In all the excitement over Assassin’s Creed 3‘s fusion of history and fiction, and the remarkably intriguing Connor Kenway, there’s a chance some may have begun to see Desmond in a diminished light. The opening cinematic for the game has now surfaced, and makes it clear just how important Desmond’s role truly is. Not just to the series, but the fate of humanity.
Narrated by William Miles, the opening scene summarizes everything that has happened so far, from Desmond’s running away from home to the final moments of Assassin’s Creed: Revelations. The video is visually impressive, while actually providing a dense catching-up for those who (Ubisoft hopes) may be experiencing their very first assassin adventure with Assassin’s Creed 3.
In addition to the summary comes a hint that the campaign of AC3 may actually start with a bang, placing Desmond and his team directly outside The Great Vault. We’ve got our own theories on what could happen when the Vault is opened, but we know for certain that unlocking its secrets won’t be accomplished without another stroll through the genetic code. The reasons for revisiting the American Revolution haven’t been explained, but we’ll give Ubisoft’s writers the benefit of the doubt for now.
Creative Director Alex Hutchinson has promised that AC3‘s opening will surprise fans, so putting aside story teases and diving right into the fiction would be a logical start. Fans have been more vocally passionate about the historical portions of each release than the attached ‘Desmond-lens,’ but that doesn’t mean the developers will be minimizing his role. We’ve all been guilty of feeling disappointed when pulled out of a historically accurate political feud to go shambling around as just a ‘regular guy,’ and wishing that Desmond’s role wasn’t shoehorned into a satisfying plot out of mere habit.
But with the final moments of AC3, Ubisoft opened the floodgates of information and answers about The Ones Who Came Before, and the true nature of the ‘Catastrophe,’ the Pieces of Eden, humanity’s origins. That’s all information that Desmond Miles led the Assassins to, so downplaying his significance wouldn’t be fair. At least, that’s the case made by his father William in AC3‘s opening cinematic. He may be a bit biased, but we can’t refute his points.
Even for those players familiar with the AC series so far, the opening cinematic sheds some light on the purpose of every action taken by Desmond, Shaun, Rebecca, Lucy and even William from behind the scenes. AltaÃ¯r Ibn-La’Ahad possessed wisdom about the Pieces of Eden and Templars which Desmond needed to learn for himself. From there, Ezio Auditore offered more leads on where the Pieces of Eden could be located, and was told a message by Those Who Came Before meant strictly for Desmond to receive while reliving Ezio’s memories. But that’s not all Desmond gained from his time with his ancestor Ezio.
According to William’s narration in the cinematic, Ezio’s relived memories (spanning over decades of his life, and three AC titles) taught Desmond “decades of experience in the span of a few days.” Not just about combat or traversal, but about leadership, loyalty, and supreme sacrifice. It’s likely that Desmond will be forced to call on all of these qualities if he is to take up the mantle of Master Assassin, or sacrifice himself to spare humanity. William Miles – the current leader of the Assassins – seems to share our skepticism about the plan concocted by The Ones Who Came Before, calling their motives “uncertain.”
He also hints that Desmond has been instructed by these extinct demigods to be present at The Great Vault when the catastrophe strikes Earth, not before. It’s just one line of dialogue, but could prove to be telling. We’re not sadists hoping for a twist ending in which all of humanity is burnt to a crisp and the Gods have a good laugh, but William’s closing words are specifically ambiguous: “His name is Desmond Miles and he has brought us to the end.” Connor Kenway’s story line doesn’t exactly start with a demonstration of the best examples of human behavior, so who knows? Maybe Ubisoft will make a statement with their ending, not just feature a climactic battle.
That’s assuming everything goes wrong, or perhaps, things weren’t as simple as they appeared to be. That calls in to question exactly how the developers will use AC3 to launch even more games in the AC universe, so that conclusion might be less likely. Either way, Desmond will be drawing on ancestors and their experiences and skills to face this last test in his mission to save Earth. There’s nothing fans want more than to feel like time spent with AltaÃ¯r and Ezio was integral to the plot, and Ubisoft taking time to explain to newcomers why the past is important is a good sign.
What do you think of this start to Assassin’s Creed 3? Is it promising in terms of story and conclusion, or do you still have doubts that Ubisoft will answer every question fans have been asking? Sound off in the comments.
We’ll see if Desmond makes his father proud when Assassin’s Creed 3 is released for the PS3 and Xbox 360 on October 30, 2012. A PC release is scheduled for November 20, with a Wii U version on November 18.
Follow me on Twitter @andrew_dyce.