We’ve been playing masses of Assassins Creed recently, from our short time with the underwhelming Liberation HD to our seemingly never-ending play through of the absolutely fantastic Assassin Creed IV: Black Flag. After the disappointing entry Assassins Creed III we were somewhat disillusioned with the franchise, when out of nowhere Black Flag made us fall in love all over again. Inevitably we started wondering where the series might go next, now that it’s pirating adventures are done, AC’s genetic memory story framing means that history is their playground – almost no place or time is off limits. After scouring the internet, reading Ubisoft employee interviews, and reminding ourselves of some histories most interesting stories we’ve put together a list of where we’d like to see the eternal Assassin vs Templar struggle play out next. We’ve decided to start our series at home, with the English Civil War that raged from 1642 – 1651.
We’ve seen a lot of the English in the last few Assassins Creed games, something that’s unavoidable I suppose seeing that the nation gets around, once covering a quarter of the globe with it’s extensive empire. Before the peak of the vast British Empire’s power and influence; over one-hundred years before the American war for independence the English themselves were embroiled in a bloody civil war that changed the country, and perhaps the world, forever. The civil war that spanned nine years and three separate conflicts was fought between the Royalists loyal to the king and the Parliamentarians who wished to see parliament freed from the whims of monarchs. Ultimately the war can be boiled down to the King who desired further control by dissolving parliament, and the parliament supporters who wanted more freedom from the sole rule of a monarch – sounds a bit like Assassins v Templar? After nine years of hard fought battle the parliamentarians won, King Charles I was killed, and his successor Charles II exiled, resulting the dissolvement of the monarchy.
In a Cruel twist the power struggle left the country without an elected ruler, and even after ten years without a monarchy parliament was unable to choose a leader to rule – upon the death of the de-facto ruler, and leader of the rebels Oliver Cromwell, government was at a loss. So ten years after the exiled heir Charles II escaped capture he was asked to take up his fathers throne, after hammering out some conditions he agreed and, most unusually was welcomed back with open arms. Though the monarchy was restored it was done so at the behest of parliament proving power lay with the people; just a few decades later the Royal families role was reduced to that of figurehead wielding no real power – a state that lasts today. The two factions relied on a strange symbiosis, parliament needed a monarch to lead and the monarch was aware pushing parliament too far would re-ignite war. The strange outcome means England unlike to so many countries never ousted their monarchy in a full scale revolution seen in the likes of France.
Setting an entry of AC in this period makes perfect sense, not only does it fulfil the desire to see an entry set inside England without falling into the Victorian cliché but, it’s complex politics afford a perfect environment for the Templar vs Assassins conflict to blend in. Perhaps the assassins are responsible for a Templar monarchy’s decline in power giving parliament freedom? Maybe Charles II return to the throne was orchestrated by Templar’s in government seeking to take control, later years of intervention by Assassins would see the power grab fail. Narrative possibilities are endless, the twists and turns of the real event could be easily moulded into a story that fits AC continuity with little issue. The era was also inhabited by many recognisable historical groups including the royalist cavaliers and the iconic Roundhead helmets worn by the parliamentarians, as well as their respective leaders King Charles I and Oliver Cromwell.
England’s proximity to Europe and intimate involvement with the founding of the United States makes for a scenario that can comfortably tie in with the established story from both the Italian, and American arcs as the events of the English Civil War sit directly between the time periods of Black Flag and Assassins Creed II. The useful timeline positioning would mean Ubisoft could both foreshadow future events involving the Americans whilst simultaneously discussing the exploits of Altair and Ezio. According to AC’s history it’s during this period that Altair, and Ezio’s heroic deeds would be most obvious as the Assassins sit at the height of their power. What’s more the protagonist could once again be part of the Kenway line, it wouldn’t be a jump at all to consider the pirate Edward Kenway’s Welsh/English ancestor would be motivated to fight in the civil war – regardless of the side they chose – if any.
There’s plenty of places to visit too, during this period England’s forest covered countryside was extensive. Unlike the wilderness of ACIII’s America or the uncharted waters of ACIV’s Caribbean England was by this time mostly explored, dotted with various townships falling under many different counties. Ubisoft could conceivably build a huge open area of explorable countryside using various cities like the royalist port of Newcastle to the Parliamentarian capital of London as hubs. They’re plenty of other options too like former Viking settlement York. England’s long history of conflict and settlement by numerous civilizations starting with the Romans, but also including the French and Viking has left it with incredibly diverse architecture. That’s surely a plus when considering the intimate designs of the cities, a diversity that would only improve the stunning synchronize money shots that would no doubt be initiated upon some of the UK’s striking cathedrals.
Historically the British Empire was renowned for it’s huge navy, staffed by some of the periods best sailors. England’s ship savvy nature would open up the possibility for Ubisoft to bring ship combat back, assuming they’d want to re-use the tech they spent so long developing. Additionally the roving hills of Britain would clear the way for horses return to the series, possibly including mounted combat during skirmishes between rival groups. We can see it now, the majestic beauty of humongous castles dominating landscapes as our hooded hero gallops past on horseback.
Civil war England has all of the requirements that Assassins Creed thrives on. A deeply complex political upheaval ripe for invasion by the fictional war between the cartoon baddie Templars and their pesky goody two shoes Assassin rivals. A genuinely interesting time period which can be explored in great detail teaching those who don’t know England’s history more about it’s past. Plenty of diverse cities ready to be climbed all over, and a proud naval culture ready for the implementation of ACIV’s sea battles. More than anything though the setting would comfortably fit within the established AC story whilst fulfilling fans thirst for England based adventure without using a boring Medieval or Victorian setting.
Remember to check back when we’ll be discussing another possible setting for future Assassins Creed games. Remember to follow us here or on twitter @Gamerree.
Like this? Check out our next in the where next series? – The fall of the Han Dynasty