The sad truth is…no one will remember just how good Unity really was.
Thinking back to E3, I can remember almost the exact moment when the latest Assassin’s Creed buzz began. After it’s unveiling, Unity immediately captured the attention of both long-time fans and new comers alike. The footage was appealing, the gameplay looked insanely fun and Ubisoft even touted it as a great entry point for those who’ve only admired the Assassin’s Creed franchise from afar. This sequel promised to make an even bigger splash than Black Flag , and seemingly had all the tools to do so.
Unfortunately, things have not quite worked out that way. In what appears commonplace in the current generation of games, Assassin’s Creed: Unity has been plagued by technical hiccups since the moment gamers unwrapped the plastic and popped it into their systems. So far, we’ve run the gamut of just about every conceivable problem (both minor and major) you can think of. PC users are having a slightly more difficult time, with crashes and lag being only some of the obstacles preventing them from truly enjoying the latest Assassin’s experience. But that’s not to say things are any better on the PlayStation/Xbox fronts. Things seem to be a cluster-f*ck across the board, as console users report their own set of headaches including various bugs, lock-ups, texture pop-in and a frame rate that (by all accounts) is absolutely abysmal. To throw even more fuel on the fire, media outlets were not provided with advanced copies of the game (in order to have a day-one review ready), which some have speculated was a deliberate move to keep the vast laundry-list of issues swept under the rug until the game dropped.
If that’s true, then even I’m surprised by the depths some are willing to sink to for the sake of covering up mistakes. However, as I can’t prove any of this, I have no choice but to give Ubisoft the benefit of the doubt and chalk this up to unforeseeable circumstances. But do you want to know what the real tragedy is here? Assassin’s Creed: Unity is pretty damn good game. Graphically it looks beautiful, the co-op style gameplay is interesting and the play mechanics overall are well received amongst amateur reviewers and professional journalists alike . It’s easy to write off a game with technical glitches if it’s bad to begin with, but here these problems come as much more of a sin. The title itself is so bogged down with negative publicity and bad mojo, it may never get the full credit it deserves. By the time these issues are patched and put behind us, the stigma of the initial debut will be hard for many to shake (much in the way that Battlefield 4 or Sims is still remembered for their short-comings rather than their achievements).
This also becomes a nightmare for a company like Microsoft (whose own struggles have been well documented). Their entire holiday strategy is based around bundles packed with the hot new Assassin’s Creed release. On paper, I’m sure it seemed like a safe-play when formulating this campaign back in the summer months. Little did they know, they were placing all their eggs into a very shoddy basket. Unfortunately for them, Microsoft’s now stuck promoting a game that has everyone up-in-arms, but for all the wrong reasons.
Thus another example of how not crossing your Ts and dotting your Is during development can have serious repercussions in the long term. Have things really gotten this sloppy?