Assassin's Creed Unity Articles RSS Feed | Assassin's Creed Unity RSS Feed on en Launch Media Network Assassin's Creed Unity Free on PC to Raise Awareness for Notre Dame Fire Wed, 17 Apr 2019 16:42:24 -0400 GS_Staff

To raise awareness for Notre Dame de Paris, the centuries-old gothic cathedral devastated by fire on Monday, Ubisoft is currently offering Assassin's Creed Unity for free on PC.

The game is available on the Ubisoft Store until April 25 at 3 a.m. local time. The developer says that players will "own it forever" after downloading the game to their Uplay accounts. 

In addition to making Assassin's Creed Unity free to all PC players, Ubisoft also announced that it would donate some $564,000 to the restoration and rebuilding of the famous cathedral and Paris landmark. 

The developer said it decided to provide the game for free to not only raise awareness of the fire and the need for donations, but to also give interested players a chance to experience the cathedral in all of its splendor. 

We want to give everyone the chance to experience the majesty and beauty of Notre-Dame the best way we know how. 

As a prominent fixture of the Parisian landscape since its completion in 1345, Notre Dame is undeniably iconic, making it an essential piece of 2014's Unity

Particularly, the cathedral was heavily featured in a Sequence Three mission where the game's protagonist, Arno Dorian, must assassinate a mark within Notre Dame de Paris. In the mission, players are able to experience, at least virtually, the splendor of the cathedral. Of the cathedral's in-game design, Ubisoft said: 

When we created Assassin's Creed Unity, we developed an even closer connection with this incredible city and its landmarks – one of the most notable elements of the game was the extraordinary recreation of Notre-Dame. 

On Monday evening, Notre Dame caught fire. While many of the cathedral's relics were saved and the interior remained mostly unscathed, Notre Dame's iconic spire and roof were devastated by the 12-hour ordeal.  

As of this writing, officials in Paris do not yet know the cause of the fire, although there is some speculation it was caused by an electrical issue within the cathedral. 

To date, some $950 million has been raised to help restore the cathedral. Those interested in donating to the cause can do so via the official donation portal set up by the French government.  

While restoration efforts have yet to begin pending the findings of the current investigation, French President Emmanuel Macron hopes to return Notre Dame to its former splendor within five years. 

Ubisoft's headquarters are in Montreuil, Seine-Saint-Denis, a suburb of Paris, just over 9 miles east of the cathedral. 

Learning with Assassin's Creed: Origins Wed, 25 Oct 2017 12:23:08 -0400 Sarah Elliman

With the upcoming release of Assassin’s Creed Origins on the horizon, an aspect of the game which is rarely discussed is the educational and cultural significance of the franchise. Undoubtedly, the last few installments of the series have leaned on these attributes less, yet there is hope that Origins may return to form while simultaneously injecting the series with a fresh attitude. Over the recent years, big titles such as The Last of Us prove that video games don’t have to be mindless and that it’s not about consistently killing waves and waves of faceless enemies. A good game should give us insight into the world and reflect the depths of human nature.

Firstly, let us start with Assassin’s Creed 2 and Brotherhood as well-rounded examples of a video game that nurtures a more intellectual environment. I have chosen these two specifically as they implemented a lot of new features to the series while refining other aspects from the first game. For example, the introduction of the codex was a marvelous innovation that was lacking in the first installment that further immerses the player into the world. The codex acting as snippets of information is wonderful for a brief overview of key events, buildings, etc and would have been a dream when learning about the Crusades in college--the perfect excuse to play video games all day.

Although it can be considered to offer a small and basic snippet of the history of the period, it nevertheless ignited a love for the Italian Renaissance that I never realized I possessed until playing Assassin’s Creed. Furthermore, Ubisoft were able to expertly weave the historical events in with the fictional narrative of the series that made the period of history seem exciting, which upon further investigating, is a wonderfully diverse era. The desire to learn more about the era came from the realism in the characters and the wonderfully romanticized image in my mind about Italy and its culture.

Leonardo Da Vinci is a perfect example of this, everybody knows the name and the genius behind the man, but to see him conveyed in a human form instead of the divine one written in history is what intrigued me to look into the polymath more. This is implemented exceedingly well in Brotherhood when he helps Ezio against Ceasare Borgia, it is believed by many historians that Da Vinci abhorred war and a lot of his war machines had intentional faults so that they could never be used. This is perfectly conveyed by the kind and gentle nature portrayed in Da Vinci within the series and lets you connect with the many possibilities of history in an easily consumable format. There is a more wholesome air to these installments in the series than has ever been portrayed in the later games. 

As discussed the series hasn’t always been able to capture the zeitgeist of whichever era it is trying to capture. This is perhaps due to the series’ inability to be able to adapt with the times and move forward in a way that fits with the changing attitudes and desires of gamers. Anyone who is close to the series and has been following it for a long time can probably remember the social controversy around Unity and its lack of playable female characters. Considering this was a game heavily leaning on cooperative play within the main campaign, there was no diversity in terms of character design. What made the situation worse was Ubisoft’s statements about the fiasco:

Assassin’s Creed Unity is focused on the story of the lead character, Arno. Whether playing by yourself or with the co-op shared experiences, you the gamer will always be playing Arno, complete with his broad range of gear and skill sets that will make you feel unique. With regard to diversity in our playable Assassins, we’ve featured Aveline, Connor, Adewale and Altair in the Assassin’s Creed games and we continue to look at showcasing diverse characters. We look forward to introducing you to some of the strong female characters in Assassin’s Creed Unity."

However, this statement was not satisfactory to a lot of fans of the series, considering that one of Ubisoft’s own spokespeople stated that putting in female characters would have taken double the amount of time. But why is this important? When you consider the four examples given in the statement above, where two of the four were simply spin offs and not part of the main series, it highlights a massive problem. A lot of people may say that it is simply for historical accuracy, however it is important to remember that the soul of the game is the combination of the historical element, but also the overarching story of the Assassins.

Any art or entertainment reflects the world we live in, and if people don’t see themselves represented it takes away from the immersion and perhaps desire to learn about the events in the games. The game doesn’t need to be one hundred percent accurate as it has its own narrative to carry it forward. In addition, if people cared about the accuracy of the game then they would be up in arms about the portrayal of the French Revolution. Then further down the line at how Syndicate deals with the horrors of the Industrial Revolution, it is clear from these examples that Ubisoft lost what made it special with these two installments.

Unity, to start with takes place in the period of the French Revolution, not the one popularised by Victor Hugo’s Les Miserables. If someone was truly concerned with historical accuracy or at least a lasting impression of the era, then characters such as Napoleon wouldn’t simply be thrown in to make anyone with a basic knowledge of world events jump for joy. In the words of Eric Hobsbawm, a British historian, Napoleon was:

“ a general he had no equal; as a ruler he was a superbly efficient planner...” Eric Hobsbawm (The Age of Revolution)

Napoleon was undeniably a figurehead of the later part of the revolution which lead to astronomical political change within Europe, but his portrayal in Unity doesn’t even scratch the surface of that depth. Unlike Leonardo, there is no deeper understanding of the character and their personality. By sidelining important figures they lost that connection of history and narrative that worked so well previously. This is further evidenced by the treatment of Marx in Syndicate: he appears only for a couple of side quests so you gain no substantial information about such a key figure within this time period. Assassin’s Creed lost its charisma and liveliness by benching the history and losing a key element of what made the series interesting.

The break in the regular yearly installments to the franchise appear to have injected a sense of vitality and reawakening in the series. Although there are only short snippets of game-play, they appear to have moved forward with the times and observed what gamers have been longing for. The Witcher has had a massive influence over the industry in recent years due to its overwhelming success that took what was considered a cult game to world-wide acclaim. Many games are now implementing the open world aspect and creating quests that feel like they contribute to the wider story arch. Assassin’s Creed Origins appears to be no exception, with a map that opens up more as you explore, which should hopefully convey the expansive history and culture of Ancient Egypt. Combine this with the fantastic graphics and expansive environments we have seen within the trailers and snippets of gameplay, and we could be witnessing a revitalization of this classic series. With being able to:

“...uncover lost tombs, explore the pyramids, and discover the secrets of mummies, the gods and the last pharaohs,”

this could mean that Assassin’s Creed fans get an immersive experience comparative to the second installment. By adding diversity into the world, the reflection of Ancient Egypt will hopefully run smoothly with the tale of the Assassins and the cultural vibe of the time.

Perhaps, then, Assassin’s Creed is moving back in the direction that made it so popular in the first place: the intriguing take on historical events without losing the intricate details. The Crusades and the Italian Renaissance were very prominent time periods within European history, and the game captured this essence in a fantastic way. It fanned the flames of interest in history and made it more accessible to people. It is a popularized version of history, but a realistic and human version, too. It would be wonderful if Ubisoft could create a history of Ancient Egypt within their game that doesn’t feel commandeered by Western media. The decision to add the guided tours has given me hope that Assassin’s Creed is trying to retain the magic it started with.

“Discovery Tour is clearly focused on education and on bringing people actual facts, more academic knowledge,”

- Jean Guesdon (Creative Director AC: Origins)

Hopefully we are seeing not only a revitalization of the historical aspect but a more in depth one as well. The choice for Bayek as a main character keeps the hope alive. With fingers, crossed we await the release of Origins on the 27th of October, praying that it is a return to the series that has long been anticipated.

How do you feel about Assassin's Creed? Do you think Origins can redeem the series? Leave a comment below with your thoughts.

“Your Possible Pasts”: A Fan’s Retrospective on the Assassin’s Creed Series Fri, 06 Jan 2017 07:00:02 -0500 Neal Cox

Before we begin: I want you, the reader, to know that this article will spoil all of the games in the Assassin’s Creed: The Ezio Collection package (Assassin’s Creed II, Assassin’s Creed: Brotherhood, Assassin’s Creed Revelations), as well as various other games in the series (Assassin’s Creed, Assassin’s Creed III, etc...).  If you are interested in these games, The Ezio Collection is the perfect way to jump into the series, and you should pick it up now (or when most convenient). Now, back to the Article.

What’s worse: Waiting a long time for a cliffhanger ending to be paid off, or knowing that the payoff will suck?

This was a problem I was confronted with when playing Assassin’s Creed: The Ezio Collection recently. This may sound like I don’t like the games, but I do. In fact, I would say that, like the title hints, I am a fan. I have beaten The Ezio Collection (II, Brotherhood and Revelations) thoroughly before, I have beaten Assassin’s Creed III, and I have played the other mainline entries within the series (Assassin's Creed, Black Flag, Unity and Syndicate), but I haven’t beaten them due to some problems that I will be discussing in this article. I have read the wiki, the codex pages, the in-game library, the whole nine yards. I love these games,  but after re-playing Assassin’s Creed II, I have to admit that they don’t make them like they used to.

PART I: Assassin’s Creed II

Assassin’s Creed II has aged okay. I mean this with love and caring, but its controls were always a mess. They hit the highest highs, making you feel like you are soaring across Italian Cityscapes like a renaissance Flash, and the lowest lows, sometimes giving you the impression that you are driving a car that has four flat tires and a wrench instead of a steering wheel. The “Back Eject” move has given me more grief than I’d care to admit, especially in the challenging “Assassin’s Tomb” missions. But when it worked, especially in the late game, it was a great feeling that has rarely been matched today. The Graphics leave something to be desired, but it’s a Ubisoft Game from 2009; what can you do?

