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- Assassin's Creed: Syndicate
Last year's Assassin's Creed Unity did a huge disservice to one of the best-selling IPs in the industry. After building a track record of consistent quality, severe technical issues showed a mortal side of the franchise that shocked fans. Nearly a year later, its PC version is one of the most complained about ports on the platform, and thousands of players have given up on the journey well before it was complete.
Word has come out that in its present state Assassin's Creed Syndicate is following in the footsteps of its one-year old brother. Jarring performance issues and visual artifacts have scarred preview builds which are meant to showcase the best of the 20+ hour adventure. Some gamers aren't surprised, while others are bewildered that Ubisoft didn't learn much from its 2014 mishap.
The problem is a direct result of the yearly release cycles that don't take into account issues encountered during development as launch windows are set in stone well before the project has neared completion. Assassin's Creed has gone from being a workshop project to a product that is pushed out of the assembly line every year like clockwork. Hundreds of artists, programmers, and designers have been set to routine, and it shows in the end product.
A story has come out from disheartened member of the development team. He seeks anonymity to avoid legal trouble, but has a very real and unfortunate story to share. The story focuses on issues surrounding the new engine introduced with Assassin's Creed Unity, one that had a wealth of problems that have made the transition over to Assassin's Creed Syndicate. It's apparently frustrating team members and has made progress difficult. He shared:
Ubisoft found a good groove during the last generation of releases, back when there was still a ton of potential to be realized from the franchise, and a reliable engine to build ideas on. The series no longer has that luxury as creativity has begun to wane, and a new engine is providing difficult to work with.
At this point, the nature of Assassin's Creed is its own worst nightmare. The franchise is famed for its huge worlds set in remarkable moments in history brought to life with a high level of detail. These fictional works inspired by real history are layered with complex narrative pieces that reference history while introducing ideas of their own. It's all very ambitious, and the complete opposite of what you'd expect to become an annualized franchise.
Ubisoft has made yearly releases possible by having two projects in the pipeline at the same time, each aimed for a release one year after another. On one hand it's worked to a point as it's never missed a due date. On the other hand, there's a lack of cohesion that isolates problems and ensures that a subsequent release builds off of the strenghts of its predecessor while addressing shortcomings.
Up until now everything has appeared picture perfect with Assassin's Creed Syndicate. Ubisoft shared that it won't make the same mistake it did with Assassin's Creed Unity, was willing to move the franchise into a new era of history that brings with it new potential, and even announced the ability to play as more than one protagonist for the first time in the series' history. However, today's previews point toward technical issues that will directly affect enjoyment of the title. Consumers who have pre-ordered it may be in for a surprise.
Series fatigue has begun to set in with Assassin's Creed, and the continued annual releases have played a major part in that. At this point, it appears that Ubisoft is unwilling to stray from shaking money out of its heavy hitter every Fall season, and its IP bears all the punishment. Unless significant progress is made within the next month this once well-regarded franchise has a tough road ahead.