There are no secrets as to why the Assassin's Creed franchise has sold around 100 million games since the first release back in 2007. The series has made a name for itself combining fantasy and reality, putting a conspiracy theory spin on the entire history of humanity. For those unaware or who need a refresh, in contrast to what we've learned in school, every conflict in recorded history has been secretly carried out by either Assassins or Templars; the former who prefer freedom for all people and the latter who seek to control our species.
The grand story of the series is impressive on its own, but has featured some amazing characters. Without even getting into the historical figures, such as Leonardo Da Vinci, Napoleon Bonaparte, Charles Darwin, Benjamin Franklin, Blackbeard and so on, the fictional characters have played an important part in making this series as addictive and immersive as it is. The main characters have been righteous, witty and brave. Altair, Ezio, Connor, the Frye siblings, and all the rest have been absolute gems.
But there have been a couple of stinkers throughout the series, with 2014's French Revolution tale Unity, in particular, not stacking up. Even this game, however, along with the other weaker installments, have all offered something remarkable: scenery and setting. We aren't talking about just graphics, but rather the worlds in which the games take place. Assassin's Creed has offered gamers a unique opportunity to explore somewhat realistic historical settings. Eras we've only read about in textbooks, or seen on TV and in movies. With every viewpoint synchronized, we get a stunning view of the magnificent architecture and stunning landscapes that make up these exotic parts of the world. From the Middle East to Renaissance Italy, the Caribbean, the American and French Revolutions, and, of course, Industrial Revolution-era London. Assassin's Creed has brought history to life with an intriguing twist.
For the past couple of months, the steadiest rumor is that Assassin's Creed: Empire will take place in ancient Egypt. A couple of hints and even a screenshot have been leaked, but some sources are adamant that these are all false. Only time will tell really. But while we sit by and wait patiently for the next story, here are eight places we'd like to see the series go in the future and seven that should be avoided at all costs.
Honorable Mention: The Likely Next Setting? - Ancient Egypt
Like we said in the introduction to this list, so far the prevailing rumor seems to indicate that a likely landing spot for the next assassin adventure will be ancient Egypt. Other rumors include this game being named "Empire" and potentially being the first game in a trilogy that also includes other areas such as Rome and Greece. If this is the case, we dig the idea, as we all know that Altair during the Crusades was not the first of the Assassins, and that the war with the Templars goes back much further. Ancient Egypt would bring the franchise to one of the most interesting eras in human history.
Additionally, we can only hope that this game will be polished and seamless, as the games had become sloppy, hence the choice to not bother making a game in 2016.
15 Go To: Feudal Japan
For dedicated fans of the series who zealously follow all news related to Assassin's Creed, you may have read one of the many articles a few years ago in which Alex Hutchinson of Ubisoft explained why the franchise has not bothered to go in that direction. In the most basic of terms, he said that the time period has been done in other games, and that he and his creative team felt that the experience of learning to be either a Samurai or a Ninja would feel "familiar" and therefore they stuck with historic stories and locales that were less well-known.
While we acknowledge that this age in Japanese history has been covered by the video game business, we haven't seen it done in Assassin's Creed and would bet that the experience would be excellent.
14 Avoid: Modern Day United States
Obviously, the parts of each AC story line that take place in our time are necessary to link the historical adventure to the present, but creating a game set in today's world would not be a good idea for Ubisoft. Not right now, at least.
A major part of the charm of any Assassin's Creed game is the fact that the hindsight that an established historical event has allowed greater creativity in terms of skewing the established narrative. With respect to America and indeed the entire world right now, events are still unfolding, and the truth is still being fleshed out by researchers. Having a story told in the current era or even in the last several decades would rob the story of a major part of what makes this franchise so special and unique as an ongoing work of historical fiction.
13 Go To: The Human-Isu War
Ever since Assassin's Creed 2 brought us that brief video we know as "The Truth," fans have been enthralled by the story of the humans and "those who came before." For anyone who doesn't remember, that video featured two humans (Adam and Eve), running. We see that they have a Piece of Eden, presumably stolen, and start climbing up a building with enslaved humans inside. They reach the top of the building at which point Eve and Adam look behind them, and the clip ends as we see their terrified faces. If this doesn't send chills up your spine, you must be carved out of granite.
