Ubisoft – The Safest and Most Boring Developer

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Everyone is familiar with Ubisoft. Love them or hate them, they are the studio that has made some of the biggest franchises in gaming. From Assassin’s Creed to Watch Dogs and the Far Cry games to Rainbow Six, Ubisoft is a powerhouse of a developer.

Ubisoft doesn’t make bad games. In fact, they’ve made some pretty good ones and it’s hard to find one of their games below 75 on Metacritic. Everything they make has some satisfying gameplay, a decent story and mechanics that work pretty well. When you buy a Ubisoft game, you know it’ll have a certain level of quality.

So with the recent releases of Watch Dogs Legion and Assassin’s Creed Valhalla, I should be excited. But really, I don’t care. I have no interest in these two games, and I doubt I will ever have any interest. The idea of playing a Watch Dogs or Assassin’s Creed game is just boring to me.

Same Stuff, Different Game

These games just look like every other Ubisoft game that I’ve played. Without playing a second of either one, I already know that the map will be open world and covered with stuff to do like a chore list. I know that every mission will be “Go to this marker for an arbitrary reason”. And I know there will be some task I need to complete to unlock a section of the map. I know this because it’s everything I had to do in their other games.

After Far Cry 4, I realised that this series was the same as their other franchises. Ubisoft would keep selling the same game over and over again, just in a new location. Far Cry New Dawn wasn’t even subtle about it. Rockstar and Bethesda might keep re-releasing GTA V and Skyrim over and over, but at least they don’t make it out like it’s a brand new game every time.

The moment that killed Assassin’s Creed was when the modern-day storyline ended. It was never the big selling point of any game, but the modern-day sections gave the series an overarching plot. But now that there is no overarching plot, Ubisoft can just keep making these games as much as they want. There’s no longer any creative force behind wanting to make another game in this franchise.

Take a Little Bit of This and a Bit of That

There’s no problem in taking inspiration from existing properties, every media property does it. Jedi Fallen Order is basically Dark Souls, but it addresses the issues that some people have with the series. Like making the game easier and telling its story in a way that’s less cryptic, making it more accessible to casual gamers. To a lot of people, Fallen Order is an improvement on the Dark Souls formula. Plus being a Jedi is pretty cool.

The problem with Ubisoft’s approach is how their games just end up being this mish-mash of ideas that were better in other games. Combat, skill trees, driving, crafting and open worlds are all elements you can find in so many other games that do it better. These elements have been proven to work, which are the only elements that Ubisoft uses.

The worst part of any Ubisoft game is their “open world”. Games like Breath of the Wild and Grand Theft Auto try to make their world feel alive, packing in details to create this illusion. They make the world full of character and charm to make it memorable. Ubisoft’s worlds just feel empty. There are no details, no hidden gems that a designer wanted to throw in, there’s just a location so that gameplay can happen, and you can check off stuff from your chore list.

Why This Matters

This kind of cookie-cutter design is damaging to any creative industry. Once big studios stop taking risks and only want to make properties that are safe investments, then you lose the creative spirit that’s behind the work. There are some things that indie games just can’t do, so the big studios have to take the risks to come out with some great AAA games. Without taking these risks, we wouldn’t have ended up with Doom (2016) or Half-Life Alyx.

Ubisoft’s model is the most harmful thing to the industry as a whole. Even EA, the devil incarnate, is at least trying stuff. Their loot boxes are pure evil and Anthem was a bomb, but they’ve at least managed to set a standard that the industry as a whole can learn from. There is nothing to learn from when it comes to Ubisoft.

Their model doesn’t help to push the industry forward, but rather encourages it to remain stagnant.

While they do make good games that many people enjoy, Ubisoft’s approach to game design is harmful. There is no desire to innovate, no desire to tell a story or immerse the player in a world, and no creative vision behind their games.

What do you guys think of Ubisoft’s games?

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Dan Waterman

12 thoughts on “Ubisoft – The Safest and Most Boring Developer”

  1. Killing the modern day story line is the best thing they ever did. All it did was break immersion.

    Each game is brand new, to say that because you have to go here and do some chore like you did in the previous games is absurd. What did you want them to do, add bowling with your cousin just to make a task different? Is there any series that doesn’t do the same?
    Seems to me Madden is pretty much the same, all the versions required me to score touchdowns to win. How about shooters? more guns, grenades, hiding behind barriers, securing a flag etc.

  2. Totally Agree, Wildlands is another where they just reskinned odysseys bird scout mechanic to a drone..same controls same feels… same meh

    This harmonious design of the committee just makes it all feel grey..been there done that. Things to switch it up, Fixed cameras so you can see the place from a different angle but most important through a creative perspective. Dare I say it more linear for more story-driven games. If the open world works for the narrative then fine but so many have open world and doesn’t make it feel like an actual world.

    I’d rather have one house that’s full of secrets and fully accessible than a large city that’s just empty blocks to drive around…

  3. I couldn’t agree more to this opinion: Many Ubisoft-Games feel some kind of soulless since many years. I can remember the times, when they publsihed the first Parts of Splinter Cell, Prince of Persia, Assassins Creed, Far Cry (3)… these were great, but today … :/

    But as long as For Honor is not older than 5 years I wouldn’t complain about Ubisoft taking no risks at all. 😉

    • That’s a good point, I did forget about For Honor.
      I do still think the game suffers from similar problems but at least the combat was interesting

  4. Instead of writing vicious articles just play the games.
    Ubisoft is not a studio, it’s at least 15 different studios that work together like a well-oiled machine.
    It took me a while to fall in love in assassins’ creed, but once I grasped the mechanics I have been playing for the last three titles for hundreds of hours.
    You will be surprised to find that the game is full of surprises that made me admire it.
    I recommend subscribing to Ubisoft Plus for anyone who has a gaming computer, much more lucrative than consoles or other subscriptions.

  5. They make good games that a lot of people enjoy. That statement you made pretty much makes the rest of your article moot. A lot of us love their games and buy them and play each of them for 100’s of hours. I for one enjoy their core game making formulas. They always add something new like Valhalla’s world mysteries which i think are great. What they do has no effect on other studio’s ability to be creative or try new things. If other studios copy ubisoft’s successful formulas then that is their own problem.

  6. Innovation is pretty much dead with AAA and Ubisoft is pretty much one of biggest offenders. They just make a script about how open world games should work and follow it to the letter, then they see sales drop and refresh that script, like with AC Origin and FC5, then they are back again to following new script for every game.

    Plus they at it way too safe, from not taking risks, committing to hard story decisions, to trying too hard to not be political, despite story about dictator for example is as political as it gets. And sure some controversial decision might get them bit of negative press, but it would do a lot to mix things up a bit.

    But Ubisoft will stay Ubisoft. They have points when they try to do better, but there is long stretch of them trying to be EA in between.

  7. quote: “Ubisoft doesn’t make bad games”

    I think you meant: “Ubisoft didn’t use to make bad games.. now it’s all it does. Same formula for all it’s open world games”

  8. Very interesting trailer videos. Makes me wait for it. As I tried Far Cry 6, WatchDogs Legion and Ghost Recon Breakpoint, couldn’t agree more, all of them are boring as much as they can be. Not even trying Assassins’ Creed, I hate Ubi for those new titles.

    It is noteworthy that all these games can be great again with some minor changes, because they are good at graphics & mechanics department. I feel like someone who is making decisions, who is directing these games has to change and that will do.


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