‘We planned it so long ago.’
Back when Ubisoft was still in the midst of the hype cycle for last year’s Assassin’s Creed Unity, they found themselves embroiled in an unexpected controversy, but one that was a long time coming- that of their refusal to include a female assassin in their flagship franchise. Ubisoft’s scrambled responses to the criticisms only made the situation worse, and a lot of people suspected that it was that backlash which caused the inclusion of a female assassin in the upcoming Assassin’s Creed Syndicate.
However, Ubisoft has come out and said that that is not the case- speaking to Gamespot, creative director Marc-Alexis Cote said Evie Frye is integral to the game’s story, rather than being a token female character.
“[Evie and Jacob have] both been part of the experience from the very beginning. Cynics will be cynics, and it’s unfortunate, but we’ve been so focused on build this game the way we want with those two characters,” he continued. “It’s not done to pay lip-service, it’s done to build a great game.
“When we were building this experience we asked ourselves “how can we make it feel new, how can we make it feel fresh, how do we avoid telling the same story?” That’s where we came up with the idea of having two protagonists, which evolved into having twin protagonists, and a brother/sister relationship that we’ve never explored. That started two and a half years ago.”
Level design director Hugo Giard corroborated this.
“When I play Mass Effect, I always had FemShep, it’s just something that I find more compelling,” he said. “[Cote is] right, cynics will be cynics, I don’t know if there’s anything we could tell them that’d change their minds, but it’s always been what we wanted to push forward. Nothing changed when that stuff happened.
“The only way to answer this is to have people play the game. When they do they will see there is no way she’s bolted on.
“Seriously, if we had changed our vision last year when the controversy broke, Evie would feel completely shoe-horned, you would be able to sense it. But because we planned it for so long, everything about her flows perfectly in the story with Jacob. You would know if it didn’t.”
I can appreciate their insistence on their creative vision, and it is nice to know that they have a female character who will actually be an important figure rather than there for fan or lip service.
Assassin’s Creed Syndicate launches on October 23.