The lights are on
So far, we’ve only seen a small slice of Elise De LaSerre in her reveal trailer, but it was enough to get people speculating, especially the revelation that she’s a Templar. When we visited Ubisoft Montreal for our cover story, Ubisoft opened up about the enigmatic red-head and her role in Assassin’s Creed Unity.
Don’t dismiss this skilled swordswoman as a mere damsel in distress or minor character. Elise plays a pivotal role in Arno’s journey, having a larger place in the plot than previous non-player characters. She grew up with Arno, after her father took him in, and eventually falls in love with the man who becomes an Assassin. The two lose touch after some time, but are brought back together when Elise’s father is murdered.
Growing up, Elise never lets Arno know that her family is part of the Templar Order, but when they reunite, they’re both aware they swear different allegiances and are bound by different laws. Throw in a love story between the two and it complicates matters even further. “This is something we’ve wanted to do for a very long time,” says creative director Alex Amancio. “We felt that with this generation it was a good opportunity to crank it up a notch and have a story that’s a bit more serious and more mature. Love stories are always a hard thing in video games because ultimately they can very easily become a tangent. By making Elise a Templar and making that part of the core, it’s part of the actual struggle of the character. It prevents it from becoming a B-plot or a tangent.”
Arno feels guilty about the death of Elise’s father and is searching for redemption. Elise, on the other hand, is out for revenge. “Elise has the exact same objective, but she has no redemption desire because she doesn’t feel guilty at all,” Amancio says. “It has nothing to do with her, so all she wants is to do the same thing, but her motivation is revenge: ‘They killed my father. They’re corrupting my order. I need to find who is behind this or why.’”
Elise has a lot at stake. This is about her father’s death after all, but she’s also watching a shift of power occur in the Templar Order. The man who is taking over for her father has different ideals, and it’s clear that betrayal and manipulation is going on behind the scenes. “As for the Templars – the old guard – Elise’s one of the few survivors of that,” Amancio says. Elise is very driven and sticks to her values, which will put her in conflict with Arno, who second-guesses his allegiance to the Assassins. According to Amancio, the story will also explore the “dangers of vengeance and where that can lead you to.” Elise is hellbent on justice for her father, but how far will she go to get there?
She also won’t sit idly by and wait for Arno to do all the work. She has to think of the Templar Order’s future. You won’t control her in Unity, but she’s much better with a sword than Arno and can hold her own. Ubisoft also is releasing a compilation book that focuses completely on Elise, exploring more of what she was doing for the Templar Order when she wasn’t with Arno.
Elise is serious about her duty to the Templar Order and avenging her father’s death, but that doesn’t mean that’s all there is to her. Amancio called her “brilliant” and “immediately likeable.” “She’s that girl when you’re growing up who always gets you into trouble,” he muses. “She always ends up being fine, but you always end up being in trouble, too. You know you’re going to end sneaking into an apple orchard and getting chased by dogs, and she’s laughing because they just missed her. And she’s sitting there laughing and teasing you. She’s a free spirit.”
Ubisoft didn’t approach Elise differently than any other character they create in the series. She wasn’t just shoehorned into the plot to represent the female gender either. “We wanted to create a smart and intelligent, multi-layered character that didn’t represent any cliches that any character may have,” Amancio says. “When we create any character, whether it’s Arno or Elise, we treat all of them as characters. Gender is something that is an intricate part, but it is never a deciding factor in anything of how that character will be. All that’s [important] is that she’s a strong character.”
We’ll find out just how strong Elise is soon enough. We have a feeling there’s going to be hardships ahead for Elise and how she comes out of those will determine what kind of person she really is.
For more information on Elise and Unity’s larger tale, be sure to check out the latest issue of Game Informer magazine. Also, keep an eye on our hub (click on the banner below) for more exclusive online content, such as character profiles, developer interviews, and hands-on impressions.
Email the author Kimberley Wallace, or follow on Twitter, and Game Informer.