Last year’s Assassin’s Creed Origins was a leap of faith into risky territory for the franchise, but it ended up paying off. Most people loved the game, including our own Xbox editor Matt Brown, and the addition of systems from other role-playing games (RPGs) offered a new style of play for gamers.
However, while Origins was fun, I don’t think the changes it brought were a good fit for the series. And with Assassin’s Creed Odyssey adding more of these types of mechanics, the problem is only getting worse.
Here’s why I think Assassin’s Creed is losing its identity.
Fighting tyranny head on
Ultimately, the main issue I have with the new direction of Assassin’s Creed is that you can take on hordes of foes and not be punished for it. In the classic games of the franchise, like the original Assassin’s Creed and its sequel, Assassin’s Creed II, you couldn’t face more than a few enemies frontally without dying. This is because these titles emphasized what the series was built on: stealth gameplay, and taking your opponents down from the shadows.
Fast forward to today, where frontal combat is getting the primary focus, and this isn’t the case anymore. In order to make direct fighting fully viable, enemies have to be programmed to not take advantage of their numbers, and instead only attacking one at a time. This design philosophy makes stealth pointless. If you can run in blades-blazing and kill all of your opponents, why bother sneaking around and eliminating them one at a time?
You could argue that the option of either stealth or head-on assault gives more freedom to the player, but realistically, I don’t think anyone will play through the games stealthily with these mechanics present. Players will choose the easiest route to victory available, and while it’s true that direct combat has its own set of skills to learn, it’s undeniable that a lot less tactical and strategic thought goes into melee fights compared to carefully avoiding guards or perfectly executing an assassination plan.
Losing what made it special
As Assassin’s Creed continues to make its stealth gameplay obsolete, I believe it is losing what made it unique. Engaging combat systems are great, but I can already get that type of experience from other titles. The Witcher 3, Shadow of War, and Dark Souls III all scratch my itch for hacking people apart. However, Assassin’s Creed used to offer something unique to itself — an intense and thrilling blend of parkour and stealth.
At the end of the day, there’s nothing out there that really feels just like classic Assassin’s Creed did. As the franchise reforms itself, I can’t help but be worried that it will end up becoming a generic and stale series.
Do you think Assassin’s Creed should continue on its current path, or does it need to go back to its roots? Let me know.
You can preorder Assassin’s Creed Odyssey on Xbox One now for $59.99. If you’re like me and you prefer the classic games, you should check out The Ezio Collection, as well.