You don't make an expected hit game with a 200-plus-person development team and not plan some sort of downloadable content. Assassin's Creed II is getting two large add-ons. The names of these packs suggest key story gaps will be filled.
Ubisoft's announced the DLC for ACII this afternoon and provided some basic facts. One release in January, another in February. No price was announced, both will be sold for the PlayStation 3 and Xbox 360.
Nothing too weird there.
Ubisoft recommends that gamers keep 1 GB of space free for each release. That raises an eyebrow. the size is double the size of a Call of Duty map pack on the Xbox 360, half the size of a Grand Theft Auto IV episode.
Here's the part for the dedicated Assassin's players to sort out.
The January release is called the Battle of Forli.
The February one is the Bonfire of the Vanities.
Forli is a small city depicted in Assassin's Creed II. It is based on a real place where real battles occured. The not-always-reliable Wikipedia dates a Battle of Forli as having taken place in the 13th century, which would overlap with some of the events referenced in some of the texts and bonus material in Assassin's Creed II. Those alluded-to events precede the new game and bridge it back to the first Assassin's Creed, explaining why the new game is set in Italy.
Could the first DLC take place then? Here's something I found about that 13th-century Battle of Forli via a quick Google search. Note the reference to Dante Alighieri who - keeping spoilers from ACII to a minimum — is referenced in the main game.
With the collapse of Hohenstaufen power in 1257, Guido I da Montefeltro the staunchest imperial lieutenant, was forced to take refuge in Forlì, the only remaining Ghibelline stronghold in Italy.
He accepted the position of capitano del popolo and gained for Forlì some notable victories: against the Bolognesi at the Ponte di San Procolo, on June 15, 1275; against a Guelph allied force, including Florentine troops, at Civitella on November 14, 1276; and at Forlì itself against a powerful French contingent sent by Pope Martin IV, on May 15, 1282, in a battle cited by Dante Alighieri (who was hosted in the city in 1303 by Scarpetta Ordelaffi III). In 1282, Forlì's forces were led by Guido da Montefeltro. The famous astrologer Guido Bonatti (advisor of Emperor Frederick II, too) was one of his advisors.
That all seems like a stretch though. Another theory is that the Battle of Forli and the Bonfire of the Vanities releases will fill in two major gaps in the Assassin's Creed II chronology.
The game mostly depicts the adventures of the assassin Ezio Auditore in Italy, spanning the years 1476 to 1499. But it skips 1489-1498, which should be labelled as "sequence 12" and "sequence 13" in the game's DNA/menu-screen. Instead, the game skips from the 1488-set Sequence 11 to the 1499 Sequence 12. The biographical data in the game for the real historical figure Caterina Sforza, who crosses paths with Ezio briefly in Forli, refers to her rule of the region during those skipped years and the battles her militia fights, ultimately against another one of the game's major characters, Rodrigo Borgia. It would not be a shock to learn that the Battle of Forli DLC covers this material.
The Bonfire of the Vanities could also neatly fit into the sequence gap. The Bonfire was a real event which occurred in Florence in 1497. The game already includes a fully-rendered city of Florence, though portions of it have been locked off to players.
Ubisoft isn't saying anything more about the content and when it takes place. Asked about the DLC's timeframe, a Ubisoft representative told Kotaku that more would be revealed later this month and again in early January.
There may also be some other, smaller DLC on the way. The game's creative director, Patrice Desilets, had indicated to Kotaku in September that some of the bonus areas that were initially available only to GameStop consumers would also eventually be available to more players. But Ubisoft has provided no news about that.