It’s safe to say that Assassin’s Creed Valhalla was both a critical and commercial success for Ubisoft. The inclusion of Vikings in a video game did what the Norse warriors always do: make everything more awesome. After the success of Origins, Odyssey and Valhalla, the once-fatigued franchise is in a far better place than it was following the misfires of the ambitious but flawed Unity and Syndicate. Now, with the launch of Valhalla’s mythological expansion, Dawn of Ragnarok, it’s time to ask where – and perhaps more importantly, when – Ubisoft will go for the next Assassin’s Creed. I’ve donned my prediction hat – it’s like a wizard’s hat but made from cereal packets, glitter and copious amounts of Pritt stick – to determine that, in this writer’s opinion, there’s only one logical destination: China.
There’s a number of reasons for this, first off, Japan is now off the table. Fans have been clamouring for an Assassin’s Creed set in the era of feudal Japan for years now, but with Ghost of Tsushima beating Ubisoft to the katana slice, it looks like that samurai ship has well and truly sailed now. More importantly than that, China provides Ubisoft with all the necessary historical ingredients that have come to define the last three entries in the series.
Most obviously, China is absolutely huge. Origins, Odyssey and Valhalla have all been lumbered with increasingly massive game worlds that are now bordering on the obscene. Ubisoft absolutely subscribes to the ‘bigger is always better’ approach to game development and, with a setting like China, they’ll be able to smash right through the obscene border and achieve the decadently humongous game world they’ve always dreamed off. ‘The biggest Assassin’s Creed ever’ is a boast I can imagine plastered all over the promotional material.
Then there’s the fact that every recent Assassin’s Creed takes place in a setting with two opposing factions facing off against each other. Sure, the Assassins and Templars are up to their usual shenanigans but they have been framed by wider conflicts depicting Romans against Egyptians, Spartans versus Athenians and Vikings opposing Anglo-Saxons. Ancient China boasts multiple conflicts that would fit this remit. There’s the Warring States Period that resulted in a unified China, the well-trod era of the Three Kingdoms and the Mongol conquest of China in the 13th Century. The latter is my pick, following the near eight decade conquest of China would prove a fascinating and compelling backdrop to a video game. Much like the past three games, there’s also scope for Ubisoft to delve into some ancient Chinese mythology.
Perhaps the most important reason – at least from a publisher’s perspective – is creating a game that would directly appeal to one of the largest video game markets in the world. It worked wonders for Creative Assembly and Total War: Three Kingdoms.
Diehard fans of Assassin’s Creed will know that we’ve already been to China in the past. Ubisoft released a trio of side-scrolling stealth em’ ups in the form of Assassin’s Creed Chronicles, taking us to India, Russia, and then China for the finale. Although flawed, these games helped to establish the wider AC universe as well as the character of Shao Jun – an fan favourite trained by no other than Ezio himself (you can catch our Assassin’s Creed Embers review here).
Of course, Ubisoft has said nothing about where they are taking the series next. With Valhalla being such a powerhouse, there’s a chance we could be sticking with Eivor for even more Viking adventures. Meanwhile, rumours suggest that another expansion is coming, this time focusing on the enigmatic Basim.