Two months shy of its wildly anticipated release date, Ubisoft continues to drop clues about life after Assassin’s Creed III. Creative director Alex Hutchinson recently discussed the current annual frequency of new Assassin’s Creed iterations – so we know the series won’t lie dormant for long – and now a dozen new domains have been registered by the publisher, all pertaining to the name “Assassin’s Creed: Initiate.”
The filings appeared this Tuesday – August 21st – and cover the primary, interneters-are-likely-to-type-this-in manifestations of a series name and a subtitle:
Ubisoft has refrained from comment on the domain registrations, but the thorough coverage of the name “Assassins Creed: Initiate(s)” certainly suggests something relevant. They could signify anything from an Assassin’s Creed III direct sequel (like Assassin’s Creed: Brotherhood or Revelations) to another novel (like Assassin’s Creed: The Secret Crusade), comic (Assassin’s Creed: The Fall), or short film (Assassin’s Creed: Embers). They could mean that we’ll see another Facebook game similar to Brotherhood’s tie-in, Project Legacy, or that Ubisoft has devised a fancy name for a DLC subscription service.
And then there’s the word itself – “initiate” – which carries no shortage of ambiguity. Is it a verb, as in to initiate a launch sequence? A noun, perhaps like an initiate into club? We know Abstergo’s mysterious Templar-in-Chief, Warren Vidic, addresses his Animus recruits as initiates while they develop into indoctrinated super soldiers (the narrative vehicle for Assassins Creed’s multiplayer); Ubisoft could easily pull from those established story threads (think of the tormented Subject 13) and use it to create a full-body Assassin’s Creed game surrounding the perils of Abstergo employment.
Within the existing canon, the possibilities for whatever “Assassin’s Creed: Initiate” is are endless. And quite frankly that’s emblematic of the entire series.
It’s no coincidence that any new lead on Ubisoft’s post-AC III plans generates so much intrigue: Even an internet domain registration, though it might be for nothing more than a social media crossover or mobile game, carries a potential gravity for gaming more forceful than any rumor not mentioning Half Life 3.
After all every lynchpin of the Assassin’s Creed series to date – its settings; its deadly triumvirate of Altaïr, Ezio and Connor; and its use of the Animus as that key retainer of believability – has been tailored to fit the life story of one man: Desmond Miles. But after Assassin’s Creed III Desmond will be no more, and so, too, will the demands for injecting every element of a massive – and we’re encroaching on biblical – mythology back into the mold of a single protagonist.
In a climate where gamers are increasingly aware that a new name on the box doesn’t always translate to a new experience, such flexibility is golden. Altaïr Ibn-La’Ahad hasn’t seen a Promise Land so sought-after. How many triple-A franchises, today, could altogether replace their central protagonists? How many could craft a setting out of any continent, a time period out of any century? Just as Assassin’s Creed III is a clean slate from methodical progression of II, Brotherhood, and Revelations, the iteration that follows, Initiate or not, is threatening to be a refresh button for the entire franchise.
Of course, a large part of Assassin’s Creed’s position in gaming still hinges on what happens in October. But should Assassin’s Creed III rise to its Game-of-the-Year – hell, Game-of-the-Generation potential, the creative and strategical follow-through by Ubisoft will be fascinating to watch… and the envy of every developer in the industry.
Assassin’s Creed III will be released for the Xbox 360 and PS3 on October 30, 2012. A PC release is scheduled for November 20, with a Wii U version also planned.
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