Assassin’s Creed: Unity is a very pretty game. And like all these games, it’s got a gimmick, in this case four-person co-op multiplayer. But you can’t play any of those co-op missions as a woman, and Ubisoft has been flailing trying to explain this one away.
Seriously, read this bit from VideoGamer’s discussion with James Therien, the technical director, and try not to imagine him soaking in flop sweat:
A female character means that you have to redo a lot of animation, a lot of costumes [inaudible]. It would have doubled the work on those things. And I mean it’s something the team really wanted, but we had to make a decision… It’s unfortunate, but it’s a reality of game development. Yes, we have tonnes of resources, but we’re putting them into this game, and we have huge teams, nine studios working on this game and we need all of these people to make what we are doing here.
You did read that correctly; there are nine studios working on this game. Apparently, hiring a few extra animators and designers to represent half the gamers out there just isn’t in the budget! Not that this is a statement of Ubisoft’s general opinion of what’s a priority and what isn’t or anything!
It’s especially absurd because the last Assassin’s Creed featured playable female characters, and Ubisoft even built an entire entry of the franchise around one. It’s not exactly women’s liberation in polygon form, what with the cleavage and all, but there are female characters in the games. So, what, with nine teams, in pre-production, nobody thought to draw up a list of stuff the community liked?
It seems more likely this is a case of forgetfulness instead of deliberate omission, although that’s not really a better excuse. But, when this game is inevitably delayed to 2015 because it’s a massive rush job, we won’t be terribly surprised to find out that female characters somehow wound up in the budget after all.