New Assassin’s Creed game en route
Ubisoft has announced the next title in the popular franchise.
We know very little so far about the new title, except that it will be released in "fiscal 2014" (which could be as late as June 2015) and will feature a new location and new protagonist. Presumably, Desmond’s story with the Assassins and the Animus will still be the framing device of the narrative, and the ancestor that the trips focus on will be new.
This is still a heavy departure from what we’ve been expecting however, since the previous protagonist, Ezio got three games, Assassin’s Creed II, Brotherhood, and Revelations. To hear that the latest protagonist, Connor, will only be getting one game before we move on is a bit of a surprise.
The decision to move on is perhaps due to the unpopularity of the character. While Assassin’s Creed III sold well, and received much praise for the advances in mechanics and visuals, fans and critics alike have put down the choice of ancestor.
Connor is a bit wooden and boring compared to Altaïr and Ezio. The audience has a difficult time relating to the character.
There was more derision, however for the setting that one finds Connor in. The Americas during the Revolutionary War sounds like an exciting place, and it surely allowed the writers to tell a different sort of story, but there is little in the way of infrastructure in that setting, and the parkour style of movement and play, and all the things that that lends to the style require lots of buildings and towers to pull off, doing the same things in trees and small settlements just doesn’t have the same feel, thus much of the game is very off tone.
The same can be said of the themes of that setting. The designers themselves admitted that there were some aspects of the colonial Americas that they simply could not figure out how to handle thematically, and so just left them out of the game entirely.
Where will the next game take us? It’s hard to say. There has been a pattern of looking at strong empires during times of weakness or strife, so we can likely expect that to continue, but where will we find such an empire, and such a period. If the game continues to move forward through time, then the next logical setting seems to be the American Civil War, but the issues of that setting would present much the same problems as the Revolutionary War did, so perhaps Europe’s Great War (WWI) or the fall of Czarist Russia? We have had some clues that a part of Desmond’s ancestry is in Russia, so it wouldn’t surprise me to go there.
It won’t necessarily only go ahead in time, however. The Ubisoft devs have said before that the games will not always move forward in history, as they would soon run out of interesting settings, so they could reach back further into the past as well. A tremulous part of the late Classical Era Egyptian Empire would be interesting, but sparse on nice tall buildings.
Feudal Japan would be a very interesting change of pace, but getting the Templar/Assassin story to reach that far east in that time period would be a bit of a stretch. They may even go all out, and show us the time of Minerva and the other founders of civilization that we learn about through the game, but then they’d lose their focus on real history. Eventually, I think they’ll need a game set in Desmond’s time, but that would be the end of his story, so I wouldn’t expect it quite yet.
All this is just speculation of course, as no clues to the nature of the game have been revealed as yet. Assassin’s Creed IV, if that’s even the title, is still in the early stages of development, and isn’t expected for release until the Summer of 2014 at the earliest.