What really makes this game though, is the story. Unlike the other entries in this collection, Assassin’s Creed II was more obviously planned ahead of time. It had a solid base to build off of with the original Assassin’s Creed, and with the proper feedback, development team and setting, the series was transformed into a critical and commercial success. This improvement, this confidence, was present throughout the game.

The story, following main Character Ezio Auditore Da Firenze on his path of revenge throughout Renaissance Italy, had a good mix of freedom and linearity that made the story feel epic, yet focused. It also used various in game items and quests, such as the “Glyph” puzzles and collectible “Codex” pages to help inform the player about the world outside of the game. The only thing that this game failed at, story wise, was fleshing out the modern day characters. But that is a gripe for another section.

The eponymous Ezio is not only a good character for games as a whole, but he is easily the best character in the series, period. He had range (angry, sad, romantic, funny), he had depth, and, most importantly, he had an arch. Not to skip ahead too much, but this is something that many characters in later entries lack. Ezio was not a wise-crackin’ Master Assassin at the beginning of the game. He was an angry and afraid kid, doing his best with the tools he had to avenge his brothers and father. At the end, however, he was no longer angry or afraid.

He was tired, but happy. He had done his job. He had killed the men responsible (minus Rodrigo Borgia, who he should’ve killed, but didn’t due to historical reasons), and now he was at peace.

While Assassin’s Creed II’s ending did leave a few confusing plot holes -- how will Ezio get out of that Vault under the Vatican? Why did he let the most powerful Templar in Europe, Rodrigo Borgia, live? What is the deal with these alien guys? -- it gave us enough to not need another Ezio story. To quote Minerva, the hologram of a long-dead alien who resides in the Vault, when she is speaking to Ezio at the end: “You’ve played your part.” It was time for a new character, a new setting, and a new struggle for our characters in the modern day.

PART II: Assassin’s Creed: Brotherhood and Assassin’s Creed: Revelations

Oh, we’re playing as Ezio again. I can’t say that I am too disappointed by this continuation. Actually, I would say that Brotherhood is my favorite game of the three. I am also a self-avowed member of the Ezio Fan Club, so it was nice to see him again at the height of his power. But, there are some problems with this game, and it starts with this: All of his stuff will arbitrarily be taken away from him again.

This is to be expected in sequels, but that doesn’t make it right. And on top of that, it also symbolizes another problem with this game: This didn’t have to happen. The game didn’t have to take away all of your stuff, but it did. It didn’t have to exist, but it does. Why?


Money. Plain and Simple. I may love this game, but if the entries after Assassin’s Creed II was decided purely by artistic merit, that entry would have been Assassin’s Creed III. No, not the real one. Another one that chose a different time period (16th century Japan), a different character (A ninja, or samurai, or something cool) and was, you know, Good. Ubisoft had seen that their gamble had paid off, and now it was time to play it safe and make some more money. They had their character and setting, now all they needed was a story and a new engine to put it all together. This may sound like I am hating on them for doing this, and I do hate them somewhat, but you have to make money in the games industry. Why throw out a popular character and setting for “artistic merit”? Artistic merit doesn’t always bring home the big bucks.

Again, it’s not like these games are all bad. Actually, as I have been saying over and over again, they are pretty good. While Ezio’s a little more static this time around, he still has the same charm and charisma that makes him, well, him. Rome was fully-realized, fun to explore and full of secrets. Constantinople was also beautiful and fun to explore, but, like Revelations as a whole, wasn’t as fun as its predecessor.

The real saving grace of these entries, the things that made them all worth it, were the modern day segments. Most people don’t like them (they actually hate them with a passion), but that’s what I liked so much about the older games. These two entries gave the other main characters (Desmond, Lucy, Rebecca, and Shaun) more personality, more life. They also expanded on infamous and unseen Subject 16, AKA Clay Kaczmarek. He is ghost and predecessor that haunts you throughout the first three games, first with his blood and then with memories that he hidden within the Animus, before finally confronting Desmond in person. While the character developments for Desmond, Lucy, Shaun and Rebecca weren’t paid off in the next entry of the series, Clay’s story was. Revelations was his last game, and I thought that they handled him and his story well. Not great, but well. It's better than what the others got.

In the End, Brotherhood and Revelations were the last two games in the “original” sequence (AC I - AC III) that were any good. They had their faults, and I do blame them for taking up all of the good writing and characterization from the rest of the franchise, but they were worth it. They are games worth playing.

PART III: Where it all went wrong

Well, we’ve finally arrived to the bad years of the Assassin’s Creed franchise. Revelations to many was thought of as the weak link, the one that would be remembered for its holding-pattern story and terrible tower-defense game. Then Assassin’s Creed III came out.

This failure hit me especially hard. I was really amped for this game before it released. I had the collector’s edition, I waited in line at PAX East to see a live demo of it, and even though I was worried about the creative licence that the game was taking with the Battle of Bunker Hill (they turned the battle from one right outside of Boston to one in the middle of some primordial jungle-forest), I was convinced that things would work out in the end. A little creativity never hurt anybody.

Well, that is true, and it is the lack of creativity that hurt Assassin’s Creed III. Connor was not a proper follow-up to Ezio. They thought that a lack of emotions would make him cool, like the Man with No Name or some other emotionless hero. Instead it made him annoying and, worse still, boring. He didn’t change. He started angry, and he ended angry.

New England, the place I love and call home, was not a proper follow up to Renaissance Italy. While it was fun to traverse and fight in, it was samesy and overall the game suffered for it.

The game-play changed, going full action-game on everyone. It made it fun to play, but at the cost of what made Assassin’s Creed... well Assassin’s Creed. Brotherhood and Revelations also, in my opinion, strayed too far into action territory, but Assassin's Creed III finally took us into full-on God-Warrior territory. Assassin’s Creed, the first one, was a stealthy game with hit-and-run action. I like fighting my way out of failed stealth situations (something that happens to me often), but now Assassin’s Creed had gone too far. Through a long and barely noticeable process, the series had become something entirely different. Something generic.  

The worst thing about this game, however, is its treatment of Desmond and the gang. By Revelations, Lucy was dead (and revealed to be a Templar Double Agent), Desmond’s dad had joined them and they were all ready to stop this world ending event once and for all. The stakes couldn’t be any higher. Naturally, all they did in the game was stay in a cave until another alien ghost guilts Desmond into dying so he can “save the world.” It sounds heroic, but when you see it play out with Desmond grabbing these two Pillars that essentially electrocute him, it feels anti-climatic. Like the writer of this game also hated Desmond, and wanted to give all of those in the “We Hate Desmond” Camp a real big victory.

There were some out of cave diversions, but they were just that: diversions. We got to see the modern world, and see Desmond in action, but never in full. Desmond came close at the end of the game, with him finally being able to kill people -- even though he’s had a hidden blade since AC II -- but he never truly turned into the Master Assassin that the series had promised us. To drive this home, the two reasons that the history segments exist, story-wise, is to:

  1. Find ancient artifacts called Pieces of Eden.
  2. Train Desmond so he can be an assassin (after AC1 at least)

But now the fans got what they wanted: A dead Desmond and a future for their beloved franchise.

And ever since, the series has been in a holding pattern. People like Assassin’s Creed IV: Black Flag. They also like the Sailing Sections in Assassin’s Creed III. I liked neither of those things. Nobody really likes Assassin’s Creed: Unity, and for good reason. It’s bland, it makes the Assassins bland and its main character, Arno, like Connor before, is also bland. Paris was nice, and the game looked good (when it worked), but that wasn't enough to save it from itself. What’s worse still is that it took place during The Reign of Terror, one of the most interesting time periods in human history.

I did not play Assassin’s Creed: Liberation or Assassin’s Creed: Rogue. I would like to play Rogue, its story intrigues me, but I don’t have much hope for it. I did play a substantial amount of Assassin's Creed: Syndicate, and I found some of its characters initially interesting. Jacob and Evie Frye make for a good double act, but, as I brought up earlier, they both stay the same for way too long. Never are they unsure of themselves, never do they change or grow as people.

To be honest with you, I lost interest in the game halfway through. Maybe they do change and become entirely different people at the end. But Ezio -- my main man -- had already changed substantially, both age-wise and maturity-wise, by the midpoint of Assassin’s Creed II. They may be funny (at least Jacob is), but they aren’t dynamic. And that’s where they fail.

Back in September of 2016, Ubisoft was in danger of being bought out by French Media Company Vivendi (and they still are). Yves Guillemot, CEO of Ubisoft, spoke to several news outlets, discussing the state of the company during these hard times. Guillemot was concerned that a potential merger with Vivendi would hurt Ubisoft's "creativity, agility, and risk-taking" which was  "intrinsic to our industry." However, I think they lost those things around Assassin’s Creed II. Sure, Rainbow Six: Siege is fun, so is Steep (to an extent), but what have they really done that’s knocked people’s socks off since Assassin’s Creed II? Far Cry 3 was daring on the narrative side, but game-play wise it was the blueprint for all of Ubisoft's other open world games. More Call of Duty than the daring and brutal Far Cry 2.

Yves Guillemot, CEO of Ubisoft

I hope Assassin’s Creed finds its way again soon. The gameplay in the last few games has improved, probably to the best it's ever been, but a steep price has been paid. I miss that crazy Ancient Alien/Conspiracy/2012-inspired story that was both a "risk-taker" and "creative." I miss Rebecca and Shaun actually being important characters to the story, rather than being some C-3PO/R2-D2-esque side characters that appear in every game because they have to. I miss the Assassins being good, and the Templars being bad.  The whole “we’re actually the good guys” thing the Templars tried pulling in AC III didn’t work, not because it wasn’t interesting, but because, to use Revelations as an example, the Templars will literally throw their henchman off of a carriage and to their deaths if they don’t ride fast enough.

If Ubisoft wants to make a million games set solely in the past, fine. I get that I am the only person who liked Desmond and the modern day stuff. Just give me one thing in return: more characters like Ezio Auditore. Not just one character, but several that grow and change throughout their games. Ones that have emotions, strengths and weaknesses. I would trade all of the conspiracy-laden modern day stuff for one more game with a main character like that.

3 Reasons Yearly Franchise Releases Should Go the Way of the Dinosaur Wed, 04 Jan 2017 03:00:02 -0500 chopchamen

Yearly released franchises. We all know about them. We've tweeted about them, read articles about them, and even paid the money for them up front by preordering them. But when will they stop? As good as these franchises could be, yearly released franchises (yeah, we're looking at you Assassin's Creed and Call of Duty) are slowly ruining themselves.

There are a few good reasons why it would be good for yearly releases to take a hike. Let's take a look.

1. More Time Between Development Cycles

Every year, there's that "new" Call of Duty and Assassin's Creed showed off at E3, but it looks relatively the same as the last installment of that respective franchise (Granted, AC has changed on that a bit, but really, the games look and play the same).

If there were a bigger gap between each installment, these games would look much better graphically and would (hopefully) play better overall -- or at least bring something new and exciting to the table.

There would also be more time to observe the community, see what problems persist within the core mechanic of each franchise, and really prevent any glitches from happening at all (I'm looking at you, AC Unity).

If developers were to brainstorm longer on ideas, it would result in better and fresher gameplay features for each successive installment.

