With Assassin's Creed: Brotherhood releasing to rave reviews - our esteemed editor awarded it a 10 just last year for building upon the brilliance of ACII - I think it's safe to assume Ubisoft is hard at work on a third entry in the epoch-hopping franchise. And before we're all privy to concrete details, it's fun to speculate and wonder on just what shape Assassins Creed 3 might take. Whose memories will Desmond plunge into next? And, more specifically, what era will we be free-running and slaughtering in?
Let the speculation begin!
London, 19th Century
Victorian-era London is a setting I've hoped for since AC2 released and our attention subsequently turned to a sequel. Imagine leaping from thatch roof to thatch roof above gas lamp-lit cobblestones, diving into the Thames to escape guards and infiltrating Buckingham Palace to plunder the crown jewels. It would be enough just to hear the cockney villager soundbites and Oliver Twist-style vagabonds pinching wallets and robbing wealthy gentleman down shady back-alleys.
Not to mention you'd have some competition in the murdering stakes. Jack the Ripper rose to fame in the late 19th century, his high-profile murders the stuff of London legend. A side-story where you piece together evidence from the Ripper's crimes and eventually take down the monster himself could be a fantastic piece of alternate-history included in AC3.
But so far, we have nothing to pin our hopes to on the Victorian London front. Assassins Creed 3 hasn't been announced yet, let alone a setting revealed, and rumours persist of a return to Ezio's adventures in Renaissance Italy. However, that might not be entirely true...
Hopping forward hundreds of years, the comic Assassins Creed: The Fall is an entirely separate story in the greater plot, focusing on a new present day character, Daniel Cross, whose consciousness regularly bleeds over into that of his genetic descendant, one Nikolai Orelov, a Russian assassin once again tasked with the job of halting nefarious Templar schemes.
Could The Fall be a set-up for Assassins Creed 3? It's not unlikely. 20th century Russia would be a compelling setting, and the move closer to the modern day would present the designers with some interesting opportunities. However, the sudden departure from Desmond Miles' story would be jarring to say the least, as like him or not, he's an integral part of the story we've been exploring over the past three AC games.
However, with an assassin being present in Russia, it's safe to assume a brotherhood exists there. Could Desmond have another descendant among their ranks? While Orelov might not be the new protagonist, he could become a secondary character; a friend or mentor who, if compelling enough, you can read up on in The Fall.
World War 2
Just imagine, against the backdrop of Nazi-occupied France, clambering up the Eiffel Tower to assassinate Hitler, enjoying a drink on the decks above? Or maybe sneaking past an Allies and Axis firefight in the midst of a war-zone? World War 2 is chock-full of compelling moments to recreate, and while it could require talented and tasteful design, it could provide a fantastic change of pace for the series.
Again, though, it's difficult to see how the writers could wrangle an AC yarn during one of our bloodiest conflicts. The Crusades and Renaissance Italy had the luxury of being hundreds of years old and thus ripe for retrofitting, whereas WW2 is still a relevant, topical issue, especially with the world in such a state of unbalance as it is.
However, if I am to don my geek cap and begin speculating, what if the Templars saw a world conflict as the perfect opportunity to enact their must devious of plans, and the last remaining assassins had to content not only with the might of Hitler and his armies, but the threat of oblivion, too. Not a bad pitch, if I do say so myself. Again, AC's time-hopping tendencies lend well to alternate-history retelling, of which WW2 is a promising venture.
Is it time for Desmond to assume the mantel of master assassin? He was a robotic, plodding character in the first and second game, but came alive in the Brotherhood expansion, finally able to free run and climb at will. We've yet to see a 'futuristic' assassin, although with the brotherhood still active and protecting Desmond from the Templar threat, it's not hard to imagine a few members are still running around, stabbing folks in the cervical spine.
So what could the future bring? Energy blades? Holograms? Invisibility cloaks? A future setting provides the team with a chance to truly redefine the experience, and with Brotherhood distilling AC to a perfect core, Ubisoft now have the chance to knock this out of the park.
What era would you like to see the third Assassins Creed game visit? Is Ezio's adventure over, or do you demand more of the Italian rogue's story? As always, sign off in the comments section below!