In more ways than one, Assassin's Creed Origins represented a reboot of the franchise. Sure, it still acknowledges past games and it continues the series, but both in terms of the modern day connection and its mechanics it marks a distinct change to what we've come to know from the series. This opens up interesting scenarios for future installments, even if we've yet to hear exactly how Ubisoft intends to continue the franchise moving forward given the hiatus in 2016.
Where does the series go from here, then? Should we expect annual instalments from here on, or will Ubisoft adapt a potentially more sustainable two-year cycle?
Time period and setting?
So far the Assassin's Creed series has covered many important time periods in history starting with Assassin's Creed set during the The Third Crusade (1191 AD), Assassin's Creed II, Brotherhood and Revelations set during the Renaissance (1476-1511) , Assassin's Creed III during the American Revolution, with Assassin's Creed IV: Black Flag and Rogue set slightly prior, and spin-off Liberation set during the same approximate era. Then we got Unity culminating with the French Revolution (1789), and Syndicate set during the Victorian era. The spin-offs in the Chronicles series touched China (1526), India (1841) and Russia (1918). Last year's Assassin's Creed movie was set in Spain during 1492 (the historical part of it at any rate).
The main series moved forward chronologically for the most part until Origins. Clearly, this game resets things and opens up more avenues for Ubisoft to explore. A direct sequel to Origins is one option, or Ubisoft could go back to presenting the next installment following on from Syndicate. Given that World War I was sort of covered there it may be that we see an Assassin's Creed during the Great Depression with the roots of World War II potentially being explored. We really doubt Ubisoft is going in this direction now though, and for numerous reasons, number one being that it feels like this era wouldn't present the most enticing scenarios from a gameplay perspective.
Both World Wars are naturally much-requested settings for an Assassin's Creed, but perhaps from a game perspective, it would make more sense to set them just prior to the war to allow for Templars and Assassins to set things in motion.
We're likely going to play an Assassin's Creed game set during or prior to a World War at some point, it's just not easy to see what sort of scenario would make sense. The build-up to the assassination of Franz Ferdinand? It's also a challenge to create a story that makes sense given the global nature of these conflicts. Multiple characters working together in different countries, perhaps?
There are of course some great historic theatres that Ubisoft could go to if they want to put the inevitable end off a little (after the World Wars, there's the Cold War and then we're in modern days).
Feudal Japan has been requested a lot, and it makes sense. Even if it would have been a more logical choice for one of the Chronicles titles than say India or Russia, it was not used and therefore feels like a logical choice for a main entry. Naturally, the fall of the last shogunate would be a good fit and it would also be a fairly good time period (mid-1800s) for an Assassin's Creed game. Furthermore, Japan would be a brilliant open-world with large cities surrounded by wonderful natural landscapes, ranging from jungles to snowy mountains.
Even if imperial China was represented in Assassin's Creed Chronicles: China there is more to pull from here. That game was set during the Ming dynasty, but it would make sense both with an Assassin's Creed set earlier Yuan (Kublai Khan, which could also include Marco Polo) or later Qing. Or perhaps even prior to Yuan with Djingis Khan and the Mongol Empire.
It would also make sense for the series to return to the Americas. After all, it is Ubisoft's largest market. An Assassin's Creed set during the Californian Gold Rush (mid-1800) would be interesting, but we're more interested in a game set during the conquest of the Americas, more specifically of Central and South America. The Spanish conquered the Aztec, Mayan, and Incan empires in quick succession. There's much myth to explore here and incredible architecture and environments to for an open-world game. When we traveled through the Incan lands on a recent trip, a guide shared a conspiracy theory based on the apparent beards of some Incan monuments, namely that the Incas (the god-kings of the empire) were in fact Templars. It's the sort of conspiracy that Assassin's Creed likes to make use of, even if it would be a twist if the assassin was a conquering Spaniard.
This also ties in with the events of the Assassin's Creed movie. If you remember Christopher Columbus's role towards the end of the film, which seems to indicate that there will be things transpiring in the Americas as it was being discovered.
There is, naturally, the option for Ubisoft to go with an era without this sort of major political turmoil and opt for a time and place with more of a cultural change (like the Renaissance). It's way too soon for a modern day Assassin's Creed, but one day maybe... or maybe that space taken by Watch Dogs?
What about a direct sequel to Assassin's Creed Origins?
While it's hard to see Ubisoft returning for another game set in Egypt (because we've been there, done that), there's plenty of space in between Bayek's adventure and those of Altaïr. Most notably, it would make sense for a sequel to be set in Rome, perhaps even a couple of sequels focusing on the fall of the Roman Empire. As much as Origins deals with Egypt it also deals with the end of the Roman Republic and thus the beginnings of the Roman Empire. We would not be entirely surprised if we were to see an Assassin's Creed Origins II with a main character other than Bayek set in Rome following the events of Origins, but the less said of that, the better, as it might spoil things for those who have yet to play Origins. Another period of interest would be to mimic the Gladiator timeline and look at the reign of Commodus, what happened prior and after. There was so much turmoil and plenty of assassinations.
It's going to be really interesting to see how the next Assassin's Creed is structured and what sort of mechanics it includes. Origins was a massive departure and it's fair to say it was more of an open-world action-RPG than a stealth-focused open-world action-adventure. Will all future Assassin's Creed games continue along this sort of blueprint? We somehow doubt it, but clearly there will be more RPG elements moving forward. The problem here is that more modern chapters won't have the same sort of open spaces, nature and such, so it may make more sense to return to a more stealth-heavy setup.
Sequels and Trilogies?
Looking past Origins, it's hard to argue against the position that the Assassin's Creed II trilogy featuring Ezio may have been the highpoint of the franchise to date. And it is perhaps therefore logical for Ubisoft to attempt something similar. Assassin's Creed Origins certainly provides a potential first part of a new trilogy (perhaps not starring Bayek), and we could see Ubisoft attempting this sort of thing to maintain variation, perhaps even taking turns between more modern instalments that carry on from Syndicate, and these more historical entries that Origins represent. Either way, Origins was a much-needed shot in the arm for the franchise, and we can't wait to see where Ubisoft takes us next.