Where next for the Creed?
With the recent launch of Assassin’s Creed: Unity being by all accounts a complete mess, and with no word out on how the last-Gen rogue is faring, it’s safe to assume that the Assassins are going through some tough times. After pulling it’s self up by the boot straps and giving us the sterling Black Flag (the series 2nd highlight after Brotherhood) the series has tripped over it’s laces and face planted the floor, and we the players are left with a conundrum, do we want it to try again or just stay down?
Of course it’s not going to stay down, Ubisoft need their yearly cash cow. With Far Cry and Watch Dogs unlikely to fill that void just yet, it’s either going to be a new IP or the Assassin’s are going to have to splutter back into life. But for it to rise from the ashes once more what does the series need to do?
1. Story wide reboot: Between the first installment all the way in 2007 and the Assassin’s Creed III, we all wanted Desmond Miles to die a hideously painful death, when he did, we rejoiced, but we were left wondering whats next? Well in Black Flag we were shown that the games were going an interesting meta route, of having the framing device of the series being that the animus was being used by Abstergo (The Templars) to make a pirate themed game but also to find one of the pieces of Eden. It was an interesting bit of meta fiction, and kinda implied that developers at Ubisoft were unhappy in their work. Whilst I’ve yet to play Unity, and don’t know what direction they’ve taken in. What I do know is that it’ll be overly complicated and ultimately unsatisfying. In all of the games of the series there have been three story lines competing for attention;
- The historical journey of the new character
- The present day guff of Desmond and Absertgo
- The Weird ancient history pre-human civilization sun destroying the world bollocks.
At least one of these stories can fuck off, can you guess which? The ancient history stuff is there primarily to explain some of the abilities of the character blood line, as well as offer a macguffin that is the end of game objective. These Macguffins are the reason that the animus exists, as a way to access the memories of past relatives to find out what they know, so it can be accessed in the present day. So here’s my solution, get rid of the Fore-runner story line and make the animus a full on time machine that takes the users consciousness and puts it into a past relatives body (X-men Days of Future Past style). Being a proper time machine would make the actions of the user have an effect on the course of human history. This lends itself to a few narrative options, have the Assassin’s go back in time to prevent a Templar agent from killing an important historical figure before they do their big thing (like killing George Washington before the declaration of independence) It would lead to some rather cool alt history stories (which they have tried with the Tyranny of King Washington DLC)
2. Leave the Assassins be: One thing that most intrigued me about AC: Rogue was the Templar protagonist. They’ve traditionally been the bad guys and seeing the world from their perspective would be awesome, especially as from time to time I’ve found myself sympathizing more with the Templar’s goals (Even if they do go a bit mentally now and then) But the world isn’t Assassins and Templars, there are many more factions out there to be explored. In all of human history, hundreds if not thousands of conspiracy theories have been told about shadowy organisations, affecting the course of human civilization from the shadows. Lets see them. From the Indian Thuggee movement and it’s oppression by the British Raj, to Japanese Ninja Clans and their place in feudal Japan. These two movements would be great to see represented in the series as factions outside the Assassin’s and Templars. But of course we all know that both would be written to just be the Assassin guild of their region and have the same nebulous belief system as those dunderheads.
3. Enough of the same character. Now this maybe a strange one for a series that has changed protagonists several times but consider this; Ezio, Edward and Arno are basically the same character, they are all rugged, handsome, Europeans men. As much as I loved Ezio and Edward they were pretty similar, but look at the two I didn’t mention. Conner and Altair for all their flaws were different, Conner was half Native American, and wore that part of himself proudly. Altair was pretty boring and not nearly enough was done with his character, after all how many video game characters do we get from the Middle East? If his background and character had been explored past just his hubris, he could have been fascinating. I will of course give the series credit for it’s use of Adewale In Black Flag’s DLC and Aveline in Liberation. If the series hopes to stay fresh they’ll need to look into getting away from the Altair bloodline which gives us these fairly similar characters and look into expanding the gene pool of assassins. We’ve already seen the Assassin’s have Mayan members in Black Flag, now that’s a background I’d love to see.
While writing and planning this piece I was left with one question I wasn’t sure if I could answer. Should we just let the series die? or if not die then rest. Let the world miss it for four or five years then bring it back better than ever. It’s a series that despite my better judgement I have a fondness for, I still remember the joy I felt in playing the very first one in the series, and how I enjoyed each new installment that came out. It was around Revelations that the game had a whiff of the stagnant about it, and three didn’t alleviate that in any way. Only with the game changing Black Flag did I fall back in love with the series once more, but with what made Black Flag so good now gone, I’m just wondering if it’s time to end it all together?