After more than a year of waiting and speculation, we’ve finally learned a little more about what Assassin’s Creed Infinity is all about. 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 together. But after an in-depth interview with project lead 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 combine premium boxed games with paid and free content. There will be a multiplayer mode that will connect the seasons of the franchise. And it will be the place where the modern Assassin’s Creed story will now live.
But let’s start with the basic concept of Infinity. It is not a video game, nor is it a replacement for the traditional Assassin’s Creed games. It’s a platform that will host both past and future Assassin’s Creed entries, starting with Codename Red, a Shinobi-themed RPG coming sometime in the future. This full-priced, open-world, single-player RPG will be purchased like any other Assassin’s Creed game.
“You can definitely buy [Codename Red] as a box product,” confirms Côté, VP, executive producer of Assassin’s Creed. “But the first thing you’ll see [when you boot it up] is infinity [hub] this makes it coherent. But you can buy [Infinity’s second game] Hexe separately as well. This is how we envision things today. So it’s still the same games we were building, but bridged together in the Infinity hub. And obviously, if you’re in the Infinity hub and you’re playing Red, you’ll see the Hexe come up and be available as a memory that you can explore.”
So Infinity is kind of a launcher. However, instead of displaying games as a library-like collection like on Steam or Ubisoft Connect, Infinity will wear the guise of an Animus in-universe interface. New entries in the series will appear as DNA memories rather than games. Côté notes, however, that we should expect Infinity to be more than just an Assassin’s Creed-themed launcher and evolve over time.
“So [Infinity] it won’t start as a game,” says Côté. “The version of Infinity that we launch will not be the final version of Infinity. It is something that will evolve over time as our experiences grow and we can link them together more. So I think it opens up a world of possibilities in terms of what we can do that goes way beyond just being a launcher for our different games.”
While Infinity isn’t technically a game, it will have elements that we would associate with the Assassin’s Creed games. From now on, Infinity will be the home of the modern or “post” history of the series.
“People who love to just dive into the past will be able to jump right in there and never be interrupted or need to know who Desmond and Layla are,” says Côté. The bottom line, then, is that mainstream games will now be a thing of 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 ask if the meta-story 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’re doing for the long term, not the short term. But the takeaway we want people to have is [Infinity] it is your Animus. It’s the DNA explorer on your desktop. You are the main character of the story.”
To provide an example of an element of the traditional Assassin’s Creed games that will carry over to Infinity, Côté points to code entries. “In our games we had an encyclopedia. But to make it feel consistent, like something that’s always growing over time as you explore the past, [the encyclopedia] it would be something that would be in the Infinity hub.”
Cutting the modern story from the base games will no doubt be fantastic news to a segment of the series’ devoted and vocal audience. But Infinity doesn’t stop there in the audience criticism. Future Assassin’s Creed games released on Infinity will vary in both size and genre. Codename Red is an RPG in the tradition of Origins, Odyssey and Valhalla, but Codename Hexe will mark the beginning of a less typical period for the series.
“What I can confirm to you is that [Hexe] it’s not an RPG,” says Côté. “When I say it’s a different kind of game, I want people to exceed the expectations of Origins, Odyssey and Valhalla. It’s all a repeat of our RPG design, right? But Hexe and Red follow different paths.”
“I think this Infinity approach allows us to have different experiences of different sizes as well,” he adds. “Not everything has to be a 150 hour RPG, right? To bring more diversity to the places we choose to visit and how we choose to represent these periods.”
Although not part of Infinity, Assassin’s Creed Mirage 2023 will be similar in length to previous games in the franchise. I ask if we can expect more of these scale games, or even smaller ones, in Infinity.
“Yes, absolutely and appropriately priced,” confirms Côté. “Sometimes you’ll also get free experiences, which I think is a great way to entice players to come back.”
Assassin’s Creed Valhalla was clearly a testing ground for what’s to come in Infinity. Its DLC varies enormously, with free offerings ranging from small in-game events to a full roguelite mode, while paid content starts as small as cosmetics and goes as far as a 30-hour expansion pack. It looks like we can expect this kind of approach in the future with Infinity.
But one thing Valhalla didn’t experiment with is multiplayer, something Infinity will bring back to the series in the form of ‘Invictus’. Said to be a standalone game delivered through Infinity, my initial instinct was to assume it would be free to play.
“We haven’t finalized our business model plans for Invictus, but it’s a possibility [that it will be free-to-play],” says Côté.
So while we know that Infinity will feature some sort of free-to-play experiences, we can’t say at this point if Ubisoft plans to use Invictus the way Halo Infinite and Call of Duty use their own multiplayer offerings/ Warzone. However, like Warzone, it appears that Ubisoft is planning Invictus to unite the many eras of single-player games.
“I think the concept art we had for Invictus hinted at this possibility of crossing characters from different eras,” Côté says, referring to a piece of art shown at a press briefing that showed multiple characters from different games standing side-by-side. side. “So I think you can see the intent of Invictus again allowing us to bridge our different games together.”
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Meta stories, new genres, and multiplayer are all exciting elements of Infinity’s promise. But it seems the platform’s bigger goal is to provide much, much longer support periods for each individual game. Instead of discrete offerings, a new Assassin’s Creed will become part of Infinity instead of living (and eventually dying) on its own. I’m asking if this means new games won’t have a hard limit on developer support.
“Exactly,” says Côté. “We don’t see things that way. We want to support anything that comes out on Infinity for a much longer period of time.”
“What I’m really excited about with Infinity is not just our big games, but this idea that we’re not replacing games with another game, you [don’t just] replace your new RPG,” explains Côté. “I think these games can live longer, and we’re architecting them differently than in the past. If you look at a game like Valhalla, most of its expansions were kind of around the game. Now one of the things we’re thinking about is how can we develop this experience, this world, more like an MMO? Think of it as a single player MMO [rather] from what we did in the past.”
Infinity sounds a lot less annoying than I first imagined. This is clearly not Fortnite for Assassin’s Creed. The series is still (at least as far as we can see) built around the idea of single player adventures in historical open worlds. But Infinity promises to make those 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 exciting answer to the seasonal content factories that are gaming’s multiplayer monoliths.
For more from Ubisoft Forward, check out the latest details on Assassin’s Creed Mirage and the Codename Jade mobile game.
Matt Purslow is IGN’s UK news and features editor.