Is Far Cry the new Assassin’s Creed?
Ubisoft just released a new Far Cry Primal trailer, and it raises a few interesting questions about how Ubisoft may be viewing the series as a product.
When it comes to the marketing of Far Cry Primal, Ubisoft has been going in a slightly different direction than it normally does. On the one hand, you have games like The Division, which recently released four separate live-action videos.
You can argue that The Division received a little more exposure than most due to the delays that kept it visible for longer than most, but the game was also announced at E3 with fake money dropping from the ceiling of the theater. It wasn’t exactly low profile.
So compare that to Far Cry Primal. The game was just announced in October 2015, with a release date of February 23, 2016. That also puts the game out just 15 months after Far Cry 4.
Far Cry 4 was a big hit, with 7 million copies sold, so it’s not all that surprising that a sequel was fast tracked. It is a little surprising that it is coming so soon with so little marketing.
But maybe that’s a good thing. Maybe we don’t need an overabundance of trailers, first looks, making ofs etc., etc., for a game that is part of a well-established series.
The real question is how much will this game change the series? And does it matter?
It is looking more and more like Ubisoft is going to take its time with the Assassin’s Creed series and break from the annual release cycle. That’s unconfirmed, but it would make sense. If so, it would probably be a very good move for the franchise, but it would probably mean a significant hit on Ubisoft’s financial returns. Speeding up development on the Far Cry series could fill that gap.
Ubisoft already has a rotating stable of games, many of which feature the name “Tom Clancy” in front of them. The Division will be out in March, and Ghost Recon Wildlands is expected (but unconfirmed) later this year. A sequel to South Park is coming as well, along with the original For Honor. It should be a good year for Ubisoft, even without an Assassin’s Creed game.
Still, Ubisoft can’t go backwards with its releases. It needs major franchises, even when its flagship series, Assassin’s Creed, needs a break. Far Cry could fill that void.
Although Far Cry Primal hasn’t had a lot of time in the spotlight, it will probably play a whole lot like Far Cry 4. Sure, it is set in a time long before firearms, and that will radically alter the gameplay, but the game itself probably won’t be all that different. You’ll still have an open world, plenty of sidequests, skills trees, and all the rest of the trappings that were in Far Cry 3, Far Cry 4, and to an extent Far Cry 2.
There will of course be innovations and changes. In Far Cry Primal, you will have the ability to tame fearsome wild animals, which is cool. There may be some cool technical tricks as well, like new weather systems, and community building, but strip all that away, and you have a very familiar game.
That’s not a bad thing.
I am a huge Assassin’s Creed fan. I’ve played every console release form start to finish. I love the historical settings and the story. I am exhausted by the franchise and I’m excited that there will be a break before the next one, but in general I don’t have a problem with sticking to a formula that works – as long as the new additions are enough to make it feel fresh.
I also really got into Far Cry 4, so much so that I wrote about it extensively after putting in dozens of hours. If Ubisoft wants to reskin Far Cry every year (or every year and change), and it is confident enough with the new angle, I’m fine with that – right up until the formula grows stale.
Ubisoft is able to create games like Far Cry and Assassin’s Creed thanks to their massive staff. Ubisoft has offices around the world, and several studios under its umbrella. Ubisoft Montreal is taking the lead on Far Cry Primal, just as it did with Far Cry 4. It also just finished work on Rainbow Six Siege (and is still working on DLC for it) and The Mighty Quest for Epic Loot.
Most developers couldn’t even consider creating that amount of content in a year, but Ubisoft is able to spread the work around. Ubisoft Montreal may be the lead on Far Cry Primal, but work on the game is being done on it all over the world by hundreds, if not thousands of people.
So if Ubisoft wants a new Far Cry game, it gets a new Far Cry game – as long as it can recycle some of its old work, as it did year after year with Assassin’s Creed.
I am sad to see the multiplayer go though. My friend and I spent countless hours finding interesting ways to kill each other. We even managed to surprise the enemies a few times too with things like elephants loaded with C4 charging though strongholds. Hilarity ensued.