You’ll have to make do without an Assassin’s Creed game this year.
Ubisoft explained in a brief dispatch on Feb. 11 that it’s “stepping back and re-examining” the franchise. The message, from no one in particular at the multinational publisher, attempts to soften the blow by calling 2016 “an exciting time for Assassin’s Creed.” I gather that’s mostly to do with the Michael Fassbender tie-in film due later this year.
It’s a bold move given a potential film-related sales boost, but probably a smart one. 2014’s Assassin’s Creed Unity was enough of a mess (and I don’t just mean the technical launch gremlins or gender-related public relations brouhaha) that when Assassin’s Creed Syndicate rolled around last year, all I could muster was enough interest to play for a dozen hours. I still love the idea of a time-hopping, parkour-angled stealth series informed by warring secret factions and a deep, history-minded framework, but the annualized installments were definitely starting to creak.
Did you know the Assassin’s Creed series has (or I should say had) a planned ending? “We have an idea of where the end is,” Assassin’s Creed IV game director Ashraf Ismail told Eurogamer in 2013. When I asked Unity director Alexandre Amancio about that a year later, he said more or less the opposite: That the franchise had long legs, and I think there may even have been a Doctor Who comparison. (Incidentally another perennial franchise that’s desperately in need of — and getting — a good, long break.)
Whatever will we play instead? There’s Ubisoft’s The Division and Far Cry Primal, of course, both out in the next 30 days. And you can wade through our top 50 most anticipated games list here for a glimpse of what we knew about at the time we published, bearing in mind that we’re likely missing some of 2016’s most interesting game-related ideas, which often appear without warning or ceremony.