Like many gamers, I was absolutely giddy when screens of Assassin's Creed III and its Revolutionary War setting when it surfaced this passed week. Though the choice of era had been rumored for quite a while, seeing the official artwork and today's glorious reveal sent my mind running; the potential for greatness in Assassin's Creed III is simply too great not to ponder over.
Coming to America: Traditional, walled-off cities are a thing of the past. When I saw the first preview image of an open, snowy field, I reveled at the possibilities the dramatic change of scenery and how it will affect our assassin's journey. On the great plains of a war-torn nation, AC3 is expected to feature a diverse array locations to explore. The first trailer reveals a snow-covered forest and a battlefield, and this is only a prelude to what we can expect. From colonial outposts and villages, to war encampments and the vast wilderness (perhaps even a cave or two) Assassin's Creed III can believably encompass all of these, and provide an experience unlike anything the series has ever seen.
Exploration of the New World: With its architecturally-lacking backdrop, Assassin's Creed III will have to do away with rooftop chases and seamless parkour- action. And as we've experienced four titles worth of building to building acrobatics, I’m eager to see what mechanics will replace it. The game’s trailer depicts a free-flowing, swinging from branch to branch scenario. It all looks very thrilling but our hero Ratohnhaké:ton (also known as “Connor”) is going to need more than his best Tarzan impression if he’s going to be traveling across country. Perhaps a refined horseback riding system? Oregon Trail-ish wagons? Maybe even canoes? There are certainly plenty of options to consider, each more intriguing and engaging then leaping around a handful of one-story buildings in Colonial Williamsburg.
Evolutionary War: Between the trailer and the handful of images available, it seems that Ratohnhaké:ton is going to be equipped with a tomahawk and a bow throughout the game, both which are obviously fitting for the time, but are not a huge departure from the weapons in previous games (such as the axe and the crossbow). The only real way to shake things up would be to completely redesign the combat system. The aesthetic just begs for a more primitive, hunt or be hunted game of cat a mouse between the predator and its prey. As exciting as it was to have a gun in Assassin’s Creed II (and it was!), I can’t help but feel that Ubisoft was setting the stage for the type of artillery we'd see in AC3. And while having to reload a musket won’t be nearly as fun as a wrist-mounted pistol, at least it’ll be authentic.
Dressing for the Occasion: Call it a hunch, but I've got a sneaking suspicion that disguises and camouflage are going to play a big role in Assassin's Creed III. The all-white assassin garb might be okay for sneaking around a snowy field. But what about in the lush greens of a forest? Or around soldiers known for their iconic bright red uniforms? Yeah, it's not going to cut it. Previous games allowed you to dye your robes in a variety of colors. An expansion of this gimmick would allow for an assortment of costumes to slaughter across America in. So far we have seen the assassin in a Revolutionary War-era overcoat and a Native American-style shirt. But wouldn't it be great if we could accommodate our dress code for any situation?
(Native) American Hero: Assassin's Creed III is putting a Native American (well, half-Native American) protagonist at the center of its narrative stage. As easy as it would've been to go with something a bit more on the nose (such George Washington’s secret, right-hand man) playing as a Native American raises the personal stakes of war for the country, and adds a layer of narrative that wouldn't exist had a colonist or a Redcoat played leading man. Spending a game getting to know an authentic – or as authentic as memory assassin can be – Native American character would be a first for a major videogame. And with so much culture to draw on, Ubisoft has the potential to create one of the most fascinating character's in gaming history.
The Future of the Past: When you start musing on something as awe-inspiring as Assassin's Creed III – a game for which we've only seen a single CGI trailer and a handful of images, it's pretty easy to given in to your imagination. Just where will Ratohnhaké:ton's journey take him/ Is this a one-and-sequel or does Ubisoft have another mini trilogy in mind? If so, what else can we expect? One installment could potentially send Ratohnhaké:ton overseas to eliminate the English Templars that managed to escape his wrath during the war. Who among us wouldn't want to hunt down a Templar version of Benedict Arnold in the streets of foggy London? Another game can take place after the Louisiana Purchase, and have Ratohnhaké:ton join up with the Lewis and Clark Expedition in order to stop Templars from settling in the West Coast. And of course, there is the War of 1812 was basically the result of the Revolutionary War, so that one pretty much writes itself. The game would feature an aged Ratohnhaké:ton trying to defend the White House while taking out Templar targets around the D.C. area. And even though he winds up failing (the White House burned down, remember?) it would still make for an exciting game.
As of now we can only speculate as to what Assassin's Creed III has in store for us. One thing is for certain though, that is that Ubisoft is doing right by its critically acclaimed franchise. It could just as easily slapped a Revolutionary War setting onto AC2's engine and called it a sequel. But the creative powers that be are clearly aiming at something different this time around. There is innovation in the air, my fellow gamers. And that alone has given us all the more reason to wait as October 30 draws near.