little. The games were fun, but were not exactly a massive step forward in originality or innovation each year. Not since the two-year gap from the first and second games have we seen such an improvement, even now. Assassin’s Creed 3 was released the year after with promises of change, but other than tree-climbing and a boring main character we had a very similar experience. Behind all this was a laughable modern-day plot involving Desmond Miles and Abstergo Industries that ran its course after probably two games, and that’s me being generous.

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Assassin’s Creed IV: Black Flag came out firstly for Xbox 360 and PS3, before being ported to the next-gen, and this was the best title in years, possibly for the whole series. After the disappointment of Connor’s story, and the news that we would experience a similar time period (with Connor’s Grandfather, Edward), the fans needed convincing eveidence that the series was on the right track. To give Ubisoft credit, they did pull this one out the bag, with incredibly enjoyable sea voyages, interesting stories, and original settings, Black Flag was a success.

However, it was still the same game we’d been playing for years in many ways. The stealth sections were not well executed (we are supposed to be hidden assassins after all!), the parkour elements were tiresome and the combat was monotonous. The year after saw the release of two titles simultaneously, with the emphasis in marketing towards the solely next-gen Assassin’s Creed: Unity.

This game was absolutely riddled with bugs, included uninteresting characters and a forgettable story. The one highlight however being the magnificent rendition of Paris during the French Revolution of the late 18th century. The other version created for the last-gen was subtitled ‘Rogue’, but despite generally positive reviews, was overshadowed by its Parisian cousin’s failures.

2015 thus far has been quite outstanding for us Single Player gamers. Releases such as Witcher 3, Metal Gear Solid V and the imminent arrival of Fallout 4 can all be compared to the Assassin’s Creed games for their freedom, open worlds and immersion. Using these games as examples, the years put into creating them has paid off in their execution.

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Witcher 3: Wild Hunt was released in May of this year, four years after Geralt’s second adventure in ‘Assassins of Kings’ in 2011. Wild Hunt is a massive success, with incredible story-telling, genuinely engaging side-quests, beautiful settings and a brilliant score. Its initial delay upset fans at first, but that has since been forgotten after they got their hands on the game. It is a definite contender for Game of the Year, and for some, one of the greatest games of all time.

Many of the same qualities can be said of Metal Gear Solid V, released seven years after its flagship predecessor. Rivaling Witcher 3 for this year’s gongs, a feature of both games is the amount of love that has obviously been poured into them. As opposed to a ‘by-the-numbers’ approach to side-quests, weaponry, characters and gameplay; CD Projekt Red and Kojima Productions have spent their time devoted to crafting as perfect an experience as possible. Video games (particularly games of this size) are a huge undertaking, requiring years of work from many different people. A year is simply not enough time to create a game that can live up to its expectations.

Fallout 4 is only a few weeks away, seven years after its predecessor (2008 was a popular year) but admittedly Bethesda Game Studios may have been a bit busy with Skyrim releasing in 2011. It’s unfair to comment on the game before anyone has really played it of course, but their marketing has to be commended if nothing else. Despite development starting straight after Skyrim, they only officially announced the game this Summer to be released five months later. The hype surrounding it ensures it to be one of the biggest releases in recent years, with all signs pointing towards a positive result.

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To offer a somewhat balanced argument, yearly releases can work! Mainly in the form of sports games as they can get away with the updated rosters and teams, in place of an overhaul of the gameplay. However that’s about as far as that argument can go.

My main point is this: releasing a game such as Assassin’s Creed every year will become its own downfall. They are obviously doing well and making a lot of money from it, but eventually this will catch up with them, and that time may be now. Syndicate may do very well, but will ultimately fall into the shadow of the games it is up against this year, including the titles mentioned as well as various other big-hitters this Winter. The fans will surely become fatigued and look elsewhere, me already being one of them. Syndicate offers little interest to me, despite its setting finally in my home country. There are simply too many other games with the required time and care put into them that I am far more interested in.

 

Have you played Assassin’s Creed: Syndicate? Will you continue to follow the series should it continue its yearly release schedule? Or do you prefer a gap between entries in a series? Let us know what you think below, as well as checking any other Single Player news, reviews and features on Facebook and Twitter.

Rhys Cooper

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3 Comments

  1. Assassin’s Creed games are on a three-year cycle, kind of like Call of Duty games. The Assassin’s Creed for next year has been in development since 2013 because Ubisoft has three separate studios making the AC games. I personally love the series still and I think Syndicate might be my favorite out of all of them.

    1. I agree with Michael. I was ready to give up on Syndicate quickly after reading all the reviews hating on it, but I am pleasantly surprised. The game is also probably my favorite of the series, at least not worse than any of the others. The combat and difficulty is fun and fixed compared to the previous entries. The graphics and detail of the environments is insane, you can tell they spent years making this. Yes, it’s basically more of the same, and another clear-the-map open-world type game. And no, it doesn’t focus as much on AI and stealth as Metal Gear does. But to immediately dismiss the work that went into it is wrong. I will say I had an entire cutscene with all three of the people completely invisible except for a floating gun, lol. Buggy releases are crap, I’ll give you that. And the in-app purchases in the e-store are absolutely inexcusable… but at least they’re entirely optional and just make it easier/faster. But the negatives of a huge game factory run by business executives rather than gamers/artists also has benefits of a huge budget, huge staff, and quick releases. It’s not a bad game, you just have to know what you’re getting compared to the others you listed. If I were to only buy ONE game for the year, this probably wouldn’t be it, but if you’re going to play a lot or know exactly what you want and are a fan of AssCreed, you should definitely give this a chance.

  2. Well didn’t played the Unity (planning to but it in Jan) loved every AC game yes AC3 too but my most fav was AC:Brotherhood btw it was my first AC, but i think they should stop releasing it every year. Anyway saw the syndicate’s gameplay it looks interesting to me might buy it in DEC. But atm waiting for my Witcher 3 copy :D and confused between NFS and Uncharted collection, don’t know which one to buy next month :/

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