With Assassin’s Creed Unity set to take players into a next-gen recreation of the French Revolution, it was almost inevitable that Assassin’s Creed Roguewould have to fight for its place in the spotlight. Luckily, the game’s story and hero may take care of that, finally letting players fight on the Templar side. And according to the game’s director, Rogue won’t just fill in the gaps in the story of the Templar conquest of the New World – it will finally reveal the missing chapter in Haytham Kenway’s life.
While playing Rogue and speaking with the developers at a recent preview event (read our full impressions of the game here), it became clear that the developers at Ubisoft weren’t dipping their toe in the world of the Templars. New hero Shay Patrick Cormac is hunting down Assassins with a vengeance, and casting any notion that the Assassin Order is without guilt or failure to the winds.
Players have been given a general idea of how the Assassins and Templars established footholds in North America thanks to Black Flag, following Edward Kenway until 1725. With a glimpse of Haytham, Edward’s son taking over as the leader of the Colonial Templars in 1754, players were never able to see what took place on the continent before Haytham’s son Connor rose to oppose him.
Edward Kenway with a young Haytham at ‘Black Flag’s conclusion
Thanks to the series’ extended universe, fans know that thanks to an event known as ‘The 1763 Colonial Assassin Purge,’ the Assassins in America were all but obliterated. It is that event that Rogue will presumably build toward, but speaking with Rogue‘s director Martin Capel, it became clear that to tell that story players would need to experience it from a new perspective:
“There’s a number of reason why it came together. One of them is that we had Assassin’s Creed 4 where you have Edward, and you see Haytham, you meet him for the first time. And then you have Assassin’s Creed 3 where you have Haytham again, but the world has clearly changed.
“The Assassins are clearly in ascendancy at the end of AC4 and by AC3 [Connor’s Mentor Achilles Davenport] is basically a broken man. A lot of people were asking us: ‘Okay… what happened?’
“This went side by side with the almost perpetual message that people have been saying to us, which is: ‘What’s it like to play as a Templar?’ For us this was the ideal time to now say that we can tell the story. We’ll complete the gap in the Kenway Saga – fill it in for you. And show how things got from the way they were at the end of AC4 to how they are in AC3.”
Fan theories and speculation about possible ties to both AC3 and AC4 characters kicked off when Rogue was announced as a completion of the North American side of the story. With Shay Cormac taking part in the Templars’ Colonial offensive – an offensive led by Haytham Kenway – a run-in between the two seemed inevitable. But our hands-on time with the game offered surprising evidence.
Taking the helm of Shay’s ship, The Morrigan, we were somewhat surprised to see Haytham Kenway standing at his side. No words or dialogue were exchanged, but our suspicions that Kenway and Cormac would inform eachother’s story seemed to be confirmed.
When we asked Capel about Haytham’s presence, the director was understandably coy. But his comments strongly suggested that Rogue won’t just bring a thematic close to the Kenway Family’s story, but will actually fill in the missing side of Assassin’s Creed 3‘s story. At least as far as Haytham’s motivations are concerned:
“There are… other characters that players will be familiar with. There will be new characters. This is the connection between AC4 and AC3, so… we can’t ignore what has gone before, and we can’t ignore what has come afterwards. It’s completing the saga. But beyond Haytham, as you noticed, being on the ship, and completing the Kenway saga I can’t go into more details.
“It’s a great opportunity. For me personally, I absolutely love Haytham. The Kenway saga is very cool; it’s cool to have a world and some great characters, and to actually say ‘we need to finish this.’
“It’s been awesome to actually say we’ve got a job to do here, for a lot of fans saying ‘what happened?’ And it’s great to get to go in and say: ‘Okay, this is what happened.'”
In the larger context of Martin’s quotes, it would seem the question being asked by fans is how the Templars managed to gain such ground in the New World, leaving Connor Kenway all but alone in his quest to keep them from dominating the American continent once and for all. Beyond simply filling in the holes or addressing the lingering questions, the chance for greater thematic consistency and connections is what has us interested.
After all, it was Haytham Kenway who brought the Assassins surrounding Achilles Davenport to their end; just years before his estranged son would come to Achilles for the training he needed to return the favor. Some creative writing could help enrich that story of revenge and justice a great deal, but it also provides the writing team some opportunity to throw their audience a few curveballs.
For starters, it always seemed odd that after eradicating the Colonial Assassins, Haytham would spare Achilles, instead of stomping out the Order’s presence once and for all. If Shay Cormac was at Haytham’s side for the final confrontation, then perhaps players will find out what really happened. And there’s nothing keeping Shay’s story from overlapping with plenty other key figures in Haytham and Connor’s life.
That’s purely speculation on our part, but with past games in the series – those not viewed as ‘full-blown sequels’ anyway – putting more emphasis on narrative that innovations in gameplay, it seems a fair expectation. And with Capel’s affection for Haytham plainly stated, it looks like the least fans can hope for is some fan service and knotted story threads.
We welcome any and all theories on just how Rogue will expand or complete the story of Black Flag and AC3, so feel free to share them in the comments below, and stay tuned for even more coverage of the game in the coming days.
Assassin’s Creed Rogue will be released for PS3 and Xbox 360 on November 11, 2014.
Follow Andrew on Twitter @andrew_dyce.