Ubisoft Announces Assassin’s Creed DLC Starring a Woman From 16th Century China
Apparently women are easier to animate if you only use two and a half dimensions.
It’s no secret that AAA games have a problem with both gender and racial diversity, and that Ubisoft in particular has gotten a lot of heat for saying some dumb things about their inability to address these concerns in their Assassin’s Creed series. But it’s okay, guys! Now they’ve announced a new game featuring a woman of color! Sure, it’s a sidescroller that you can only play if you buy it as DLC for Assassin’s Creed Unity, but—wait, no, that’s still frustrating.
Announced today on the Ubisoft blog, Assassin’s Creed Chronicles: China is a piece of downloadable content that’s only available to those who buy the AC:Unity “Season Pass” for $29.99. The blog reads:
Experience an entirely new setting for the franchise in a beautifully stylized world inspired by traditional brush paintings. Shao Jun’s powerful martial arts skills and new Assassin gear like the Jian Sword and the Foot Blade will allow her to eliminate her targets from the shadows or take on groups in all-out combat. Explore legendary landmarks like the Great Wall of China and the Forbidden City and encounter famous historical figures in this new 2.5D digital download title.
You can also check out some of the gameplay in Ubisoft’s newly released Season Pass trailer (about two minutes in):
Shao Jun is not a new character, by the way: she appears in a 2011 animated short film project entitled Assassin’s Creed: Embers, where (spoiler alert!) she is Okay, yikes, that’s a lot of really tired tropes for one origin story. But vengeance stories are fun, at least, right?
Don’t get me wrong: it’s very cool to see Ubisoft experimenting with their general model of gameplay and trying something new, and in the process highlighting a fan favorite character who’s a welcome departure from the usual generically scruffy European guy. And the 2.5d aspect of the game is very intriguing, particularly when you look at how reminiscent it is of 2012’s Mark of the Ninja. To be honest, I’d rather play this game over Unity anyway—and despite the fact that I can’t do that right now without being forced to buy both, it’s possible that, as with the Freedom Cry DLC for Assassin’s Creed: Black Flag, the content will eventually be available as a standalone game.
But wouldn’t it also be nice, just for once, if Ubisoft let one of these characters be the lead of the base game rather than a smaller DLC-only spin-off? If it were Shao Jun getting the big title, and if we had to pay for her story to get to Arno’s rather than the other way around? Or, even better, if we could just play the sidescroller game on its own on the day it comes out without having to plunk down $90+? None of that’s likely to happen anytime soon, of course, particularly the part about not having to buy DLC, but it would definitely be a welcome change.
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