“This is Codename Red, our next premium flagship title and the future of our open world RPG on Assassin’s Creed,” Ubisoft’s Marc-Alexis Cote later said. “Developed by Ubisoft Quebec, the studio behind Assassin’s Creed Odyssey, it will allow players to explore one of their most anticipated locations, feudal Japan, and experience a very powerful shinobi fantasy.”
Which, for many Assassin’s Creed fans, will sound absolutely fabulous. My only concern at this early stage, however, is how well Sekiro: Shadows Die Twice, Nioh and the sequel to him and Ghost of Tsushima have played out fantastic and realistic trends on feudal Japan over the past few years. Pair that with Ubisoft’s distinctive deference to the story and setting in this series, plus the fact that players have been screaming for this place since the release of Assassin’s Creed 2 in 2009, and I believe Ubisoft Quebec doesn’t just have its job. to do here, but really must get this right.
Not that those in charge will not appreciate the significance of more than a decade of hype. As part of his Assassin’s Creed Odyssey marketing campaign in late 2018, an actor plays the game’s co-star Alexios answered questions from fans – one of which speculatively asked when “AC Japan” was supposed to come out and what the character might tell us about it. “Anything!” Alessio exclaimed after bringing the camera close to his face. “There is no place more glorious than Sparta.” The whole act was certainly a little creepy, but it was a lot of fun and I particularly enjoyed this self-referential nod to Japan all the same.
In 2012, Alex Hutchinson, then creative director of Assassin’s Creed 3, told the now defunct official Xbox magazine that despite World War II, feudal Japan and Egypt were three of the most requested places gamers would love to see Assassin’s Creed. later, he considered these countries and events “boring” and among the “three worst settings for an Assassin’s Creed game”. In 2017, of course, Assassin’s Creed Origins visited Egypt in an epic fashion: a five-star projection within a vast playground that was “everything you wanted the Creed to be,” according to our review.
Between Japan’s previous veiled thanks from Ubi and Hutchinson’s old comments, then, it really looks like the tide has turned for Assassin’s Creed in 2022. With the wealth of content coming out of the anniversary event, it looks like also that the series has reached a new juncture in its 15 years of existence. In the aftermath of the livestream, GamesRadar + global editor-in-chief Sam Loveridge said that Assassin’s Creed Mirage is exactly what we need before the next generation of the series, and I think it’s a great deal. Mirage feels like a throwback to Assassin’s Creed – avoiding the RPG-lite and open world sandbox elements that the series’ more modern voices have tapped into, in favor of Baghdad’s claustrophobic urban sprawl – and in many ways it feels like a cleansing palette for what it will come. I wouldn’t say it feels like a recovery time for the series, but it feels like a pause for reflection before moving on.
And what better place to do it than in feudal Japan? A lush, culture-soaked sandbox with dense forests, snow-capped peaks, bustling cities and iconic architecture – evolving the recently developed open world elements from the latest series and leaning on parkour and the stealth mechanics of cloak and dagger Mirage seeks to revitalize. Yes, the likes of Sekiro and Nioh and Ghost of Tsushima have set such a high bar in this space in recent times, but as Ubisoft leads the Assassin’s Creed series forward, these games should only serve as indicators to match and, yes hopefully, overtake for Codename Red.
Once again, you combine Ubisoft’s penchant for historical storytelling in this mix, plus a super passionate community that has been craving this setting for quite some time, and it’s truly an exciting trait for Assassin’s Creed. As Ubisoft knows, the disclosure was the easy part. Now is the time to surprise us with what’s under the hood in the coming months.
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