Assassin's Creed Syndicate's Female Hero Not Response to Unity's Gender Controversy, Says Ubisoft
Creative director and lead level director address cynics and explain the origin of Evie.
The inclusion of a female protagonist in Assassin's Creed Syndicate is not simply a reaction the series' controversial history with the subject, according to senior members of the game's development team.
In 2014, Assassin's Creed Unity's technical director James Therien said introducing a female character would have doubled the work on animations, costumes, and other things. In light of the underrepresentation of females across the industry, the statements garnered a great deal of criticism, especially since the game featured four-player co-op, where the option was most noticeably absent.
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Looking back even further, Assassin's Creed 3's creative director Alex Hutchinson said in 2012 that it would have been a "pain" to include a female protagonist in the game because "the history of the American Revolution is the history of men."
Speaking to GameSpot in an exclusive Assassin's Creed Syndicate interview, creative director Marc-Alexis Cote said Evie Frye, one of the games two playable characters, is a true protagonist and not an effort to pay lip-service to critics of its previous missteps.
"[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."
"[Introducing a female protagonist] was not done to pay lip-service, it’s done to build a great game."Marc-Alexis Cote
Level design director Hugo Giard added that the character was created "a long time ago" as part of a shared vision with Cote.
"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."
Giard said that, ultimately, the proof will be in the pudding: "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."
Ubisoft has confirmed the Assassin's Creed Syndicate release date as October 23. The game will be available for Xbox One and PlayStation 4, with a PC version to follow later. It will not be released for Xbox 360 or PlayStation 3, as Ubisoft is leaving those systems behind.
Read about how the history of the series is helping chart the future, trying to recapture the fandom of Ezio Auditore, how it will make sense of the story, and more in our full Assassin's Creed Syndicate interview here.
Take a look closer at Assassin's Creed Syndicate in the screenshot gallery below.
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