9 potential new epochs for the Assassin's Creed franchise
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Where should the gaming phenomenon go when Rome is in its wake...?
For a franchise that started with a buggy, premature release and gameplay that was shockingly repetitive and monotonous, Assassin’s Creed has come a very long way indeed. Assassin’s Creed 2 improved exponentially upon the first, giving us the game we had all hoped for the first time around but disappointingly never got. The shift to Renaissance Italy breathed new life into a series that was already in serious danger of becoming stagnant and yet another failed concept. In fact, this shift was so successful that we got a fully-fledged spin-off sequel to enjoy by way of Assassin’s Creed: Brotherhood. Conversely, while essentially providing more of the same (no bad thing), Brotherhood also introduced a few key new elements: the Assassins' guild, more set-pieces through Da Vinci’s mechanical wonders, and of course, multiplayer.
As successful and loved as AC2 and Brotherhood protagonist Ezio is, his story is not one that can go on forever. The true protagonist of the series is Desmond, who – compared with Ezio - lacks charisma and charm; but Ubisoft certainly have time to help alter this in AC's future sequels. Indeed, back in 2009 producer Sebastian Puel claimed they could make 35 games without breaking a sweat. Bold words, to be sure, but with the mythology of Assassin’s Creed taking place across hundreds of years, there’s no reason for his claim not to be true.
However, the real question that needs to be addressed is this - where and when will they go next? Interestingly, certain Ubisoft workers have been quoted as saying that fans looking for hints as to the location of the next game in the franchise should look to the comics, which feature the USSR and ancient Rome. Yet, with AC's latest release – Brotherhood – having been set almost entirely in Borgia Rome, it’s difficult to imagine Ubisoft producing yet another game in the same setting, and it’s almost certainly something the fans would be up in arms about.
Instead, what’s widely expected and, generally speaking, most wanted, is for Ubisoft to head in an entirely different direction with new locations, new characters, and new set-pieces. Here’s a list of just some of the possibilities Ubisoft could pursue in future Assassin’s Creed games.
1: Restoration, Tudor, and Victorian London
London is a city rife with history. There are literally hundreds of possibilities here. Ubisoft could explore Elizabethan England, the Civil War, the Restoration, and so on. The Elizabethan era – or the Golden Age – probably serves as the best backdrop, featuring England at a time of heavy change, with its first female monarch and serious political alliances taking place behind the scenes. Given Assassin’s Creed’s tendency to feature characters that played crucial roles in history, it’s quite easy to imagine Sir Francis Drake, both Thomas and Oliver Cromwell, Samuel Pyps or even Isaac Newton popping up to rival AC2 and ACB’s Leonardo da Vinci and Machiavelli. The specific time setting of the game almost certainly means only one of these historic figures could appear without creating a serious time paradox, but even one of them would be a logical and excellent addition to the franchise.
2: Feudal Japan
This one almost speaks for itself. The ninja and the assassin may be different clans, but they’re practically kissing cousins. In fact, bringing in ninjas could really work in the franchise’s favour if Ubisoft were seeking to expand upon the stealth aspect of the franchise, something many fans, myself included, feel they could improve upon exponentially. Not since the days of the PS One has there been a decent ninja stealth-orientated game by way of Tenchu and Tenchu: Birth of the Assassins (sorry for current franchise fans, but the series has been in progressive decline since the PS2 games), and Ubisoft have a huge chance to break into that sorely-lacking market.
Ninjas aren’t all historical Japan has to offer, though; in the time before Ieyasu unified the Feudal Lords, there was plenty of division and struggle among the different factions, not to mention the Samurai, the introduction of gaijin and the modernization of Japan. Sounds like the perfect backdrop for an Assassin’s Creed storyline.
3: Revolutionary France
This one has been hotly rumored as the setting for the next big location change in the franchise, and it's easy to see why. Some would even make an argument that democracy was born in France. With Marie Antoinette’s infamous “Let them eat cake” cementing the royal family’s doom, the architecture of France was changed forever; followed by the subsequent execution of King Louis XVI, ala guillotine, in 1793. Ten years later, Napolean would be leading France in battle against England and other European nations. As for who would step into the 'genius' slot, the Marquis de Sade was still around at that time…
4: Romanov Russia / The Soviet Union
Not long before the Bolsheviks and Menshaviks finished their bloody battle for what was then called Petrograd (now St. Petersberg), Tsar Nicholas the Second was still in power and a mysterious monk named Grigori Rasputin emerged and rose through the Royal Family’s inner circle until he had the Tsar’s ear. Having allegedly healed the Tsar’s son of hemophilia B, Rasputin had garnered himself a reputation as the 'Mad Monk'. When he was finally assassinated by Prince Felix Yusupov, the Tsarist government came to an abrupt, bloody end less than a year later. Apparently unaffected by a dose of poison large enough to kill five men, Rasputin is said to have then survived four gunshot wounds, only finally dying by drowning in the Moika river where his body was dumped. A figure shrouded in mystery to this day, Rasputin’s mysticism could be brilliantly explained by his use of one of the Pieces of Eden found throughout the Creed universe.
