When and Where the new “Assassin’s Creed” Should Take Place

Not surprisingly considering the truckload of money the series continues to make, Ubisoft has announced there will be a new “Assassin’s Creed” for 2014. What is surprising is that it will be developed by new design teams, feature a new hero, and take place in a different time period.

That last one is particularly interesting considering the amount of miles that the publisher got out of the renaissance era Italy setting of “Assassin’s Creed II,” and the big news that was the third taking place in the new (and rarely seen in gaming) era of the American revolution. The question now is, where (or more appropriately, when) will gamers get to free run and eliminate their targets next?

I’ve got a few time periods on my wishlist, but just for fun’s sake, I’m ignoring the progressive chronological order of the series so far, and just picking some of the best time periods available for the franchise

Victorian Era London 1837-1901

Could London be calling for “Assassin’s Creed?”

There could be worse options for sure, as the Victorian Era is both one of the most stylized periods consistently featured in pop culture (and a big inspiration for steampunk worlds), and a genuinely interesting historical time that featured a melding of two different time eras, resulting in unique architecture, technology, and people. Not to mention the series preference to include historical figures could have you interacting with everyone from Charles Dickens to Jack the Ripper.

In many ways this would be a logical, and welcome, next step for the franchise.

Feudal Japan 1185-1603 (Roughly)

It would definitely violate the chronological story progression up until this point, but may be worth it.

The feudal Japan era is one of the most romanticized yet brutal periods in world history, and has the added benefit of not quite being overplayed yet in the world of video games. Featuring two of the most prolific and exciting warrior types of all time (samurais and ninjas), as well as the potential of siding with several warring clans “Yojimbo” style, depending on the exact time period, feudal Japan could feature a nice mix of styles and weaponry as well as provide plenty of opportunities for memorable moments.

American Industrial Revolution 1760-1840

If Ubisoft is looking for a new time period, but not a new setting entirely, this might be the best way to go.

The big draw of the industrial revolution is all of the new technology that could be incorporated into the series, but the time period itself was also noteworthy for the effects it had on society and social mentalities of the people. Ubisoft could  incorporate the prolific plight of the average working man in this new, exciting, yet often challenging time and create a story both unique to gaming, and genuinely noteworthy if they play it right.

Chinese Ming Dynasty 1368-1644

“Assassin’s Creed III” surprised nearly everyone by taking place in the rarely seen American revolution. “Assassin’s Creed IV” could do the same by visiting Ming Dynasty China.

This time period had everything you could want for a dramatic tale. Unique weaponry, feuding clans, government corruption, plight, rebellion, rising industry, incredible works of art and design, empires, and much, much more. There is a lot to explore during this time, much of which hasn’t been thoroughly examined by a video game. For sheer potential, this would be my personal favorite way for the series to go, though a dark horse candidate to be sure.

World War I 1914-1918

The only real question is, how far does the series want to go?

Though part of the games do take place in the future, the majority of “Assassin’s Creed” takes place in the pretty distant past. Without fundamentally changing the gameplay to a serious degree, World War I is about as far as you could go, considering the major influence of technology on just about everything past this point. Since some of the best parts of “Assassin’s Creed III” was your involvement in large scale battles, doing the same during the chaotic, often confused battles of WWI would be incredibly intense and provide some of the most uniquely hectic moments seen yet in gaming, all set on a world stage.

Considering the options it presents, “Assassin’s Creed” needs to reach this era at some point, but it’s a matter of when.

Assassin’s Creed III Is Set for Big Sales Numbers

It’s weird to remember the time when “Assassin’s Creed” wasn’t relevant, but when the first title in the series was released, few found themselves enamored with the  young series. That would change, of course, with “Assassin’s Creed II” which is widely considered to be one of the greatest games of its generation, and would propel the franchise into the stratosphere where it finally settled in the pantheon of true Triple-A caliber videogame series.

It’s a real money in the bank title to be sure, and the upcoming “Assassin’s Creed III” is looking to continue that trend in a big way. As reported by joystiq.com, Assassin’s Creed III is officially the most pre-ordered game in the company’s history.  The exact figure wasn’t made available at this time, but it is more than double the pre-orders of the previous installment in the series, “Assassin’s Creed: Revelations.” Tony Bartel, President of Gamestop, is already touting that Assassin’s Creed III is on track to become the best selling game of this year.

