Ubisoft must be in a reflective mood. Yesterday the company was (kinda) walking back its once-strident commitment to blockchain integration in games, and now it's decided that maybe not every Assassin's Creed needs to be a sprawling 150-hour epic. I couldn't agree more.
In an interview with IGN, Ubisoft's VP of editorial, Fawzi Mesmar, shed some light on the company's philosophy regarding its upcoming games. Ubi doesn't want "one game to do everything," says Mesmar, who says the company wants to be able to make more focused games that appeal to certain fans, "but maybe not everybody". Ubisoft's policy going forward will be to focus on "depth of experience" over breadth of content, says Mesmar, which sounds to me like less map-spam and maybe even a bit less map in general.
It feels like quite a shift for a company that's become synonymous with enormous, sprawling open worlds stuffed to the gills with collectibles and buyable gewgaws over the last decade. Sure, it's not like the company only produces Assassin's Creed and Far Cry games: Ubisoft is huge enough that it can have teams work on stuff like a Trivial Pursuit game and a less-than-amazing rollerblading game as well as the big time sinks. But it's the very familiar and sizable open-world format of recent Assassin's Creed and Far Cry games that define Ubisoft for many.
We'll have to wait for Assassin's Creed: Mirage to see what the philosophy looks like in practice. Mesmar confirmed to IGN that the upcoming game—and its sister-games AC: Red and AC: Hexe—is an example of this strategy. Mirage is "for the people who want to go back to [the] roots'' of the series, while other projects will cater to other fans, including those looking for a "big RPG" experience, so I suppose the template set by AC: Origins lives on somewhere. It'll just live alongside more focused games like Mirage.
Mirage will release sometime next year, while Red and Hexe probably won't see the light of day before 2024. You shouldn't be too starved for Ubi-content this year, though. The company promises a final free update to Valhalla "in a few months' time". Maybe Ubi's next addition to its design philosophy can be firmer release dates?