5: Independent America
The time of the Founding Fathers is one of the most influential in all history, and it’s also one of the closest to our own. Although ballsy, Ubisoft could potentially pit a newly-declared American citizen against the tyranny of the British Colonials during the War of Independence. This would provide hugely ambitious but extremely tantalizing opportunities to encounter some of the most iconic American figures of all time, including George Washington, Benjamin Franklin, John Adams, Thomas Jefferson and many more. Although still a young nation, America has a great deal of history already. Other possibilities include the Civil War and the Gold Rush, though Ubisoft then potentially run the risk of treading on Red Dead Redemption’s toes.
6: Ancient Civilizations
This is a very broad submission, and while each are different in their own way, the Incas, Mayans, Aztecs and Egyptians are all ancient civilizations about which we know a sizeable amount, but still have gaping holes in our knowledge of their respective cultures. The Egyptians may be the best example of this, particularly with the Pyramids. We still don’t know exactly how they were built, and with the Pieces of Eden, Ubisoft have a fantastically convenient way of answering this.
7: Nazi Germany
Another time-period heavily rumoured to feature in the next game, Nazi Germany certainly has the potential to fit in with the Creed universe. Hitler was widely known to be a collector of rare antiquities, as well as of religious artifacts. Again, this fits perfectly with the Pieces of Eden mythology and once again could take place at a time of great social change. Of course, it’s highly unlikely that Ubisoft would have you controlling a Nazi character – more likely we’d control a British or American spy relaying their information back home. In the time of the Third Reich, it’s hard to imagine any protagonist brandishing two dual-hidden blades up their sleeves when they could simply use a pistol. This would therefore most likely result in an evolution of the weapon system, and as long as Ubisoft didn’t simply turn the game into a GTA clone, it’s fairly safe to say the fans would still be satisfied.
8: Imperial China
'Imperial China' covers a broad spectrum of time, so more specifically, let’s say during the Qing Dynasty, which was between 1644 and 1912. Admittedly, I can’t profess to know a great deal about Chinese history, but even an unimaginative mind can grasp the possibilities of a China where martial arts rule. Anyone who’s ever seen the movies Hero or Crouching Tiger, Hidden Dragon can easily imagine the rooftop scrambling that China could potentially bring, not to mention China’s culturally rich locales, including the Great Wall. The only problem here is that China might be just a little too vast.
9: Modern Day New York
Well, this is basically what we’ve been building towards. Since day one, we’ve known that the true main character in this story is Desmond, a despondently apathetic twenty-something who seems to have no earthly connections, friends, or family. In fact, the only thing we actually know about Desmond is he works as a barman. Wow. Compelling stuff. At the moment, Desmond doesn’t so much pale in comparison to his ancestors (even Altair had his moments) as just fail to compare at all. If Ubisoft are serious about bringing Desmond to the forefront of the franchise as our main protagonist, they need to heavily invest in his character-building. Apparently building up to the end of the world in 2012, Desmond’s storyline needs to get its act together soon if the fans are going to care enough to want to play as him over Ezio or another of his ancestors. Not only that, but if Ubisoft brought the gameplay to modern times – as they seem to have been building towards since Creed’s inception – would we be switching hidden blades for dual-glocks? It’s difficult to imagine Creed retaining its atmosphere and unique gameplay mechanics if the modern day is brought into the equation, and potentially threatens to turn Assassin’s Creed into just another Grand Theft Auto wannabe.
Of course, not all of these storylines could so easily fit into the larger story of Assassins versus Templars, particularly in the regions of Asia, but it’s worth noting that creating a side-story in order to explore these locales as an assassin would not make a jot of difference to Ubisoft’s sales – Templars or no, nobody is going to pass up the opportunity to go ninja in order to maintain storyline continuity. There’s also the question of Desmond’s lineage – if jumping from Jerusalem to Renaissance Italy wasn’t a big enough shift for Desmond’s varied heritage, giving him an Asian ancestor might be pushing the boundaries of belief. Nonetheless, after hundreds of years of changing family locales, who’s to say that Desmond couldn’t have any Japanese, Chinese or Russian in him? And if that’s going too far, just introduce another character – it’s been established through AC2 and ACB that there are other teams of Assassins out there in the modern day doing the same thing as Des and co – a spin-off game would give us a great opportunity to expand the AC horizons.
So, what say you kids? Which of the above locations would you like to see AC go to next? How many games would you play before you got bored of the same formula? Are you eager for the modern-day setting or hoping it never comes? Do you have any suggestions of your own? Sound off the in the comments below and get your voice heard!
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