Is Ubisoft Finally Back on Track?
Over the years, Ubisoft has had its fair share of ups and downs. There was a time when the company produced a string of incredible games that placed them at the height of triple-A experiences, but after oversaturating the market and releasing plenty of uninspiring sequels, many lost trust in the French conglomerate. However, after a brilliant showcase with Ubisoft Forward, are they finally back on track?
A Prince Amongst Thieves
Ubisoft has created some of the medium’s most iconic characters and franchises. With a hardcore fanbase for particular IPs, it’s perplexing to witness the mishandling of certain properties. Prince of Persia is a classic. While its debut dates back to 1989, it was 2003’s The Sands of Time that established the franchise’s legendary status. The incredible adventure that focused on traversal and puzzles reignited the series, spawning several sequels and spin-offs, and eventually flooding the market. In the space of 7 years, 8 different games were released. Granted, these delved into different genres and offered new experiences. However, fans grew tired of The Prince and that’s because of Ubisoft’s poor planning.
As sales dropped, they decided to focus their efforts elsewhere, and due to this, the IP has been dormant for over 10 years. What should have been an epic revival when a remake of The Sands of Time was announced in 2020, turned out to be another misguided venture. The reveal was awful with dated graphics which felt like a slap in the face to fans of the franchise. Luckily, Ubisoft saw the error in their ways and delayed the game to ensure it gets the love and attention that it deserves.
Surprisingly, at Forward 2023, they opened with a new release in the series, The Lost Crown, which harkens back to Prince of Persia’s 2D origins. The fluid animation, focus on parkour, puzzles, and fast-paced combat has fans excited for the future of the franchise. With two titles on the horizon, it appears that Ubisoft understands the value of the IP and aims to introduce it to a new generation.
The Action of Assassination
The DNA of the PoP is evident in the Assassin’s Creed series and due to this, it became a hit with audiences. The first game set the foundation and the Ezio trilogy built the pantheon. The focus on stealth and deliberate combat made each moment a thrill as you plotted your escape and juggled the number of options that lay ahead. Over time, the combat slowly morphed and aligned itself with the Arkham series. Even though this captures the mastery of close-quarters combat, it lost the focus on precision.
As with other franchises, it did suffer from over-saturation. However, it was how the game strayed from its roots that was the real issue. Action RPGs are wonderful but Assassin’s Creed doesn’t need to be one. Since Origins, each release has been a drawn-out grind and due to this, it has lost its identity.
Now that more footage of Assassin’s Creed Mirage is available, it is clear that Ubisoft is creating a title in the mold of the originals. The enemy levels are gone, the protagonist actually looks like an assassin, and reports say this is a smaller, more refined experience. While the franchise is spreading its wings into mobile and VR, fans are delighted to see that they are not losing sight of where it came from.
Rising From the Ashes
The last few outings from Ubisoft have been quite dire, really. Ghost Recon Breakpoint and Division 2 were disappointing sequels that took a bunch of updates to get them on par with their predecessors. Watch Dogs: Legion failed to capitalize on its innovative premise, Far Cry continues to copy and paste its formula, and the less said about Rainbow Six: Extraction the better. So how have they been able to correct the course?
One way they have managed to do that is by looking to deliver high-quality film tie-ins. Star Wars Outlaws looks incredible. With its huge open world, the game appears to offer a ton of varied experiences. You can take part in cover-based shootouts or take to the skies for some dogfights in space. In addition to this, they are also working on Avatar: Frontiers of Pandora. You control a Na’vi in a Far-Cry-style adventure to protect and preserve the sacred land.
While fans still yearn for a new Splinter Cell and Rayman and hope for more UbiArts titles like Valiant Hearts and Child of Light, Ubisoft seems to be back on track. They have listened to fans and are looking to improve the quality of their output. Even though the jury is still out, Forward 2023 has given fans hope about future titles.