2. A Good Mix Up in Story

By now we know that yearly releases have stories that seem pretty much recycled. They boil down to similar plots, like in Assassin's Creed, chasing down each member of the Templar order, follow each crumb in the trail until it leads to the head honcho of that area. They also have nearly unchanging mechanics and gameplay styles -- all of which can grow stale pretty quickly, Assassin's Creed 3 probably had the most change to the series.

After Assassin's Creed 3, there was really not much of a point in continuing the franchise, seeing as Desmond's story line had pretty much ended, if they re-established a new story line, with a new character in modern time, focusing on another conspiracy, or at least a different angle on the same situation, that would certainly rekindle older fans out there.

And in Call of Duty, while the story can be diverse enough, there are moments that you can almost tell will be in every game until the end of history. Helicopter crashes, a major character dies, somebody takes an enemy out epicly with a knife, and the bad guys seems to just get away again, and again. Not to mention that single stealth mission in each game. (It would be better to have an overall stealth option.)

3. Premium Memberships Being More Worth It

We've seen this from every developer, so it's not just in the case of yearly releases. But when devs put the same game out there year after year and then put out a season pass for it? With literal re-skins of old maps from previous games? They never uphold these games for longer than a year anyway, so why is it even worth buying? It makes them seem even more money hungry than before.

If they would support a game for longer than a year and keep a freshness to it, going so far as to add little stuff, like weapon skins, emblem parts, etc. exclusively for those participating in the season pass, the fire in fans would live a whole hell of a lot longer.

When will games become unique again? Would people be more willing to shell out the big bucks if every game didn't look like an expansion of the previous game? We might not ever know, but maybe after the Assassin's Creed developers taking a step back, they will develop an even better game (Provided they are actually working on it at all), achieve more sales, and that would hopefully influence the other companies to do the same, or at least something similar.

Do you agree, or disagree? Or do you have something to throw into the subject yourself? Let us know in the comments!

Ubisoft VP Declares: "No More [Paid] DLC... To Have the Full Experience" Wed, 23 Nov 2016 00:21:28 -0500 Nam T. Bui

Representative of Ubisoft said that the company will no longer make their future games require DLCs for full experiences. This statement has been made by Ubisoft's VP of live operations Anne Blondel-Jouin when talking to

Instead, the company is seeking to support their upcoming games in a length of 5 to 10 years, while planning for a deliberate way of monetisation.

"Monetisation is something we have to be very careful about, and my team is in charge of that and making sure we find a right balance."

Said Blondel-Jouin, she then continued into talking about how compulsory DLCs is bad for the gamer.

"It wouldn't work if it was about making it compulsory for gamers. No more DLC that you have to buy if you want to have the full experience. You have the game, and if you want to expand it -- depending on how you want to experience the game -- you're free to buy it, or not."

Ubisoft is well known for practising excessive utilization of DLCs and pre-order bonuses. Almost every major game release of the company's franchises, such as Assassin's Creed, Far Cry, Watch Dogs and The Division, usually have a one season pass that contains various DLCs, mostly new missions. Moreover, many of Ubisoft's games are sold in many pre-order editions, with exclusive content for specific retailers, which caused controversy in recent years.

One such notorious case is when the company released Assassin's Creed Unity with the pre-order bonus of a pant that allows the character run faster -- also due to the launch issues with Unity, Ubisoft game a piece of DLC for free. However, Ubisoft has some successful exceptions such as Rainbow Six: Siege and South Park: The Stick of Truth, games that don't require the players to buy DLCs in order to have a full experience.

Failed to deliver: 6 game releases that bombed harder than Mighty No. 9 Fri, 01 Jul 2016 05:34:05 -0400 Ty Arthur


Obviously there are many more awful games out there, but these six are among the most legendary for how badly they bombed upon release.


What did you think of our picks, and do you agree they were all worse than Mighty No. 9? What titles do you think should have made the list of biggest bombs in gaming history? Let us know in the comments below!


Superman 64


Kids today have no idea how utterly vicious the console wars used to be. Forget Xbox One vs. PS4 – the real war was the N64 versus the original PlayStation, and it was fierce.


While Nintendo's console from that generation had ground breaking entries that are still loved today, like Super Mario 64, it also had some true stinkers, like Superman 64.


Words can't fully encapsulate the disappointment of this game, which mostly had you flying through blocky rings and then restarting the level endless times.


There's conflicting reports of why the game is so awful – the developers have since come out and claimed the license holder refused to let them make the game they wanted to – but no matter who is responsible, it was the gamers who set down money on this nonsense who really lost out.



Assassin's Creed Unity


Another game that prompted an actual apology from someone high up (how often does that happen?). In this case, Ubisoft Montreal CEO Yannis Mallat took the heat for this criminally untested game.


“Buggy” doesn't even begin to describe what happened here, with NPCs behaving in extremely bizarre ways, invisible walls appearing out of nowhere, and characters frequently hanging several feet away from where ledges where actually positioned. Needless to say, it made the bottom of our ranking of the entire AC series from best to worst.


Perhaps the most immersion-breaking (and terrifying) bugs involved missing textures, where half of a character's face would disappear mid-conversation.


Not only was there complimentary DLC handed out to smooth things over, but Ubisoft actually decided to break the 1-a-year cycle. Maybe Infinite Warfare will bomb hard enough to convince the Call Of Duty franchise to do the same?



Afro Samurai 2


A true lesson in what sort of state you should NOT release a game in, Afro Samurai 2: Revenge of Kuma received relentlessly negative reviews (including some calling it the “worst game of the year”).


How bad was this game? Well, it wasn't the notorious Atari E.T. experience, but it is notable in video game history for what may be a first. Realizing how badly they'd screwed up, the developers actually yanked the game from Steam and the PlayStation store.


They even went a step further then, offering refunds to absolutely everyone who made the mistake of buying the game. Obviously the next two planned segments of the series were entirely scrapped.


The whole situation was so bizarre that Afro Samurai 2's doomed existence made our list of the biggest gaming scandals of 2015.



Sonic The Hedgehog


The blazing blue hedgehog has been on the decline for decades now and has never really managed to capture the wonder of those old Sega Genesis titles in the modern day.


What really took the cake though was 2006's Sonic The Hedgehog. It featured bad controls, bad camera, and was just an all around bad interpretation of the Sonic experience.


Trying to out glitch all other games, the title has become notorious for its buggy nature. It was bad enough that Sega publicly apologized both for this steaming pile, and for the lackluster entries that preceded it. Will the series ever redeem itself, or are we doomed to replay the original games for eternity?



Final Fantasy XIV


After the relative success of Final Fantasy IX, I'd have to imagine the franchise's second major attempt at an MMO was more than a little disappointing for the execs at SquareEnix.


A (very) short lived MMORPG world, FF XIV was only live for a little over two years before the servers were shuttered and the game world came to a close.


This entry in the long-running series was so bad that subscription fees were nixed and then the game had to be entirely shut down and relaunched later under a different name after undergoing some serious fixes.


FF XIV: A Realm Reborn has certainly redeemed the game, however, and is still going strong today. If only something similar could happen with Aliens: Colonial Marines!





Much like with Colonial Marines, the Xbox 360 edition of Shadowrun was an object lesson in what not to do with a long running and beloved license.


Of all the games to make into a multiplayer death match, this is the one that makes the least sense. Multiplayer, squad-based stealth missions for Mr. Johnson? Sure, absolutely. But mindless capture the flag or death match? There's just simply no correlation there to the Shadowrun universe other than the inclusion of orcs and elves.


What really killed the game was the total lack of a single player campaign at a time when Vista was the most hated OS and not everyone was online gaming on the 360 to begin with. Good luck finding a big enough group of people to actually play a match on this game today if you find it in the bargain bin at GameStop.


Thankfully, Harebrained Schemes stepped in and crowd funded Shadowrun Returns, eventually leading to the two superior and modern day classic sequels Dragonfall and Hong Kong. There's a pretty good chance a genre redefining fourth entry will arrive after Harebrained Schemes wraps up their Battletech reboot as well.


Sadly, history repeated itself with Shadowrun: Online (later changing names to Shadowrun Chronicles: Boston Lockdown), which bombed with fans and critics, especially after the home run of Shadowrun Returns.



Aliens: Colonial Marines


I remember when that supposedly “in-game” trailer dropped back in 2012 and had everyone absolutely stoked. It seemed like we would get a proper horror experience that really took the feel and tone of the classic '86 flick Aliens and translated it into a gaming setting.


We were, of course, all horribly duped. The game looked and played nothing like what was shown. Not only was there none of the tension hinted at there, the game was overall average-to-bad shooter fare where the aliens didn't even play a huge role. The people who paid full price for this got straight up robbed.


What's even more sad is that this is what was actually released after Obsidian Entertainment's Alien RPG was canceled mid-development. While we never did get that proper space marines title to evoke the feel of the movie, a legitimately worthy title did arrive in the form of Alien: Isolation, which took some major cues from horror classics like Outlast and Amnesia.





After a protracted battle against both time and angry backers who raised $4 million to see it created, the Mega Man spiritual successor Mighty No. 9 finally arrived... to less than triumphant fanfare.


Reviews are consistently coming in on on the low side, and people are so upset by what was created with all that money that some are wondering if it means the death of crowd funded video games.


For all the shade being cast at No. 9 though -- gamers seem to have forgotten we've had significantly worse (and less playable) games thrown our way in the past.


From big budget movie tie-in games that ended up in the bargain bin within months of release, to titles that so drastically changed style they were unrecognizable, there have been some mighty flops in gaming history. 


Here were going to look at six of the worst offenders that caused no shortage of headaches (and monetary loss) for publishers and developers alike. These half-dozen titles are all nothing short of a slap in the face to the gaming populace, and probably never should have been released.

The Six Most Annoying Things in Any Video Game Tue, 03 May 2016 12:33:43 -0400 Ian Ilano




These are some of the most annoying things found in any video game. Next time you're playing, look closely and try to see if the game includes any of these mentioned. You may be shocked at how often most of these occur.


And you may be equally disgusted.


Terrible Escort Missions


Nothing is more annoying than that awkward walk/run movement you do when you're escorting someone. Whoever you're escorting either runs too fast, or too slow. If you want an example of this, just think of any escort mission in a Bethesda game.


Sadly, the NPCs are very stupid. 


They'll run ahead of you and stop, waiting for you to catch up to them. And when you do manage to catch up to them, they slowly turn around and sprint away in their intended direction. It's an absolutely unpleasant experience. 



In Redemption, players could hold A in order to follow a predetermined path.


However, not all escort missions were bad. Some games implemented mechanics that made this type of mission much more bearable. 


In Red Dead Redemption, players could hold down a button to stay close to the NPC they needed to follow. By holding "A" or "X," your character would automatically match the NPC's pace and direction. This let you focus on the dialogue instead of having to constantly stop and go.


Even a solution as simple as a "follow" command would have sufficed. In Mount and Blade, long adventures across the map were made bearable with a simple right click and follow.


And yet, another great example of escort missions done right is in the game The Witcher 3. In this game, instead of you following the NPCs and matching their pace, the NPCs would match yours. If you took off in a sprint, the person you're escorting would too. If you stopped to smell the roses or took your time dealing with the numerous ghouls plaguing the map, the NPC would do the same. 


Terrible escort missions are one of the most annoying things in any video game. They're clunky and they break immersion. But fixes are simple, and I'm glad numerous games have implemented this mechanic as a solution.


Waist-high Fences as Invisible Walls


If there's one thing I hate more than "bullet sponges," it would probably be poor level design.


