Welcome, my friends, to another casual discussion on the myriad issues and schisms that have grown in the nerd realm. Gather around the fire, pull up your fancy leather chair, and have the butler prepare you another brandy. Today we will be exploring where Assassin’s Creed can go from here, how it needs to change, and what will happen to a man named Desmond.
My interest in the Assassin’s Creed universe is incredibly recent. It was about a year ago when I bought the first title on impulse for about ten dollars. While not perfect, that game encapsulated something potent that is often rare in big budget games, namely, intuitive buildup. Every assassination was a moment of sheer joy, admittedly surrounded by hours of not doing a whole lot. But that was the formula’s genius. It never allowed the player to binge, instead releasing small amounts of pure concentrated excitement to a thirsty player. Assassin’s Creed II came next, and even though this strict structure was loosened considerably, it still managed to capture my attention in a similarly intuitive way.
But I’m really not here to talk about gameplay. With the onset of Assassin’s Creed III in very little time, it’s becoming increasingly necessary to guess at where the franchise can go next in story and setting. Will the franchise march forward in time, going next to the French Independence, or the American Civil War? Or will the developers think to go back to periods left unexplored? This ultimately depends on the handling of one man’s story. Desmond Miles, the overarching protagonist of all AC games thus far, must see his story end. It cannot continue forever. Even Ubisoft itself admits this, claiming that doing so will free up the developer to explore any which historical time period it sees fit.
I’m inclined to agree. The current build for the games simply can’t hold permanence. Ending Desmond’s story means we don’t have to keep going forward. A new “cycle,” as Ubisoft puts it, could be born and we could have an Assassin’s Creed game set in Ancient Egypt or Meiji Era Japan without having to worry about the connection to a single, caucasian man. Already, we’re seeing this happen, as the coinciding Vita game, Liberation, will be the story of an Assassin outside of Desmond’s lineage.
And I would go as far as to wager that AC3 will be the last we see of him. Considering that his story has much to do with the 2012 Mayan prophecy and the like (AC is, of course, a bursting mess of conspiracy theories and ancient secrets), and that the fabled date is creeping up on us in the real world, it would only make sense that Ubisoft would want to end the story before, not after.
But, of course, this is yet to be seen. AC3 still has a ways before it comes out. If there’s one thing to take away from today’s column its this. Assassin’s Creed is going to change tremendously, and it’s inevitable. Is this a good thing? Again, that has yet to be seen. Perhaps going back to a historical period as old as Ancient Egypt would be jarring to a player used to pistols and crossbows. Maybe the answer isn’t that Assassin’s creed needs to change, it’s that Assassin’s Creed needs to end.
I sure hope not, though. There are too many interesting periods and places that too greatly deserve Ubisoft Montreal’s impeccably historically accurate treatment. If Assassin’s Creed is to expand beyond its current linearity, let’s welcome it with open arms and ready minds.