Assassin’s Creed is celebrating its 15th anniversary this year, with many fans thinking Ubisoft is teasing an AC1 Remake reveal for September. This is an exciting prospect, and it’s perhaps more so because it would take fans back to more classic action-adventure games—if remade and updated well. What’s interesting right now is how this celebration ties in with the franchise’s history of fatigue.
Franchise fatigue is an understandable factor in anything that lasts so long. Despite the MCU’s grand success, many have likely felt inundated and burned out by the constant influx of content. Sometimes franchise fatigue lasts for a few days, a couple of weeks, maybe a few months, or possibly even longer. For Assassin’s Creedit’s worth noting that it seems to have gone through two major spells of franchise fatigue.
Assassin’s Creed and The First Wave of Franchise Fatigue
The first wave of franchise fatigue has a pretty clear indicator: Assassin’s Creed Origins. Ubisoft had to change up the action-adventure formula after AC Unity‘s disastrous launch (which has improved a hundredfold since) and the more middling AC Syndicate launch. Realizing how widespread the franchise fatigue was getting, expanding the content into a more popular genre made sense. While some still prefer the older games, it’s understandable that Ubisoft realized it needed to change something up.
The older games are beloved and for good reason, though. The Ezio trilogy still defines the franchise, the Kenway stories gave fans unique angles, and later games doubled down on the parkour elements and tried new things, like AC Syndicate‘s dual protagonists. But, there’s a thin line between current, beloved classics, the releases at their time, and the franchise fatigue mired in annualized releases.
Moving away from annualized releases was definitely a smart move, as time should make franchise fatigue weaken. It’s something many want to see with sports games, and it makes sense given that between AC1‘s 2007 release and AC Syndicate‘s 2015 release, only one year (2008) did not see an Assassin’s Creed game. So far, the franchise has now skipped 2016, 2019, 2021, and perhaps even 2022.
Assassin’s Creed Valhalla and The Second Wave of Franchise Fatigue
Despite this, it seems that the second wave of franchise fatigue came sooner. While 2007-2015 was a pretty strong run in terms of franchise strength, only three games have been released since 2017, but they’ve been looked at in a similar, fatigued feeling. There are two major reasons for this: AC Origins was a good middle line between classic elements and open-world RPG elements, but AC Odyssey and Valhalla moved away from trying to walk that line. For many, they feel like more generic open-world RPGs, and this is especially true given how little Assassins or Templars matter in either, especially Valhalla.
Thus, it’s not necessarily franchise fatigue caused directly by the franchise, but a fatigue set in by the many open-world RPGs on the market right now. The second reason is how the expanded content drops the ball more often than not. AC Odyssey expanded the story with DLC, but it was drawn out and not without controversy, namely in how it domesticates the protagonist in one DLC. Assassin’s Creed Valhalla is arguably even worse, as its DLCs add next-to-nothing to the story. Content, especially lackluster content, worsens fatigue.
Assassin’s Creed Rift, Infinity, Nexus, and Franchise Fatigue
So, ultimately, it seems Assassin’s Creed is entering, if it has not entered, another wave of franchise fatigue. It seems Ubisoft could be responding in kind, too, but it’s hard to say now if it’ll be enough to fight off the fatigue. AC Nexus, the reported codename of the VR project, won’t likely be considered a mainline title, though it remains to be seen of course. And many are not necessarily happy to see yet another live-service title enter the market, even if it’s focused on Assassin’s Creed.
Overall, and perhaps most interestingly, is that Assassin’s Creed Rift may be the best way forward. It is reportedly a smaller-scaled, more classic game featuring Basim and more likely bringing parkour back to the fore. This is a good combination of new story elements, set in a better time for parkour, and potentially even bringing back the Assassin vs. Templar story better. It seems the best way forward for Ubisoft is to take a few steps back. That doesn’t mean more open-world RPGs, live-service titles, or VR games aren’t welcome, but that if it’s expanding its genre application, leading with what fans loved first makes the variety stand out more.
Assassin’s Creed Valhalla is available now for PC, PS4, PS5, Stadia, Xbox One, and Xbox Series X.
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