When creating a map, developers always want to restrict the players from certain areas. Restricting them to a certain path would prevent them from getting anywhere they're not supposed to be. However, if you're gonna do this, for the love of God, don't use caution tape.


Batman Arkham Asylum suffered from this tremendously. There were so many parts of the map sectioned off by mere police tape. Realistically, it just doesn't make sense. How can caution tape prevent a fully-grown man in body armor from moving around?


Batman Arkham Asylum


Bruce Wayne, millionaire master martial artist. Weakness? Yellow police tape.


Trust me, I understand the desire to section off parts of the map. Sometimes you just don't want players to go to certain areas because they're prone to bugs or glitches. However, if you're going to restrict players from specific areas, do it in a creative way.


Police tape is getting old.


Difficulty Means Enemies Have More Health


If the success of the Dark Souls series is indicative of anything about our current generation of gamers, it proves that people enjoy challenges. Higher difficulties are enjoyable, and having to think and play safe can make any video game that much more intense. Instead of making the computer AIs smarter or more reactive, some developers opt to just turn them into "bullet sponges."


A "bullet sponge" refers to a character who soaks up bullets. In most games, increasing the difficult doesn't make the AI play smarter, it just means you'll have to take a longer time killing the enemy.


The best example right now is Fallout 4. I'm a huge fan of the series, but one of my biggest gripes with the game was how increasing the difficulty only increased a monster's health. All monsters fought the same, regardless of difficulty. They didn't suddenly engage in strange and unorthodox tactics. They were just able to withstand more bullets.


Developers need to understand that sometimes a smarter or more reactive AI is more challenging than simply giving them more health.


Call of Duty


Veteran difficulty in COD is an example of a better alternative to "bullet sponges."


In the Call of Duty games, the highest difficulty mode, veteran, made it so that players would die in fewer hits. It did not make it so that enemies could take more damage, it simply made the game more realistic. Enemies would chuck grenades and make full use of their cover and position.


This is a great alternative to "bullet sponges." I'd be a happier gamer getting instantly killed by an enemy than spending ten minutes punching rounds into a "bullet sponge."


A Cheap Multiplayer Experience


To put it simply, some games aren't meant for multiplayer. Yet despite this, developers will still go ahead and include a poorly designed multiplayer mode.


Did you know Bioshock 2 had multiplayer? Did you know Tomb Raider did too?


My problem with this is not the multiplayer itself...

\n's the fact that it seems like many developers simply include multiplayer in order to include it.

Rather than making their multiplayer experience stand out from others, developers tend to give us the same old multiplayer game-modes— deathmatch, capture the flag, and free-for-all. They're nothing special -- it's as if game developers are simply checking ideas off their check-list. 


However, there's one game that stands out.


Assassin's Creed Unity


In Assassin's Creed Unity, there was more to multiplayer than killing.


Believe it or not, I'm talking about Assassin's Creed Unity.


Others would argue that the multiplayer experience was very basic, very lack-luster compared to most, but I disagree. In Assassin's Creed Unity, players were free to choose what they wanted to do. You could kill, but the game wasn't specifically about killing. Players can take the stealthy approach and just lay low and cause distress.


Developers, if you're going to release a multiplayer option, develop it carefully. Don't include multiplayer for the purpose of it to be on the box. It's cheap, and nobody is going to play it.


The completionist in me is crying as I type this. Do you know how many games I will never be able to reach 100% because of a poorly designed multiplayer mode?


A lot...


Useless Quest Rewards


This is a problem that plagues many MMOs and RPGs.


You're given a quest to complete, and for simplicity's sake, let's go with a very basic "kill x amount of creatures." You end up killing the creatures and turn in your reward, and for some god-forsaken reason, the reward ends up being significantly weaker than the gear you currently have equipped.


To put more salt in your wound, the level of the gear is lower than the monsters you were originally assigned to kill. At this point, that's no longer pouring salt on your wound, that's sticking your finger in and wiggling it.


A lot of games are guilty of this -- World of Warcraft is one of them. However, even games like The Witcher 3 are just as bad.


Quest rewards are simple. They're rewards obtained from finishing a quest. Often times, players complain about quests becoming too tedious or boring. I feel like the lack of worthy quest rewards is a factor in that. If players were given much better rewards, perhaps they wouldn't complain as much.


Developers need to acknowledge that items are sometimes the main reason to do missions. Giving away cheap equipment is a great way to prevent people from doing further quests.


Poorly Placed Checkpoints


Let me paint a picture for you.


You're on the last mission of the game. You're taking your sweet time, carefully jumping over the platforms and obstacles in your way. With your palms sweating and eyes focused, you slowly move the control stick towards the goal. You come across the last obstacle. Your body tenses up. Your breathing grows heavy. In a moment that could make even the most hardiest of cardiovascular surgeons sweat, you manage... to slip and die.


You reload.


You're a little less tense this time around. You jump over the platforms and obstacles with ease. Once again, you're face to face with the last obstacle. Your palms are more relaxed but your eyes are still focused. You carefully move the control stick to complete the last maneuver. You die.




You take a short breather and gather your bearings. You begin. You breeze through the obstacles — you're a professional at this point. You stand once more in front of the last obstacle. Angrily, you slam the control stick in the intended direction. You die.


You don't reload.


You turn off the game, not wanting to go through the obstacle course again.


No matter how easy a part of the game might be, poorly placed checkpoints can ruin the player's entire experience.


Grand Theft Auto 4


If I have to follow the car for five minutes one more time...

If there's one thing I hate about video games, it's making me repeat an easy part over, and over, again.

The most annoying games are the ones that make you go through an extremely long and enduring sequence, only to have you repeat it if you die. It's disgusting.


GTA IV and San Andreas are two titles that instantly come to mind.

Poorly placed checkpoints show poor design and planning from the developer.

During car chases, taking a wrong turn or missing an exit meant I would have to restart the entire mission, regardless of how close I was to finishing it. Dying would set you back so far, and it marks the moment easy and "fun" sequences start to become boring and repetitive. 


Unfortunately, this problem isn't only prevalent in the GTA series. Poorly placed checkpoints are practically everywhere.


Call of Duty


In COD, dying meant you had to repeat a sequence over and over.


In order to fix this, developers should include different checkpoints throughout missions. GTA V did this perfectly. If you were unlucky enough to die during a mission, GTA V gave you the opportunity to directly spawn at a previous part of the mission, not the very beginning.


Making different checkpoints throughout the mission should be something all games do. Those fun, and easy parts soon become tedious if a player constantly fails to succeed.


Video games are an escape from reality.


They let us traverse the dimensions, and give us the chance to take part in worlds that fulfill our deep and most secret power fantasies. Through games we become mighty warriors, stealthy ninjas, or magicians imbued with the strength of the ancient gods. Unfortunately, not all games are like this. Some have proven themselves to be just as boring, mundane and annoying as real life — maybe even more so.

Not all games are fun. Remember, bad games exist in real life too.

While I love playing games as much as the next guy, some games are just a chore to get through. Today, I'm going to talk about the six most annoying things present in any video game.


Some of these will be small and subtle. Some will make you want to rip your eyes out from just reading them.


But rest assured, they'll all be equally annoying.

Assassin's Creed Ideas: Modern Tue, 23 Feb 2016 22:50:33 -0500 BlackTideTV

Welcome back to Assassin's Creed Ideas, where we look at possible settings for the next Assassin's Creed game each and every Tuesday -- there are a lot of possibilities after all...

If you missed any of our previous entries, you can catch up with the following links:

Before we talk about a possible modern setting in Assassin's Creed's future, we need to talk about the modern setting that we've already seen in the series. Part of the AC games usually takes place in a modern world with a  character using a special machine - an Animus - to relive ancestors' memories through DNA. If you're new to the series or only started playing since "next-gen" consoles came out, you probably haven't experienced a lot of this, as the games have been slowly waning out of their original plot.

Desmond Miles

Desmond Miles Assassin's Creed Trilogy

In what I like to refer to as "the original trilogy" (Assassin's Creed 1-3 including Brotherhood and Revelations as Assassin's Creed 2.1 and 2.2) Desmond was the main character and pushed the rather confusing story forward in both modern and historical times. Let's take a look at this guy's backstory, how he changed Assassin's Creed, and why he isn't in the games anymore.

Originally part of the modern-day Assassin's Order, Desmond decided to "pursue his own dreams" and ran away to become a bartender (it's as ridiculous as it sounds). In September of 2012, a Templar organization known as Abstergo Industries kidnapped and forced Desmond to relive his ancestors' memories through the use of the Animus so that the Templars could find "Pieces of Eden," extremely powerful weapons/artifacts. Here marks the beginning of the original Assassin's Creed game. 

After some time, Desmond breaks out with the help of an undercover Assassin. He then joins forces with her Italian-based Assassin cell and begins to train his abilities with the help of a new Animus in Assassin's Creed II.

Ezio Auditore di Firenze Assassin's Creed II

------------ WARNING! SPOILERS AHEAD! ------------

Cut to Assassin's Creed III and Desmond has become a fully fledged Assassin; players even get to bring him on a few missions throughout the game. He has learned of an impending doomsday (December 21st, 2012... no, really) and enters a special temple where an ancient device capable of preventing this disaster is held. Using yet another Animus, Desmond relives a different ancestor's memories and finds the key to unlock the artifact.

When he goes to retrieve the device, Desmond is confronted by two goddesses (real talk: the original AC games were all over the place). He has the option to save the world now, releasing the goddess Juno's power on it (killing everyone in the long run) or not save the world, get preserved and essentially become a god himself. Being the great hero that he is, he opted for death by releasing the Juno, stating that the remaining Assassins will deal with her. Thus ends Desmond's story. 

Other Modern Gameplay

Assassin's Creed IV: Black Flag Abstergo Entertainment Desk

Apart from Desmond, the only modern day gameplay we've had access to is as an unnamed Abstergo Entertainment employee capturing footage from Edward Kenway's memories in Black Flag, and as a gamer playing through the memories of Arno and the Frye twins in Unity and Syndicate.

But is that truly it? Some die-hard fans believe that we've already had a modern day Assassin's Creed in the form of Watch_Dogs. Check out this YouTube video on the subject as it can provide a better description of the supposed Ubisoft shared universe than I can:

The Time has come for a Modern Assassin's Game

Whether you prescribe to the shared universe conspiracy or not, it is far past time we got a modern day Assassin's Creed. With Desmond's dying breath, he asked the remaining Assassins to fight off this where are they all? We know a couple of them are running around trying to find more Pieces of Eden, but the Assassin's Order is supposed to be this huge thing - so I ask again, where is everyone?

Sure the battle between Templar and Assassin is one that takes place in the shadows of the world and everything they do or say is kept hidden from the public eye, but the shadows are where these two forces live.

Let us take control of a modern day Assassin and send us into Abstergo to take out some high value targets and disrupt the Templars' plans! Give us access to some crazy powerful black ops Assassin team armed to the teeth with weaponry and let us go wild! 

CIA Black Ops Lego Minifigure Team

Critics claim year after year that the Assassin's Creed franchise is getting tired, but that doesn't need to be the case. With a modern setting, anything could be possible. 

That's it for today's Assassin's Creed Ideas article. If you enjoyed, agreed with anything you read, found something wrong, have any input, or an idea for a future article, let me know in the comments section!

