In Assassin’s Creed IV: Black Flag there is an in-game memo that suggests possible locations for future games. That got us thinking. In Black Flag you technically play as a modern day Abstergo employee testing a game focused on Edward Kenway’s life. In the guise of that conceit, during a mission you discover a memo in which executives from Abstergo discuss future “games.”
Now, these possible settings could be nothing more than fan service, a quick in-game nod to players letting them know that the developers also like to geek out over when and where future Assassin’s Creed games could be set. Even if one of the options is the setting of the next game, there are enough possibilities that it isn’t really a hint, just foreshadowing that no one will get until Ubisoft reveals the next game.
Here are the options the in-game memo mentions as possibilities:
- 13th Century Egypt/North Africa
- 14th Century Ashikaga Shogunate in Japan
- 18th Century French Revolution
- 19th Century Napoleonic Wars/Taiwan
- 19th Century New England and American Midwest
- 20th Century Summer of Love, America Pacific Coast
You can probably cross the last one off the list. Unless Ubisoft wants to introduce the “brown acid” bomb, it might be tough to make a game during that era. It’s worth noting though, that the list split up possible eras between the lineage of Subject 17 – aka Desmond Miles. So far the games have all used Desmond’s patrilineal line, including Altair, Ezio, Connor, and now Edward. There was, however, one other patrilineal setting listed that hasn’t been explored: “19th Century New England and American Midwest.”
Maybe this means something, maybe it doesn’t. There doesn’t seem any reason not to focus on the matrilineal line, or they may switch to a different lineage altogether.
Regardless, it got us thinking. The Assassin’s Creed franchise has taken naturally to the medium of comics, introducing an Assassin active during the Roman Empire, one in Russia during the birth of the Soviet Union, and another set in 19th century India. Short films are an option too, but games are where the series is most at home.
With that in mind, here are a few locations and eras we’d like to see the Assassin’s Creed series explore.
Ancient Greece and the cradle of Western Civilization (4th century BCE)
Besides the absolutely amazing settings Ancient Athens and surrounding areas could offer, this era is also known as “the cradle of Western civilization .” The AC series has grown more and more ideological in its portrayal of the Assassins and Templars, so what better time to really expand on that? Depending on what years story occurs, you could have your pick of historical characters. If the story went on long enough, you could train with Plato and march with Alexander the Great – or be the one to end his reign.
It would also help to expand on the mythology of the rival groups. The franchise is six games deep into the main series alone, and we still know very little about the origins of the Assassin and Templar orders. What better place to shed a little light on it than Ancient Greece? Plus, a toga-hoodie would be a sight to behold.
Ashikaga Shogunate and the heart of Feudal Japan (14th Century)
There’s no shortage of games set in Feudal Japan, but Assassin’s Creed could offer something different. This period is specifically mentioned in the memo, and it makes sense. The era saw Japan split into ruling courts in the north and south, which eventually became embroiled in a cold(ish) war, built around competing ideologies. Oh, and there would be samurai and ninja.
It’s already been established that there were Eastern Assassins, so it makes sense to expand on that. Taking the role of a Japanese Assassin, you could stab your way through the history of one of Japan’s most influential eras. Usually when games are set in this time, it is all about the samurai and ninja. Because they are samurai and ninja. Exploring the events that made gave rise to that class of warrior would very cool.
The forgotten mega-city of Cahokia (13th century)
In the 13th century, there was a city in the region now known as modern-day St. Louis that eclipsed London in its size. Much of the history of Cahokia has been lost, but it was an advanced metropolis for its time despite the fact that few people today even recognize the name. This creates opportunity. A game set in what is essentially a forgotten city allows the writers to tell whatever story they want, while revealing a world few other entertainment properties have even considered. It also allows for an exploration of the Assassin’s Creed mythology throughout Central and South America.
It is simple enough to explain an Assassin presence in North America during the 13th century, and the setting would allow players to explore the Mayan, Incan, and Aztec cultures. The First Civilization is a huge part of those cultures, so expanding what we know of them is logical. Not to mention awesome.
The Romance of the Three Kingdoms (169AD to 280AD)
This period has already been covered extensively in gaming thanks to the Dynasty Warriors series, but that franchise barely begins to examine the era; button mashing your way through thousands of victims doesn’t really convey the intrigue or personalities of the era. For over 100 years three groups fought for control of parts of China, Mongolia, and Vietnam. Heroes were born, legends were buried. It’s one of the most popular stories in the world, and Western audiences could stand to get a deeper look at it. It also wouldn’t hurt to sell a few AC copies in Asia.
It would be an original twist to see the Assassins working their way through three rival kingdoms, navigating the military and political rivalries. The first game toyed with this idea by allowing you access to cities under opposing rule, but never really did anything with it. With over 100 years of warfare between three colorful and (somewhat) historically accurate kingdoms, there are endless possibilities.
