The lights are on
Most of playable characters of the Assassin's Creed series are male: Altair, Ezio, Connor, Haytham, Edward. Fans finally got a female protagonist with Aveline in Liberation, demonstrating that maybe Ubisoft would be taking a more inclusive approach to the series in the future. However, the reveal of Assassin's Creed Unity shows that hope was apparently premature.
Unity puts players in control of protagonist Arno, but up to three other friends can join to create a four-player, cooperative assassin team. However, the characters who can accompany Arno are exclusively male.
In an interview with Polygon, creative director Alex Amancio explains that female assassins were part or the original plan, but the team decided to cut the option. "It's double the animations, it's double the voices, all that stuff, and double the visual assets," he says. "Especially because we have customizable assassins. It was really a lot of extra production work."
It's easy to stand on the sidelines and second-guess those statements, but making judgments is hard unless you are familiar with the way game development – and Assassin's Creed in particular – works. However, someone with that expertise is weighing in.
Former Ubisoft employee Jonathan Cooper, who was the animation director on Assassin's Creed III, is taking issue with Amancio's reasoning via Twitter.
Will this exchange inspire Ubisoft to reconsider the decision? Only time will tell.
For the less controversial side of Assassin's Creed Unity, check out our impressions from the show floor.
Our TakeThis decision is especially hard to understand in light of the fact that previous games in the series have given females equal representation in the order (like Ezio's brotherhood underlings). Also, just because something is more work isn't necessarily a reason to avoid doing the right thing. I don't doubt that it is more work – perhaps even a lot of work – to include female assassins in co-op. Even so, that cost does not seem outrageous, considering that the trade-off would be a game that is more inclusive and better represents the series' fans.
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