Don't forget to read up on the last three articles: Assassin's Creed Ideas: Ancient EgyptAssassin's Creed Ideas: World War One, and Assassin's Creed Ideas: 1920s America. For all of the hottest Assassin's Creed Ideas articles, follow the ACI landing page .

For the best of Fallout 4, Assassin's Creed, and Guitar Hero Live news, guides, and opinion pieces be sure to follow BlackTideTV on GameSkinny! To stay up to date, head over to my Twitter page @BlackTideTV.

No Assassin's Creed in 2016? Good. Sun, 10 Jan 2016 09:15:36 -0500 Nick Harshman

This past week, Kotaku posted a story claiming they heard rumors that the next main entry in the Assassin's Creed franchise will not only be set in Egypt, but will also be released in 2017 instead of 2016. In other words, Ubisoft has decided to give the series a much needed rest. I for one cannot help but feel thankful that they have chosen to let the franchise catch it's breath.

Should this rumor be true, this will be the first year since 2009 that fans will not receive a main entry in the Assassin vs. Templar franchise. Of course fans can still look forward to Assassin's Creed Chronicles: India and Russia, which are due out January 12 and February 9 respectively, but those games serve more as spinoffs than entries in the main franchise.

Don't get the wrong idea, I enjoy Assassin's Creed quite a bit. Unfortunately, I also feel that since the decision to annualize the series, its quality has taken a dive year after year. This culminated in the debacle that was the Assassin's Creed Unity release: littered with bugs, a lackluster ending to say the least, and a love story that at times felt shoehorned in. 

Fast forward to Syndicate's release in 2015 and you'll find the game feels much the same as its predecessor - minus the bugs - and arrived with a resounding thud. Much of the gameplay is similar, combat is tedious, and the recycled combat animations are disappointing. This iteration could be considered the very definition of playing it safe. Designers eliminated the bugs, nixed the multiplayer and focused on a single player experience in Victorian London, one of the most popular time periods in fiction. As they continue to pump out new sequels every year, Ubisoft can't make the drastic changes the series so desperately needs.

If Ubisoft does take 2016 off, what changes should we expect in 2017's Assassin's Creed? First and foremost, the developers face a hard decision: do they continue to incorporate the present day storyline? If so, they need to expand upon it and move the story forward - as it is now the plot has plateaued. It almost seems as if they had no plan for after Assassin's Creed III and have been winging it since then. Taking a break will allow them to flesh out the plot for future games. 

Ubisoft also needs to completely overhaul the combat system. The foundation is there for Batman Arkham style combat, but the clunkiness and poor enemy AI prevent the current system from coming into its own. Combat akin to Shadow of Mordor would be ideal for the Assassin's Creed franchise as it allows for the free flowing combat style the developers could be looking for. 

Fixing the minor problems that have been plaguing the series for years resolves some of the fans' remaining complaints. Issues such as sticky jumping and inconsistent character movement, NPC characters lacking personality, and creating a realistic environment are just a few of the possible improvements Ubisoft should focus on.

Assassin's Creed is not a bad series and I would go out of my way to recommend it to others, but it continues to test my patience. Ubisoft would be well served taking a year and getting their head on straight. Here's hoping 2017's Assassin's Creed is the redemption the series needs. Who knows, maybe we'll even get a game set in Feudal Japan.

A look at the Assassin's Creed series from best to worst Wed, 04 Nov 2015 09:00:32 -0500 Ty Arthur


Floundering franchise or wellspring of ideas?


While each title had something to make it stand out, it does seem like there's only so many ways to refresh and revitalize the same gameplay before you run out of ideas, and it may be time for Assassin's Creed to take a few years off and come back in a whole new format.

What do you think of our ranking of the games, and do you want to see a new title every year or agree that the series needs to take a break?


Worst: Assassin's Creed: Unity


Assassin's Creed unquestionably stumbled with its first faltering steps into the next generation of console gaming. Frankly the endless stream of bugs made people want to take up assassination as a profession and target certain game developers...


If you went with the PC version you could look forward to crashes galore, but any edition had an absolute avalanche of technical problems crushing any hope of a good game experience. Bodies would contort in insane ways, parts of your face would disconcertingly vanish, sometimes you'd just fall through the floor, objects would float in the air for no apparent reason and you'd be taken with the irresistible urge to dance while climbing ladders or running across ledges. It was sort of like being in a horror movie, but not on purpose.


The game was so bad that Ubisoft Montreal CEO Yannis Mallet actually issued a formal apology to fans for the bug-ridden release and even handed out free DLC as a mea culpa. We can only hope a lesson was learned here and the series never dips this low again.


Assassin's Creed III


Just as it seemed like Brotherhood couldn't work, this entry in the series seemed destined for greatness, and both of those assumptions ended up completely incorrect. The setting had everyone excited – medieval European assassin game series heads to the American revolution? - but the end result was anything but gripping.


I remember the excitement felt when the first video teasers landed was only matched by the disappointment of the end product as the main character isn't particularly exciting, the intro segments are way too long and the game was very buggy upon release. Although they don't get mentioned often, there were actually some graphical shortcuts used here that really didn't sit right, especially the foliage and leaves that looked like flat cardboard cutouts.


The DLC is worth mentioning however, as the idea of George Washington becoming a tyrant who has to be taken down was incredibly interesting. Even with new animal-inspired powers for your Native American assassin, the end result was a little lackluster though, ending up quite repetitive with a weak ending.


Assassin's Creed


If you weren't aware of the twist ahead of time (and I wasn't when I first popped that disc in), the sci-fi/modern day twist at the very start of the game really messed with your head. Like “Sixth Sense” messed with your head. I first played the original Assassin's Creed on Christmas Day 2007 after having imbibed quite a bit, and honestly I thought at first that someone at the factory had messed up somehow and put the wrong game in the case. Those who trolled all the forums or stayed on top of the gaming magazines at the time actually missed out there.


Opening mindscrew aside, there's no question this game has aged, and perhaps not very well. More interesting features and smoother gameplay have been added to most of the games since, so while this one has nostalgia going for it, its definitely among the weaker entries with quite clunky controls. For some fans, the placement of this game so low on the list might be a bit of a controversial one, and it really could be swapped with the previous entry for those feeling a little more generous.


Assassin's Creed: Revelations


Assassin's Creed: Revelations is the game that almost wasn't – originally set to be a handheld game for the 3DS, it was scrapped and an announcement was released from Ubisoft that there wouldn't actually be an Assassin's Creed game that year... until it was resurrected for the main consoles of the time as Revelations and came out anyway.


While not an explicitly bad game, the formula was getting pretty stale by the time Revelations showed up, and those new features added in didn't really resonate with fans. The hook was kind of nifty, but looking back it didn't actually add a whole lot, and the minigame of defending areas against waves of Templar reinforcements wasn't particularly compelling. This wrap-up to the Ezio storyline was a middling experience that just didn't manage to knock it out of the park.


Assassin's Creed: Syndicate


With Syndicate only out for a few days now it's tough to make a real call yet as to where it really lands in the ranking of the series, as viewpoints are going to change as a game sinks in over repeated plays. Assassin's Creed III is probably the best example of that - it received stellar reviews from the major game sites at launch but is now universally reviled.


We'll have to see with AC:S finally lands, but right now it seems to be sitting in the middle of the pack: there's some great stuff going on, but it certainly isn't the peak of the franchise. Carriage chases and top hats aren't quite as innovative as being a pirate.

As a standalone, side-story title it gives a brief glimpse into Victorian era assassins, again slightly changing the formula and abandoning multiplayer, but leading some to wish for another multi-game arc featuring a character we can love as much as Ezio.

Personally, I'm a fan of the top hats, mutton chops, flintlock pistols, and high speed carriage chases. With the organized crime aspects and shooting from a carriage while chasing down other horse-drawn vehicles, sometimes the game almost feels a bit like you're Nico Bellic in old time England. It probably won't ever be heralded as the best entry in the series, but it does sit solidly in the middle.


Assassin's Creed: Brotherhood


No one expected this game to work, and everyone thought an epic flop was brewing over at Ubisoft. How do you take single player stealth assassin gameplay and tack on multiplayer to it? Somehow it worked, and while the experience isn't quite the crazy wild west of say something like GTA 5 multiplayer, it definitely had solid appeal as you wondered whether the person next to you was a simple peasant... or an assassin with a blade ready. Honestly, it's still fun today, if you can find enough people for a match, that is.


On the single player front, exploring Renaissance-era Rome (a much larger city than the previous games) while battling the corrupt Borgias family was quite satisfying, and adding in the ability to recruit followers added a welcome new dimension. Being an assassin is a good time, but leading a whole cabal of assassins is even more so.


Assassin's Creed: Rogue


How weird is it that the bone thrown to previous gen players who hadn't upgraded to the Xbox One / PS4 yet ended up being superior to the current gen counterpart? Rogue was almost an afterthought, put out because not everyone was ready to throw down the cash for a new console and pick up Unity (and as we discovered, those poor gamers actually came out with the better end of the deal). Culling out multiplayer and using a very clear template from the 360 / PS3 days might have actually made this a better game with the focus on tweaking and improving the formula.


Of course, it's also worth noting you finally get to take up the cause of the other side and carry the torch for the Templars instead! Long range kills with the rifle and causing mayhem with a grenade launcher add in unexpected elements as well, offering a solid follow-up to the amazing Black Flag.


On the downside, Assasin's Creed: Rogue is overall very similar to that previous game, but since that's one of the best entries in the series, that's perhaps not such a bad thing after all.


Assassin's Creed IV: Black Flag


Everybody knows that pirates and ninja are mortal enemies, but apparently pirates and accidental Caribbean assassins go together a bit better. Black Flag moved us away from the story's roots a bit by throwing in a protagonist who didn't even intend to ever be an assassin and had no real knowledge of the war against the templars. He just found a cool outfit, put it on, and got down to the business of killing and looting!


The emphasis on ship combat is what entirely makes this game great (so something good finally came out of the maligned third installment, which first introduced the idea). Between the island exploration, tense naval battles, and typical city assassination elements, Black Flag is one of the most straight-up enjoyable entries in terms of game play.


Best: Assassin's Creed II


Opinion is overall divided here, with fans about split as to which game is really the best, and I have to admit even I waffle sometimes on which is currently my favorite. Honestly, this and the next slide could be swapped on any given day and they'd probably still be right, as both Assassins Creed II and Black Flag are very solid high points. But, looking back across the entire series, the sequel to the original title just does so much right that it's worth being counted as the pinnacle.


While the original title offered a previously unknown mix of historical stealth combat and modern day sci-fi shenanigans, the first direct sequel improved on nearly every aspect in major ways. There was no more running back and forth from the safe house constantly, significantly improved combat, better storylines, and the most loved protagonist in Assassin's Creed history: Ezio.


The dynamic environments for fleeing (or stalking an assassination target) still hold up today even after so many iterations, and there was tons of fun to be had hunting down all the feathers, video segments, and statuettes. Granted, by today's standards it may not have the graphical flair (or the ship-to-ship combat that's become so highly acclaimed), but this is still one of the most fun, polished games in the entire series.


For a series that only started in 2007, somehow we've reached a staggering 20+ titles already (if you count all the spin-offs, mobile entries, and social media web browser games). That's on par with the Call Of Duty franchise that everybody likes to rag on for having an endless stream of yearly installments.


Like clockwork, the official 2015 entry Assassin's Creed: Syndicate just finally arrived, this time culling out the modern day elements in favor of a more straight historical narrative and offering up dual protagonists in 1860's London.


