Why A Colonial Assassin’s Creed Makes Complete Sense (and Sounds Awesome)

Why A Colonial Assassin’s Creed Makes Complete Sense (and Sounds Awesome)

It’s becoming increasingly likely that the next major instalment in the Assassin’s Creed series takes place during the American War of Independence.

Which shouldn’t be a surprise. It’s been suspected for years now that the game would be set around there. Seeing what appears to be final proof, though, has a lot of us excited. And for almost purely historical reasons. Here’s why.

(Yes, this is going to be largely about actual history. Indulge me.)


Given it was the birthplace of the American nation, the War of Independence has taken on mythical status in the hearts and minds of many Americans. Yet anyone who actually knows a thing or two about the war, and its causes, knows that there’s actually very little mythical about it.

Ubisoft’s Assassin’s Creed games may play loose with the facts, but in the more tangible history of a time period, they excel. What I mean by that is the politics, the attitudes, the society, even the fashion. It’ll be interesting seeing them apply the same focus to such a revered time in American history, and hopefully show that it wasn’t all as heroic as most movies and popular accounts would have you believe.

The choice of a Native American protagonist, as it appears has been made, would only aid this. Rather than having you play as a colonial, or a loyalist, being one of the indigenous population gives them the opportunity to propel the story from outside the partisan restrictions of the reds vs the blues.


People are already complaining that Colonial America lacked the large urban sprawls present in previous games. To that I say…those cities weren’t exactly to scale. You can’t run across Constantinople in a day. I also say, Colonial America had plenty of large urban centres. New York at the time was home to over 150,000 people, while around 50,000 people lived in Philadelphia. Not exactly Rome, I grant you that, but big enough for someone to run around in all day.

Another aspect of the same complaint is that those cities lack the towering landmarks we’ve been able to climb all over in other games. Well, they had church towers, same as any other city you’ve played an Assassin’s Creed game. There were also large forts and plenty of tall ships.

Last of the Mohicans

Oh, and if you really want to (I’m sorry) go out on a limb: given the war was as much driven by events in London and Paris as in the New World, what’s to say you don’t end up at one or both of those locations as well?


It’s approaching cliché, the number of times the argument that there aren’t enough minorities represented in video games pops up and someone makes a joke about Prey. Well, here we have what looks to be a Native American starring in one of the biggest video games on the planet, one that precedence shows may last well beyond a single title. And it’s an entirely serious series to boot.


I’d long argued this game would be set in this time period based on a single assumption: that it was as late as they could set a game without having to completely overhaul every aspect of its combat. The late 18th century saw large battles fought by lines of men armed with muskets, yes, but smaller-scale engagements weren’t so grand. And the American War of Independence had plenty of those. Whether it was Europeans using bayonets and swords to Native Americans using tomahawks and other melee weapos, there’s enough gunpowder around to make it important (remember, Ezio’s had a pistol for a while now) but still enough reliance on bladed weapons to retain those essential mechanics of sticking sharp things in people’s necks.

Also: scalping. You know it’ll be in there. Somewhere.


While we have no idea which side you’ll be on in the war, if you even take a side at all (hopefully you don’t), the fact there were so many nations and races at play should make for a great variety of people to talk to, rob from and stab in the face. Past games have always featured a clash of peoples or cultures, and the War of Independence was no different.

You’ve got established colonials. European immigrants from all corners of the continent. Local militias. The Continental Army. The British Army. Tens of thousands of Germans fighting for the British Army. The Royal Navy. The French Army. The French Navy. The Spanish Army. Slaves. Not to mention Native Americans on both sides (and stuck in the middle).


Imagine, then, the possibilities present in the War of Independence, which has no shortage of both important and fascinating characters. There’s George Washington, of course, interesting not only for his importance, but also for the fact he fought for both sides in his long military career. There’s Benjamin Franklin. Paul Revere. And don’t forget Benedict Arnold as a possible Templar villain, who like Washington fought for both sides (only he did it in the same war).


I’ve already seen a few people complaining that this is yet another game about America, that it’s a shame to see a series that had been so un-American end up so, well, American. That to me sounds ridiculous. The America you’re sick of seeing wouldn’t be the America represented in a Colonial video game. This is that nation’s origin story, and as such will sound and feel much more European (particularly British) than anything you normally associate with electric guitars and square jaws.

Besides. Desmond Miles is American. His lineage had to end up in the US sooner or later. And the guys making the game? Most of them aren’t American either.

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  • Tall trees and a church here and there are no replacement for a sprawling city of ye old architecture.

    I want to see Assassin’s Creed 3: Musketeers.

      • *ahem* Arts history student here.

