Despite the fact that the modern day battle between Assassins and Templars and the use of Animus technology has been a crucial framing device in all of the main Assassin's Creed games so far, this side of the franchise's universe is almost never featured in the trailers or marketing for upcoming games. With the release of Assassin's Creed Unity and Assassin's Creed Rogue just weeks away, there are still very few details available about what the modern day portion of the game will entail.
One of the reasons for this is that Ubisoft seems to be interested in minimizing this element of the games and keeping as much of the gameplay in the historical settings as possible. Assassin's Creed IV: Black Flag replaced modern day protagonist Desmond Miles with a nameless, faceless Abstergo Entertainment employee and first-person gameplay, in which the player explores the offices of Abstergo Entertainment to dig up audio and text logs that expand on the mythos of Assassin's Creed.
The slim modern storyline of Black Flag included brief interactions with Assassins Rebecca and Shaun, who were first introduced in Assassin's Creed II, and who contact the player in order to obtain information about what the Templars are up to. Abstergo Entertainment, one of the Templars' covers and a wryly self-referential creation by Ubisoft, is now the subject of an "Employee Handbook" being published as a tie-in for Assassin's Creed Unity, which focuses on Case File 44412 AKA Arno Dorian, the historical protagonist of Ubisoft's next Assassin's Creed game.
Assassin’s Creed Unity: Abstergo Entertainment: Employee Handbook: Case File 44412 (no, really, that's the full title of the book) is set for release on the same day as Assassin's Creed Unity. Described as an "innovative, immersive companion book" that offers a "a never-before-seen look" at the inner workings of Abstergo, the Employee Handbook was written by prolific fantasy, sci-fi and horror author Christie Golden and illustrated by Andy Belanger and Karl Kerschl. The latter artist also co-wrote and co-illustrated Assassin's Creed graphic novels The Fall, The Chain and Brahman.
Assassin's Creed: Brahman is of particular interest since it was said to contain "extremely strong hints" about the direction that the main franchise would be heading in. One of those hints is the suggestion that the Templars and the Assassins will have to put aside their differences in order to fight Juno, which would make sense in light of the fact that the main games have begun offering opportunities to play as a Templar characters like Haytham Kenway and Shay Patrick Cormac.
In terms of content, it sounds like the Employee Handbook will largely be a scrapbook of case files and artifacts related to Arno that provide supplementary backstory for the upcoming game, as well as clues about what's going on at the heart of Abstergo. The book will be available at the hefty retail price of $45, but it wouldn't be surprising if it ends up being bundled with a special edition of Assassin's Creed Unity somewhere down the line.
Assassin’s Creed Unity releases on PlayStation 4, Xbox One and PC on November 11, 2014, and Assassin’s Creed Unity: Abstergo Entertainment: Employee Handbook: Case File 44412 will release on the same day.