It goes without saying that with so many different games coming in such a small window of time, there's a pretty big gap in quality between them, with some significantly more worth your time than others.


If you want to know what games are still up to snuff and which should be relegated to the bargain bin, you've come to the right place. We'll skip all the mobile phone and handheld games and instead focus on the core console titles that compose this rapidly expanding series.

The Bundle Bundle: Console bundles for Xbox One available for the holidays Wed, 30 Sep 2015 12:06:34 -0400 Andrea Koenig

It seems like the latest craze for console companies is to offer a special bundle, whether it simply includes a certain game, or a full limited edition makeover to your favorite console. 

Below are the Upcoming Xbox One bundles that will be available before December. If you're both a PS4 and Xbox One gamer, you can check out the same upcoming holiday PS4 bundles right here.

Xbox One Elite Bundle

  • Xbox One Console, 1TB Solid State Hybrid drive
  • Xbox Elite Wireless Controller (plus replaceable parts)
  • Xbox Elite Wireless Controller carrying case
  • 14 Day Xbox Live Gold Trial

Available: Nov 3, 2015 (pre-order now)

Price: $499 (plus tax)

LEGO Movie Bundle
  • Xbox One Console, 500GB hard drive
  • Xbox One Wireless Controller
  • LEGO Movie video game

Available: October 2015 

Price: $349 (plus tax)

Xbox One 1TB Holiday Bundle
  • Xbox One Console, 1TB hard drive
  • Xbox One Wireless Controller
  • Gears of War: Ultimate Edition video game
  • Rare Replay video game
  • Full-game download code for Ori and the Blind Forest

Available: November 2015 

Price: $399 (plus tax)

Rise of the Tomb Raider
  • Xbox One Console, 1TB hard drive
  • Xbox One Wireless Controller
  • Rise of the Tomb Raider full download, Holiday 2015 exclusive
  • Tomb Raider: Definitive Edition full game download
  • Exclusive Tactical Survival Kit Content Pack

Available: Nov 3, 2015

Price: $399 (plus tax)

Limited Edition Halo 5 Guardians Bundle
  • Custom Xbox One Console, 1TB Hard Drive
  • Custom Xbox One Wireless Controller
  • Spartan-themed SteelBook case
  • Halo 5: Guardians Limited Edition full download
  • Guardian model by Metal Earth
  • Exclusive DLC: Warzone REQ Bundle 

Available: Oct 20, 2015 

Price: $499 (plus tax)

Bonus Bundle: Limited Edition Forza Motorsport 6
  • Custom Xbox One Console, 1TB
  • Custom Xbox One Wireless Controller
  • Forza Motorsport 6 full download
  • Tenth Anniversary Car Pack download code
  • Exclusive: Assassin's Creed Unity (If ordered before Oct 31)
  • Exclusive: Project Spark (If ordered between Sept 30 and Dec 31)


Price: $399 (plus tax)

All of the above bundles include HDMI Cable and Power Supply.

Xbox is currently releasing one deal per day this week to offer various deals and bundles to get gamers into the holiday spirit. You can keep an eye on them through the Xbox Wire news blog or the Microsoft Store.

For PlayStation 4 Bundles, click here.

Xbox One Bundles expanded through Labor Day Sat, 05 Sep 2015 12:52:56 -0400 Anthony Jondreau

If you have yet to get your hands on Microsoft’s newest console, Labor Day Weekend might be the time to do it. While the Xbox One has come bundled with Assassin’s Creed: Black Flag and Assassin’s Creed: Unity for a while now, the bundles will be expanded until September 7th. An Xbox One will include Assassin’s Creed: Unity, as well as any one of the games below, the choice of which is up to you.

  • Lego Jurassic World
  • Rory McIlroy PGA Tour
  • Minecraft
  • Batman Arkham Knight 
  • Rare Replay
  • NBA 2K15
  • Middle-earth: Shadow of Mordor
  • Destiny
  • The Witcher 3: Wild Hunt
  • The Elder Scrolls: Online
  • Forza Horizon 2
  • Far Cry 4
  • Borderlands: The Handsome Collection
  • Payday 2: Crimewave Edition

In addition, two bundles will give you a third game. The Madden 16 Bundle comes with Madden 16, AC: Unity, and one of the games above, as well as a year of EA access. The Halo: The Master Chief Collection Bundle includes Halo: The Master Chief Collection, AC: Unity, and one of the games above. You can also get AC: Unity and Black Flag, as well as one of the free games. 

The standard bundle is available for as low as $349.99, while the Madden and Halo bundles will be $399.99.

Transparency: 5 things developers really mean by "it's too hard" Fri, 14 Aug 2015 11:21:17 -0400 Larry Everett

I’ve had it. I’m done with letting developers tell me that something is too hard. It gives me zero insight into why something isn’t being done in a game. On top of that, it makes the developers look like idiots and it makes interviewers look like idiots for taking "it's too hard" as a real answer.

Readers should not take “it’s too hard” as a legitimate answer from a developer. There is always more to it; there is always a limitation on the development team that they are just not revealing.

Of course, I’m not trying to say that every game should have everything we want in it. Nor am I saying that there aren’t things that developers can’t do. Saying that things are too difficult or too hard not only doesn’t paint a true picture of what’s really happening, but it also makes it sound like the developer just isn’t skilled enough to pull off whatever it is the interviewer is asking. That might be the case, but you don’t want to tell people that! (Note: that’s not usually the case.)

In case you’re confused by why Assassin’s Creed Unity didn’t have a female multiplayer character model or why the PC port for Batman: Arkham Knight released unplayable, let me give a list of five things developers could really mean by “it’s too hard.”

1. Doesn’t fit within the limitations of the engine

Engine choices are obviously made early on in the design process. More often than not it’s simpler to license an existing engine when designing a game now because it takes a lot of developer time to create an engine from scratch. On top of that, many of the existing licensed engines are robust and highly customizable. I completely understand the cost-effectiveness of not reinventing the wheel.

However, there are sometimes limitations in tech within the engine itself. Of course, developers can usually rewrite the code of the engine, but if the game is already built, then rewriting something core to the game could easily break the game to a point where is it unplayable.

Instead of “too hard,” developers should reply something like: “We have assessed the ramifications of implementing this feature in the game’s engine and have concluded that adding it would cause irrevocable damage to the gameplay.”

2. Would require more man-hours than we can allocate

The ultimate idea behind making a video game is making money. And I don’t begrudge people from all levels of development for wanting the game to make money. Of course, there is a line where making money supersedes making a good game, and that is bad.

Regardless, when you make a game, producers have to keep in mind how much time is being spent on certain features. And if too much time is being spent on one feature that doesn’t benefit the game’s bottom line as much as spending time on another feature, then it’s understandable that the resources had to be allocated to another part of the project.

A better, although equally unwanted reply, could be: “There are many features that we wanted to implement into the game, but our allotted man-hours didn’t allow us to work on that feature.” That could be followed up with “But we hope to implement that in the future” or “If our sales of the game reach beyond our projected threshold, then we can work on implementing that.”

3. Would require hiring extra staff

This particular reason for not implementing something in a game is similar to the last one, but usually this means that they would have to hire staff that has a skillset that the current team doesn’t have. Think about it like this: It takes a completely different style of design for Kerbal Space Program than making Call of Duty. That also means that different designers are required.

Sure, there is overlap because they are both video games, but I think you can understand that from a more narrow perspective that different games will require different people to make them successfully.

If the current team doesn’t have the background to implement the feature an interviewer is asking about, the developers should state that. For example: “That feature does sound great, but our staff consists of a different type of developers. If we wanted to implement those features, we would have to hire a different team, and unfortunately, that is not in our current budget.”

4. Will not fit in the client-side minimum requirements

One of the biggest limitations on game developers is the platform it’s being developed for. Everything from the controls, to the GPU, to the amount of storage required for the game all weigh against the choices behind what is or isn’t implemented in a title.

Sometimes, certain features have to be scaled back so far because of the console limitations that it’s not even worth implementing. For instance, Elder Scrolls Online didn’t bother implementing a chatroom on its console version because the keyboards for consoles are just plain awful and are rarely used. There was more benefit in implementing a built-in voice chat.

If this is a reason why something hasn’t been implemented in a game, simply say: “We had to scale back that feature because it didn’t work on this platform.” As the PC master race, it’s sometimes hard to accept that, but understand that it's often better for business to cater to console and low-end PC users.

5. It’s outside the scope of the vision for the game

Lastly, games have to have a solid vision to work out well. If it attempts to do too much, then it enters the dreaded sea of feature-creep, meaning that the things that the game does will not be done well. Sometimes, developers have to choose.

Of course, that will mean potentially losing players, but it’s better to satisfy the players that you do have than to satisfy no one.

A developer can say here: “We had considered that feature at one point when designing the game, but we felt it was beyond the our vision for the game.”

When we live in a world where CGI is better than what we can see with our eyes, there is nothing that is impossible or “too hard.” It all has to do with the limitations that developers have placed. I just wish developers were sometimes more forthcoming with their reasons why.

AC Council: Be part of the community for special content, visit the studios, go to special events Thu, 06 Aug 2015 19:47:42 -0400 Andrea Koenig

The Assassin's Creed twitter announced a new reward-based community builder called Assassin's Creed Council. Users can share exclusive news and content from developers, submit their fan work, vote on content, and in return be given points and badges for their participation in the community for the ultimate fan prize:

More points land you at Council level 30, where you could be hand-picked by Assassin's Creed Studios to join what they're calling the "Council Chamber" for "several months."

Within this time frame, the chosen ones will have a chance
to visit the studios, to participate to special events, to meet
the productions team and much more

It's a great chance to communicate with other Assassin's Creed fans, give the game producers feedback, and receive exclusive content in return.

Here's a quick breakdown of the site so far:

If you haven't already, you must register for a UPlay account, otherwise you can just Login with your UPlay information and immediately get access.

Never lose sight of what's happening in the Assassin's Creed world. The Council is where you'll get official and live fresh infos directly from the game producers. And this, without having to spy us.

The front page shows posts like this one, from the studio and from fans. This is where users will submit their content and see exclusive content like information on the Lore, Behind-the-Scenes content, Teasers, and Looks at MoCap Content. The Up and Down arrows on top of the post are for the voting system, and more votes UP earn you more points to level up and earn badges, getting you closer to Level 30 and the Council Chamber.


The level system is pretty standard with point increments placing you in certain levels, and then badges are for performing certain acts like joining, sharing content, logging on via mobile, posting content, and receiving a certain number of upvotes on one post to name a few.

To join and check out the site some more yourself, visit the AC Council here.

Major Concerns for Fallout 4 Mon, 29 Jun 2015 02:30:01 -0400 Fireboltz_7795

I’m just as excited about Bethesda’s Fallout 4 as everyone else. They’ve done a great job of marketing and advertising the crap out of this game, and it looks impressive to say the least. I have played Fallout 3 and Fallout: New Vegas, and I’m actually concerned about this sequel. With all the hype and expectations going on, I feel very I shouldn't get carried away with all the buzz and excitement. Here are some concerns that I feel us gamers should have in regards to Fallout 4.

