The Assassin's Creed series has come a long way. As we've gotten to the tenth main series entry the assassination-themed action-adventure saga has become much more of an RPG than the original stealth adventures ever were. As with most changes, some see it as a rebirth, as the start of something new. Others, however, miss what they'd grown to love over the years. You can debate for as long you like whether these are good changes and the answer will vary depending on who you ask. It's also something that's been discussed among our editorial team, in particular, the things we miss in Assassin's Creed since the watershed game that was Origins.
The hidden blade undoubtedly distinguishes the series from other games. This tool has killed more than its fair share of enemies. However, since Origins, the hidden blade has lost some of its power (and in Odyssey, it was replaced by a broken spear). Of course, this is a result of turning into an RPG, where numbers and stats dictate what's lethal and not quite lethal. Hence, stronger enemies aren't always killed with the hidden blade anymore.
This isn't ideal in our opinion. What we loved most about Assassin's Creed is quietly eliminating the enemy, and the change to the formula doesn't fully allow for this. Imagine a situation in which the game rewards your actions as long as you are a silent assassin. If when stalking your target you're discovered that's fine; you were guilty of a mistake and must take part in an open fight. However, before this happens, the hidden blade should be the ultimate measure. Sure, forts in Origins and Odyssey can still be finished noiselessly and unnoticed, but only because you can often avoid fighting. However, when we try to deal with an Elite enemy... well, the result is not so obvious and it often turns out that we took only half or even less of their health bar. Interestingly, even the selection of appropriate abilities doesn't help, because the enemies scale with you. Assassinations are no longer as straightforward as remaining undetected and slipping the knife into someone's back.
The Brotherhood, band of pirates or whatever we call our supporters is another element that's not here anymore (even if Odyssey returns somewhat to the formula, but in a very simplified form, as you'll have lieutenants to help improve your ship). Sadly as far as actual combat goes, they are kind of useless when you send them into combat using the Call to Arms skill.
We miss managing the brotherhood. Planning the mission, choosing the right people, and weighing up the risk that they may not survive the challenges, made us feel that we were part of a larger whole. Especially since Revelation, where Ezio could take recruits on special missions and, as befits a real mentor, give them tips and advice. Assassin's Creed III was probably perfect in this regard because it made the brotherhood even more personalised. Each member had their own history and unique ability, which made forming a bond easier. We hope that in the sequels, the Brotherhood will return in a similar and even more expanded form.
We also miss a place to call home. Ezio had his own villa, Connor a village, Edward an entire island, and the Frye siblings had a train (how cool is that?!). Sure the ship in Odyssey does serve as a base of sorts, but it's not a very homely one. Some may say that these were places that didn't have much purpose, and in terms of mechanics, they often served more as a trophy case and shopping centre. Still, they were a refuge within the game itself, a rest between missions, something the more recent games could do with.
Even Edward's ship gave more opportunities because we could go down below. Maybe it doesn't really do much more than a screen with upgrades would in terms of functionality, but it would anchor us more in the world. And it's not like this is something that's been missing from other RPGs. As far back as in Suikoden we came into possession of a castle, a castle that as your adventure progressed was filled with people and upgrades. It's good to have somewhere to gather your strength and, perhaps more importantly, ground us in the world. And again, to the surprise to some of us, the most interesting game in this respect was the third part of the series, in which we not only had the opportunity to invite major characters to our village but also perform a series of missions for them, strengthening the group.
We have not had fully fledged modern day missions since Desmond. The light at the tunnel turned out to be Origins, which introduced a new hero to the game, but the player's role in the events associated with Layla Hassan was marginal. Odyssey was slightly more interesting in this respect, as players were allowed to bond with her through increased interaction with the surroundings and greater freedom.
This is undoubtedly a good direction to take and we hope that this time we can form a lasting relationship. By the way, the new organisation that we lead offers more opportunities, and since we are not talking about the chosen one for a few games, we hope that Layla will not be the only hero we will take control of. There are at least a few candidates for this role, and perhaps we can finally return to fully fledged modern day chapters and truly advance the overarching story.