Assassin’s Creed Infinity is the name given to a project in the works at Ubisoft that is instrumental in the future of the series. Supposedly, it’ll be a kind of live-service platform onto which future games will be published. The existence of the platform was revealed in a recent Bloomberg report and confirmed, sort of, by Ubisoft after the fact.
The reactions to a famously single-player title going live-service with an evolving platform — becoming something like Fortnite or Grand Theft Auto Online, essentially — were about as dismayed as you’d expect. My colleague Marty was cautiously optimistic about the platform but acknowledged potential drawbacks. The concept sounds so unlike what the fans would want for the series that it wasn’t a surprise that disgust was the natural first reaction.
So now that we all know about it, and the shock and cynicism, including my own, has had a chance to cool, let’s look at the possibility with some optimism. If this is done the way I think it’s going to be done, then this could be the best move the series has made since it finally wrapped up Ezio’s story.
Trimming the Fat for Assassin’s Creed Infinity
If there’s been a single complaint that’s dogged the Assassin’s Creed series since roughly Brotherhood, it’s bloat. A game that started out being almost entirely about assassinating a succession of targets picked up a variety of side activities that made every assassin a landowner, or an archaeologist, or a casanova, or all of those things and more. As the maps grew bigger and bigger, so did the list of things each player had to achieve or accomplish.
As I get older — and considering I’ve been playing Assassin’s Creed since I was 17, I’ve aged quite a lot alongside this franchise — the prospect of doing yet another 80 hours tidying up the map of the historical setting of the moment becomes less and less appealing to me. I don’t know if I have the energy for another Valhalla. Infinity seems to be intended as a platform for shorter, tighter stories set in the Assassin’s Creed universe, and if it is, I can only hope the first thing they jettison is all the fluff.
If the Infinity platform is intended to be a launching point for the Assassin’s Creed experience moving forward, then it stands to reason we’re going to be getting multiple games in a relatively short period of time. Ubisoft already releases the games in fairly quick succession, so it sounds like a logical conclusion that it intends to have an even shorter turnaround time between titles that go on the Infinity platform. Otherwise, why even have the platform to begin with?
Also, Ubisoft has kind of done this before.
Remembering Project Legacy
This may come as a shock, but this is not the first time the series has gone in this particular direction. I don’t mean a live-service platform, but I mean an evolving platform that tells smaller stories set in the Assassin’s Creed universe. Don’t know what I’m talking about? I wouldn’t blame you: This game was on Facebook. Project Legacy was a Facebook app from 2010 that cast its players as Abstergo recruits using a special piece of Animus software that let users play as people who weren’t their ancestors.
So how did that presage Infinity? Project Legacy was a game that featured “memory sets,” short stories that followed characters in the then-new Ezio titles and expanded on their lives and connections to the Assassin Order. Uncle Mario’s face scar was explained in Project Legacy. The life of the Courtesan multiplayer character was shown in Project Legacy. The offspring of Lucrezia Borgia and an assassin who would later go on to become an assassin himself (yeah, that happened) was revealed in Project Legacy. When I picture Legacy, that’s what I imagine it looking like.
Shorter experiences with tighter gameplay and less useless fluff is exactly what Assassin’s Creed needs, as well as what series fans (myself included) have been praying for from the very beginning. It’d let players get their assassin fix without having to do enough activities to test the patience of a saint. And maybe, just maybe, we can get back to being actual assassins – and not jobbing factotums who happen to live in various interesting time periods.