After twelve years and twenty-one different titles, it's time for Ubisoft to seriously consider using Japan as the setting for an Assassin's Creed game.
In November of 2007, Ubisoft introduced the world to the eventual, internationally acclaimed, Assassin's Creed, a game that would outperform expectations and sell just over eight million copies in less than two years. The fanfare surrounding the franchise only increased with the second main-line title Assassin's Creed II in November of 2009.
While the game received some of the highest marks ever, it wasn't without criticism as Ubisoft had decided to force users on the PC to use their UPlay platform in order to play the game, requiring them to stay online while they played. The company would release a patch removing the DRM later and consumers would reward them by helping Assassin's Creed III sell over 3.5 million copies in its first week.
The next installment in the main series, Assassin's Creed IV: Black Flag, would struggle to reach the high bar set by the previous games in the series due in large part to competition from Battlefield and the uncertainty surrounding next-gen consoles. What followed was years of releases that received mixed reviews from critics, but still managed to pull respectable sales numbers thanks to the immense support from the game's fanbase.
The franchise's most recent installment, Assassin's Creed Odyssey, fared much better, receiving high praise from both consumers and critics alike. It would go on to have the best launch week of any console generation game within the franchise, selling 45,166 copies in Japan. Now, after increased demand for a game set in feudal Japan, it's about time the company follows in the interest of consumers and gives them what they want.
Why Ninja's and Samurai Fit Right In With The Franchise
The whole concept behind the combat system for Assassin's Creed follows along with the way in which both Samurai and Ninjas fought historically. In feudal Japan, Ninjas were individuals who used surprise attacks, espionage, and trickery to gain the upper hand on their adversaries. These various combat tactics are present within the Assassin's Creed series of games and in many titles within the series, the player finds themselves dressed very similar in style and appearance to the ninjas of old.
Many events within the games require the player to be stealthy in their attacks, something that is at the core of the fighting style devised by many ninjas in feudal Japan. As for Samurai, they were masters of their craft and well-learned individuals who used both their intellect and fighting prowess to overcome their enemies. For the most part, they were bound by honor and duty, principles that are followed by many of the protagonists within the Assassin's Creed franchise.
Additionally, in both cases, it stands to reason that a member of the assassin order could have manifested in either group. After all, individuals within both groups would spend their lives honing their craft in order to ensure their success in battle.
What the Games Developers Had to Say About the Concept
Given the high demand for such a game, it was only a matter of time before developers at Ubisoft would be forced to comment on its possibility as a future installment within the franchise. Ubisoft's creative director Alex Hutchinson addressed this very issue by saying that it would work within the Assassin's Creed franchise, but that it would be one of the worst ideas given that the setting itself has been overused within the video game industry. He went on to say that, "People of the internet suggest the most boring settings. The three most wanted are WWII, feudal Japan, and Egypt. They're kind of the worst settings for an AC game."
Why These Arguments Don't Hold Water
While it might be true that there are many games which tackle this setting, using that as a reason for not creating such a game seems like a cop-out. Sure, there is an added challenge with creating something that is truly unique and different, but that's what Assassin's Creed is all about. There is a ton of history surrounding feudal Japan and there are many areas of its history that have yet to be explored within video games.
Additionally, many games which touch on the historical nature of feudal Japan don't allow the player to have free roam over the area and truly experience every aspect of the environment that they now find themselves in, something that Assassin's Creed does at its core. Through focusing on minutiae details of history and introducing complex fighting mechanics, a title within feudal Japan has a chance to set itself apart from many other titles within the industry.