The real disappointment of Assassin’s Creed Unity: The next gen starts next year?

I am a well documented Assassin’s Creed fan, one of what feels like a dying breed at the moment. While continuing to sell well, the games press are starting to really malign the series.

It’s fair to say the series has had its rough patches. While Assassin’s Creed 2 and Brotherhood were fantastic games, Revelations was awful and AC 3 was middling at best. Black Flag was well received for shaking up the AC formula a little bit, and now here we are, with Unity.

I don’t want to talk too much about Unity’s actual gameplay. Yes, it’s the same as its predecessors, for the most part. Yes, the mission design is tired at this point. I could go on and on about the shortcomings of the AC series at this point, but again, I like them. I feel like I’m what most Call of Duty players will have considered themselves in the past few years. Just happy to sign on to another game like that last one they played that they can enjoy.

No, the thing I wanted to try and put out some thoughts on is the premise that this game was sold on.

“Next-Gen Starts Here”, Ubisoft’s trailers bellowed in self-aggrandising fashion, terribly excited about the new consoles coming, pushing Watch Dogs as a gorgeous next-gen game that would ship at launch.

Mmmhmm.

The worst thing is that it was pretty convincing. The trailers for Watch Dogs were gorgeous and touted some new ideas that had people very excited. Most people considered Watch Dogs to be the game that was really going to usher in the new generation of consoles and then it came out and guess what; it wasn’t. It was an incredibly mediocre game that looked pretty good, but nowhere near the levels that were being shown off in the trailers.

By this point Ubisoft were already marketing Assassin’s Creed Unity in the same way. “No, wait, the next-gen starts here!” it seemed as though they were saying. Once again, the trailers were gorgeous, gameplay and cinematic. The city of Paris seemed painstakingly recreated (It is, by the way. Paris is the real star of Unity), and the amount of NPC’s on screen was incredible, and the game seemed to handle it perfectly.

Fast-forward a few months and here we are with the finished, released product. A broken mess that looks pretty but runs at a max of 30fps and you’ll be lucky to get that. The game sputters like a broken engine and routinely spits out further bugs that range from falling through the world to simple hard-locks. Not exactly a glowing advertisement for the next generation of consoles.

If Ubisoft’s worst crime is that they’re too ambitious then I’m willing to give them a pass, but Unity was set to be the game you could look at on these new consoles and think “This is what these consoles can do”. If we do that now, then the future looks pretty bleak. It is early days, we’re only a year into a console generation that looks set to last quite some time. So hey, maybe next years Assassin’s Creed will be better, right?

(This blog post was also posted on my personal blog.)

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