The wait for Assassin’s Creed 3 has ended, met with a tempered, yet undeniably positive reception to Ubisoft‘s foray into the colonial world of the American Revolution. In terms of setting, historical events, and patriotic touchstones, the Italian Renaissance is more than a little outmatched by the founding of the United States of America. But in terms of protgaonists, the fight wasn’t such a given beforehand.
Connor Kenway has big shoes to fill after Ezio Auditore walked the world with them through three games, winning the affections of the gaming public along the way. How does a development team possibly follow up that kind of success? It’s certainly not easy, and Ubisoft’s success with Assassin’s Creed 3 can now be judged by individual players. But according to Creative Director Alex Hutchinson, crafting a strong hero was one of the studio’s top priorities.
Regardless of how successful Ubisoft will prove to be in making a Native American hero deserving of a spot alongside his white-robed predecessors, their ambition alone deserves some credit. It really would have been too easy to cast an American patriot as the hero of the Revolution, embodying the rhetoric and nobility ascribed to the founding fathers by history.
Instead Ubisoft went with a character undeniably removed, yet irrevocably connected to the revolt against Great Britain. That historical background has the potential for making Connor a more relatable hero than any the Assassin’s Creed series has featured. But regardless of historical context, this is a game we’re playing. And as Hutchinson explained to OPM, the character needed to be fun:
“We spent a lot of time working on this Assassin, trying to make someone who was compelling to people and seemed like a cool person to be. The fact that responses have been positive — we’ve already seen cosplaying and fan art — and people seem to really have adopted him, which was really satisfying. When you haven’t shown the new guy, you’re always worried that people won’t embrace him as they did with Ezio before.”
There’s no question that the world was excited for Connor than they had expected to be. The staggering ad campaign convinced skeptics that Assassin’s Creed 3 would be worth playing, and Connor would be yet another powerful hero for the franchise. Desmond would be there too, but he’s not as easy to sell at this point.
Does Hutchinson think that the time put into making Connor the most effective in combat, and biggest and strongest Assassin yet will guarantee a hit?
“I think following up Ezio is going to be a challenge, no matter what you do. He’s so iconic, he’s over-the-top, he’s funny, he’s a juicy character to dig into. We just wanted to create someone who could stand up against the other two Assassins. Yes, [Connor] is a little bit more strait-laced, but it’s the story of his whole life. We really hope people get a kick out of him.”
There’s no question that Ubisoft delivered on their promise of showing Connor’s progression from child to adult, even if fans weren’t quite expecting the length of time required to do so. But if there’s one thing that AC3 made clear (read our review), it’s that fans and players may not have fully grasped just how well-written and exceptional a protagonist Ezio Auditore truly was.
With devotion, humor, loyalty, affection, and sacrifice all words describing a video game character, the character introduced in Assassin’s Creed 2 was raising the bar; perhaps higher than we realized. Two games expanded on that depth, but it’s hard to say that Connor approaches Ezio for anything more than a fleeting moment, if that. Others may disagree, but only time will tell, since the campaign of AC3 seemed to hint that Connor’s role may continue in the future.
How do you feel about Connor as an Assassin? Did Ubisoft achieve their goal of making a “compelling, cool” new hero? Or is it even possible for a future hero to compare to Ezio Auditore? It’s possible that excellence might just run in the Auditore family (Claudia, perhaps…?).
Assassin’s Creed 3 is available now for the PS3 and Xbox 360. A PC release is scheduled for November 20, with a Wii U version coming November 18.
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Source: OPM UK