After the release of Assassin’s Creed Syndicate in 2015, developer Ubisoft said it would be taking a year break for the series, after many complaints by fans of franchise fatigue. Despite this attempt at a break, it was soon reported by Kotaku that the new entry in the franchise would be called Assassin’s Creed: Empire (now thought to be named AC: Origins) and would be set in Ancient Egypt.
Assassin’s Creed is one of my favourite franchises, so I thought I would devote some time to thinking what could arrive in the newest instalment. I’ll go through a few of the ideas that have been floating around and add in what personally I would think work in the game.
- The Setting and Time Period
When I heard Ancient Egypt I was both overjoyed and sceptical. I was glad the series was returning to the Arabian aesthetic. It’s been done before in the first AC game as well as in the criminally overlooked Revelations and Ubisoft’s previous Prince Of Persia games. However, the time frame will be before any of the other games, which presents the problem of having Assassin’s walking around before the actual Hasashin were conceived. Previous AC lore has established that being an “Assassin” or “Templar” are more ideas of thought rather than groups, but it’ll still look odd to have the Assassin symbol over 1000 years before the clan existed.
Reports have stated that the game is going to be “aiming for a Witcher-feel” with big open deserts and small villages rather than sprawling cities. The idea is to have several cities that the player can move between, either by land (on horse or foot), or by the helpful River Nile or Mediterranean Sea.
Ancient Egypt lasted from 3050 B.C. to 30 B.C. with all the big things like the Pyramids being built in the earlier stages of the empire (here’s a handy video by Crash Course explaining all the major history points). Early story ideas hinted at the game being set in Ancient Rome, which would indicate the New Kingdom era, which leads us into…
- Historical Events
The designers have said they wanted Ancient Egypt due to the lack of historical research, allowing them to be more creative with the story. That’s fine with me, but the New Kingdom/Ptolemic Dynasty is when major historical points happen. By this time Alexander The Great has created the Library at Alexandria, the Romans were starting to occupy the country and Cleopatra was the Pharaoh.
The time period is full of exciting set pieces that the Assassins would have been party to had they been around; The burning of the Library at Alexandria in 48 B.C., the Battle of the Nile in 47 B.C. (the battle which got Cleopatra onto the throne, with the help of Julius Caesar) and the Battle of Actium in 30 B.C., which ended Cleopatra and Marc Antony’s reign.
Along with all these big events, you’ve got the assassination of Pompey (a Roman consul) by Cleopatra’s brother King Ptolemy XIII, which is an easy event to slip in an Assassin. The games have also already covered Cleopatra’s assassination, with a seal in Assassin’s Creed 2 detailing her death by venomous asp at the hands of Assassin Amunet. There are probably more secret killings with the balance of power swinging from one side to the other, perfect hunting ground for the Assassins.
Series lore has already established Caesar and Cleopatra as Templars. With Ptolemy ordering the killing of Pompey the Roman Consul, it could be seen as Assassin-backed monarch vs Templar outsiders. The assassination of Caesar is in Rome in 44 B.C., but Cleopatra’s husband Marc Antony had learned of the plot and tried to warn Caesar. This would be an easy mission to add into the story, with our Assassin character trying to stop Marc Antony by any means.
- Our Character
All we know from the leaked material is that our player characters is a male slave, possibly based of a previously released photo that was thought to be a new Prince Of Persia game. Different races were commonplace within Egypt (it was a melting pot of Assyrians, Greeks, Romans and anyone else close by) and with expansions south by the military, it is easy to fit a slave into the story.
Slavery was established in the New Kingdom era, which fits in with the timeline I’ve been pushing. It’s possible some slaves did work in the army, allowing the main character to have taken part in the Battle of The Nile on the losing side. This might be his reason to fight back against the Templars. He could be sold under an Assassin master and they have to build up the Creed again after Cleopatra becomes ruler, possibly teaming up with the Roman Assassins like Brutus (again, series canon) and getting back into the Royal Court. If Ubisoft want to continue their dual Assassin approach like they did with Syndicate, why not have the already established Amunet be a playable character?
It’s also known that the character will have a pet eagle, probably for reconnaissance so that he can find the best point to strike. An eagle is the animal form of the Egyptian god Horus (whose hieroglyphic is an eye), which obviously ties back in with Eagle Vision.
- Modern Day?
While it was novel in the first couple of games that there was this overarching, modern day narrative involving corporations and time-travel machines, I think we can all agree that it’s probably the worst part of the series (it was definitely the part that sank the film). After Desmond unceremoniously left the screen in AC3, the series started having nameless characters working for Abstergo and selling genetic memories as videogames. I think that selling it as a video game is a pretty poor storyline, so I thought two ways that AC: Empire could implement a modern day story;
A). Abstergo archaeologists. Lost and sunken cities have been found in Egypt, so it would make sense that archaeologists might use genetic memories to find where they once stood and document them. This form of digital archaeology would allow for side missions/collectables like wall-rubbings, deciphering hieroglyphics or raiding tombs (similar to AC2) that might contain Pieces of Eden or other technology.
B). During the story of AC3, the Assassins realise that a Precursor (an ancient civilisation) power cell they need is in Cairo. Williams Miles, Desmond’s father, goes to retrieve it, but is captured by Abstergo. There is easily some way that Empire/Origins could tie back into the main story of AC3, with the player character being an Assassin in Egypt, trying to help William find the location of it.
The leaked information indicates that Ubisoft want a trilogy with the same character, with the next games being in Rome and Greece (which would tie into the Ptolemaic Dynasty timeframe). If this is true, could we be expecting a recurring modern day character, with Ubisoft learning from their mistakes with Desmond and creating a character we actually like? It would sure beat the generic, nameless protagonists of the past four games.
Those are my thoughts on what AC: Empire/Origins might attempt with its story, characters and approach to modern day. If I’ve fudged dates or you have any ideas yourself, put them in the comments.
Banner picture source: Youtube.