We all remember Assassin's Creed Unity, right? No matter how much we'd like to forget about the game that nearly killed the popular Ubisoft franchise for a lot of fans it's still there, lurking in the background like a vampire with personal space issues.
Last year's underwhelming Unity, which had a disastrous bug riddled release and suffered from a lack of innovation and lacklustre narrative throughout, definitely sent the [Assassin's Creed](tag:437814) series into somewhat of a tailspin.
Certainly the bad rep Ubisoft suffered as a result has had an impact on sales of the recent release, [Assassin's Creed Syndicate](tag:3605993), as Ubisoft's Alain Martinez confirmed a lull in initial sales via an investor call last week:
"Clearly in our first week we were impacted by what happened with Assassin's Creed Unity."
Up until last year Ubisoft had spent seven years building a franchise with a dedicated fanbase kept interested by well crafted, highly researched games tied together by strong narrative threads and kept interesting by switching up the assassin character (to varying degrees of success). Unity was a massive disappointment for long time fans and though Assassin's Creed Syndicate, which released October 23rd to pretty positive reviews, promised to fix many of the issues encountered by it's predecessor, we weren't holding our breath.
Now Syndicate is here and it's done pretty well considering; it's not the best game in the series by any means but is a large improvement over Unity. The main disappointment for many fans was the fact that Syndicate came as another fairly stand-alone release in the series the likes of Black Flag and Unity, with little to no connection to the present day narrative that tied the series together until main character Desmond Miles was bumped off back at the conclusion of Assassin's Creed 3.
Despite this Syndicate has given fans some hope that the series isn't completely dead in the water, and the positive word seems to be slowly growing as, according to Martinez, the new game's second week sales did surpass those of Unity.
Ubisoft CEO Yves Guillemot points out that a similar thing happened with Assassin's Creed: Black Flag, which released to low sales but kept selling steadily over time due to the positive word of mouth spread through fans. Black Flag did go onto become one of the best reviewed games of the series despite being a stand-alone and was praised for tackling the issues players encountered in Assassin's Creed 3, so Syndicate has something to aim for there.
Guillemot: "We seem to experience the same sales curve as [Assassin's Creed 4: Black Flag]. Versus Unity, Syndicate was down in the first week but nicely outperformed it in its second week as it benefitted from positive word of mouth."
It's just a shame that the financials of the matter mean that the only thing that really catches publisher's attentions are when sales are affected. Clearly Ubisoft have put a lot of work into making sure that Syndicate recoups from the losses suffered by Unity, but there's still a long way to go to get the franchise back on track.
It's obviously still very early days for the next title release but judging by their regular schedule we can probably expect the next instalment in the franchise to come out around this time next year, and incredibly quick turnover in the world of video game development.
It's been three years now since we lost Desmond, the series' contemporary protagonist and the narrative element that tied together past and present, assassins and Abstergo. And as fun and exciting as it is to explore Victorian London and the high Caribbean seas it's well past time that the series makes a cohesive return to the modern day narrative and focuses the conflict back upon what is really at stake: Abstergo, Juno, the Sage, the Instruments of the First Will and their collective plans for humanity in the modern age.
Presumably the Assassin's Creed writers are dallying round on that narrative with a view to coming back to it as a solid conclusion for the franchise, perhaps a game set entirely in contemporary times?
But in order to do that you still need a solid base upon which to build, certainly introducing a new protagonist would seem the least prerequisite considering the vast mythology behind the series characters. Until news of the next game arrives all we have is speculation, but at least we have the Frye twins to keep us content until then.
Have you played Assassin's Creed Syndicate yet? Tell us what you thought!