2016 was not a great year for the Assassin's Creed franchise. The feature film failed to break the barrier between video game movies and the concept of "good," while the actual series took a year off for the first time since 2009. Though 2015's Assassin's Creed Syndicate was generally well received, 2014's Assassin's Creed Unity was such a debacle the series went temporarily dormant.
To top it all off, Ubisoft couldn't even properly remaster the three best games in the series. What a bummer.
So what's next for the troubled series? Ubisoft hasn't said anything official, but based on multiple leaks and trustworthy reports, we already have a basic idea of what to expect from the unconfirmed next game in the series, Assassin's Creed Empire.
Assassin's Creed Empire Leaks and Rumors: A new setting, deep in the past
All the way back in January, an anonymous 4chan poster claiming to be a Ubisoft developer spilled the beans about the future of Assassin's Creed. Much of it has yet to be confirmed, but Kotaku was able to independently verify the biggest reveal of all: the setting.
Each game in the series takes place in a different historical era, with more recent games generally moving closer to modern times while still jumping around a bit. The small snippets of World Wars I and II we saw in Unity and Syndicate gave fans hope the series would come to the 20th century. They couldn't have been more wrong, as it's apparently going to ancient Egypt.
According to the 4chan posts (which have been documented on NeoGAF), it takes place in a world before the existence of the Assassins and the Templars. That's noteworthy because the conflict between those two secret societies forms the backbone of the entire franchise up until now; getting away from it would be a serious departure.
Assassin's Creed Empire Leaks and Rumors: More story, more adventure
You will allegedly play as an ex-slave, a "nobody" who doesn't talk much, according to the 4chan posts (via NeoGAF), which point to a game with a similar vibe as The Witcher III. This is pure speculation on our part, but if the character has less of a defined personality than previous protagonists like Ezio Auditore, then perhaps the player will have dialogue choices in the game.
Since ancient Egypt wasn't as rigorously documented as other periods of history, the developers apparently aren't as bound to historical accuracy this time. According to the 4chan posts (via NeoGAF), that means there is more freedom and thus an even bigger emphasis on story this time around. They also mention a "focus on adventure," so perhaps there will be more exploration and puzzle solving than before.
Assassin's Creed Empire Leaks and Rumors: Take flight
A minor, but fascinating, detail is the main character apparently has a pet eagle the player can control. Eagles have always been thematically tied to the series, but this would be the first time we can actually play as one. Maybe you can use it to scout enemy encampments or access hidden areas.
The game will also supposedly have boats the player can control, but not naval combat like Assassin's Creed IV: Black Flag. The boats will supposedly be used for navigation and some of them will have interior spaces you can enter for quests. Horses will return and the game will have "freeform combat," whatever that entails.
Assassin's Creed Empire release date
Finally, the game is expected to release by the end of 2017 for PS4, Xbox One and PC. No word yet on whether or not it will launch on Nintendo Switch, but given Ubisoft's generous support of previous Nintendo consoles, it's probably not out of the question.