The Size


Everyone has heard the cliché bigger is better, but I don’t think this is true when it comes to Fallout 4. There are rumors and reports floating around the internet that this game will be three times bigger than The Elder Scrolls’s V: Skyrim’s map. Skyrim left me feeling happy knowing that there was plenty to explore and discover across the world. But something this size seems a little too big. So if you’re a person that likes to complete and acquire everything in a game (like I am), then good luck to you. With this enormous map, that may prove near impossible. I could also see a significant dip in how the game performs as you near the map size limit. Bethesda better have plenty for us to do so we don’t feel like we’re just walking aimlessly around everywhere. 

Have they learned from their mistakes?

In Fallout 3, there were glitches, mechanical hiccups, game freezes at random moments, and a few other problems as well. I noticed the same issues in Fallout: New Vegas. With all these advanced features, promises, and hardware going into the game, I’m a little worried that I’m going to have to deal with these problems all over again. I understand that these things in many ways are unavoidable, especially for open-world games, but if fewer issues during gameplay, the more forgiving I am when one does actually occur.

The Complexity


Fallout 4 boasts a lot about all the things you can do in the game. You can customize your character, weapons, armor, and even build and craft structures. There is also the unique combat style, the leveling up system, training a dog, and dealing with mods. While I’m familiar and can handle all of this (and I’m looking forward to it all), new gamers that are just trying to get into the series might feel overwhelmed. It is a steep learning curve that they must overcome to enjoy the game. This could cause a lot of frustration and a failure to acquire newcomers to the series. 

The release date itself

The final concern is the November 10 release date. When you think about the size of the game, the hardware involved, the multiple features, I can’t help but wonder if this game will be ready by then. With a lot games going out unfinished (Halo: The Master Chief Collection and Assassin’s Creed Unity come to mind), I’m worried that this game will follow suit. I don’t want a game that forces me to wait for patch updates.

While I have these concerns, I’m still going to buy the game on the release date. Bethesda is one of those companies that for the most part, hasn't let me down, so I’m placing my trust in them despite my concerns. I have no doubts that this game will be awesome. I just hope it is awesome from day one.

Everything we heard about Assassin's Creed Syndicate from E3 2015 Tue, 16 Jun 2015 06:50:54 -0400 Bryan C. Tan

One month ago, we were treated with the world premiere of this year's Assassin's Creed game, Assassin's Creed Syndicate. Set in 1868 Victorian London, two new protagonists were revealed with new weapons and, for the first time in the series, vehicles.

While the world premiere gave us all the basics, including an October 23rd release date, E3 is where the hype train really starts to pick up. And after two days of E3 press conferences, it definitely did.


E3 Cinematic Trailer

Another E3, another cinematic trailer. At Ubisoft's press conference, the E3 cinematic trailer for Assassin's Creed Syndicate was revealed, showing the customary flying eagle, a horse carriage falling into a river, and lots of British smoke.

Apart from that, we get a good look at the all-new Rope Launcher and some very cool environmental combat involving chairs, chains, and blinding enemies. It is safe to say that some aspects in the trailer may or may not be present in the final game. But, doubts aside, Victorian London sure does look gorgeously slick.

Gameplay Walkthrough

Oddly enough, Ubisoft decided not to show any gameplay footage from Assassin's Creed Syndicate at their press conference. Instead, they proceeded to post a gameplay demo on Youtube at the same time as the cinematic trailer was shown at their press conference.

Once again featuring Jacob Frye, the second gameplay walkthrough released so far shows us combat on carriages, trains, and a gang war street brawl. The footage also demonstrates how the Rope Launcher can be used for horizontal movement as well as vertical. The melee combat does look a bit cartoonish at points due its fast pace, but the use of Jacob's cane, which includes a hidden blade, makes the hand-to-hand combat impressive to watch.

Evie Frye Trailer

After a month of focus on the male protagonist, his twin sister, Evie Frye, finally gets some attention with her own trailer. Besides looking badass taking out templars and throwing them into furnaces, new weapons like the cane-sword and throwing knives get a taste of the spotlight, much like in Jacob's trailer.

With stealth, hand-to-hand, and environmental combat all looking like a piece of cake for Evie, it seems that she'll be a female protagonist we can all be proud of.

The Dreadful Crimes

Last year, Assassin's Creed Unity was heavily marketed with the Xbox One, with console bundles and better graphics as fruits of that collaboration. This year, it's Sony's turn, with 10 side missions in Assassin's Creed Syndicate announced as exclusive to PS4 at Sony's E3 press conference. Called The Dreadful Crimes, the 10 missions involve investigating murders, kidnappings, and other crimes throughout London for special rewards and exclusive artwork.

Similar to Unity's Murder Mysteries, witnesses have to be interviewed, and suspects have to be accused. This follows Sony's collaboration with Assassin's Creed IV: Black Flag, where 60 minutes of gameplay was exclusive on the PS4. 

For now...

Assassin's Creed Syndicate's E3 releases may be done and dusted for now, but for those in London, Paris, Madrid, Milan, Amsterdam, Berlin, Stockholm, and Sydney, the opportunity to experience Assassin's Creed Syndicate first-hand presents itself through Assassin's Creed Syndicate: The Tour from June 16th to 18th. Registration is available here.

For others not in the vicinity, we can all wait for the worldwide release of Assassin's Creed Syndicate on October 23rd - only four short months away.

Is Single-player Dying? Sun, 07 Jun 2015 08:30:01 -0400 Elijah Beahm

Single-player. It is the original way we played games, and some would say it's the only way.. Now everyone seems to fear its sudden and immediate demise. (Dun dun duuuuunn.) Is this death of solo gaming true? Or are gamers just overreacting (not that that ever happens)?

The short answer is no. The long answer is more complicated.

If you look at it from the solo-only "I don't ever play online" perspective, there are certainly more games where multiplayer has been added. In none of those cases did the single-player die off or get diminished (in fact, often the opposite happened), but the shift is notable and sometimes had an impact on mechanics.

For instance, Dead Space 3's crafting system caused the series to drop its competitive multiplayer and instead be a co-op experience. Mass Effect 3 added new movement systems and a weight system to make it more active and fast-paced during combat. In other cases, the changes would appear in more surprising ways, such as Assassin's Creed: Rogue utilizing ideas from the series' multiplayer.

However, for some, the inclusion of multiplayer of any kind is seen as a downside. For instance, with the Tomb Raider 2013 reboot, all the downloadable content, save for one piece of DLC, was for the game's multiplayer (and even then it was only map packs).

There was no new single-player content planned, so the lack of genuine tombs and puzzles never got addressed. Square Enix went double-down on the experimental half of the game, and when Eidos Montreal failed to deliver, it blew up in their face hard. To the point that apparently, instead of having a competent multiplayer team make the multiplayer as fun as it could be, they dropped it entirely for Rise of the Tomb Raider.

Yet, that's not really the most constructive response either.

While fans were rightfully inflamed to complain about the ludicrous amounts of lag on console, and the terrible controls on PC, the inclusion of multiplayer was perfectly reasonable for Tomb Raider. Co-op even worked marvelously in Lara Croft and The Guardian of Light. If they'd more heavily emphasized the survival elements along with the traps and traversal mechanics, it would have been like The Last of Us' multiplayer 2.0.

Except we'll probably never get that, because fans not open to the multiplayer complained endlessly at its very inclusion.

You see, that's the other side of things.

Most multiplayer gamers didn't blink an eye when Battlefield 3 had single-player. Even reviewers barely took note, and kept looking to the multiplayer. There was no serious harm or foul, just some people who were severely underwhelmed at DICE's idea of a solo Battlefield experience.

You do not see this kind of "I'll just keep playing what I like" attitude whenever a single-player game adds multiplayer. Even when you later find the detractors liking the multiplayer, such as with The Last of Us and Mass Effect 3, they go right back to their stubbornness afterward. Even critics have a habit of doing this, sounding almost astonished when The Last of Us' multiplayer didn't somehow bore them to tears.

No matter what, they almost always use a predictable argument I've learned by heart now. Let's address it, very briefly here.

  • "Multiplayer takes away resources" -- This is, nine times out of ten, completely false. If there isn't a separate internal team to start with, there's an additional developer brought on board. And if you try to say "that's taking budget away", then you seem to have forgotten that the publisher is paying extra to include multiplayer. Unless we're talking about Microsoft and the Phantom Dust reboot, which is actually a case of demanding single-player in a multiplayer-only game. Also, don't forget that too many cooks can spoil a dish (hello, Assassin's Creed: Unity!)

  • "They'll water down the single-player" -- Generally, multiplayer requires an intense understanding of the game's mechanics. In fact, in the cases of Mass Effect 3 and Tomb Raider, multiplayer added new mechanics on top of the base ones. If it feels watered down, then that isn't the multiplayer's fault, but instead the developer going for wider audience appeal across the board.

  • "No one wants [insert game] with multiplayer" -- From a statistical standpoint, that is literally impossible. From a logical standpoint, you are generalizing and/or valuing your opinion over everyone else's. For example, Dead Space 2 added multiplayer because fans wanted it; not that anyone seems to remember that little fact. Other cases include Bioshock 2, Batman: Arkham Origins, and Don't Starve Togther. I'm afraid other people simply don't have your amazing gaming tastes.

And now that we've got those clichéd arguments over with, back to the topic at hand!

There's another angle to this, though. Addition of multiplayer is one thing, but there is growing concern that games are trying to remove any type of single-player mode entirely. The prime reasons for this are games like Titanfall, Evolve, Destiny, Diablo III, and fellow multiplayer-focused games - the argument being that, as multiplayer games continue to make the most money overall, publishers will keep pushing for online-only experiences. Right?

Not necessarily. Evolve and Diablo III can be played offline, and can also be counted alongside Destiny in having a modest (if not sizeable) amount of single-player content. Evolve has a full campaign mode with shifting variables, which still includes the game's lengthy progression system and numerous playable characters. Diablo III may only be offline on consoles, but at least that is an option now after fan outcry.

Some games, like Destiny, are built to be played either alone or together with friends. You can even play Destiny on PlayStation 4 without PlayStation Plus. You just can't party up with anyone, which clearly is not the concern of solo players. Still, it requires an internet connection, and that's a big problem for some gamers.

So, does that mean in the future, we won't be able to game without internet, even in single-player? Maybe... but maybe not.

The actual amount of games you can play offline has grown substantially. Between and a number of franchises, there has actually been a growth in single-player games. And some games that used to have multiplayer are dropping it to focus on the single-player experience. Example: for the first time in franchise history, Wolfenstein: The New Order had no multiplayer. Dishonored also had no multiplayer. Neither did Deus Ex: Human Revolution. All were AAA first-person action games, the genre most frequently seen including multiplayer.

How did this madness occur? Well, there was a demand, publishers trusted their developers, and the games were made to fit that demand. Often we hear "the game industry is a business" used as an excuse, but we seem to forget that it also can be in our favor.

People wanted more solo games, so more solo games were greenlit. It's also in a publisher's best interest to not have every game be online-enabled, because that means fewer servers to pay for. Sure, they have more worry about used-game sales, but with digital copies being bought more often, that's becoming less of a concern.

So in the grand scheme of things, are single-player games incredibly at risk? Not really, but there are some things publishers are far too slow with on the uptake when it comes to what we, as their audience, want from them. The same could be said for some gamers though, who are focusing solely on their personal preferences rather than the big picture. None of this happens in a vacuum, and it's hard not to find a reason for most of the decisions and actions that have lead us here.

What do you think: is single-player doomed? Do you take a side in this argument? Or do you think everyone is missing something? Let us know in the comments below!