        AC 2 and Brotherhood were set in renaissance times, in the 16th century.
        Musketeers are associated with France in the 17th century. Though they were around since the 15th century, I believe what we see as the popular image of musketeers (and the ones I think Logic incarnate is referring to) were formed by Louis XIII sometime in the 16th century as a royal guard.

        History lesson over. And yes, it would be quite spiffy to fight with a rapier and twirl your moustache!

        • *Should have read “….were formed by Louis XIII sometime in the 17th century…”

          That’s what I get for lecturing.

  • “Besides. Desmond Miles is American. His lineage had to end up in the US sooner or later.”

    That’s what I said!

  • This revolution doesn’t deserve better, it’s been addressed in a bazillion different RTSes. The French Revolution, however, has not (correct me if I’m wrong) been made the subject of a videogame.

    • I think either Age of Empires or Empire Earth had a section about it. That’s the only one I can think of, though.
      I would have liked to see it.

    • You’re right, but I’m getting the feeling they’ll explore the conspiracies surrounding the founding fathers and Washington DC’s free masonry symbolism etc. One game has to do it, and AC is probably in the best position to.

    • Yes. I was going to discuss this also. However I’d like to point out that (although not this genre of game) “Imperial Glort” and “Napoleon: Total War” were about the French revolution and the aftermath respectively. I think this would be the perfect scene for AC, as it leaves cities/structured buildings and would be a nice change from the predominantly Italian/Middle Eastern feel so far. having the French Revolution would also be an easy stem into the American War for Independence/civil war.
      Kudos to the author for writing this article though, I think that this era would be a definate go for the Assassin’s Creed franchise. Get on it Ubisoft!

  • The problem is we kind of are sick of seeing colonial era America. While the other games showed areas that don’t usually appear in media, we see this one all the bloody time.

  • I don’t usually get fired up, but all these comments of “no” and “hurr durr it’s not a huge city” is really pissing me off.

    Seriously, all we’ve seen is a poster. How about you shut your mouths until we actually see some actual game play footage?

  • sigh’ you still haven’t really sold it for me… like many others I think
    I would’ve preferred an Eastern version set in early Japan and China.
    Samurai and ninja assassins FTW!

  • yeah but this is a vidio game, do you really think think it will not turn into a flag waving celebration of gods own country america, if so I will be really suprised,

  • It HAD to end up in America eventually. It’s right there, Desmond is American. It HAS to wrap up before the end of 2012 (at least this leg of the story). So to do anything different would be a huge break in continuity. I think this approach is the most rich and tactful way they could have done it.

    The way some of you speak about Americans borders on racism. (And no, I’m not American)

    • Americans (unless you’re talking about Native Americans, which I assume you aren’t), are not a race. Hatin’ on Americans is just good ol’ xenophobia.

      More to the point, expressing a bit of ennui and disappointment that yet ANOTHER game is being set in the U.S.A’s past/present/future is less an indication of hating America and Americans, and more an expression of boredom at seeing the same settings trotted out again and again. Especially when there was the opportunity for a really unique setting.

      • I know, right? How many times did we fight Nazis in Italy, or sneak into Italian villas to assasinate mob bosses? They shouldn’t have spent 2 AC games in Renaissance Italy because we’d already been in Italy so much already. Talk about boring!

        (? :-P… I’m making an attempt at sarcasm here. I’m just pointing out that the past/present/future of any region or location could easily be considered an entirely seperate setting when we’re talking about tens, let alone hundreds, of years)

  • They really should have done Europe or the UK during the Industrial Revolution as that was the next step in the world’s technological advances after the Renaissance.

    I mean, the idea of putting the next AC game in America just destroyed my plans of buying it.

    It doesn’t make sense, the Assassins where mainly from the Middle East, Asia and Europe.

    It feels like they skipped a whole part of their history by making them end up in America…how did they get there?

    America was colonised through the UK, so why wasn’t AC3 going to be based in England during the Industrial Revolution, it would’ve made more sense that way.

    And the Industrial Revolution started way before America’s Civil War which is the story line for AC3.

    Putting them in America will only please one demographic, American gamers…everyone else will think its retarded.

    I mean sure, the Assassins had to end up in America sooner or later because Desmond is an American, but I would rather later, like say during the 50’s or something.

    • Who’s to say that they won’t explain that in the game. We have no details except a poster and a rough guess of the time period.

    • Okay Kai, how about you identify a good historical conflict or villian to justify making the game take place in the Industrial Revolution? A big part of the entire series is taking historical figures and working them into the plot, using existing real-world conflict as a backdrop (AC 1 had the crusades, King Richard and the Templars, along with Saladin, AC 2 had Da Vinci, the Medichi family, and the Borgia, Brotherhood had the Borgia again, along with Machalivli, and Revelations had Suliumen and the question of who would suceed his grandfather).

