In case you've spent the last few years living in a cave with your eyes slammed shut, allow us to inform you that Assassin's Creed has unarguably hit its stride. With financial and critical success gaining momentum from Assassin's Creed to Assassin's Creed 2, completely eclipsed by Assassin's Creed: Brotherhood, and reaching its peak with Assassins Creed 3, times are good for developer Ubisoft.
But we have to wonder, what's in store for Assassin's Creed 4?
This is a re-working of an article we posted after the release of Assassin's Creed Brotherhood on November 18th, 2010. Enjoy!
Ubisoft has shown that historically relevant storytelling is a major priority, but also are promising a much closer look at the modern side of the Assassin/Templar conflict going forward. It would be an understatement to say that the plot of the series is a bit complex, so it will be a relief to have some of the mystery explained, or at least taken in a new direction in the future.
Exact motives and historical accuracy would of course come second to inspired storytelling, since the franchise has prided itself on crafting fiction out of real people and places. With the expanse of history laid out as a potential battlefield for the age-old struggle between the Templars and Assassins, here are the periods in history that we would most love to explore in Assassin's Creed 4.
#4. The Russian Revolution (1915-1918)
Much of western society now remembers the Bolshevik movement under Vladimir Lenin as simply the beginning steps of communism that led to the foundation of the USSR. What is often overlooked is the years leading up to the fall of Tsar Nicholas II, and the removal of the Imperial Romanov family from power. The struggle for power leading up to the socialist victory in 1918 is full of cunning military officials, despicable enemies like Grigori Rasputin, and a dramatic climax with the Romanov family ultimately meeting a truly tragic end.
Embodying a member of a secret society in turn-of-the-century Moscow would certainly look and feel different from the other titles in the series, and it's hard to argue that the formative years of the Soviet Union aren't a breeding ground for intense espionage. And considering what controversial things the developers of the series had to say about the Catholic Church, it's a safe bet that they wouldn't shy away from commenting on Russia's history and current affairs.
We won't say we want a game that is more a commentary on the global political scene than a great game, but the hidden criticisms of American politics in Brotherhood did set the bar for Ubisoft's voice. A game set in this time period would certainly be crossing some boundaries due to its modernity, but seeing how Ubisoft would craft the battle between Templars and Assassins using Imperial Russia as a backdrop could be something special.
#3. American War of Independence (1775-1783)
This one is a no-brainer. No power struggle is more familiar to North American fans of Assassin's Creed than that of America and Great Britain. The previous titles in the series have begun to travel farther and farther west, so it only seems right to approach the period of history that turned the concept of 'the New World' into a reality. Granted, Revelations will be taking players back into the East to Constantinople, but the time in which the game is set is slowly catching up to that of North American colonization. With the English conquest of the continent, the capturing of cities, and the threat of loyalist spies, operatives for secret societies were certainly not in short supply.
American history is so rarely put to use for anything but historical drama, it would be a completely new experience to see characters like George Washington, King George III, and the whole of the Continental Congress placed into a tension-filled video game. Having the opportunity to sneak through the dark alleys of 18th-Century Philadelphia, or run across the rooftops of Boston or New York, would be as educational as it would be thrilling. As Red Dead Redemption showed us, learning about another time period can be one heck of an experience.
You'd even have some friends to help in the fight against the Redcoats, with America's own answer to Leonardo da Vinci -- Benjamin Franklin. It's difficult to think of how spectacles, kites, or lightning rods could be used to add to the storyline, but we'll give Ubisoft the benefit of the doubt.
Like we said before, the commentary that Ubisoft tends to offer on the current political scene is always thought-provoking. And considering just how much has changed in Washington over the past few years, giving the founding fathers a voice could be as inspirational as it would be controversial.
#2. Feudal Japan (1600-1637)
If the digital age has taught us anything, it's that samurai are undeniably cool. Various movies and games have proven that feudal Japan was home to a culture and philosophy that is truly unique, with masters of art and music just as proficient as ending lives. Aside from the Eastern influences, styling, and scenery that would come with Assassin's Creed 3 being placed in Japan, there is also a storyline that would fit the mold of the series incredibly well.
For those unfamiliar with the early days of European influences on the island nation, Western forces at the beginning of the 17th Century began exercising their influence and power among the people and government. This didn't sit well with the shoguns, the Native authorities of the country, and stars of some of the best samurai films the world has. Tensions between the Japanese nationalists and the Christian-supported rebels reached its breaking point when the revolutionary force of 30,000 was slaughtered by the shoguns' 100,000 samurai army. What followed was the Japanese 'seclusion' from the outside world, which lasted over 200 years.
European influence has proven to be a common theme in the Assassin's Creed series, so players would likely have the opportunity to assume the role of a samurai defending Japan from the Christian - and therefore possibly Templar- backed outsiders. Regardless of the individual story, the chance to step into the shoes of a loyal samurai, or a rebellious ninja fighting for or against any cause in Japan, would be a seriously promising idea, and the AC team could definitely pull it off.
Ubi Workshop has already shown that they intend to bring Asia into the series, with Assassin's Creed: Embers introducing a new Chinese assassin. The two nations obviously share a very diverse history and culture, but their geographic proximity means that a game set in either China or Japan is far more likely than it ever has been. Chinese history is something that rarely gets explored outside of the Dynasty Warriors franchise, and handing such a fruitful environment over to Ubisoft's writers would have to be a success.
Sure, it would take some creative writing to explain Desmond's lineage stemming back to Japan or China, but they didn't have trouble with the shift from Middle-Eastern to Italian, so that shouldn't be a problem. It may even take place after, before, or alongside Desmond's story with a completely different assassin, which is just fine with us.
#1. The Tudors (1509-1600)
We should make it clear right off the bat, The 'Tudors' in question here are not the cast of the Showtime series, but the real royal family who turned the first half of the 16th Century into one of the most religiously-charged and world-shaping power struggles that the West has ever seen. Following the death of the Pope-hating, execution-loving Henry VIII, the struggle for control began. With Mary, Queen of Scots valuing Catholicism over the now-embraced Anglican Church, the stage was set for religious tension to take hold.
The following decades played home to some of the most prolific historical figures in the entire English monarchy: Elizabeth, James, Charles -- all found their reigns populated by various murder plots, and numerous attempts to steal back the throne. The series has shown that it isn't afraid to deal with religion in a serious fashion, given Assassin's Creed 2 and Brotherhood's all-out assault on the Pope. But the real star of this game would be London itself.
If there is a city or country that is more deserving of the Assassin's Creed treatment than Elizabethan England, it hasn't been created yet. The ability to take to the rooftops and canals of a London that is only familiar to modern society through period films is one that simply can not be missed. Throw in appearances by William Shakespeare and you've got a game that may even manage to teach players a little about the people and events that shaped the colonial world.
Considering the obvious ties between England and the future United States, any storylines developed against this English backdrop would be far easier to carry over to modern day. With the series presumably approaching its climax in the world of 2012, being able to gain a little more familiarity, both in language and in culture would help ease some of the confusion. We don't expect Assassin's Creed 3 to answer all our questions, but hearing cities and family names that connected to our modern characters would certainly help.
So there you have it, the top four times and places that we think Ubisoft would be remiss to not take full advantage of. While the exact characters or drama might be subject to change, all of us would be happy to see any of these explored with Assassin's Creed 3, 4, 5, or even 6. With so much history to choose from, we're sure we've missed a few top choices, so feel free to let us know which one of our picks is music to your ears, or which we may have overlooked.
If you have any insider information on the story that Ubisoft will be going with for Assassin's Creed 3 we'd be somewhat interested to hear that too.
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