Joey Sack ’17 / Emertainment Monthly Staff Writer
Given the fact that Ubisoft’s Assassin’s Creed series has now become a yearly title, it was only a matter of time before Ubisoft started releasing information about their follow-up to Assassin’s Creed IV: Black Flag. Now we have two pieces of information to analyze: a short teaser trailer and several leaked screenshots from Ubisoft’s upcoming next-gen game, Assassin’s Creed: Unity.
The trailer starts inside a large, empty room of what may be a mansion or perhaps a royal palace. The muffled sounds of a crowd are heard, and the sound of a woman laughing can barely be made out. The scene then cuts to deserted streets, which look run down and unpleasant. The bells of a church start ringing, as the sounds of the crowd grow louder. The trailer cuts again, this time to show a building with a blue, white, and red banner on it – the French flag. As we turn a corner, we see an Assassin standing on a building, overlooking the crowd gathered near the Notre-Dame cathedral in Paris. The Assassin looks at what seems to be a pocket watch, and puts it away as the camera pulls away to reveal a guillotine set up in front of Notre-Dame. The trailer ends with a view looking up at the guillotine and we see the guillotine come down, most likely on someone’s neck.
There are some things that we can tell from the trailer, the most obvious things being the time and the location; the game will take place mostly during the French Revolution in Paris, which lasted from 1789 until 1799. There are also some things that can be inferred from other aspects of the trailer: the fact that the Assassin allowed the person who was being executed to die, it is possible that the victim in question is a member of or ally to the Templar Order, the sworn enemy of the Assassins. This may speak to which side of the French Revolution the Assassins are on, and that perhaps their position will change as the Revolution goes on. There is also the question of the laughing woman at the beginning. It’s difficult to make out, but with the volume turned up, it’s audible that there is a woman laughing. This laughing woman may be the one who is in charge of the execution, or it may be the victim. But why feature the victim’s laughter? It may be because the person laughing is an important figure in the history of the French Revolution. And of the many people who were guillotined during the French Revolution, the one most notable in popular culture today is probably Marie Antoinette, the Queen consort of France, who was executed in 1793. It’s possible that the woman laughing could be Marie Antoinette, though that is mere speculation at this point.
Now to talk about the screenshots that were leaked a few days before the trailer was released. The screenshots show the Assassin that you will presumably play as dressed in a black and brown outfit. In terms of the weaponry that this Assassin carries, he carries a sword and a pistol. One thing that is not entirely clear is if this Assassin has a hidden blade, the trademark weapon of the Assassins since the beginning of the series. It’s possible that these screenshots take place early in the game, and that the Assassin we see is an initiate, who has yet to earn his trademark weapon. One thing to note about these screenshots is the setup of the controls, featured at the top right-hand corner of the screen. It shows that the X button (for Xbox) is still used to draw your weapon, and it looks like the A and B buttons (X and O for PlayStation) serve a new purpose: you press A to “parkour up,” and you press B to “parkour down.” This may be a new mechanic for getting around, or it could just be what they have for testing the game out, since the screenshots of the game don’t look fully rendered.
The game’s setting in Paris, France, will give players more opportunities for freerunning across close buildings, then climbing up historical buildings, such as Notre-Dame, to synch with a viewpoint and do a leap of faith. This aspect of the game will likely be seen by some fans as a welcomed return to form for the Assassin’s Creed series, which, for the past two games, has been lacking in incredibly tall buildings and dense urban areas to freerun in, instead giving us relatively sparsely settled areas of Colonial America and the West Indies.
It’s unknown how far into the Revolution the story may begin, and how long the story will continue after the French Revolution is over, but since the time before, during, and after the Revolution were a chaotic time in France, it’s entirely possible that the story may go from the time of the Revolution until the rule of Napoleon and maybe even beyond. An Easter egg in Assassin’s Creed IV: Black Flag may support this idea. This Assassin may be another ancestor of the late Desmond Miles, as there are several settings for Assassin’s Creed games mentioned in an email easter-egg that can be found in Assassin’s Creed IV: Black Flag. Among these different times ad locations are ones that we’ve already seen (12th Century Holy Land, 15th Century Italian Renaissance, etc.), and some settings we haven’t seen, including the French Revolution and the Napoleonic wars. It seems, given this setting and time period, that Ubisoft is not yet ready to let Desmond’s ancestors rest in peace, instead opting to continue bringing them back for more stories.
According to the trailer, Assassin’s Creed: Unity will be released around the holidays this year, for the PlayStation 4, the Xbox One, and the PC.