Now that Assassin’s Creed 3 has well and truly landed and the success of its’ lead character has been established developers Ubisoft are now looking towards the future. Ubisoft recently put a poll forward for its fans and asked them whether or not they would like to see a follow-up to Assassin’s Creed 3 and continue the story of it’s protagonist Connor Kenway. Regardless if they decide to go ahead with it or not, which is sincerely hope they do, word is already circulating around the net about the setting of the anticipated sequel.
Assassin’s Creed 3 set the revolutionary precedent brilliantly with it’s coverage of the American Revolutionary War and this looks set to continue by taking audiences to one of the most fascinating, controversial, and pivotal periods of the last half millennium: The Napoleonic War.
The French Revolution started with the storming of the Bastille by Parisians frustrated by dire economic circumstances and regressive taxes introduced to pay for French intervention in the American Revolution (something that is noted more than once in Assassin’s Creed 3) on the morning of the July 14 1789 marked the beginning of one of Europe’s most turbulent periods.
The uprising was followed by the rule of Maximilien Robespierre and the Committee of Public Safety (weird name I know). The Committee were the people largely responsible for the Reign of Terror; a period in which 16,594 people, most of them nobility and/or wealthy citizens were executed by guillotine whilst another 25,000 people were executed across France for collaboration. Robespierre fell from power when the National Convention believed him to be abusing his power and executed him in 1794. His rise from relatively humble beginnings to becoming the effective leader of one of the most powerful countries in the world at that time and ultimate rapid fall from grace could be explained quite handily by a Piece of Eden, a bit of a macguffin ploy but it could work.
Who came after Robespierre? Napoleon Bonaparte, Emperor of France from 1804 to 1815. The cult of personality that has surrounded this legendary historical figure is nothing short of incredible. Not only was Napoleon a masterful military tactician, waging war with staggering efficiency, but his rule also led to (although many nations would rather not admit it) widespread legal reforms which have been a major influence on many modern governments worldwide. Often winning battles against vastly superior armies Napoleon’s victories could easily be contributed to a Piece of Eden, even though this would detract his status as a military mastermind. So too could his first exile, to St. Elba, his triumphant return to France, his defeat at Waterloo and second exile to St. Helena in middle of the Atlantic Ocean.
Where the narrative could really get interesting is when the player is given the chance to formulate their own opinion on the rule of Napoleon and what he stood for, a hotly discussed topic amongst historians and politicians alike. Napoleon introduced countless pieces of legislation that brought France to the forefront as a major cultural, economic, and military power. He introduced an integrated system of civil and criminal laws which we call the Napoleonic Code, parts of which are present in many western nations to this day. He introduced the Continental System of Agriculture and free trade between nations, sound familiar? It is one of the founding principals of the European Union! Finally and most importantly he promoted French science and learning which had become stagnant under the Ancien Regime (The Old Regime). Medicine, chemistry, physics, astronomy and economics were all made accessible to all levels of French society so that France’s higher education model could become a model for the century – to be emulated by any modern country with aspirations to culture, which it did. However despite all of these achievements there is no escaping the counter argument that Napoleon was a mass murderer; of the French as well as other Europeans. He engaged in extensive military campaigns to extend French hegemony, a legacy which would be continued by the likes of Adolf Hitler, Joesph Stalin… and modern day American Presidents.
Where would Napoleon fit in amongst the likes of the Assassins and Templars? I would not have much reservation in declaring him as neither of the two, he is somewhere in the middle. In Assassin’s Creed 3 we saw how Haytham Kenway, father of Connor, started out as an Assassin but later became a Templar… but not one as players knew them. It could be that Napoleon starts out as a Templar but becomes disenfranchised with their elitist philosophy and decides to go renegade. Napoleon’s regime, fueled by the principles of The Enlightenment, sought to bring education, liberty, and understanding to the masses – hardly a Templar hallmark. Yet… he waged war on those who disagreed with him, most specifically with Britain where elites were terrified of a similar revolution taking place in their own back yard.
Where does Connor factor into all of this?
When we left the stoic Native American Assassin he had lost everything he had fought for; his tribe was gone, his mentor was dead, the patriots had betrayed him and turned their backs on him, and he was left with the words of Juno “You are free to do what you will”.
What does he have left tying him to America? Nothing, everything is gone. Where he can go however is over to England to learn about his late father Haytham and try understand why he turned away from the Assassin Order all those years ago, it could provide an interesting story arc and add some diversity to a protagonist who was the straightest of the straight arrows during our time with him. A trip to his fathers homeland… just in time for the French Revolution. It is also possible that during the course of the Napoleonic Wars Connor gets the chance to visit Italy, a country which Napoleon conquered, to learn more about the life of series favorite Ezio Auditore.
England, France, and Spain have yet to be featured in an Assassin’s Creed title yet they are all locations which would provide some excellent settings – make it happen Ubisoft!