There are so many games and spin offs in this series now, so buckle up for my Assassin’s Creed rewind!
If I said I was a fan since the beginning, that’s technically true. However, I stopped playing after Assassin’s Creed 3. Loving the modern Assassin’s and utterly convinced that Ubisoft was throwing that plot line away. Then add in the release of Blackflag. And my dislike of boats made it the first game I skipped completely. In real time I likely could have been convinced to play the next in the series. But then…
In retrospect, this was a far far bigger fuss than was warranted. But, at the time there was a joke of ‘when will my love of [fandom] come back from war’ which summed up my feelings about the series.
In 2015, I missed Syndicate for no reason besides I was just still unhappy. Ubisoft had let me known plenty. But got praise for its inclusion of women and had the first trans character in the series. Then later confirmed having a bisexual lead.
The following year Pulse happened. I was watching E3 trying to process what was happening to my community. Hoping someone would say something because when bad things happen the world needs a moment. But rarely does.
Ubisoft’s conference comes on. Everyone was wearing rainbow ribbons, and they take a second to express their own heartbreak for the community. And since they had been working on adding LGBTQ characters before this, it was enough of a good faith gesture. It was something.
Come November, Watch Dogs 2 has another trans character who has an even bigger role. Rainbow flags everywhere. You can visit gay clubs and flirt with whatever gender of your choosing. Even buy pride shirts and wear them for the whole game. The last four things are really minor. WD2 is literally the only game that does that. Watching cut screens with PRIDE written on his damn shirt for half the game was amazing.
Assassin’s Creed Rewind Time Is A Go!
2013 wasn’t the greatest time for me. I kept thinking how about how an abusive person got into Assassin’s Creed because of me. Almost wrote the whole series off because of the collective misfired from Ubisoft or personally. But one thing the queer community always does is reclaim things.
I restarted the series with Syndicate. And ADORED it. I cannot fully express my love here. Honestly might be my favorite in the whole series. If you quit Assassin’s Creed, play this one. If it doesn’t win you over nothing will. (At least nothing that is currently out). Everyone’s character feels real. None of the customization mechanics feel clunky for the first time. The DLC has Darwin, and you can go ghost hunting with Dickens!
Working backward I played Unity next. And oh boy, Unity was utterly and completely mismarketing this one. They pushed the multiplayer too much. Which I never even got to play because no one else was playing Unity in 2017. Everyone expected a French company to tell us their history. But Ubisoft didn’t. Almost weirdly avoids it. There is one thing this game better than anything in the series. It shows the gray area of helping historical figures.
Help Napoleon today, and you help the people.
Help Napoleon tomorrow, and you help a tyrant.
It was buggy at launch, but have been completely patched. Unity is about being a person living in a revolution. The hope that you can help. The struggle of not being about to save everyone. A focus on personal choices for a game that isn’t choose your own adventure. I had expected angsty romance and Templar apologist plot lines from the debut trailers, what I got was something truly honest about activism and chillingly timely for 2017. It also includes among the best speeches I’ve heard in my life.
The Creed of the Assassin’s Brotherhood teaches us that nothing is forbidden to us. Once, I thought that meant we were free to do as we would. To pursue our ideals, no matter the cost. I understand now. Not a grant of permission. The Creed is a warning. Ideals too easily give way to dogma. Dogma becomes fanaticism. No higher power sits in judgement of us. No supreme being watches to punish us for our sins. In the end, only we ourselves can guard against our obsessions. Only we can decide whether the road we walk carries too high a toll.
We believe ourselves redeemers, avengers, saviors. We make war on those who oppose us, and they in turn make war on us. We dream of leaving our stamp upon the world…even as we give our lives in a conflict that will be recorded in no history book. All that we do, all that we are, begins and ends with ourselves.
At this point, I’m pretty much on an Assassin’s Creed high so for the first time pick up an my first Assassin’s Creed book. I’ve always been interested in them but skipped the because they were mostly game retellings. That is until, Assassin’s Creed Heresy.
It follows Templars which is a huge red flag for me. But, it’s Joan of Arc. She is my No Templars Allowed expectation. Like Unity, the historical parts are set in France. It also does a very good job of explaining very complex motivations in revolutionary times without excusing the harm that can be done.
I had worried it would be a straight dude pining over Joan but again like Unity does not cheapen its female characters by doing so. My one real complaint is the ending is weak and heteronormative. With those two points aside, it does a brilliant job picking up from Unity. It mentions both Arno, the sword of Eden as well as showing an important Templar shake up we might see in future games. If you do an Assassin’s Creed Rewind with me, orders doesn’t matter much. Just do Unity first, then Heresy.
Unless you only read books, then welcome this as best video game spin off book in your collection.
So far my Assassin’s Creed Rewind was going fantastic. Not a dud in the mix. Having unfairly judged all of the above, I decided to go all the way back pick up Blackflag. The point where I jumped ship before. Quite literally. I figure the boats probably control better, I love the series as much as I did before.. I’m eager to play something before AC: Origins in the upcoming year.
And…. nope. I absolutely still do not understand the appeal. At all. I know that’s a nearly unheard of opinion. But I’m unable to empathize with a character who is driven by profit for so much of the game. I could have gotten on the “He’s doing it because he can” boat if they had literally given me anyone besides a straight white dude who skips town on his wife. I’m only sorry that it apparently takes so long for Edward to be a decent person. ¯\_(ツ)_/¯
If you want to see Shaun and Rebecca, play Syndicate.
If you want to know modern lore, read the comics.
This is where my Assassin’s Creed Rewind gets back on track again.
The comics star Charlotte de la Cruz a Latina modern assassin. There’s a whole range of other modern assassin’s, an arc with a gay man who wants to avenge his boyfriend, and you see Erudito. I’m not in love with the art style but otherwise, I don’t know what more I could want out of them, to be honest. There are 3 trades that are out and a spin off series called Uprising (left) that introduces more people of color.
I’ve also read the short run of Assassin’s Creed Locus which only has four issues. I don’t feel like it’s important to know lore wise, but it includes a disabled animus user and the arc covers why he wants to use the animus which I found both unique to the series and important when talking about ableism as a whole.
In conclusion, if you dropped Assassin’s Creed because of too little focus on modern characters, clunky boat or other mechanics, and lack of diversity. Now’s a pretty good time to pick up what you missed without that brand new sticker price.
If you like the series, but want to support an indie publisher our books should do the trick. 😉