It's a big world out there
If you can remember all the way back to Assassin's Creed 4: Black Flag, you might recall an email on an Abstergo bigwig's computer that traces the geographical path of Desmond Miles' family line. While some locations on the list were familiar, like Renaissance Italy and Revolutionary America, some were brand new. That sent the fanbase into a frenzy because holy crap we're gonna get to go there! Ubisoft didn't disappoint, setting Assassin's Creed Unity in a location from the list, but then shoved a blade in it by saying Unity's protagonist is in no way related to Desmond. That nifty Easter Egg isn't so useful anymore.
Still, the thoughts and dreams and crazy fan theories that list fueled live on. Everyone still wants to know where the next AC installment will take place, what fancy buildings you get to climb, and what important historical figures you get to stab in the face. That in mind, we did some fanatic research and came up with settings we'd love to see in future AC games. Nothing is true, everything is permitted, right? Perfect!
First Century BCE - The Roman Empire
If Assassin's Creed is all about exploring the past, why restrict all those parkour moves and epic swan dives to the previous millennium? Why not roll it back even further, to the years that get really confusing because we count them backwards? That's where you get the ultimate power couple, Julius Caesar and Cleopatra. The last few decades of the first century B.C. are particularly interesting when it comes to them, because that's when everything went to shit: Julius Caesar was brutally murdered by his entire Senate (which has in turn been brutalized in high school plays ever since) and Cleopatra committed suicide by snake, which paved the way for the founding of the Roman Empire and its annexation of Egypt. Oh, and the Assassins were there. Of course.
The short version is that both Julius Caesar and Cleopatra were Templar puppets, securing sole rule of their respective countries through the Templars' influence. That didn't sit too well with Caesar's good friend and secret Assassin Marcus Brutus (Et tu, Brute? Yeah, that guy), who led the charge to assassinate him. Things got weird after that, with Brutus killing himself and turning into a zombie because of a Piece of Eden, and Cleopatra actually dying at the shake-charming hand of the Assassin Amunet rather than killing herself. Yeah, okay, where's the game about THAT?
Thirteenth Century Egypt and Northern Africa
When you hear 'Egypt', is your first thought of the ancient version, with pharaohs and jackal-headed gods? Well, stop pyramid-gazing, because theres a lot more to the countrys history than that. Plus, it has an established connection to one of our favorite Assassins and his undoubtedly badass offspring.
In the 13th century, Egypt was in the hands of the Ayyubid dynasty, founded by the legendary Crusades-era leader Saladin. The Ayyubid dynasty had an impressive run, but it ended when the Mongols entered the picture and started stomping everything that wasnt already flat. The Ayyubids then intermarried with their elite slave-soldiers, the Mamluks, to drive out the Mongol threat. According to the Assassin's Creed timeline, cranky Assassin protagonist Altair was fighting that same region-decimating army during this period before he and his family fled to Alexandria, Egypt in 1228. That means his granddaughters would have been there to see the Mamluks rally under the reign of Sultan Qutuz and fight back against Hleg Khan's murderous armies. And probably help. Hell yeah.
Thirteenth Century - Baghdad, Iraq
Once upon a time, Baghdad was the shining jewel of the Middle East, a center of culture and education when the nations of Europe were still waddling in the mud. It was home to the Grand Library of Baghdad or House of Wisdom, a prominent center of culture and scientific innovation during the Islamic Golden Age. This was a city steeped in history as far back as Babylonian times, meaning ruins and secrets to uncover and explore. It was also a place where the Assassins would historically have had a foothold, if not an obvious presence.
So why 1250? Well, that would give players a chance to see, explore, and get attached to a beautiful medieval Baghdad, and then watch it get completely decimated in 1258 by the Mongols. Freaking Mongols, man. The Siege of Baghdad caused such immense damage to the city - razing of architectural marvels, a death toll estimated between 200,000 and 1 million, and the complete destruction of the Grand Library - that it hasn't fully recovered to this day. And that all happened just a few years after the Mongols annihilated the Assassin Order (or, according to series lore, forced it underground), meaning you can watch as your new Assassin protagonist is slowly robbed of everything s/he loves and stands for. Because conflict builds character.
Fourteenth Century Ashikaga Shogunate in Japan
This is one everyone seems to want, even though there are already 63 billion games set in feudal Japan . Still, given that most games that take place during this period are informed by anime and Kurosawa movies, a Japan-set Creed could give us our first relatively unvarnished look at the setting. Plus, no anime eyes. Three cheers for historical accuracy.
Though the Ashikaga period preceded the better-known Warring States period by over 100 years, this era saw plenty of conflict, much of it revolving around whether the emperor or the shogun (read: military dictator, or 'President of Japan') got to run things. While Emperor Go-Daigo successfully rebelled against the Kamakura Shogunate in 1333, he rewarded his samurai supporters with little more than inflated taxes, which didn't prompt many happy feelings. This sort of conniving and back-biting sounds like just the sort of thing the Assassin Order could sink its talons into, and if the Emperor happened to align with the ideals of the Templars? Game on.