      The industrial revolution doesn’t really lend itself to any of that. You would have to make up an entirely original conflict, and it couldn’t be too big or important or otherwise it would have been recorded in history, breaking the suspension of disbelief, so you’d be left with a small conflict that didn’t really change anything in the long run. Meanwhile the American Revolution lends itself nicely, bringing together a lot of famous (or at least noteworthy) individuals into one geographical region, as well as plenty of fodder for making an interesting tale.

      And as I said before, ACR ended in the US, so it makes sense to tie the ancestor into that region.

      Plus your arguement about it not making sense that the Assassin’s are in America is just stupid; Project Legacy showed that the Assassin’s went with Colombus to the new world, and of course the Templars would be going to the New World to set up shop so of course the Assassin’s would do the same. Or did you forget that the Assassin Order started in the Middle East and only spread to Europe and Asia later?

  • I wouldn’t associate Americans with either electric guitars or square jaws. No the stereotype is far more unkind.

  • At the end of the day (world?) its how they will tie the American Revolution to the story’s “ancient aliens” backdrop. A lot of people are complaining it’ll be either be boring or the gameplay mechanics will suck in the era but not many are wondering just how the hell Ubisoft will close the story.

    [SPOILER] For a long time I thought they deviated too much after AC2’s shock ending. If they can explain Minerva’s race, the origin of the artifacts and how the hell they engineered humans (unless I was wrong about the Truth puzzle with Adam+Eve then I don’t care what setting they put it in. IMO I always imagined AC3 to be set in the dawn of humanity..you know, before Minerva left.

    • That would’ve been a pretty awesome idea 🙂 Now I’m going to be hoping for a segment where we play as one of the first human ‘Assassins’… I doubt they’d actually do it though

    • Because that would make Desmond of Italian, Arabic, and British descent. Plus you have to justify how one of Desmond’s ancestors hooked up with someone in Japan. Plus making Ninjas apart of the Assassin’s Order would be too predictable. Having a Native American Assassin? Did not see that coming.

      We all knew this was coming; Revelations ended up in the US, so we have to have an ancestor in the area to stumble across whatever the Assassins are looking for.

  • Native American Assassin who is part of an Ancient Brotherhood to take out the Knights Templar….its unexpected, but it sure is welcome!

    Also, look up Templar Legends and you will come up with this cherry
    This is lifted from Wikipedia.

    “Though the Knights Templar were officially disbanded in the early 14th century, some believe that the Templars, who are claimed to have possessed a sizable fleet of ships at La Rochelle (though there is no trace of their existence in any historical record[30]), may have fled to the New World by following old Viking routes, making one of the pre-Columbian voyages to America.[28] In Portugal, the Knights Templar did not disband, but simply changed their name to Knights of Christ. In 1492, this group is alleged to have provided the navigators for Christopher Columbus’ journey, and the Order’s cross was featured prominently on the sails of his ships, however there is no actual evidence to support this.”

    Interesting no? But more interesting is how an American Native became an Assassin.

  • I don’t think this game will please American gamers.

    Ubisoft is a diverse, multi-national company. They have interest in telling a story about the glory of America and the miracle of apple pie. Think about how the rest of the world looks at America …

    At the least this game will pain a bleak story about the origin of America, one that doesn’t conform to the glory painted in their national anthem. And at the worst this game will cause out right controversy.

    Think about it. AC1 and 2 show the assassins rising to their peak of power and prominence. Yet in Desmond’s time the assassins are more like a small group of rebels constantly on the run from the Templars who’s power and influence seems to have no end. So, at some point between AC 2 and 3, the assassins essentially lose.

    I believe AC3 will tell the story of the assassins unraveling and losing their territory. In Desmond’s era the Templars virtually control America so AC3 ideally will set this up. Presumably we’ll see the Templars sink their teeth into the origin of America, infiltrating every level of it’s government as the nation is birthed. I don’t think the mythical image that most American entertain of their country’s birth will line up particularly well with what we may see in AC3. We’ll see a government born out of bloodshed, treachery, corruption and secrecy.

    It seems entirely appropriate that we’ll we’ll be able to directly see how the Templars became such a huge power in Desmond’s era. it’ll lead directly into Desmond’s story. I believe that AC3 will simultaneously show us the fall of the assassins (in the past) and their victory in Desmond’s are.

    • I meant to say ” They have **NO** interest in telling a story about the glory of America and the miracle of apple pie.”

    • Why couldn’t you have written the article, you did a far better job justifying the setting! The AC series is indeed known for playing with the popular image of historical figures, and showing the “founding fathers” of the US as templars makes good sense in the context of the franchise.

