After over a year of waiting and guessing, we’ve finally learned a little more about what Assassin’s Creed Infinity is. As part of today’s Ubisoft Forward Assassin’s Creed Showcase, it was said that Infinity is a “hub” that will link future Assassin’s Creed games together. But, after an in-depth interview with the project’s leader, Marc-Alexis Côté, IGN has learned much more about Infinity.
Assassin’s Creed Infinity will be a home for a variety of games of different genres and lengths. It will mix premium boxed games with paid-for and free content. There will be a multiplayer mode that will unite the franchise’s eras. And it will be the place where Assassin’s Creed’s modern-day story will now live.
But let’s start with Infinity’s core concept. It is not a video game, nor is it a replacement for traditional Assassin’s Creed games. It is 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-price, single-player, open-world RPG will be purchased just like any other Assassin’s Creed game.
“You can absolutely buy [Codename Red] as a box product,” confirms Côté, vice president executive producer of Assassin’s Creed. “But the first thing that you’ll see [when you boot it up] is the Infinity [hub] that makes it coherent. But you can buy [Infinity’s second game] Hexe separately as well. This is how we envision things today. So it is still the same games that we were building, but bridged together in the Infinity hub. And obviously if you’re in the Infinity hub playing Red, you’ll see Hexe come and be available as a memory that you can explore.”
So Infinity is somewhat of a launcher. But rather than displaying games as a library-like collection, like in Steam or Ubisoft Connect, Infinity will wear the guise of an in-universe Animus interface. New entries in the series will be displayed 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 for it to evolve over time.
“So [Infinity] will not start out as a game,” says Côté. “The version of Infinity that we launch will not be the final version of Infinity. It’s something that will evolve through time as our experiences grow and we can connect them more together. So I think it opens up a world of possibilities as to what we can do that go far beyond being just a launcher for our different games.”
While Infinity is not technically a game, it will have elements that we’d associate with the Assassin’s Creed games. From now on, Infinity will be the home of the modern day or ‘meta’ storyline of the series.
“People who love just immersing themselves in the past will be able to jump right in there and never be interrupted or need to know who Desmond and Layla is,” says Côté. The implication, then, is that the main games will now be solely set in the past.
So if Infinity does feature a storyline, but is not a game, does that mean we won’t be controlling a modern-day protagonist any more? I ask if the meta storyline will be limited to things like audio logs and email chains.
“The way we tell the story will evolve with time,” says Côté. “It’s something that we’re doing for the long term, not for the short term. But the abstraction that we want people to have is [Infinity] is your Animus. It is your DNA explorer on your desktop. You are the main story character.”
To provide an example of one element of traditional Assassin’s Creed games that will be moved across to Infinity, Côté points to codex entries. “We used to have an encyclopedia in our games. But to make it feel coherent, like something that always grows through time as you explore the past, [the encyclopedia] would be something that would be in the Infinity hub.”
Cutting the modern day storyline out of the core games will no doubt come as fantastic news to a segment of the series’ dedicated and vocal audience. But Infinity doesn’t stop there in addressing audience criticism. Future Assassin’s Creed games released in 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 start of a less formulaic period for the series.
“What I can confirm to you is that [Hexe] is not an RPG,” says Côté. “When I say it’s a different type of game, I want people to go beyond the expectations of Origins, Odyssey, and Valhalla. They’re all an iteration on our RPG design, right? But Hexe and Red are taking different tracks.”
“I think this Infinity approach is allowing 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 to how we choose to represent those periods.”
While not part of Infinity, 2023’s Assassin’s Creed Mirage will be similar in length to the earlier games in the franchise. I ask if we can expect more of those scale games, or even smaller, in Infinity.
“Yes, absolutely and priced accordingly,” Côté affirms. “Sometimes you’ll have free experiences as well, which I think is a great way to entice players to either come back.”
Assassin’s Creed Valhalla has clearly been a testing ground for what’s to come in Infinity. Its DLC has varied wildly, with free offerings ranging from small in-game events to a whole roguelite mode, while paid-for content starts as small as cosmetics and goes as large as a 30-hour expansion pack. It seems like we can expect this sort of approach going forward with Infinity.
But one thing Valhalla did not 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 will be free-to-play.
“We have not finalized our plans for the business model for Invictus, but it is a possibility [that it will be free-to-play],” says Côté.
So while we know Infinity will feature free experiences of some kind, we currently can’t say if Ubisoft plans to use Invictus in the way Halo Infinite and Call of Duty uses their own multiplayer/Warzone offerings. However, like Warzone, it appears that Ubisoft plans for Invictus to unite the many eras of its single-player games.
“I think the concept art that we had for Invictus kind of hints to this possibility of crossing over characters from different periods,” says Côté, referring to a piece of art shown at a press briefing that showed numerous characters from different games standing side-by-side. “So I think you can see the intention there of Invictus allowing us again to bridge our different games together.”
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Meta stories, new genres, and multiplayer are all fascinating aspects of Infinity’s promise. But it seems that the platform’s biggest aim is to provide much, much longer periods of support for each individual game. Rather than discrete offerings, a new Assassin’s Creed will become part of Infinity instead of just living (and, eventually, dying) on its own. I ask if that means that new games won’t have a hard end cap on developer support.
“Exactly,” says Côté. “That’s not how we’re seeing things. We want to support everything that comes out on Infinity for a much longer period of time.”
“What I’m very excited about with Infinity is not just our big games, but this idea that we don’t replace the games with another game, you [don’t just] supplant your new RPG,” Côté explains. “I think these games can live for a longer period of time and we’re architecturing 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 that we’re thinking about is how can we grow this experience, this world, more like an MMO? Think of it as a single player MMO [rather] than what we’ve done in the past.”
Infinity sounds much less disruptive than I’d 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 concept 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 eventually deliver, but whatever it is, Infinity sounds a fascinating response to the seasonal content factories that are gaming’s multiplayer monoliths.
For more from Ubisoft Forward, check out the latest details about Assassin’s Creed Mirage, and the mobile game Codename Jade.
Matt Purslow is IGN’s UK News and Features Editor.