Fourteenth Century - Plague-Ravaged Western Europe
The Black Plague killed a lot of people. A lot. A lot. As in, not only did between 30% and 60% of Europe die of it over the course of seven years, but in countries like Spain and Italy the death toll was closer to 80%. While that number is mind-blowing, what's equally interesting and less likely to fit in the margins a history textbook is how much the plague changed things in Europe. Specifically through the resulting political, religious and social upheavals that took place across the continent, which will happen when you're pretty sure the world is ending. And what would it be like to play an Assassin charging headfirst into that chaos?
There's about a million directions Ubisoft could take an Assassin's Creed set during this time, depending on what part it wants to highlight. Maybe start in Sicily, where the plague was supposedly spread to Europe, and focus on Assassin/Templar attempts to limit its spread. Or perhaps Germany, where series lore says a Templar front group attempted to recruit followers by promising them salvation from the Black Death. Or maybe Milan, which supposedly fought back against the plague by sealing the homes of the infected, leaving them and their families for dead. Definitely grim, but with Unity looking like it's sponsored by Guillotines R' Us, you can hardly say the series isn't up for it.
Sixteenth Century - Mnster, Germany
For a setting to really work in an Assassin's Creed game, it has to have two qualities: tons of cool, historically-rich landmarks, and a labyrinthine layout where you can find all kinds of awesome treasure. Woo treasure! 16th Century Mnster fits that description, with lots of medieval structures, soaring cathedrals and dark and dingy alleys. It was also the site of an incident that the Assassins and Templars could easily be shoehorned into. Nothing major, just the entire city going insane.
In 1534, members of the Anabaptist movement took control of Mnster, calling it the 'New Jerusalem', and turned it into the sort of democratic socialist state that Assassins wiggle their eyebrows at. That didn't sit too well with local leaders, who shut that shit down with a 14-month siege. Things in the city started to get weird, with the Anabaptists' prophet getting smoked and his successor declaring himself the New King David. Eventually the rebellion's ringleaders were stripped naked and publicly torn apart by red-hot pincers for an hour. Then they were killed (eugh) and their bodies were hung in cages from the steeple of St. Lamberts Church. You could probably even climb up there and see for yourself if this game became a reality. But don't say we didn't warn you.
Seventeenth Century - Prague, Czech Republic
Prague is one of the most beautiful cities in the world. You want interesting architecture to climb on? Prague has tons of that stuff just laying around. You want a city rich in history, conflict, and legends? Some of the most famous facts about Prague are so terrifying that wed hate to know what it keeps on the down-low. Consider, for instance, an incident where Catholic noblemen were flung from a third-story window to their deaths by Protestant enemies. It was called the Second Defenestration of Prague. Second. As in that happened before.
This hotbed of sectarian violence and vicious anti-Semitism is practically screaming for righteous intervention from the Assassins, whose machinations against the Templars could easily be imagined behind the scenes. Oh, and then theres the Golem, a clay automaton who, according to legend, patrolled Pragues ghetto and protected its Jewish citizens just a few decades prior. Given that the Golem was mentioned in the defunct Facebook game Assassins Creed: Project Legacy, he (and the First Civilization artifact that almost certainly powers him) could make a perfect macguffin for a Czech Assassin hero to ferret out.
Nineteenth Century - Caracas, Venezuela
Before there was Che Guevara, there was Simon Bolivar, a revolutionary leader who was instrumental in freeing South and Central American nations from Spanish rule. Man, what a nice guy. Starting in 1813, he launched a series of military campaigns across a wide swath of Spanish territory, setting up democracies and freeing slaves as he went. Bolivia is named after him. So is Venezuelas currency. Hes revered as the George Washington of Ecuador, Colombia, Panama, and Peru. Theres no way anyone that cool and influential doesnt fit into Assassins Creeds timeline, whether as an Assassin-assisted leader, an ambitious Templar a la Laureano de Torres, or an Assassin himself.
This setting works particularly well for another reason, too: Spanish colonies in Latin America had a distinctly old-world feel, complete with castles, cathedrals, and other visually interesting stone buildings. Getting to explore them while following Bolivar around on tour would be a treat, as would the opportunity to take a 3,212-foot Leap of Faith off the top of Venezuelas Angel Falls. Eagle nooooooooooise!
Nineteenth Century Taiwan
Its not widely known in the West, but 19th century Taiwan was plagued by a series of really bizarre, nation-changing events. For example, the U.S. tried to invade in 1867 after a nasty take-no-prisoners situation with a shipwrecked American vessel. A similar shipwreck-massacre incident in 1871 led to a more successful Japanese invasion three years later, and then 10 years later the island was swept up in the Sino-French War. Then another Japanese invasion followed in 1895, this time as part of the larger First Sino-Japanese War, which ended with Taiwan under Japanese rule.
