Ubisoft Misses Their Target With Elise Reveal

 After the “let’s make fun of Ubisoft” fad started fading, so too did my interest in their upcoming Assassin’s Creed game. If they weren’t going to give my gender a proper playable character, or any character for that matter, then why should I give them any more of my time? But, as with most things in my life, both the developer and the game found a way back onto my radar.

Assassins Creed Unity Arno Elise

About a week ago, Ubisoft released a new trailer for Assassin’s Creed: Unity with which, I think, they hoped to smooth the fallout from their previous social media-propagated fiasco. In it, leading man Arno Dorian jumps from beautifully rendered roof to beautifully rendered roof and cuts through a crowd of onlookers as a pair of French government officials lead a cloaked woman to the guillotine. His intent: to save this mysterious woman. Here, watch the trailer for yourself.

This woman, as Ubisoft revealed, is Elise, “an independent young noblewoman [who] is determined to secure her place in the Templar dynasty amidst the chaos of the French Revolution.” She is also a highly influential character concerning the events of Unity. And while I’m ecstatic they finally released proof of a character that wasn’t a scruffy white dude, I’m not particularly excited about the Templar as a whole.

From a purely business and technical level, this reeks of Ubisoft trying to make its naysayers eat their hats, but completely misunderstanding what the problem was in the first place. I love the idea of Elise, I love that there’s a sword-wielding lady that can go toe-to-toe with the male protagonist and still look great while doing so. I don’t love that she’s not playable. One of the main problems Ubisoft faced with the idea of a playable female character is that they said they didn’t have an animation rig set up for the female body type, and that it would simply take too long, or they were too far into development, to make one. Yet, now that Elise has come to light, this refutes their claim entirely. If Elise was a character who was purely a background NPC, sure, I could give them that, but Ubisoft has stated that she’s important to the plot, which means she’s most likely going to be in a lot of cut scenes. Not only that, but by her sword wielding in the trailer, it seems very likely that Elise will be taking an active role in the plot, whether it be by fighting at Arno’s side or fighting against him. What this means is that since Elise is so pivotal to the plot, apparently, there was no way they could have developed her late in Unity’s planning stages. Also, that this means there’s a fully functioning in-game female character model which could have been used and re-purposed to make other female characters. Given how similar the four male characters in the multi-player portion of the game look, copy and pasting character designs is not below Ubisoft.

All around me are familiar faces...

All around me are familiar faces…

The other thing that harshes my buzz is the type of character they’re building Elise up to be. Ubisoft can say that Elise is “fiery” all they want, but it doesn’t change the fact that they introduced her in a way that stripped her of all her power. They introduced her as a damsel, plain and simple. Honestly, that’s the last thing this game needs. With quotes like, “Her quest leads her to cross paths with Arno and establish an unlikely bond with him,” it feels like they’re setting her up as a love interest as well, which isn’t bad in and of itself, but it also feels like she exists merely to further Arno’s plot. Needless to say, I’m extremely worried that at some point in Unity we’re going to find Elise’s head on a spike to further Arno’s manpain.

Something that I’m strangely excited for, however, is that Elise is going to star in the novel adaptation of Assassin’s Creed: Unity—the book itself is said to be the events of the game as shown from Elise’s point of view. Yet, if they can give us all this—if Ubisoft can give us the narrative from Elise’s point of view, as well as her actually doing things in-game—why can’t they just give us the actual game starring Elise? I’m not saying they have to wipe out Arno completely; a game can have more than one protagonist and still be just as deep and fun to play. Doing something like that would have essentially solved Ubisoft’s problems before they started… well, concerning gender, in any case. As it stands now, introducing Elise right after all this hubbub and denial from their end just seems like they’re dangling a carrot in front of our faces. We get to see what we could have had while Ubisoft gets to feel good about being inclusive, without actually being so at all.

Follow Lady Geek Girl and Friends on Twitter, Tumblr, and Facebook!

This entry was posted in feminism, Geek, Internet, opinion, Video Games and tagged , , , , , by Tsunderin. Bookmark the permalink.

About Tsunderin

Greetings and salutations! Feel free to just call me Rin—we’re all friends here, or nemeses who just haven’t gotten to know each other well enough. I’m a video game lover from the womb to the tomb, and Bioware enthusiast until the day they stop making games with amazing characters that I cry over. And while I don’t partake as often as I used to, don’t be surprised to find me poking around an anime or manga every once in a while either. A personal interest for me is characterization in media and how women in particular have been portrayed, are being portrayed, and will be portrayed in the future. I’m not going to mince words about my opinion either.

7 thoughts on “Ubisoft Misses Their Target With Elise Reveal

  1. Yes, the way Elise was revealed is terribly disappointing. If she’s supposed to be a bad-ass, why not let her dispatch the guy in the wig? Her hands are only tied; surely she could grab his sword if she’s such an amazing swordswoman and cut the dude’s throat. She was made to look powerless while Arno looked too cool for skool. Very poorly thought out.

    If there had been a woman present on the creative team, I believe this wouldn’t have happened.

    • It seems like Ubi is trying to reinforce their own masculinitiy–or at least the masculinity of their audience–as well. “No, okay, we put a girl in the game, but you, the dude, are still totally the coolest and most powerful. Here, look. Pls buy our game.” The worst part is, I doubt they were even conscious of what they were doing.

      Sigh, we can only hope for better in the future. Hopefully they’ll take the criticisms to heart.

  2. Pingback: Assassin’s Creed Chronicles: China: A Step in the Right Direction? | Lady Geek Girl and Friends

  3. I get that you want a playable female. Hell I’d like to play as Elise. It’s just that Ubisoft won’t listen to people to add a female character. They want to to tell their own story. Also Ubisoft planned this ge for 5 years. Elise wasn’t just added, she was there from the start.

  4. Pingback: Smash Bros. 4: Smashing a Typical Review | Lady Geek Girl and Friends

  5. Pingback: Dom’s Favorite Games of 2014 | Lady Geek Girl and Friends

  6. Pingback: Assassin’s Creed: A Game Done Mostly Right | Lady Geek Girl and Friends

Comments are closed.