In Assassin's Creed, the Isu were a race who existed before humans, and actually created our species for the purpose of slave labor. Human-Isu hybrid Eve led the humans, and these early people rose up and fought the Isu. The conflict lasted for over ten years, and ended after the Toba Catastrophe, which wiped out the Isu, and left the human race decimated, but able to rebuild. We know the gist of the story, but we want to play it for ourselves.
12 Avoid: Pre-History - Stone Age
While the exact definition of "Stone Age" does have some equivocation, we'll define it as any time before 5,000 B.C.E. While we can make a case for any number of ancient time periods being more than deserving of a game, the "caveman days" of prehistory may not offer enough in the way of structures to support the free-running and climbing aspects of this series. Obviously, the pre-historic Templars and Assassins would have been duking it out during this period, but if caves —and the odd forested area— would be the only ways to sprint around above the ground, that would make for a comparatively sub-par experience.
Were this ever to happen, Ubisoft could learn something from Far Cry: Primal, don't come up with an entirely new language for your game, because what you earn in authenticity, you lose in having the player read subtitles the whole damn time.
11 Go To: Red States During The Civil War
I'll admit that while I enjoyed the game because it was an Assassin's Creed story, and offered an interesting take on the American Revolution, AC III is down there with Unity among my least favorite of the games in the franchise. I'm itching for a better story in the good ol' U.S. of A. There are few events in American history as ripe for an AC story as the Civil War.
There are two ways this story could go. Your Assassin could be on the side of the Union, fighting to free slaves in the South or you could be a Confederate, genuinely fighting for behind the scenes to prevent central control over issues better left to individual states.
10 Avoid: Discovery Of The Americas (Late 15th Century)
While this is an important era in human history, and an absorbing one to study, it would likely be a poor choice for an Assassin's Creed game. We could see there being potential for a single one-off mission inside of another game (such as World War II in Syndicate). Still, trying to make a game on the kind of grand scale of what we're used to from this series would be difficult if the late 1400's to the mid-1500's was the setting. There'd be little opportunity for free-running and climbing. Along with that significant issue, it would be unlikely that the forces of good and evil (Assassins and Templars) would have had their operations set up in the New World prior to European contact. Then again, Ubisoft has complete control over the alternative history narrative and could easily offer a new backstory for Native Americans during the days of American exploration and make this a reality.
9 Go To: Ancient Greece
In much the same way that heading to Egypt, Ancient Athens, or Macedonia would make for brilliant Assassin's Creed adventures, Ancient Greece would be a sterling setting for the series. This was an era of immense enlightenment, but also constant warfare. We could see the story unfolding as something along the lines of: Philip II of Macedon and then his son Alexander the Great and Aristotle are expanding their empire in search of a piece of Eden. On the other hand, maybe they already had the piece of Eden, and the player could take on the role of someone in Persia or India who fought against the forces of Alexander.
8 Avoid: Spain
While a game about the Spanish Inquisition might have been amazing, that got done by the movie. The Inquisition could have actually been a phenomenal setting for a video game but alas, here we are largely disappointed by the film (okay, it's not as bad as many other video game movies, so we'll leave it alone).
Of course, there is another time in Spanish history that would be a decent setting for an AC game, and that is the Spanish Civil War. Still, we're cautious about whether or not the series should dive, with full force, into the conflicts of the 20th century yet.
7 Go To: China During The Boxer Rebellion
Fans of the Assassins' Creed: Chronicles titles have already been to 16th century China as Shao Jun, and while that was a decent story, we have another idea for a game set in that country.
The Boxer Rebellion took place in China around the turn of the nineteenth century, between 1899 and 1901. While the exact details are both intricate and troubling, the basic story is that the "Boxers" (called Yihetuan in Chinese), were a faction of Chinese nationalists whose fight was against the influence of outside powers including Great Britain and Russia. Concerned about the influence of Christianity and Western imperialism in the region, they fought back, killing missionaries, Chinese Christians and just about anyone else they could. The conflict was brutal and involved atrocities on all sides. This event, in which every faction did despicable things, and which involves a somewhat philosophical elements of religion, nationalism, and nationhood, would make for a great Assassins vs Templars adventure.
6 Avoid: The World Wars
Like a few other places and periods discussed here, we're not against future Assassin's Creed games featuring WW1 and WW2 missions, like Unity and Syndicate had, but to try and make an entire game out of these periods would not work as part of the series. The main reason for this is that the franchise has built its name by telling brilliant stories in some of the lesser known periods of history. While the French Revolution, the Renaissance, the Crusades and even the history of the Caribbean are taught in schools, there may be a day or a week dedicated to each. In contrast: there are months spent on the World Wars. Furthermore, the events around which AC has centered so far are often forgotten by show business, while the World Wars (less so with WWI) have been covered very thoroughly.
