After over a year of waiting and guessing, we’ve finally learned a little more about what Assassin’s Creed Infinity is. As part of today’s Ubisoft Forward Assassin’s Creed Showcase, it was said that Infinity is a “hub” that will connect future Assassin’s Creed games. But after an in-depth interview with the project’s leader, Marc-Alexis Côté, IGN learned a lot more about Infinity.
Assassin’s Creed Infinity will be home to a variety of games of different genres and lengths. It will mix premium boxing games with paid and free content. There will be a multiplayer mode that combines the eras of the franchise. And it will be where the modern day story of Assassin’s Creed will live now.
But let’s start with the core concept of Infinity. It is not a video game, nor is it a replacement for traditional Assassin’s Creed games. It is a platform that will host both past and future Assassin’s Creed entries, starting with Codename Red, a shinobi-themed RPG that will be released sometime in the future. This full-price, single-player, open-world role-playing game is purchased like any other Assassin’s Creed game.
“You can absolutely buy [Codename Red] as a boxed product,” confirms Côté, Vice President Executive Producer of Assassin’s Creed. “But the first thing you’ll see [when you boot it up] is infinity [hub] that makes it consistent. But you can buy [Infinity’s second game] Witch also separately. This is how we imagine things today. So it’s still the same games we made, but linked together in the Infinity Hub. And of course, if you’re in the Infinity Hub and playing Red, you’ll see Hexe coming and available as a memory for you to explore.
So Infinity is something like a launcher. But instead of displaying games as a library-like collection, like in Steam or Ubisoft Connect, Infinity will take the form of a universal Animus interface. New entries in the series will appear as DNA Memories rather than games. However, Côté notes that we should expect Infinity to be more than just an Assassin’s Creed launcher and to evolve over time.
“So [Infinity] will not start as a game,” says Côté. “The version of Infinity that we release will not be the final version of Infinity. It’s something that will evolve over time as our experiences grow and we can connect them more. So I think it opens up a world of possibilities for us, well beyond just being a launcher for our various games.”
While Infinity isn’t technically a game, it will contain elements that we would associate with the Assassin’s Creed games. From now on, Infinity will be the home of the series’ modern or “meta” storyline.
“People who love just delving into the past can jump right in and never be interrupted or need to know who Desmond and Layla are,” says Côté. So the implication is that the main games are now exclusively set in the past.
So if Infinity has a story but isn’t a game, does that mean we won’t be controlling a modern protagonist anymore? I’m asking if the meta storyline will be limited to things like audio logs and email chains.
“The way we tell the story will evolve over time,” says Côté. “It’s something we do long-term, not short-term. But the abstraction we humans want is [Infinity] is your animation. It’s your DNA explorer on your desktop. You are the main character of the story.”
To provide an example of an element of traditional Assassin’s Creed games being moved to Infinity, Côté references Codex entries. “We used to have an encyclopedia in our games. But to make it feel coherent, like something that always grows with time as you explore the past, [the encyclopedia] would be something that would reside in the Infinity Hub.”
Cutting the modern storyline out of the core games will no doubt be fantastic news for some of the series’ engaged and vocal audiences. But Infinity doesn’t stop addressing audience criticism there. Future Assassin’s Creed games released in Infinity will vary in both size and genre. Codename Red is an RPG in the tradition of Origins, Odyssey, and Valhalla, but Codename Witch marks the beginning of a less formulaic period for the series.
“What I can confirm to you is that [Hexe] is not a role-playing game,” says Côté. “When I say it’s a different kind of game, I want people to exceed the expectations of Origins, Odyssey and Valhalla. They’re all an iteration of our RPG design, right? But Hexe and Red go different ways.”
“I think this infinity approach also allows us to have different experiences of different sizes,” he adds. “Not everything has to be a 150-hour role-playing game, does it? To bring more diversity to the places we visit and the way we represent those time periods.”
Although Assassin’s Creed Mirage 2023 isn’t part of Infinity, it will be of a similar length to the previous games in the franchise. I’m asking if we can expect more or even smaller games of this magnitude in Infinity.
“Yes, absolutely, and at a price to match,” confirms Côté. “Sometimes there are free experiences too, which I think is a great way to keep players coming back.”
Assassin’s Creed Valhalla was clearly a testing ground for what’s to come in Infinity. Its DLC has changed a lot, with free offerings ranging from small in-game events to an entire roguelite mode, while paid content starts as small as cosmetics and goes all the way up to a 30-hour expansion pack. It seems like we can expect this kind of approach for Infinity.
But one thing Valhalla hasn’t experimented with is multiplayer, something Infinity will bring back to the series in the form of Invictus. Supposed to be a standalone game delivered via Infinity, my first instinct was to assume it will be free to play.
“We haven’t finalized our plans for the Invictus business model, but it’s a possibility [that it will be free-to-play]’ says Cote.
While we know Infinity will offer some sort of free-to-play experience, we can’t say at this time if Ubisoft plans to use Invictus in the way Halo Infinite and Call of Duty use their own multiplayer/Warzone offerings. However, as with Warzone, Ubisoft appears to be planning for Invictus to unify the many eras of its single-player games.
“I think the concept art that we had for Invictus hinted at this possibility of crossing characters from different eras,” says Côté, referring to an artwork shown at a press conference that showed numerous characters from different games side by side . alongside. “I think you can see the intent of Invictus there, which is once again allowing us to bridge our different games with each other.”
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Metastories, new genres, and multiplayer are all fascinating aspects of Infinity’s promise. But it seems that the platform’s biggest goal is to offer much, much longer support times for each and every game. Instead of discreet offerings, a new Assassin’s Creed will become part of Infinity instead of just living (and eventually dying) by itself. I’m asking if that means new games don’t have a hard end cap for developer support.
“Exactly,” says Côté. “That’s not how we see things. We want to support everything that comes out on Infinity for a much longer period of time.”
“What excites me a lot about Infinity is not just our big games, but this idea that we don’t replace the games with another game, you [don’t just] replace your new role-playing game,” explains Côté. “I think these games can live for a longer period of time and we’re designing them differently than we’ve done in the past. If you look at a game like Valhalla, most of its expansions were kind of around the game. One of the things we’re thinking about is how can we expand this experience, this world, more like an MMO? Think of it as a single player MMO [rather] than what we have done in the past.”
Infinity sounds a lot less disruptive than I first imagined. This is clearly not Fortnite for Assassin’s Creed. The series is (at least as far as we can tell) still built around the concept of single-player adventures in historical open worlds. But Infinity promises to make these worlds less static and more malleable. We still know very little about what it will ultimately deliver, but whatever it is, Infinity sounds like an intriguing answer to the seasonal content factories that are gaming’s multiplayer monoliths.
For more information from Ubisoft Forward, check out the latest details on Assassin’s Creed Mirage and the mobile game Codename Jade.
Matt Purslow is UK News and Features Editor for IGN.
https://www.ign.com/articles/what-is-assassins-creed-infinity-ubisoft-explains What is Assassin’s Creed Infinity? Ubisoft explains the next phase of its historic series