Even with the series more recent expansions (“Brotherhood” and “Revelations“) “Assassin’s Creed” is a series that doesn’t rest on its laurels and is constantly coming up with new ways to reinvent itself, and refresh the experience. With its new gameplay additions (like naval battles), the entirely unique American Revolution setting, a new protagonist, some fantastic ad campaigns, and enough E3 Awards and gushing hands on previews to make lesser games weep, the true next installment in the series looks to continue that tradition of excellence.

It also may be the only game left in the calendar year that has a shot of dethroning “Dishonored” for unanimous game of the year consideration (although, right now “XCOM“, “Journey“, or “Kingdoms of Amalur” has my personal vote), and I’m glad to hear that I’m not the only one that can’t wait to find out if it will when it is released on October 30th.

If You Need Me, I’ll Be in My Trailer

With Gamescom starting this week, the world of video games is starting to get hit with the usual tech show barrage of trailers. While I prefer good old fashioned gameplay demonstrations and hands-on previews, trailers offer a high level of entertainment value, if nothing else. However, if you pay close enough attention, you can sometimes cut past all of the stylized cuts and unnecessarily enhanced graphics to actually tell something about the game underneath.

With that in mind, here are five of the biggest trailers from the week, and what, if anything, we can take away about the games they represent from them.

Remember Me

Analysis: While I’d like to have a beer with the designers of “Remember Me,” as they’ve clearly watched “Blade Runner” and played “Deus Ex” as many time as I have, I just don’t trust Capcom as much as I used to. This is a slick debut for “Remember Me,” and cyber punk noir games will always be welcome, but it does have the misfortune of going up against the similarly themed, and soon to be released, “Dishonored.” And right now, “Dishonored” is looking better. Unless Capcom has something more in mind than the “me too” looking third person action on display in pieces here, I’m just not that excited right now. It also doesn’t help it shares a name with a Robert Pattinson movie.

Star Wars 1313

Analysis: Ok, let’s assume that Lucas Arts is obliged to churn out a new “Star Wars” game every year until the end of time. Let’s also assume that “Battlefront 3” isn’t going to happen (and believe me, it’s not). If that is the case, then I’m at least happy they are considering options in the “Star Wars” universe outside of the usual suspects of the series. However, is this a game that really needs a teaser like this? Is anyone just so jacked up for the next “Star Wars” game that a one minute and thirty-four second trailer, with about 4 seconds of gameplay in it is going to make them rush to their computer and set the hype pyre ablaze? I doubt it. At this point, until Lucas Arts has something more substantial to show, the vague chance that this game might not suck, and actually be original is the best thing they have going for them. They don’t need to ruin that with more of these generic trailers.

Crysis 3 – Multiplayer Hunter Mode

Analysis: I had zero interest in “Crysis 3” before this trailer, and now I want nothing else. This looks highly reminiscent of “Splinter Cell: Chaos Theory’s” Spy vs Merc gameplay, in that it combines two different styles of play into a unified concept. The multiplayer in that game is highly underrated and virtually unduplicated to this day, and it’s about time someone re-explored it. Also, this looks like the “Predator” game we were never going to get, which makes me more excited than I feel I can freely admit. If it can even come close to combining those two things together into a cohesive, balanced multiplayer experience, I might have to allow myself to actually use the word ‘epic.’

Tekken Tag Tournament 2

Analysis: First of all, “Can’t you tell where I must unleash this awesome power” is now going to be exactly where I tell every cab driver I’d like to go. Second, how long was he sitting in the back eerily glowing before the driver asked him where he wanted to go? Was the driver hoping he’d just disappear the next time he looked? Finally, as far as debut trailers go, if you’re going to avoid showing gameplay, this is about the best way to go. “Tekken” was always at its best when it was just having fun, and this is a fun trailer. If Namco doesn’t try to screw with the formula too much, and sticks with that loose and easy motif, I’d say the time is right for the next King of the Iron Fist Tag Tournament.

Assassin’s Creed III Naval Warfare Trailer

Analysis: As I mentioned, it’s going to take a concentrated effort for the next installment in the “Assassin’s Creed” series to suck. Ubisoft has proven they’re not scared to explore new ways to expand and improve “Assassin’s Creed,” and while the results have been mixed in some cases, I see no harm this naval gameplay could cause the franchise. Plus naval combat in this time period is rarely explored, and so far this game looks to actually be doing the idea right instead of treating the concept as an afterthought. As for the trailer itself, it features that perfect mix of style and intrigue that you expect from the series at this point, and keeps the well-oiled hype train this game is running well on track.

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