Update: Ubisoft confirms that “Assassin’s Creed Unity” is set during the French Revolution with the following head-chopping video.
Images from an unfinished, upcoming Assassin’s Creed game have leaked onto the interwebs, published courtesy of the folks over at Kotaku. Potentially codenamed “Assassin’s Creed Unity,” the project will no doubt have an actual name come publishing time. All of the images reflect an early build of the game, and obviously aren’t as snazzy-looking as they will be when the game ships. As you can see, the game appears to take place in a non-modern Paris, which many are whispering might end up being set in the French Revolution.
Ubisoft Managing Director Jade Raymond (who for some reason loves being photographed like this and this) claimed in an AdWeek interview that the game is set in her “favorite historical era,” and that the game is definitely not set in Japan. Which was unnecessary information, considering Japan doesn’t feature a lot of huge gothic cathedrals. Considering the game is set in France, and France isn’t terribly interesting, the French Revolution is a perfect candidate for “favorite era.”
Assassin’s Creed pumps out (at least) one game a year, whether you want it or not. I’m a huge fan of most of the series, though I felt ACIII was a massive misstep as far as characterization and optimal use of the setting are concerned. Also the gameplay took a huge nose dive, and many of the features developed in ACII, Brotherhood, and Revelations were disposed of for no reason, replaced with a much simpler, less fun version of the game. Plus glitches. Plus the inability to render costumes in cutscenes despite years of having no problem with it. Plus the villain was more interesting than the hero. Plus . . . well, you know what? I didn’t like that game. Let’s move on.
So far, Assassin’s Creed games have hit the Crusades, the Italian Renaissance, the Pirate Era, and the American Revolution. With the exception of the last one, Ubisoft has nailed each setting with their incredible attention to detail, and has done a great job incorporating the main character into famous historical events. Now, if you didn’t major in French history, which hopefully none of you did, you might want a quick reminder of the kinds of events you might find yourself parkouring and wrist-stabbing your way through. Shall we?
The Seven Years War
The Seven Years War ended in 1763, 26 years before the French Revolution, and served as a kind of prologue to the entire situation – the money spent in the war, and the citizens it screwed, lead directly into the unhappiness that sparked the Revolution. AC games tend to span decades: Assassin’s Creed II covered the years from 1459 to 1492, taking it’s dashing hero Ezio Auditore da Firenze from birth to age 33. It also ends on a fistfight with the Pope. Not important.
ACIII famously started with (spoiler alert) Connor’s far more interesting father Haytham, during the French-Indian War years before the American Revolution. What I’m saying is, there’s a very good chance that the beginning of the game will take place with the French getting their asses handed to them by Britain, Prussia, and Germany. This includes losing most of their North American and Asian territories and getting saddled with a ton of war debt and general crappiness. And considering that the French-Indian war depicted in ACIII and the Seven Years War ARE THE SAME WAR just on different continents, we might even get a cameo from the charismatic and totally rad Haytham Kenway. Which would really tie the whole thing together nicely – is this mysterious French assassin Haytham’s son? Brother? Cousin? Mayhap, mayhap.
The Tennis Court Oath
What many consider to be the starting point of the French Revolution, the “Tennis Court Oath” involved a group of commoners and bourgeoisie calling themselves the “National Assembly” who signed their names to a document that promised not to disband or give up until a fair, democratic constitution was established, despite the wishes of the King. Where does our erstwhile Assassin come in? There’s a very good chance he’ll be in the crowd, as democracy and the will of the common folk are huge hallmarks of the Assassin order. Hell, he might be instigating the whole thing. Plus, the Oath lead to a bunch of angry riots and stuff that you’ll probably be leaping into, swords swinging.
Oh, why did it take place on a Tennis Court? Because the Assembly’s normal chamber was being blocked by the King’s soldiers. Also, French revolutionaries fucking LOVE tennis. Whether or not they were all wearing sweaters and white skirts is lost to history.
Storming of the Bastille
Definitely the most metal part of the French Revolution, the Storming of the Bastille involved a bunch of gangsters doing gangster-ass shit. If the Tennis Court Oath was the “hey bitch, no you’re a bitch, I’ll kick your ass bitch” portion of the fight, then the Storming of the Bastille was the part of the fight where somebody grabbed a whiskey bottle and smashed it over a dude’s head. The Assembly put together a group of badasses ala the Expendables, then dressed them up in red, white, and blue, because that’s what you do right before ass-kickery commences.
The Storming even proceeded like a linked set of missions in a video game. First the Assembly swaggered into a military hospital/museum and stole a bunch of guns and cannons, which you can bet your butt you’ll be involved in when this game lands. All 900-something stormers then cruised over to the Bastille, a prison-fortress and symbol of the King’s power, and basically surrounded it and told the 120 or so defenders to GTFO if they wanted to keep their blood on the inside. After some tense negotiations, everything went all Costa Rica and the murdering started. The Assembly attacked the outer courtyard while singing “One Day More,” then people started firing cannons into the crowd, then the drawbridge was disabled (likely by a dude in a white hood, reports are sketchy). The defenders got troop reinforcements, murder murder murder, and finally the defenders surrendered.
The head of the defenders, Governor de Launay, was dragged out and had the bejesus beat out of him. Then he kicked one of his attackers in the groin (seriously, no joke), so the Assembly hacked his head off, slapped it on a stick, and paraded it through the street.
The same day, the mayor, Jacques de Flesselles, was assassinated. Hmm. I don’t think that’ll come up at all.
The Women’s March on Versailles
Another pretty significant event, involving an enormous crowd of rioting women deciding they were over not being able to afford or even find bread. Revolutionaries joined the group, which eventually numbered in the thousands, and together they knocked over the city’s armory, jacked a bunch of weapons, and knocked on the gates of the Palace of Versailles to lodge a few complaints.
They flooded into the palace, fighting guards in the hallways and ballrooms and bedchambers. Guards were losing their heads left and right and getting them plopped on spikes (a personal French favorite, apparently), the Queen and her retinue were running for their lives, it was nuts. Eventually, the charismatic (Templar) Marquis de Lafayette managed to calm everyone down (I assume he had a Diplomacy skill somewhere in the high thousands to pull that one off). From there, they politely kidnapped the King and marched him to Paris to make him give up a bunch of his power and authority.
The King’s Execution
The French people really loved their guillotine, and the King really didn’t enjoy being essentially a prisoner at the whim of the common folk. A few years after the march, the King grabbed his family and tried to escape. They were eventually tracked down (by you, probably, give it time), arrested, and carted back to Paris. Then the King’s Austrian allies threatened to drop bombs on Paris (or whatever they had back then, dragons, etc) if he was injured. So, naturally, the Revolutionaries flipped Austria the double bird and executed the King via guillotine (or hidden wrist blade, then guillotine).
Honestly, I love the idea of jetting around the rooftops of Paris, swinging from bellropes and saving gypsies and killing weird old judges with rapey vibes. Will I be singing “Topsy Turvy” as I bring death to Frenchman everywhere? Yes. Yes I will. And now, so will you. You’re welcome.