At the center of all this are the aboriginal tribes of Taiwan, some of whom were known headhunters that had an uneasy, often violent relationship with the islands Han Chinese settlers. Given the pivotal (but largely untold) role they played in the islands invasion-thick history, their assorted cultures could be an intriguing focus for a Taiwan-set Creed. Whether the protagonist originates from one of these tribes or not, being in the middle of this much conflict is bound to produce something reaching AC-appropriate levels of crazy.
Nineteenth Century New England and American Midwest
Yes, we know, dear God not another Assassin's Creed in America. Hear us out though. The knee-jerk impulse is to say a 19th century Midwest Assassin's Creed would embrace a frontier vibe, but thats been done and clapboard saloons arent really that fun to climb. A better time period would be the years leading up to the Civil War, when abolitionism had become a strong national movement and the Industrial Revolution was taking hold. See, isn't that cool?
Its not hard to picture Assassins working with Harriet Tubman to operate the Underground Railroad, assassinating slavery supporters alongside John Brown, defusing clashes between Irish immigrants and nativists in Boston, or even crossing blades with a very young Templar Thomas Edison. Also, the Midwest was Abraham Lincolns stomping ground, and if we dont get a chance to meet the Great Emancipator in his early days as an unassuming blue-collar lawyer, then why are we even playing these games? Ditto if we dont get to join in the chase for John Wilkes Booth.
Nineteenth Century - Industrial Revolution England
The times, they are a'changin'. That's probably not what the working class of England said in the late nineteenth century, because that's the completely wrong accent, but the Industrial Revolution was just kicking off so I'm sure they'd subscribe to the sentiment. During this period there was a rapid shift in the country's economic structure, forcing people to relocate to packed urban locations in the shadow of the soul- and often body-crushing factories. This led to vast increases in crime, infant mortality, general mortality, and social depravities of every stripe. It's exactly the kind of place that the Assassins and Templars would want to "fix".
An Assassin growing up in this place and time would be pretty amazing to behold, like a way more violent Oliver Twist. Imagine the struggle to help people, the tiny glimmer of hope you would create every time you save a bizarrely familiar citizen from thugs and struggle against your circumstances. There could even be a cool story about the Assassin protagonist being wooed by Templar promises of health and prosperity but slowly learning the Templars aren't everything they seem. And if you're still not convinced, think about this: this was the period when Jack the Ripper was out in full force. Theeeere you go.
Twentieth Century - Madrid, Spain
Setting anything in the 20th Century is pretty unlikely for Assassins Creed. For one, widespread use of firearms renders melee combat obsolete. For another, series lore says that any period after the commercial success of the automobile is difficult for the Animus to properly render (translation: Ubisoft said screw it). Problems of creating a modern setting aside, though, the Spanish Civil War satisfies three major requirements of the series: its cities and countryside were filled with beautiful landmarks just begging to be climbed; its completely ignored by other games; and it presents a clear moral conflict tailor-made for the Assassins. I mean, a loose underdog confederation of anarchists, republicans, and anti-fascists on one side, and a unified front of Nazi-backed (and possibly Templar-backed) fascists on the other? Sounds about right.
Riding through the Pyrenees with Basque saboteurs, skulking through bombed-out streets or scaling El Escorial in the shadows of the conflict sounds way too cool, firearms be damned. Besides, the Spanish Civil War is notable for not being a completely mechanized war. Sure, it was Germanys test bed for World War II, but widespread use of horses, a relative scarcity of automatic weapons, and no shortage of amateur soldiers mean it could still feel period-accurate without having to sacrifice too much of ACs traditional feel.
Twentieth Century Summer of Love San Francisco
OK, yes, this ones just Ubisoft winking at a Simpsons reference, but that doesnt mean its not fun to think about. Hippies may not have been known for embracing murder as a political tactic - err, most of the time - but otherwise their communal, freedom-loving ideals line up nicely with those of the Assassins. Also, given that this is part of Desmonds matrilineal line, odds are good that exploring this place would put players in the shoes of Desmonds mysterious mother, and we bet she's a badass.
Given that Desmonds father was born in 1948, we can assume his mom would be around the same age, putting her in her late teens or early 20s during the summer of 1967 - an ideal age to be in the middle of countercultural upheaval as an active Assassin. True, there might be issues because cars, but San Francisco is a relatively walkable city. Also, when you consider that August 1967 saw the assassination of American Nazi Party leader George Rockwell at the hands of a gunman who escaped by running across rooftops, this starts to seem like less of a joke.
But you forgot
The world is a big freaking place, and when there's many millennia of human history to play with, there's an insane amount of options for where the series' magic brain time machine should land next. What setting do you want to see in a future AC? Would you love to visit the places we've mentioned here, or can you do us one better? Are you ready to climb everything? Tell us in the comments below, and remember to synchronize before you leap.
Want to take a Leap of Faith into more Assassin's Creed? Check out our Assassin's Creed Unity and Assassin's Creed Rogue Road to the Reviews, and Insane conspiracy theories Assassin's Creed says are true.