5 Go To: Soviet Union Under Stalin
Assassin's Creed Chronicles: Russia tells the story of Nikolai Orelov during the events of 1918 during the revolution that would lead to the founding of the Soviet Union. While this was a decent tale and we enjoyed the experience, we'd love to see Assassin's Creed's take on the years that followed, after Joseph Stalin had taken control of the country. While Adolf Hitler is often cited as the most evil man in the 20th century (with good reason), many forget that Stalin and his regime likely have more blood on their hands, when you include executions, famines and all deaths attributed to Stalinist policy, his count is over 20 million. He's the quintessential definition of a Templar, and was obsessed with order and control.
Most of the resistance to Stalin during his reign from the early 1920's to his death in 1953 was brutally repressed, but Ubisoft could certainly come up with an intriguing story for this period. The player character could be an Assassin who infiltrates the ranks of Stalin's staff or just a common citizen with a set of skills who spends three decades disrupting the government's evil day to day business.
4 Avoid: The Vietnam War
While the Vietnam War offers a lot to a video game franchises in terms of story options, it offers little to an Assassin's Creed title. To start off, much like our major point against modern day America being a viable setting for a game now, the events of the Vietnam War may be too close to the present to be effective in a work of historical fiction. This is especially true given that the franchise generally takes significant liberties with history.
Furthermore, the fact that it is still such a recent memory many would-be players, and many Americans have close relatives who may have fought there; it might be painful to visit the conflict. Blurring the lines between good and evil (something at which Assassin's Creed excels) would be difficult and potentially offend a lot of people who would possibly boycott the game. You'd likely have to play as a Vietnamese hero, and that probably wouldn't go over well.
3 Go To: Post-WW2 Germany
The post World War 2 era is about as close to the modern era as we're comfortable with if the franchise wants to remain historical. Here is the scenario: the war is over, and Europe is starting to rebuild. The Nazi leadership have largely been arrested, and the Nuremberg trials have been set up to try these people for their part in the Holocaust. Unfortunately, there are still some who are on the run, and we get to play as the Assassin who continues the fight in the shadows now that the major conflict is over. While the whole "Nazi hunter" storyline is a good one, and we'd like to see it played out in any game franchise. We're on the fence as to whether it would fit with Assassin's Creed, and we recognize that it is very far from even remotely likely, but consider it an interesting enough concept to warrant a spot on this list.
2 Avoid: Canada
I, the writer, am Canadian. I was born here, raised here, and have lived in a few cities in Canada, and have visited most major cities throughout the country. It is beautiful, and there are many fine people here. Moreover, it is relatively safe, clean and somewhat free, at least compared to other nations around the globe.
I have also learned the history of this country, and for the purposes of any entertaining historical fiction narrative, we have quite possibly the most boring history of any country that we can think of. While the United States had a Revolutionary War, we quietly asked England if we could still be a part of the family but do our own thing. If the U.S. was the rebellious kid that threw a tantrum, punched dad in the face and skipped town to start a punk rock group, Canada was the kid who studied a lot through high school, moved out at age 18 and got a lucrative, entry level job with a reputable company, rented an apartment down the road from mom and dad, and still shows up for dinner on weekends.
For any Canadian history buffs out there saying "what about the Winnipeg general strike and the Red River Rebellion?" get a grip on reality, the only interesting events in Canadian history took place during the World Wars, and they happened in Europe. Canada is a decent place to live, but a would-be graveyard for Assassin's Creed.
1 Go To: The Fall of Rome
One of the biggest events in all of human history and one of the most important events in terms of statesmanship and government to this day is the growth and eventual destruction of the Roman Empire. For those who are not ancient history buffs, the thousand year history of the Roman Empire started around 500 BCE, and ended just after 500 BCE. It was a gradual build and a very lengthy downfall.
Any period during the conquest stage of the Roman Empire would be well-suited to an Assassin's Creed game. The same can be said of the final days of that empire, along with such events as the assassination of Caesar (which has been mentioned very briefly in Brotherhood), and of course the lengthy war against, well...everyone outside of the Roman Empire throughout the fifth century.