Obviously a new protagonist that values social justice over duty or vengeance teaming up with a historical figure that possibly switched sides twice in his lifetime doesn’t quite make sense. But prior to his journey to the colonies, Lee had distinguished himself in several military campaigns, and aligned himself politically with the Whig Party. In the days of the English monarchy’s absolute rule, the Whigs were generally known as those who favored the democratic Parliament over the will of a single King or Queen.
All that changed when King George III came to power, and began cutting back the influence of both the Whig Party and Parliament. The rise of radical Whig thinking in both Great Britain and the colonies helped fuel much of the revolutionary sentiment in America at the time, drawing the attention of many political activists of the day. Whether related directly or not, Charles Lee (a Lieutenant-Colonel at the time) moved to America in 1773, having previously served there in the French and Indian War. For those keeping track, that’s just two years before the outbreak of the American Revolution.
By moving to America and volunteering for service, Lee sacrificed all property and titles in England, and all the benefits of his aristocratic birth and military service. And what did he get for his sacrifice? The chance to play second-fiddle to the less experienced but more palatable and politically acceptable George Washington. Not one to hide his feelings (the Mohawk referred to Lee as Ounewaterika, or “Boiling Water”) Lee served Washington as it pleased him, achieving victories but continuing his petulance at serving a lesser officer. Lee’s aversion to dignified behavior and eventual retreat (from superior forces, it’s worth mentioning) at the Battle on Monmouth ultimately earned him a court-martial and public reprimand from Washington.
But Lee’s behavior on the battlefield and off, and his willingness to draft plans for the British to remain in the colonies, paint the portrait of a man willing to do what was necessary; what he saw as permitted, given the circumstances. With the Assassin’s actual motto claiming that ‘nothing is true, everything is permitted,’ Lee seems a far better figure to embody the Order’s tenets than a man as upright and unyielding as General George Washington.
This is where loose history meshes with the early and adult life of Connor Kenway, the child of a Mohawk mother and a British father. No, we’re not insinuating that Charles Lee married the daughter of a Mohawk Chief and had children while serving in America…actually, insinuation isn’t necessary, since he did just that. The facts are as follows: Lee married and fathered Mohawk children from 1754-1762, and returned to America roughly twenty years later to serve in the Revolutionary War. We also have an image from Ubisoft of a young Lee restraining a six to eight year-old Connor, and the two serving together just over twenty years later. If we were the conspiracy type, we’d reckon that Connor and Lee might just be related.
Of course, that would mean the slaughtering of Connor’s Mohawk village, sibling, and mother would need to occur without Lee’s knowledge, since his involvement would almost certainly characterize him as a villain. Given the man’s tendency for tardiness, though, that wouldn’t be difficult. If Connor is one of Lee’s children, then the murder of Lee’s Mohawk wife and child at British hands would also provide an explanation for his eventual change in loyalty. And with a man so defined by his belief in democracy and republic, finding a conflict between Lee and Washington wouldn’t be hard for a good group of writers.
The obvious gameplay implications here are that the campaign of Assassin’s Creed 3 would need to begin with Connor as a child, a narrative conceit last seen with Uncharted 3. Rather than previous games in the AC series, which picked up immediately where the last game’s campaign ended, a bit more time would be needed in this case. The development team has expressed their desires to treat Assassin’s Creed 3 ‘like a brand new IP,’ so zeroing in on a new protagonist as a child is something we have yet to see. The chance for Desmond to relive his ancestor’s childhood memories should be possible within the fiction, but to this point has not been explored in any depth. Opening on a smaller, less skilled, more vulnerable protagonist would certainly qualify as the ‘surprise for fans’ that Creative Director Hutchinson was referring to.
If this is the story the developers at Ubisoft tend to tell, or something along these lines, then the team has once again managed to find some room to fictionalize treasured history without upsetting many people. Charles Lee is generally seen as suspicious at best, so fleshing out the character and highlighting the sacrifices he did make, and possibly adding something positive to his legacy won’t hurt. We already know that Benjamin Franklin’s love of women will be featured in the game’s story, so it only seems fair that other figures receive some artistic flourishes.
So there’s our theory: Assassin’s Creed 3 players had better prepare themselves for a powerful opening, watching a young boy’s family wiped out by a foreign army, and his British father leaving him no one to turn to but the Assassin Order. If that’s the case, then Charles Lee is going to have some explaining to do before the smooth sailing can commence. Obviously, this is all speculation. But if it turns out to be right, we won’t be disappointed. With a setting and plot like this, Ubisoft could work some serious wonders.
We invite you all to sound off on our theory and possible story beats, and let us know what we might’ve missed, or gotten entirely wrong. If this theory does turn out to be accurate, then we apologize in advance for the spoilers.
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.
Follow me on Twitter @andrew_dyce.