[This article contains SPOILERS for Assassin’s Creed III]
Whether or not Ubisoft’s plan to release a new Assassin’s Creed game every year is a good idea or a recipe for franchise fatigue is up for debate, but at least one of the benefits of this release schedule is that we don’t have to wait too long after the release of one game before details begin emerging about the next.
As fun as it was to sail around the Caribbean seas as pirate Edward Kenway in Assassin’s Creed IV: Black Flag, the game certainly felt like it was stretching its Assassin connections to the breaking point. While it would be great for Ubisoft to develop a pirate franchise independent of the Assassin’s Creed property, the series itself would probably benefit from getting back on track in Assassin’s Creed V.
Assassin’s Creed IV teased some potential locations and time periods in an in-game e-mail, and the conversation has been stirred up once again by a handful of “leaked” images which have appeared online, showing the logo for a game called Assassin’s Creed: Great Fall. GameRanx has picked out some flaws in the typography which seem to expose these images as fakes, but with another Assassin’s Creed game expected this fall it probably won’t be too long before Ubisoft comes out with something more official.
In an interview last month, lead writer Darby McDevitt clarified that the e-mail thread in the game was intended as a fun bit of fan service, and was not representative of the actual time periods being considered by the team. Ubisoft Toronto’s Managing Director Jade Raymond has also debunked rumors that the next game will be set in Feudal Japan
There was one time period and location however, that is a popular choice among fans but was somewhat conspicuously left off the e-mail list. An Assassin’s Creed game set in Russia – particularly the revolutionary Russia of the early 20th century – seems like an ideal place for the franchise to go next. The groundwork has already been heavily laid down for such a game in the spin-off comics “Assassin’s Creed: The Fall” and “Assassin’s Creed: The Chain,” which focused on Assassin-turned-Templar Daniel Cross and his ancestors Innokenti and Nikolai Orelov, weaving the war between the Assassins and Templars into Russia’s volatile history.
Long-running modern-day protagonist Desmond Miles was retired at the end of Assassin’s Creed III, and replaced in Assassin’s Creed IV by an unnamed Abstergo Entertainment employee. Cross was also somewhat half-heartedly included in the modern-day segments of Assassin’s Creed III, eventually suffering a damp squib of a death while running away from Desmond, but he could potentially be resurrected as a series protagonist by way of a prequel/sidequel game.
Kidnapped as a baby and kept locked in an Animus for most of his early childhood, Cross would definitely make for an interesting new “sample” for the franchise. In the comics he is first seen as a junkie who uses substance abuse to alleviate the psychological trauma caused by his extended use of the Animus. He was then found and trained by the Assassins, only to brutally murder their leader when triggered to do so by instructions planted in his brain by the Templars. Fleeing the Assassins, he returned to Abstergo and rose to the rank of Master Templar. It certainly seems like the next logical step after a title in which the player unknowingly works for the Templars.
If there’s one key criticism to be made of Assassin’s Creed IV, it’s that the actual plot and story missions felt rather meandering and directionless, unable to live up to the free-roaming adventure of the high seas. With a setting as eventful and intriguing as revolutionary Russia, the writers would have plenty of material to create a tighter and more compelling story. Being able to climb around virtual versions of Moscow and St. Petersburg would also be pretty thrilling from an exploration standpoint.
In case it’s not been made obvious by this point, I’m casting my vote squarely in favor of an Assassin’s Creed game set in Russia from around 1905-1917, though Game Rant’s Brian Sipple has also made a strong case for a game set during the French Revolution. Apparently as long as there are some angry peasants around, we’ll be happy.