It turns out that Ubisoft also thinks that Assassin’s Creed Unity was a bit of a bust, but the studio believes it understands exactly what went wrong with the title.
“We fell again into this trap of working a lot on the tech, and not allowing enough [time for] the teams to create the content to create something new,” said Assassin’s Creed creative director Jean Guesdon at GDC 2018. “In the end, that’s the way I see it. We created the perfect conditions for the perfect storm. We had a game that was wonderful in terms of art, but that was not renewing enough of the experience.”
Guesdon expanded on that sentiment by saying that the team perhaps “flew too close to the sun” when creating the graphics engine for Unity. While the team was thrilled with how the game looked – Guesdon says its still one of the better-looking games out there – the enhanced visuals led to a series of technical and design issues. While many gamers will no doubt remember some of Unity‘s infamous – and horrifying – visual bugs that would do things like remove character’s faces, Guesdon says that the issues the visuals created went far beyond those glitches. For instance, the new scaling of the buildings in the game made it hard for the team to properly recreate the fluid navigation from previous titles.
“The game suffered from all this,” said Guesdon of the game’s various problems. “Even if you played it today with the fixes, it’s still a very beautiful and very good game. But in short, we probably flew too close to the sun and we were a bit overcome.”
It’s not all bad news, though. Guesdon credits the mistakes of Unity for helping the team realize that it was time to step back and re-examine the franchise. While he was specifically referring to the improvements made by Assassin’s Creed Syndicate, he also noted that the recent Assassin’s Creed Origins did a great job of focusing on key gameplay aspects like open-world creation, finding a balance between story and gameplay, and contributing to the game’s grander universe.
“It was a cultural shift for the developers as much as a technological one – we should focus on the experience and not the scripting and coding. Players don’t care about the code, just their experience,” said Guesdon.