The next game to release in the Assassin’s Creed series started life as an expansion to 2020’s Assassin’s Creed Valhalla, but morphed into a fully standalone release during its development late last year.
Revealed by Bloomberg (opens in new tab), citing people familiar with the project, the game is codenamed Rift and will focus on Basim, a character introduced in Valhalla and belongs to the first, ancient incarnation of the game’s Assassin Brotherhood.
The upcoming game will reportedly be smaller in size than the series’ previous mainline releases and won’t feature the same RPG-driven open-world gameplay of Assassin’s Creed Origins, Odyssey, and Valhalla. Instead, it will place a greater focus on stealth.
Scheduled to release either later this year or in 2023, ahead of Assassin’s Creed Infinity, the franchise’s take on a live service game. Infinity is expected to tie together future games in the series by acting as a central hub.
Bloomberg’s report also mentions that publisher Ubisoft has altered and canceled the development of several Assassin’s Creed expansions over the last year, alongside changing Rift into a standalone title.
Analysis: a return to the beginning?
The mention that this unannounced Assassin’s Creed game will be smaller in scope than recent releases is particularly noteworthy. Since 2017’s Assassin’s Creed Origins, each game in the series has followed Ubisoft’s penchant for humongous open-worlds, full to the brim with encounters, side quests, and collectibles.
Many Assassin's Creed fans enjoyed the move to larger worlds and action-oriented gameplay. However, not every fan of the franchise was swayed. Some have wanted Ubisoft to return to a focus on stealth, ditching the emphasis on upgrading equipment and managing inventories. This unannounced title might do just that.
However, the fact this game started its development as an expansion for Valhalla and is mentioned alongside other canceled projects, suggests larger forces are at play within Ubisoft.
The publisher has not had a stable few years, with several of its senior executives leaving following allegations of sexual misconduct (opens in new tab). It also delayed multiple major releases, including Riders Republic and Rainbow Six Extraction.
It's not surprising Assassin's Creed is being changed with its developer facing such upheaval.