  • While I’m not going to pretend I’m thrilled at this setting, I’m going to have a shred of sense and wait until they actually show the game before passing judgement.

  • It’s hard to top the Renaissance, really.

    This isn’t my ideal location for the game (I was very much a supporter of the French or Russian Revolutions) but I’m not going to abandon the series because of this. I have my doubts but I’m hoping that, assuming this is true of course, they can pull this off. Guess there’s not much to do but wait for more information.

  • I want it to go further back in time. I’m daydreaming at work about ancient mesopotamia, main city perhaps being babylon, following Alexander the Great.

    That has me more excited than the American Revolution…

    • Except it doesn’t really tie into Desmond’s story. Plus again, the key charm of the AC series is interacting with Historical figures and events. Most people would have no clue who anyone was back in those times, and you’d be hard pressed to find a handwave to bring a group of them together.

      • that’s very tue. I suppose I play it more for the exploration and experience of an ancient city / culture. never really much cared for the Desmond story aspect to the series.

        Just give me a new and interesting place to run around in and i’m happy.

  • I think the setting has a lot of potential for interesting stories, and a good many conspiracies about the early US government to build on.

    • Agree with you completely.
      Theres been a lot of in-game evidence to support this


      The ending of Bro’hood supported the free masons and the all-seeing eye on american currency. In AC2 Subject 16 bits there was a lot of pictures from the American Rev as well mentions of George Washington (among other world leaders) having their hands on P.O.E. While Im disappointed we’re not venturing to London or Japan, I welcome seeing Colonial America at the height of its warring time and it will be interesting seeing Ubi weave it into the AssCreed franchise.

  • Wow, finally gaming is starting to possibly start making use of all the fantasic and interesting events and settings from history, instead of trying to make new fantasy up all the time, and people bitch about it.

    This is brilliant, even though a silly amount of creative liscense will be used.

  • Fine, I’ll admit that climbing tress (maybe stalking someone, leaping from branch to branch) could be awesome BUT I still dislike how it’s slowly becoming present day. The addition of a gun in AC2 was pushing it in my opinion, now it’ll just be guns.

    • Have you done research on that period of time? Guns were still flintlock and inaccurate, and bayonett charges were still common. It wasn’t until about World War 1 that swords and blades became obsolete.

  • While the change to an American setting is inviting and a change of pace, i can’t help but feel so much can go wrong, with linking the plot and of course the mechanics of AC and the modernity of the setting (gun’s being more widely used).

    As a side note, after the main franchise is done, it would be nice to see a spin-off series or titles done such as feudal japan, with a woman as the main character (think mulan, only with assassins)

    • Ubisoft has said they plan to do things like that once the main series is over, and they’ve done some artwork of Assassin’s in different times/cultures.

  • Wow, lotta people hatin’ on something that hasn’t even been released, and is only hearsay at this point.

    I could bitch and moan about not being able to spend more time with my digital boyfriend Ezio, but I understand we all must move on….

  • There was a lot of cross over between the American and French revolutions. I don’t think it’s a stretch to imagine that our new (potentially new) protagonist will maybe hop the pond and play a role in the French Revolution too

  • Maybe I’m cheating a bit, being actually from America, but it’s kind of ridiculous how simplistic and inaccurate some of these assumptions are about the reality of the American Revolution. Even just the architecture :-P…
    I mean, granted they’re probably more accurate than what I’d get if I went to my local metropolitan area and quizzed people on the street, but still… ‘log cabins everywhere’?

    I’ll admit I find the alleged choice of setting to be a little on the ‘that sounds a bit more boring than I had expected’ side of things, but seriously folks, it’s not the worst idea ever. It’s an ‘American’ Revolution, yes, but that doesn’t mean it *has* to suck.

    Hopefully the game is good and does some interesting things with a setting that works for their formula.

  • I think people are forgetting that this is not necessarily the end of AC, this is the end of Desmonds story line, further gaps in the Assassins lineage can be filled by the ancestors of another protagonist. One persons ancestors cant possibly be a major player in every major conflict that has ever arisen…

  • It’s not what I ideally wanted, but I have to say, based on the screens I’ve seen and the articles I read, this looks like it will be a fantastic game. Decent article by Kerplunkett as well.
    Wonder which side the Assassins will end up being on? The Revolutionaries or the British? That’s something I could see Ubisoft playing with…

  • Well, if they had to do America, at least it’s the Revolutionary War, not the Civil War. No offence to Americans, but some of their accents are unintelligible – I had to stop playing FO:NV cos I couldn’t understand what anyone was saying (well, that and the game-crashing bugs).

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