Ubisoft’s Assassin’s Creed series has become one of the most successful and prolific franchises in modern gaming, and in some ways 2016 is its biggest year yet. While there’s not expected to be a new title coming out this year, Assassin’s Creed: Syndicate helped to usher in the year in gaming after a late-2015 release. But even more interesting is the imminent release of the Assassin’s Creed film, for which the first trailer was recently released.
The film looks like a far more serious effort than most movies based on games, and the presence of Michael Fassbender in the lead role is sure to turn some heads. But the coolest thing about the trailer is arguably the setting: a gorgeous take on 15th century Spain during the Spanish Inquisition. This is a fascinating chapter of history, but more to the point it’s one that the core Assassin’s Creed series hasn’t actually touched on.
The bold decision to use a setting gaming fans won’t necessarily be familiar with begs the question of just where the film series could go from here (assuming, that is, that one movie becomes several), or where future games might take us. Frankly, it’s anybody’s guess, but here are five potential answers to that question that would be immensely satisfying.
1. Ancient Egypt
It’s best to start here, because rumor has it the next game may actually be set in Egypt. But whether or not that proves to be true, this would seem to be among the most fascinating historical settings that, up to this point, has been ignored by the Assassin’s Creed creators. It would be the most ancient setting ever used in the games and could thus stretch the scope of the series in a new and fascinating way – not to mention it would be a lot of fun leaping and climbing around ancient Egyptian monuments and diving off of obelisks and whatnot.
This is also a fascinating idea because for all its popularity in mainstream fiction (just see recent films like Gods Of Egypt and Exodus: Gods & Kings), ancient Egypt has very few noteworthy appearances in gaming. There’s a Pyramid Of Ramesses title featured among Betfair’s jackpot games that sort of exemplifies the extent of Egypt’s life in major video games to this point. The game uses artifacts and Egyptian symbols on a slot reel to cultivate a feeling of ancient treasure hunting for online casino players, and there are a few others like it out there. But while ancient Egypt is an effective tool for spicing up a slot machine, there isn’t a great example of a game in which you can actually run around and explore this part of history.
2. American Civil War
For all of its incredible settings, Assassin’s Creed has actually limited itself to a few broad chapters of history. The series has dealt primarily with the crusades, Renaissance Europe, and early American history (with a few exceptions of course). Early American history has been the most thoroughly explored of late, and if Ubisoft wanted to continue on that path the Civil War would be a logical step following Assassin’s Creed: Rogue, which dealt with the Seven Years’ War.
Furthermore, as with ancient Egypt, the American Civil War has been somewhat surprisingly neglected by game developers over the years. There are a few minor PC games that deal with the war, and fans of Sid Meier’s Civilization games will recall that in a few of them there were Civil War scenarios available. There was also a 2006 Xbox 360 Civil War game, though it hardly made a ripple in the market. Altogether, this would be a great opportunity for Ubisoft to address a need in gaming while furthering a path they’ve already started in American history.
3. 10th Century Scandinavia
I’m stealing this idea from Escapist Magazine’s list of proposed settings for future Assassin’s Creed games, but I can’t help but feel it would be one of the more unexpected and inventive options. Assassin’s Creed: Black Flag surprised a lot of people when it was based largely on the open sea; controlling the ships and engaging in naval combat actually proved to be a blast. Ubisoft could expand on seafaring elements through ancient Viking warfare and even early exploration of the New World. And this, too, is a chapter of history that’s been largely unexplored in popular gaming.
4. Greco-Persian Wars
Most of us may best know the Greco-Persian Wars via the sensationally fictionalized 300, which is essentially a comic book take on a battle that actually happened. But in reality, the Spartan 300’s defensive efforts at the Battle of Thermopylae only made up one chapter of a set of conflicts that represent one of the most significant clashes between East and West in human history. Exploring these wars would give Ubisoft an interesting opportunity to showcase different styles of warfare within a single game, as each of the major battles took place on distinctly different terrain.
I suspect the problem with going into ancient Greece with an Assassin’s Creed game might simply be the lack of height in structures. Parkour has become such a major element of the series over time that flatter cityscapes might make it challenging to design an experience that truly feels like an Assassin’s Creed game. Nevertheless it could be refreshingly different.
5. World War II
Somehow, World War II never seems to make it into discussions about where the next Assassin’s Creed game should be set. It may be that the possibility has been dismissed because the Assassin’s Creed III director once called the idea of a WWII game “boring” but the dismissal of such a climactic event in human history seems to go against the grain for Ubisoft. Granted, the specific focus has typically been on conspiracies and subversive efforts within greater conflicts. But the bulk of these games still deal with enormous wars and conflicts that changed the direction of history for much of the world. World War II, in many people’s estimation, would be the ultimate example of such a conflict, and thus seems almost necessary as an Assassin’s Creed setting at some point.
Countless other settings could (and likely will) be discussed. But whether in the games or in future films, each of these would fit the franchise beautifully.
All opinions are that of the author and do not necessarily reflect those of Deck Ape...or anyone else. Arrr!