Where should Assassin’s Creed go next? This is a question that has been asked immediately after the end of every major Assassin’s Creed game to date. Feudal Japan, the French Revolution, the Russian Civil war, World War II. Many fans over the years have yearned for an Assassin’s Creed title set in of these time periods and many a conversation has been had on a forum board somewhere discussing just how they would and wouldn’t work. But whilst they sound enticing, few have been able to accurately picture how these games would actually look. That is aside from one fan who took it upon themselves to create some fantastically detailed artwork of how Assassin’s Creed may look if it was set in Ancient China.
Chinese artist Chaoyuan Xu is the artist responsible for these gorgeous pieces of artwork. You can check out the Deviant Art page here containing his Assassin’s Creed art and more.
Be aware! Mild spoilers for Assassin’s Creed III follow:
Admittedly, I’m quite rusty on my post World War II Chinese history but the ages of the Chinese Dynasties would be a great setting for an Assassin’s Creed game. For one, the architecture of Ancient China would bring a new level of urban exploration to the series. The world was a much bigger place up until a few decades ago so whatever history available to us about regions such as the far East is confined to the history books for those of us living in the West. Introducing a time setting largely unknown to an audience in the West is sure to peak a sizeable interest in the fanbase.
Assassin’s Creed III touched upon this with the slanted roofs of the American Colonies. The previous games featured rooftops that were all very flat and didn’t provide Altair or Ezio with that little extra challenge of climbing. Ubisoft Montreal paid special attention the way Connor climbs in AC3 so it would be really interesting to see how an Assassin would navigate a city like this.
Urban exploration isn’t the only thing that would be brought to the franchise. The culture of past and early civilisations is something that has always been a key focus of the Assassin’s Creed games. The culture of the Italian Renaissance from the Ezio trilogy is something that made a huge mark on the franchise.
With something more unfamiliar to at least Western players, an Assassin’s Creed game set in either China or Japan would be able to benefit from such a culturally rich environment never really explored in Assassin’s Creed as a franchise. Even outside of the games, it’s scarcely explored even though there are Chinese and Japanese sectors to the Assassin Order.
Of course, to suit the story of Desmond, the series has to move forward in time with every game so a spin off like Assassin’s Creed III Liberation would suit an era like this well. Granted, AC3: Liberation was set around the same time as Assassin’s Creed III but it was a story almost completely unrelated to Desmond’s save from the Connor mission to New York.
Desmond’s story is done. Despite the the ending to Assassin’s Creed III leaving the mother of all open endings, the story could very well go into a new direction. Now that Desmond is finished (and lets thank the gaming Gods for that), the path of a new Assassin could be written. As far as the next-gen goes, Ubisoft can have a clean slate here. With the ending to Assassin’s Creed III being what it was, I’m not interested to see the forced sequel to the modern day story.
Players may also recall Sean Hastings, one of Desmond’s allies from the games talking about the animus theoretically being able to travel back tens of thousands of years to the memories of an ancestor long forgotten. Whilst that could provide the franchise with new possibilities, one of the draws for the Assassin’s Creed series is the historical settings to the games. It not only keeps them grounded and stops them getting too outlandish, it’s also simply just enjoyable to run around a historical landmark during a certain period in time.
With a time setting like this, a really deep and interesting story could be told. The Chinese Dynasties are fascinating pieces of history and given that each change in a Dynasty was often the result of conflict, it would be very interesting to see how Ubisoft could fit a characters story into this.
Every Assassin’s Creed game has many things in common and one of those factors is weapons. We’re used to swords, axes, knives and hidden blades but an almost alien time era such as the Chinese Dynasty period would feature some pretty impressive weaponry. We already saw the Rope Dart in Assassin’s Creed III that is based on a weapon from Chinese design.
To see more Chinese weapons would certain interest me as a longtime fan of the series.
Aside from deadly weaponry, an Assassin’s Creed game set in the far East could also explore some of the fighting styles used from that part of the world. In the case of a Chinese setting, the combat of Shaolin Kung Fu used by the Shaolin Monks could be greatly explored and could possibly bring a brand new feel to the combat in Assassin’s Creed in a way we have not yet seen. Each of the Assassin’s Creed games have a strong European influence in combat.
The first game features Medieval with the use of broadswords and daggers, rapiers and stiletto’s for Assassin’s Creed II and axes and hammers for the two sequels. Assassin’s Creed 3 saw the use of tomahawks, which is Native American based weaponry but the game also features battle axes and firearms.
Shaolin combat is also used as a means of meditation rather than having the sole purpose of fighting so a game featuring martial arts with Chinese weaponry would be something that fans could really dig their teeth into. The way enemy AI fights could benefit from a setting such as this as well. Enemies could be trained in the Shaolin arts and would provide a real challenge for the player. When it comes down to it, the enemies in the Assassin’s Creed games are rarely a challenge. (Apart from the Jagers in Assassin’s Creed III.)
As well as some brand new exciting urban exploration, Assassin’s Creed set in China would also allow Ubisoft to take the chance to explore some of rural China. Assassin’s Creed III’s exploration of the natural world was an almost intrinsically deep experience not seen in any other game so the chance to climb the mountains of China and to run across the rooftops of ancient Chinese cities would surely make it an even more refreshing experience for the franchise rather than simply having a new time setting to explore. Being able to explore a new part of the world essentially would be a huge step forward for the series.
History of the far East has always fascinated me. Be it Cambodian history, Chinese history or Japanese history, it’s a very alien part of history for someone who has studied lots of European history both academically and personally.
This may just be fan artwork but even so, it’s a window into just how an Assassin’s Creed game set in the ancient far East could look and it looks phenomenal. Whats more is that Ubisoft could very well head in this direction. We’re on the verge of the next-generation consoles being announced as this console generation is coming to an end. It’s a fair bet to guess that Ubisoft is thinking about Assassin’s Creed for the next-gen and that they’re going to be starting work on a new project if they have not already done so.
If you like these pieces of artwork, the artist himself is selling the original pieces so if you’d like to own of them (I know I would), you’d best head over to his page on Deviant Art.
George Sinclair is an editor for Analog Addiction, the home of the latest news, reviews and previews. You can follow George on Twitter and his blog on IGN. Don’t forget to follow the OFFICIAL Analog Addiction Twitter!