Open-world games are huge. Sure, free-to-play games like Fortnite and League of Legends are popular, but when it comes to buying games, nothing is bigger than Grand Theft Auto. Games like Spider-Man and Red Dead Redemption 2 are some of the biggest games of the year. But they’re still creative endeavors, so it’s not surprising that the people who lead these creations through development and into the real world and gamers’ hands might wish they could look back and change things. Assassin’s Creed III is getting a remaster, and director Alex Hutchinson took to Twitter to discuss what he’d change about the game if he could – but this is a remaster, not a remake, and he’s no longer with Ubisoft. If you spend any time with open-world games, it’s pretty interesting stuff.
A lot of it comes down to pacing and difficulty. When developers are creating games, they’re doing it in a vacuum, and stuff doesn’t always play out like they’d hope. For example, the team often took the stance during development that they wanted players to be able to do stuff whenever they wanted. That seems like a good idea, but spreading things out can help even out rough edges on things that show up when you do them all at once. One of the biggest criticisms of the game’s protagonist, Connor, was that he was a surly, whiny character. If you avoided the “homestead” side missions, you don’t get a chance to see the more human version of Connor, Hutchinson writes.
Similarly, players would often let the modern-day temple missions that advance the game’s meta-story wait until the end. Spaced out, they’re nice distractions from Connor’s revenge tale. When stuck together, though, they ruin the pacing at the end of the game. On the same note, the game’s hours-long intro that had you playing as Connor’s Templar father, was too long, and Hutchinson says he wished he’d spaced that out even if the reveal wasn’t as cool.
When a game has so much stuff in it, it’s easy to miss some of the cooler things, too. Hutchinson notes that Assassin’s Creed III has more assassination moves than any other game in the series, and writes that the game’s naval missions – a progenitor for Assassin’s Creed IV: Black Flag – were too easy to overlook in the main game.
It also seems the team spent 14 hours across 7 meetings discussing changing the color of Connor’s sash from red to blue. There’s a dark window into the reality of triple-A game development for you. But then, the game also lets you draw dirty pictures in the snow and watch a pig get butchered from start to finish, so maybe the meetings were for the best.
But these hindsight edits just show how much of a creative effort and a guessing game it is to develop a game. It also shows how too much freedom can actually hurt an otherwise interesting game. Assassin’s Creed III is looked back on as one of the less-loved entries in the series despite being the series climax for modern-day protagonist Desmond and the first America-based entry in the series. Connor is looked at as one of the worst protagonists in the series. I found him easier to relate to than the first game’s Altair or the Black Flag‘s Edward Kenway, and he had a personality unlike Unity‘s Arno. The game itself brought the wilderness into play and refreshed gameplay in ways the snoozefest that was Assassin’s Creed Revelations couldn’t. But it still had problems, and Hutchinson’s tweets allude to that.
Assassin’s Creed III hits Xbox One, PS4, and PC in March 2019. If you pick up the Assassin’s Creed Odyssey season pass, you’ll get it for free, but it’ll be available on its own too, if you aren’t keen on the ancient Greek setting of Odyssey.