The Fall of the First Civilization (Unknown)
In the mythology of the AC series, the First Civilization created humanity as a docile slave race, but something went wrong along the way. Two humans, Adam and Eve, stole the Apple of Eden, setting off a chain of events that rippled down throughout time. What if Adam was an Assassin? Maybe the first Assassin?
A game set before recorded human history would give us more insight into the First Civilization, and allow for a completely original take on the world. While the current games use historical events as a backdrop, this setting could use religious and even mythological tales to fill out the story. Maybe Cain was a Templar that killed his Assassin brother Abel. Maybe you could race to survive Noah’s Flood. With no specific chronology of events, but plenty of quasi-historical facts to play with, the writers could go wild.
Gupta Empire and the Golden Age of India (5th century)
Back when the Roman Empire was falling apart and Western Civilization was beginning to view things like math and science as witchcraft, other regions around the world, like India, were doing just fine. For roughly 250 years, peace reigned over India under the rule of the Gupta family. Known as the Golden Age of India, science and art flourished, and the Empire stretched from Nepal to Pakistan to Bangladesh and throughout what is now modern India.
It eventually collapsed back into regional kingdoms, but the Gupta Empire during the 5th Century was one of the greatest civilizations ever known. This time period is ripe for an Assassins versus Templars showdown, and show a completely different culture than the games have touched on before. Not only could it focus on the rise of India, it would also have to deal with the fallout of the collapse of Rome. The biggest problem would be choosing which specific events to focus on – there would be many choices.
Paris in the Roaring ‘20s (20th Century)
The more modern you go, the tougher it becomes to let the Assassin’s Creed series reach its potential. The introduction of guns – modern guns – fundamentally changes the nature of the game and would force it to be entirely stealth, or turn it into a third-person shooter. That’s why we may never see a completely modern setting for the series. There are some pockets where you could make it work though, including Paris between the World Wars.
Not only does this era allow the story to delve into the rise of fascism and the fallout of the First World War, but Paris in the 20s was also arguably the artistic heart of the world. Pablo Picasso and Earnest Hemingway drank in local bars while listening to Josephine Baker, jazz found a home outside of America, and a bohemian lifestyle resists the older concepts of government. The ideals of are already there, and the post-war time could explain an apathy towards guns that works for the gameplay.
Victorian England and the heart of the world (19th Century)
This is one of the most requested settings for an AC game, and with good reason. It is also mentioned in the memo during one of the many fictional exchanges between Abstergo execs, specifically the period when Jack the Ripper was active. Victorian England (and Great Britain in general) is one of the most romanticized periods in history, and with good reason. The sun never set on the British Empire; it was the center of the known world. It was also a time of science and discovery, as well as the rise of occult practices, which gave birth to numerous secret societies. There is something appealing about running over the rooftops of a foggy and smoke covered London at the height of its power, and the secret societies lend themselves perfectly to the Assassin/Templar conflict at the center of the series.
Finding real people and incidents wouldn’t be tough either. Take Aleister Crowley, an occultist that joined the Golden Dawn before leaving to form his own religion Thelema, whose principle law was “Do what thou wilt.” That’s not so far from the Assassin’s “Nothing is true, everything is permitted” motto.
The Viking exploration of the New World (10th century)
This works on multiple levels. First, you could introduce the Vikings, and Vikings are awesome. That’s just a fact. They drink, they fight, they made merry, and they scared the hell out of everyone on the way to becoming legends. Beyond that, a story set during this time could address the collapse of “civilized” society in the West, and introduce an Assassin presence in North America.
Imagine a Viking Assassin fighting Templar barbarians, then heading to the New World, possibly to hide a relic of the First Civilization. It fits within both the franchise’s own mythology, as well as the history of the era – which is often more complex than people give it credit for. And again, Viking Assassins.
The Wild West comes to San Francisco (19th Century)
The Black Flag memo mentions the “American Midwest,” and in the various email discussions the “execs” seem to specifically mean the “Wild West” popularized by people like Billy the Kid and Wild Bill. They both operated post-Civil War though, after weapons technology took a major jump, and musket based rifles were replaced by bullet-based weapons capable of firing far more shots. Again, it would change the nature of the games. Jumping back a few decades before the Civil War though, could offer the same themes without having to deal with that problem.
San Francisco in the 1850s was booming, and people from all over the world were flooding in, seeking to join the gold rush. It makes sense for this time of economic prosperity to be a focal point for both the Assassins and Templars. It also creates an opportunity to explore some of the deeply dividing issue that led up to the Civil War, rival ideals that would shape the nation, and with it the world, from that point on.
What settings would you like to see an Assassin’s Creed game? Sound off in the comments below.