Ubisoft will reduce the importance of traditional storytelling in the games going forward, according to the firm’s Chief Creative Officer Serge Hascoët.
Instead, upcoming titles will focus on world-building, and the creation of systems that will allow players to generate their own experiences outside the strictures of a predetermined narrative. In a recent interview with the French newspaper, Le Monde, Mr Hascoët aptly referred to this approach as the “anecdote factory”, though it is more commonly known as emergent storytelling, and is a central conceit of games such as Skyrim, Grand Theft Auto V, and Middle-Earth: Shadow of Mordor.
Mr Hascoët added that the next Assassin’s Creed title, reportedly subtitled Empire and rumoured to be a reboot set in Ancient Egypt, will most likely be the first Ubisoft title to reflect this new style, though it will retain a traditional narrative that the player will follow.
The comments come in the wake of mounting criticism that Ubisoft games tend to follow a formulaic structure, an issue that was also put to Mr Hascoët during the interview. He replied that the apparent homogenisation is not a corporate dictum, but the natural result of development teams following successful trends.
Given that the formulaic structure, in concert with technical issues, has been one of the prevailing causes of a slow but steady decline in the critical success of Ubisoft games in recent times, a major shake-up to the design principles may be exactly what the company needs.
Ubisoft’s most recent release is Watch Dogs 2, which has been well received thus far, and reportedly includes a tease for another unannounced game from the company.
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