As excited as fans may be for the Assassin’s Creed story to come to a conclusion with this October’s Assassin’s Creed 3, the developers have made it clear that they have no intentions of bringing the series to an end.
That poses a few serious questions that Ubisoft will have trouble answering, since a satisfying conclusion that still allows the franchise to keep chugging along isn’t easy to imagine. According to Assassin’s Creed 3‘s lead writer bringing closure is the top priority, but should future writers wish to expand on certain themes, there will be plenty to work with.
For reasons we won’t go into, there seems to be a strong sense of skepticism among gamers these days when it comes to developers delivering satisfying endings. A trilogy of games carries serious expectations, so with AC about to receive its fifth entry, the stakes are even higher. AC3‘s director Alex Hutchinson has previously explained how Desmond’s role in the franchise will soon be coming to an end, but that his role in the overall fiction wasn’t as integral as may have been first assumed.
It’s not hard to see how the franchise could be bigger than any one character, with Ezio Auditore having earned a trilogy of his own that only marginally advanced the overall plot. But if Ubisoft approached the end of Desmond’s journey with that mindset, there is a serious chance of fan backlash. An unsatisfying conclusion is one thing, but telling the player that their actions weren’t all that important is a whole different story
In an interview with Shacknews, lead writer Corey May explained that his focus is on delivering the goods with this installment, leaving future games and stories to be dealt with later:
“We could in theory tie almost everything up here[...]But the universe is big enough and there are enough moving pieces that should they decide in the future to do other stuff — because I have no idea what the future holds, all I know is AC3 — but should they decide in the future to do other stuff, there’s plenty of room to explore, plenty of seeds that have been planted that won’t conflict.”
“We had a plan from day one, as far as Desmond is concerned[...]We really wanted to make sure that we realize as much of the original vision as possible in this game. It was my intent to provide pay-off and to answer questions for those who are invested in them. It should provide a fairly lengthy ending that will also give room for answers and pay-off.”
“I promise you this: you will not wake up and find that you were in an Animus reliving the life of someone who was in an Animus. We are not doing that. It was not all just a dream. I think people that have invested in the Desmond storyline will understand where the end of the game comes from. We’re tying up loose ends and providing answers and resolution to things. You’re not going to get another tremendous insane-o cliffhanger.”
And plenty of room they’ll need, with Ubisoft hoping to see Assassin’s Creed go all the way to 10. We could spend plenty of time wondering what loose ends could be left with Desmond’s direct presence officially ended – speculating on AC3‘s story is what we do best.
With Desmond presumably having reached the rank of Master Assassin and saved the world from destruction, his legacy within the Assassin Order is guaranteed. Whatever the details, moving to a new protagonist in that case would make sense, since Desmond’s possible role as mentor and leader would take him off the front lines. And assuming that the world isn’t eradicated by some disaster foreseen by the gods, there is still the war between Templars and Assassins to get back to.
All things considered, May’s comments are a welcome change from the overwhelming marketing focus being placed on the world within the Animus, and new hero Connor Kenway. The American Revolution is a dense setting – and in many ways, a triple-A game unto itself – so it’s nice to hear that the present hasn’t been overlooked. Desmond is in serious need of some progression and development, and May seems intent on delivering some kind of pay-off for all the time spent.
Any theories on where the franchise could go from here? Would you like to see Desmond remain as a periphery character to a new modern-day protagonist, or should Ubisoft forge a clean start?
Assassin’s Creed 3 will be released for the PS3 and Xbox 360 on October 30, 2012. A PC release is scheduled for November 20, with a Wii U version also planned.
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