Way to play with people’s emotions Ubisoft.
Recently, it was announced that the Prince of Persia was returning…as a guest character in For Honor. Don’t get me wrong, For Honor is great, but Ubisoft has a habit of taking established characters and utilizing them in crossovers. This isn’t a bad thing, a lot of publishers do this, but Ubisoft has a made a habit of it. Sam Fisher from the Splinter Cell series, was announced to have made his long awaited return, only to show up in Ghost Recon Wildlands for a single mission and then appeared as a playable character in a mobile title.
Ubisoft has the freedom to do with their established franchises as they wish, but let’s be honest here, a new Prince of Persia game would be awesome. Before Assassins Creed, there was Prince of Persia, a title whose core gameplay mechanic involved controlling time to solve puzzles and provide strategy to enemy encounters. In the right hands, this would kill it in today’s market. Give Assassins Creed and other franchises a much needed break, everyone is going to be much better off for it.
Look at it from this perspective, nostalgia has overtaken the gaming industry. Older franchises like Crash Bandicoot, Resident Evil, and Final Fantasy are having titles remastered because of the heightened demand. It’s clear that Ubisoft has no problem returning to franchises, see Ghost Recon for example, so why not return to a franchise that fans loved and would love to see return? I understand that there was a soft reboot of the franchise in 2008 and while it underperformed because it was literally nothing like the trilogy that preceded it, this is no way shape or form means that it was a bad game. In fact, it was well received critically and I found it to be a nice change of pace from the edgy direction of the trilogy.
Imagine an open-world Prince of Persia title today with expanded time-controlling abilities and refined parkour mechanics. Just the environmental puzzles alone would be worth the price of admission and I can’t fathom the effect the expanded mechanics would have on combat. The only question would be how the narrative is going to flow. Will the story be grounded and gritty like the early 2000’s trilogy or more fantasy heavy like the 2008 soft reboot? Personally, I think that they should go fantasy-heavy with a likeable smart-ass protagonist. Emphasize the Sands of Time and build from there.
Having breaks between major franchises will help decrease the fan fatigue seen from continual releases. While a new IP will always be preferred, the advancements in technology provide more than enough flexibility for older titles to be reimagined. Resident Evil 2 is currently the benchmark and Final Fantasy VII is hot on its heels. Plus, it shows that the developer is listening to its fans and rewarding their patience. The Prince of Persia series would be welcomed with open arms, as long as the proper respect is shown. Remasters can be hit or miss, but there should be no excuse for a triple-A developer to not stick the landing.
Bear in mind that the likelihood of the Prince of Persia series being revived is slim. As I stated before, the return of Splinter Cell has been teased for years and nothing has come of it. Cameo appearances are nice, but they do little to satisfy a fan base. It is strange however, that Ubisoft would bring back the Prince of Persia after all these years to cameo in For Honor, but maybe this is a test intended to determine the interest level of the fan base. Who knows, if all goes well, the Prince of Persia series might see a full-on return and I have to tell you, I’m all for it.