Assassin’s Creed Unity and Far Cry 4 caused a stir at E3 2014 when Ubisoft revealed that both PS4, Xbox One and PC titles would not feature playable female characters. Insomniac Games wasn’t afraid to poke fun at the competing Assassin’s Creed in a new Sunset TV video released Friday for Sunset Overdrive.
In the June 20 episode of Sunset TV, Insomniac Community Manager Brandon Winfrey responded to a fan question on if you would be able to play as females in Sunset Overdrive. It’s a reasonable question since the majority of the marketing and gameplay videos have featured the rebel male character. The response was to show this image above from the Xbox One exclusive.
If you’re first thought was, “Hey, isn’t that a woman wearing the Assassin’s Creed outfit?” you’d be right. Ubisoft’s lack of playable female characters in Unity has gone from being a point of debate to being mocked by the game that actually likes to mock everything, Sunset Overdrive.
Insomniac still has yet to show any of the character customization options that will be available in Sunset Overdrive. Winfrey did, however, say that “self-expression is super important to use” before confirming that you can choose to be male or female, select different skin tones, different body types and all of the clothing in the game is gender neutral.
“If you want to be a dude in a skirt, you can be a dude in a skirt. Just be who you want to be,” Winfrey added.
Sunset Overdrive joins a long list of games presented at E3 that allows players to create their own characters or select a playable female character from a roster. This list includes Dragon Age: Inquisition, Destiny, Evolve, Fable Legends, Super Smash Bros. and more. However, the number of games featuring male leads still outnumbered games with female leads by far and Ubisoft’s efforts to defend Assassin’s Creed Unity fell flat.
Assassin’s Creed Unity creative director Alex Amancio initially told Polygon that playable female characters were cut because it would require something on the order of 8,000 new animations, among other work.
"It's double the animations, it's double the voices, all that stuff, and double the visual assets,” Amancio said. “Especially because we have customizable assassins. It was really a lot of extra production work."
"The common denominator was Arno," he continued. "It's not like we could cut our main character, so the only logical option, the only option we had, was to cut the female avatar."
Former Ubisoft animator Jonathan Cooper fired back on Twitter by saying, “In my educated opinion, I would estimate this to be a day or two's work. Not a replacement of 8000 animations.”
Cooper later added that Aveline from Assassin’s Creed III: Liberation shares more of the same animations from Assassin’s Creed III’s Connor than does Edward from Assassin’s Creed IV: Black Flag.
Whether driven by sexism or a tight schedule of work to deliver Assassin’ Creed Unity by an Oct. 28, 2014 release date, Ubisoft appears to have lost the PR fight over playable female characters. Coincidentally, that’s the same release date as Sunset Overdrive.