The Hype Cycle: How Buyer's Remorse Denial is Killing Quality Mon, 01 Jun 2015 04:42:30 -0400 CallSignDriver

I'm not a crotchety old man about a lot of things. I don't get enough opportunities to say "back in my day, things were different!" But I am a crotchety old man when it comes to video games, and back in my day, $60 spent on a video game went a long way

There was a time in my life when dropping money on a video game was an investment, like saving up for a vacation into another world. Off and on over the next several weeks--even months--I could return to that world and uncover more and more of that experience, be it campaign or multiplayer, gameplay or story, online or off. There was a satisfaction that came with this--an overwhelming feeling that my $60 was money well spent. I didn't have to spend another cent to achieve the experience that I'd paid for.

Things are different now. Your average $60 triple-A title is, at best, a $40 experience, with pieces of it chopped out before release to be sold separately. Those stunning, photorealistic graphics from the "gameplay footage" (that sold you on the game in the first place) are suddenly nowhere to be found in the final product. Once-great game franchises churn out yearly releases buggy and half-finished, surviving on former glory and blind fan loyalty rather than the actual quality of their content. Video games aren't dying, but they are cheapening.

Now, none of this should be new to you. If you haven't noticed it for yourself, you've at least heard others complaining about it. As I see it, the real problem is that many gamers have resigned to thinking that this issue is out of their control, not realizing that we--the consumers--are the ones perpetuating this change for the worse. 

The cheapening of gaming is a vicious cycle, one in which we all have played an unwitting role. In order to break that cycle, it's important to be conscious of the missteps we've already made up to this point, taking precautions to avoid making them again. 

All Aboard The Hype Train

What's this? Could it be? It is! A new video game has been announced! Maybe it's the next installment in your favorite game franchise. Maybe it's a reboot of a beloved series. It might even be an exciting new IP! Regardless, the moment that announcement has been made, the hype train is already leaving the station, and it's only going to build momentum from there.

And here we are, easily excitable gamers clambering aboard that speeding train without any concern for what lies at the end of the tracks. I'm not saying there's anything wrong with getting excited, but we could stand to exercise a measure of healthy skepticism, especially after all we've been through.

Watch_Dogs is just one embarrassing example of why I can't even trust "gameplay footage" anymore. "Rendered in-engine" used to mean "rendered in the engine the game's actually going to use," not one specifically crafted to generate animated E3 bullshots. Game developers like Marcin Momot aren't lying when they say they don't downgrade graphics before release, because those graphics never actually existed. But that won't stop the game from winning dozens of awards before it has even released--empty commendations, sure, but that won't stop the developers from using them as box quotes and flashing them on screen at the beginning, middle, or end of every trailer released from now till the game's launch. It fuels the hype train's engines, and before you know it, you're moving too fast to get off.

"Don't forget to pre-order!"

There's nothing wrong with wanting to reserve a product you're interested in, especially if you're concerned about that product being in limited supply on release. This is a valid concern for consoles or amiibos, but not games. I can't remember the last time a game I was searching for wasn't in abundant supply upon release, and if I couldn't find it at GameStop, I could walk into the nearest Wal-Mart and find dozens sitting inside the case.

Now, this isn't so bad when you're just dropping a few bucks to reserve a copy. You always have the option to cancel your pre-order if you get news that the game isn't going to meet your expectations. Pre-ordering digitally, however, is just plain stupid. Paying full price for an unreleased game with no guarantee of the game's quality isn't an investment, it's a foolish gamble.

But hey, it's your money. Do with it as you please. Just remember that you're not the only one impacted by your bad purchases. We've talked about pre-order culture on this site before (an article I encourage you to read in greater detail), but in short: the more pre-orders a game receives, the more that indicates to the game's publisher that the product is a financial success, regardless of the quality of the actual product. Before you've even played the game, you've told the publishers, "We want more garbage like this."

"Sorry, no refunds!"

At long last, the day has arrived. It's Launchmas Eve, and all down the street is a row of hyped gamers, clutching receipts. They've all pre-ordered the game; there's no reason for them to have to be here at midnight, and yet here they are, pushed to the front of the line to guarantee them a copy of the game they should already be guaranteed a copy of.

Perhaps they've heard rumors that the game doesn't meet the hype, but they're here anyway, plugging their ears with all the free swag the store is tossing out like it's the electronic Mardi Gras. Besides, what do those people on the internet know anyway

Quite a lot, as it turns out. You race home with the game only to learn that it is a bitter disappointment. Maybe the graphics aren't nearly as impressive as you expected. Maybe it was sorely lacking content. Maybe it was just buggier than Joe's Apartment. For whatever reason, you are not satisfied with your purchase--as is your right--but that's too bad. In most cases, as a video games consumer in 2015, you are not entitled to a refund for any reason

That's right. Don't like a game you bought at Wal-Mart? No refund. Unsatisfied with a game you bought from GameStop? No refund. An exchange for another copy of the same game, at best. Disappointed with a purchase you made on Steam? No refund unless it managed to hurt your precious little feelings. The only digital marketplace I can think of that refunds unsatisfactory purchases is Origin. You know, Origin from EA, the guys who eat babies.

Now, to me, this is wholly unacceptable. The right to demand a refund is the most basic and most vital tool any consumer should have in combatting bad business practices. Without it, publishers are free to interpret sales however they want, and consumers are forced to try and make the best of a bad product, which results in something I like to call...

Buyer's Remorse Denial

Because the game isn't what you expected, you might suffer buyer's remorse. Because you are not entitled to a refund, you might suffer buyer's remorse denial. It's real, it's terrible, and I have seen it happen way too many times lately. 

If you or any of your loved ones are experiencing BRD, you may observe one or more of the following symptoms: 

  • Becoming irritable and unjustifiably defensive of the purchase
  • Attacking those who would offer criticism against the game
  • Backpedaling on statements made before launch
  • Spending even more money on DLC in order to justify the purchase
  • And finally, dramatically lowered standards of quality

By making excuses for the game and its developer, the BRD sufferer is essentially enabling the publisher to see this partial failure as an overwhelming success. If you've ever been guilty of this, congratulations! You've helped drown out any rational criticism that might reach the game's developer, and promoted a lowered community standard of quality for future releases. As far as the developers and publishers are concerned, it ain't broke. Why should they fix it?

The Hype Cycle hinges on buyer's remorse denial. Without it, we're just spinning in circles. This is the step that spirals quality downward, in such a way that we as consumers are forgiving, and sometimes even encouraging a total lack of integrity, initiative, and innovation. 

Break The Cycle

"Ok, crotchety old man, what are we supposed to do to fix it?" Well, nameless hypothetical reader, I'm glad you asked.

  1. Stop pre-ordering video games. There is absolutely no reason to put your money down on a product that is practically guaranteed to be in stock on release day.
  2. Wait and do your research. Don't buy the game until you've read or watched the reviews (I'd say from at least two different sources). If the reviews are mediocre or worse, at least borrow or rent it before gambling your hard earned cash.
  3. If you bought it, sell it. But for the love of god, don't trade it in. Make as much of your money back as possible. It's true that secondhand sales hurt the industry. It's not true that we're not entitled to that right, and in cases like these, it's one of the only ways to get the message across.
  4. Demand more from your video games. Have high expectations. Hold developers to their promises. Don't be afraid to be unimpressed. Don't buy in to excuses. 

I've heard a lot of back and forth between reviewers in the past about whether or not video games should be assessed as products or as art. But a video game is both, and to judge it only by the qualifications of one is to dismiss the failings of the other. Video gaming is an industry, but it's also a growing art form--one that I believe has the potential to outshine all the others. But we, as the consumers of a product, are the ones driving that growth, and if we continue to lower our standards each time we are let down, then we will be the ones responsible for the stagnation of an art form. So please, if you want video games to be great, then don't settle when they are not.

Now... get off my lawn.

Ubisoft learned from AC: Unity, and Apologizes for its Mistakes Wed, 13 May 2015 17:15:12 -0400 Victor Ren

Recently, a new trailer was released for Ubisoft's upcoming AC game, Assassin's Creed: Syndicate. Along with the trailer, Ubisoft also issued an apology, saying that there were many mistakes in Unity, especially starting from launch, and that it was their first time creating such a huge open world. 

AC: Unity was deemed as one of the buggiest Assassin's Creed experiences ever, and ultimately it ruined a lot of people's perception of the game. Unity was plagued by graphical glitches, online connection issues, and in-game bugs, which didn't sit well with many critics, as many of the scores were the lowest among the series. A developer described it as heartbreaking stating:

"It's like you're a kid being told you're ugly and you're fat. It hurts. Your heart breaks a little bit."

With all the problems in AC: Unity, Ubisoft plans to expand on them and fix the issues for future installments. They have heard the call, and are answering to it, as a developer in video quotes :

You have to look at these things critically. You do the post-mortems, you examine the problems, and you say ‘what can we improve?'”

It is pretty refreshing to see a company being able to admit their own faults on a game. Not only did they humanize the brand by telling about what went wrong and their reactions toward it, they showed optimism moving forward. Maybe this does show promise for Syndicate as it will be the next installment in the franchise, coming right after Unity. 

Ubisoft surely has to fire on the right cylinders now as two straight disappointing releases will bring some harm onto the entire Assassin's Creed franchise. If they are able to learn from their mistakes, then Syndicate should pit fairly well this time around against the critics, but will it be revolutionary enough to have the weight of what the franchise once held? 

What is Assassin's Creed Syndicate? Wed, 13 May 2015 12:58:38 -0400 Farrel Nobel

After the disappointment of Ubisoft's last game, AC Unity, I think it's fair to say that Ubisoft really hurt us and more importantly, hurt themselves with the release of Unity, putting it on my list as one of the most disappointing games of last year. 

But that was all in the past. Sure, the bugs and glitches made the game borderline unplayable and probably lowered the review score by at least 2 points but you know what they say:

"Forgive and forget," right?

Well, we'll have to see about that in the next Assassin's Creed, which just so happens to be coming out this year. Hell, it has a gameplay video released not so long ago. 

The new Assassin's Creed, titled Assassin's Creed Syndicate, is looking at an October 23rd release date. Just to make things clear, Syndicate is what the developers changed the name to from Assassins' Creed Victory.

There hasn't been much revealed at this point, aside from a gameplay trailer/demo here and there but what's confirmed is that the setting will take place in 18th century industrialized England. You play as Jacob Frye, an assassin who fights from justice for the people of England, specifically the poor. According to the description on the AC YouTube video: 

As gangster assassin Jacob Frye, you will recruit your gang to fight for justice on behalf of the oppressed working class. Lead the underworld to take back London in a visceral adventure filled with action, intrigue, and brutal combat.

This sounds like another attempt at trying to make the co-operative aspect of the game work. But to my surprise, and I'm sure many other gamers, AC Syndicate won't be incorporating any multiplayer to the game. Perhaps this is a good thing? Maybe the developers can focus more on those bugs now instead of designing the multiplayer. Whatever the case, I'm glad they're removing the multiplayer. They should focus more on the core single-player experience and building on what-was (or used-to-be) a gripping story between Assassin's and Templars. 

To wrap this up, Assassin's Creed Syndicate is the latest big budget title from Ubisoft. Hopefully, it will also be the title that redeems the Assassin's Creed reputation from the disastrous AC Unity. You can expect a lot of platforming, steampunk gadgets and, hopefully, a better game with less bugs. We'll just have to wait until October to see if Syndicate is the real deal.