Why Ubisoft Has Chosen To Remain Cautious And How That Has Impacted Their Games
Just to be clear right off the bat, this is not an article that’s going to rip apart Assassin’s Creed or Far Cry, nor is it another article written to just rip on Ubisoft’s formula. Honestly, this isn’t even to say that games released by Ubisoft have been bad. There are still some good quality games, after all. But the fact of the matter is that Ubisoft has been notorious for not branching out when it comes to their open world games, and people have been noticing for a long time. Ubisoft has started to make some improvements in recent times, but they have yet to break away from this view that many gamers have of them.
The Ubisoft formula is actually so noticeable to people that the term “Ubisoft formula” has been used to describe games that weren’t even made by Ubisoft (such as Horizon Zero Dawn), due to its recognizable patterns. At the beginning of an Ubisoft open world game, there is a strong, introductory segment—such as the opening of Valhalla that includes Eivor as a child taking part in a celebration that gets attacked, thus resulting in the death of his parents. But in most Ubisoft games, after the strong and exciting introduction, the player is dropped into a huge open world and is immediately set about doing tedious tasks for people that they probably do not care about, working to unlock another part of the map. Unfortunately, it almost always feels like there just isn’t enough content to engage with within the open world.
It feels almost as if Ubisoft has an exact roadmap that they follow for each game, and they will drop whatever characters, side quests, and random tasks to fill enough time and space to meet that standard. Luckily, the side quests have been changed up a bit in Valhalla, acting more as random encounters than true side quests, so that’s at least a start. This gives more of a “realistic” feel of being totally immersed within the world they’ve crafted.
In their defense, Ubisoft has had a lot of success with their formula. It makes sense that they’ve repeated this formula in so many of their games when the games continue to sell, and many fans continue to be happy with them. Some supporters will actually argue that they love the games’ mechanics so much that they don’t particularly care how great the plot is — they want to just experience more of the gameplay that they’ve come to know and love from Ubisoft.
Ubisoft has a lot going for them with the Assassin’s Creed and Far Cry games, so it’s just a little frustrating that it has felt like they haven’t taken full advantage of what they have to work with right at their fingertips. The beautiful worlds, characters who have depth, and interesting over-arching plots have all been on point, so I’d like to see Ubisoft take full advantage of this. Considering the hiring of new staff in 2020 and the success that they’ve seen with Valhalla, it’s possible that the company will be able to get out from under that formulaic label. Either that, or they’ll keep the formula for the most part but add some more unique qualities to give the “Ubisoft Formula” a more positive connotation.
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