As much as I enjoyed Ezio’s renaissance-inspired antics, after more extensions to his story than anyone ever expected or asked for, the announcement of the American Revolution as the new setting for Assassin’s Creed III was welcome, to say the least.
It’s certainly a significant period in history, one worth exploring, but I still can’t shake the feeling that the story of American independence from Great Britain was chosen primarily for commercial reasons, even though the team is said to be passionate about it.
There are so many intriguing movements, cultures and civilizations that could serve as backdrops for the continuation of the Assassin-Templar struggle, barring another side-trilogy around Connor. So we’ve come up with a list of locations that we felt would have been better explored – they could also feature in forthcoming Assassin’s Creed titles, like Assassin’s Creed IV.
New Kingdom of Egypt: 1550 – 1069 BC]
]When push comes to shove, setting Assassin’s Creed at any point during Ancient Egypt’s long and storied development would be pretty incredible. That being said, the New Kingdom – a period when Egypt saw much of its largest cultural and political advancements – wouldn’t be a bad place to start. Looking so far back into the past presents unique challenges for the series’ writers, as the day-to-day living of Egyptian people is much less clear than, for instance, early-modern Europe. Maybe they would relish the creative freedom that ambiguity provides.
Classical Athens: 508 – 322 BC
The cradle of Western Civilization, the birthplace of democracy. Come on, Ubisoft! Whatever label you put on Classical Athens, it’s arguably one of the most significant centuries (give or take a few decades) in human history. The series’ core theme, which acts as the glue holding each iteration of Assassin’s Creed together, is the ongoing struggle between expression and control, freedom and tyranny. Classical Athens represents that original battleground being fought within the context of incredibly rapid cultural advancements. Not to mention the cross-promotional opportunities with God of War. Need I say more?
Han Dynasty, Imperial China: 202 BC – 220 AD
Challenging the Dynasty Warriors series, and in the process, cornering the market on Three Kingdoms China… or the period leading up to it? Awesome! While some of the settings on this list lose points for sticking too closely to previously told stories, taking Assassin’s Creed far outside the West’s chronology to one of the world’s oldest, continuous civilizations would truly point things in an interesting direction. Doing so might make tying together the Assassin vs. Templar plot line cohesively difficult, but let’s be honest: they’ve already asked the audience to make some pretty large leaps of disbelief.
Roman Civil War: 49 – 27 BC
Granted, there were seemingly endless numbers of civil wars and internal conflicts throughout Ancient Rome’s history. However, none were more important in the development of Western, and by extension global, culture than the chaotic period between Roman Republic and Empire. This period saw the assassination of Julius Ceasar, the rise of Augustus and the beginning of the Pax Romana. Assassin’s Creed has a long association with Rome, which has the advantage of allowing Ubisoft to work within the iconic city at its peak, but admittedly, probably isn’t in the cards anytime soon because of that very familiarity.
Mayan Classical Period: 250 – 900 AD
Much like Ancient Egypt, the Mayans would represent a sharp departure from Assassin’s Creed’s traditional stomping grounds… another period shrouded in mystery. Beyond recent paranoia surrounding their calendar, Classical Mayan society represented a period of extended development in literature, art and urban architecture unique to the history of the Americas. Early Mayan interactions with the Spanish conquistadors would be another fascinating time to explore, as the colonial environment would fit perfectly into Creed’s ever-present theme of control and tyranny.
French Revolution: 1789 – 1799 AD
Long rumored as a potential setting for Assassin’s Creed III, the French Revolution turned out to be a pretty close guess, in the end. While the American story of independence certainly makes more sense commercially, France’s chaotic, dramatic and extremely bloody republican origins would make an amazing backdrop for the continuation of the Assassin-Templar feud. Many of the modern traits we associate with Western states – secularism, democracy and republicanism – were strongly influenced by the events of this decade.
Victorian Britain: 1815 – 1914 AD
If the choice were solely up to me, this would be the ultimate setting. In a similar, but arguably more influential way to the French Revolution, 19th century Britain shaped the modern world. Driven by the Industrial Revolution and global hegemony of the British Empire, the Victorian era left a lasting cultural mark an unparalleled on today’s global village. Putting the broader implications to the side, early-industrial London would serve as an ideal location for parkour and exploration.