Ubisoft has a pretty full slate ahead of E3. Leading with a San Francisco-set sequel to Watch Dogs, the publisher is expected to focus on a number of big (or anticipated) series – Ghost Recon, For Honor, South Park, probably more Division, not to mention VR.
Conspicuously absent from that list is Assassin’s Creed, Ubisoft’s most popular series. The publisher previously stated that AC will be taking the year off in general, a response to the still reverberating sting of the mess that was Assassin’s Creed Unity in 2014. Last year’s Syndicate helped the series’ reputation regain some footing, but arguably didn’t completely restore it.
The next installment in the series won’t be here by Christmas either, since the folks at Ubisoft also decided they would take a little more time on the supposedly ancient Egyptian-set Empire. It’s pretty unlikely that there will be any mention of it next week, but AC completely skipping Ubisoft’s press conference in any form seems unlikely.
There is the possibility that a set of remasters may be announced, following a trademark registered for an “Assassin’s Creed Collection” the publisher made late last year; in a year where there won’t be a major holiday AC release, this could easily help fill the gap and give fans something to play while waiting for the 2017 sequel. (The thought of playing the PS3 and PC-only AC Rogue on current-gen hardware sounds particularly nice.)
There is the small matter of the film adaptation as well, also due out in December. It wouldn’t be out of character for one of Ubisoft’s surprises to be something related to the movie, whether just a new trailer debuted at their presser or, as seems more likely, some kind of virtual reality tie-in for PSVR and PC. The company also has a history of making celebrity appearances – it’s possible Michael Fassbender will actually show up to announce something.
Ubi has already announced Eagle Flight, a VR title that’s about as close as you can get to an AC spin-off without using the name, though it remains to be seen whether or not it actually is one (or just looks spiritually similar). The publisher also has plans to reportedly debut two as-of-yet unknown VR games; if Eagle Flight isn’t based in the AC world, I’d be pretty surprised if one of the two new titles aren’t in some way related to the universe.
Ubisoft is undoubtedly still smarting from Unity. They would never make a firm stand to break the yearly stacked release cycle of something as big as their premiere series if they weren’t serious about earning back fans’ trust. At the same time, the series has sold over 73 million copies as of 2014 (the latest figure I could find reported), a number that’s much higher two years on; the series hasn’t been shown in one form or another at E3 since the debut trailer of the original game over a decade ago in 2005.
Ubi can say all they want that AC won’t be present at this year’s show, and if it really isn’t, it means they’re really serious. But frankly, I’m not buying it.