E3 2014: Ubisoft Explains Why Assassin's Creed Unity Lacks Female Leads

Ubisoft's work would have been "doubled" if it had included playable female characters.

Assassin's Creed Unity

Assassin's Creed Unity is, by all accounts, a huge, gorgeous game being developed by hundreds of people across ten studios. But one thing it won't have when it launches later this year is the ability to play as a female character.

It turns out playable female characters were going to be included until they were scrapped because of the additional work that would have been involved. "It was on our feature list until not too long ago, but it's a question of focus and production," Ubisoft technical director James Therien told VideoGamer. "So we wanted to make sure we had the best experience for the character."

Had female characters been included, Ubisoft would have had to "redo a lot of animation, a lot of costumes." In effect, "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."

Some gamers are already voicing criticism over the explanation; females are underrepresented across the industry, and this would seem to be yet another example. As noted above, Ubisoft has a whopping ten studios contributing to Unity, but despite the huge amount of manpower devoted to the game, Therien says all of it's needed "to make what we are doing here." He also reiterated his point that "it's not a question of philosophy or choice."

Prior to the release of Assassin's Creed III in 2012, creative director Alex Hutchinson talked about how it would have been a "pain" to include a female protagonist in that game because "the history of the American Revolution is the history of men." Later that year, spin-off title Assassin's Creed III: Liberation starred a female for the first time in franchise history, but a mainline Assassin's Creed has yet to follow suit. The notion looked promising last year, when Black Flag director Ashraf Ismail suggested it wouldn't come as a surprise if a female lead were to be featured in a future Assassin's Creed. Unfortunately, Unity won't be the game to do so.

Unity's four-player co-op multiplayer was unveiled at E3 yesterday, and you can read our impressions of what we've seen of the game this week here. It's scheduled for release on October 28 for Xbox One, PlayStation 4, and PC.

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