The lights are on
Earlier today, Ubisoft delivered a new trailer for the seventh major Assassin’s Creed game. The franchise has grown and matured quite a bit since it was first announced, so we thought we’d look back at how Ubisoft has evolved its unveilings of new series entries.
Assassin’s CreedAnnounced: E3 2006Released: November 13, 2007 (PS3, Xbox 360), April 8, 2008 (PC)
If when you first saw this video, you thought it was an updated take on Prince of Persia, you can take comfort that Assassin’s Creed began its life starring the Prince. The title was originally called Prince of Persia: Assassin.
Ubisoft spun the title off into its own series, after creative director Patrice Désilets presented a concept that put players in the role of an Assassin guarding the boy Prince. It was the right move, as Assassin’s Creed is Ubisoft’s pillar franchise having sold 73 million copies as of April 2014.
While Assassin’s Creed was introduced as an historical action game, it was later revealed to have a present-day element. The concept of the Animus, a machine that allows people to relive genetic memories, created a solid sci-fi twist to the tale.
We also found a cinematic teaser that details the history of the assassins and features the hidden blade.
This was an expanded version of a TGS 05 teaser, before the game carried its final name.
Gameplay was shown as a stage demo at E3 2006 and at Microsoft's X06 event (thanks to reader Ben Dansie for assistance in compiling the Assassin's Creed 1 videos).
Assassin’s Creed IIConfirmed: November 2008Released: November 17, 2009 (PS3, Xbox 360), March 4, 2010
Assassin’s Creed II was a huge leap forward for the series. By most accounts, Altair was not a likable protagonist. The sequel put players in the shoes of Ezio Auditore da Firenze in Renaissance Italy.
With a more compelling tale, memorable characters like Leonardo da Vinci, and a revamped combat system, this entry began to fulfill the franchise’s promise (even if it meant a more convoluted story). Those pesky collectible flags were replaced by feathers with narrative significance and glyph puzzles that were a joy to unravel. This was also the first title to include uPlay and its unified point and reward systems.
At E3 2008, we got our first look at Ubisoft’s vision for Assassin’s Creed’s Italy, set against Jesper Kyd’s soundtrack. It was bright, colorful, and very bloody.
At Gamescom that year, we finally saw the improved gameplay and combat. Set against “Genesis” by Justice, we get our first look at double hidden blades, heavy weapons, and a dirtier fighting style.
Assassin’s Creed II also spawned a prequel miniseries that unveils more about Ezio’s family and those that set out to do them harm. You can watch Assassin’s Creed Lineage below.
Assassin’s Creed BrotherhoodAnnounced: May 11, 2010Released: November 16, 2010 (PS3, Xbox 360), March 17, 2011 (PC)
Assassin’s Creed Brotherhood was a surprise for a number of reasons. The concept of annual releases for action games was still in its infancy, there was confusion about continuing Ezio’s story in an unnumbered game, and Brotherhood was the first in the series to include multiplayer.
It also introduced one of the most enjoyable mechanics in the series: training and deploying a guild of assassins in missions and in battle. The title also had a companion app, but not on a mobile device. By using Facebook, players were able to accelerate the training of their assassins and task them on unique missions.
Brotherhood was also the first title to introduce secondary objectives. If you managed to finish with 100 percent sync, you likely found yourself cursing at the mission that put you in Leonardo da Vinci’s tank. Notably, this was Patrice Désilet’s final Assassin’s Creed game.
Assassin’s Creed RevelationsAnnounced: April 29, 2011Released: November 15, 2011 (PS3, Xbox 360), November 29, 2011 (PC)
At E3 2011, we began our last journey with Ezio Auditore da Firenze, as he returns to the Altair’s home (and Assassin birthplace), Masyaf. As he nears the stronghold, we discover that this is an aging hero, likely on his final pilgrimage.
Time hasn’t slowed the master assassin down too much, as he rolls through a detachment of heavily armed guards. As Altair makes an appearance (only to Ezio), the hero is overwhelmed. He finds himself dragged to a spot familiar to fans of the series since its earliest days.
Set against Woodkid’s Iron, we got a sense from the beginning that this would be a darker tale (and one that would be closing a chapter for the series). Unfortunately, the trilogy closed on a weaker note.
Revelations stumbled a bit in terms of gameplay, in part due to the inclusion of a strange tower defense element. It also placed present-day protagonist Desmond Miles in a strange comatose state with a broken mind. The strange twist the story took in Brotherhood continues full steam ahead in Revelations, with the further involvement of an ancient (but technologically advanced) species responsible for the objects at the heart of the Templar/Assassin war.
Assassin’s Creed IIIAnnounced: February 2012 (Confirmed), March 1, 2012 (Detailed)Released: October 30, 2012 (PS3, Xbox 360), November 18, 2012 (Wii U), November 20, 2012 (PC)
Assassin’s Creed III brought the series to the United States in its infancy. Taking place during the American Revolution, players stepped into the shoes of Ratonhnhaké:ton, also known as Connor Kenway.
Instead of the architecture of the Middle East or Italy, Connor’s skill set was enhanced with the ability to more seamlessly climb trees and rocks. He could also hide in the brush more easily.
Because of the different setting, Connor had a different set of tools at his disposal, including a tomahawk and rope darts. He used his hidden blade, but modified to be used backhanded, also. This title introduced naval combat for the first time.
Despite being the fourth consecutive annual title, Assassin’s Creed III was in development for over two years. That year also saw the release of the Assassin’s Creed III: Liberation for PlayStation Vita. The two titles were loosely connected and intersected in small ways.
Assassin’s Creed III also marked a new DLC experiment for Ubisoft. The studio created a self-contained alternate reality expansion in which George Washington seized power as a monarch rather than a leader of the republic. The story was released in three parts.
Assassin’s Creed IV: Black FlagAnnounced: March 4, 2013Released: October 29, 2013 (PS3, Xbox 360, Wii U), November 15, 2013 (PS4), November 19, 2013 (PC), November 22, 2013 (Xbox One)
Assassin’s Creed IV: Black Flag was a renaissance for the series that recapture some of the magic lost in the previous two entries. The new Anvil Next engine was especially gorgeous on new-gen systems, and the naval combat was an expansion of one of Assassin’s Creed III’s most interest parts.
The story leaves Desmond Miles behind, instead focusing on the Templar-run Abstergo. Modern day events were presented differently than in the past, as the player is working inside an Abstergo office (rather than on the run from them).
The story focuses on Edward Kenway, grandfather of Assassin’s Creed III’s Connor. Players upgrade Edward’s ship, the Jackdaw, throughout the game. The recruitment aspect of Brotherhood also makes a return in the form of building a crew, but sailors aren’t able to assist in combat.
The story DLC experiment continued with Freedom Cry, which gave players control of Edward’s first mate, Adewale. It was later released as standalone content that does not require ownership of Black Flag.
Assassin’s Creed UnityAnnounced: March 21, 2014Release: October 28, 2014 (Xbox One, PS4, PC)
After a leak earlier this year, Ubisoft reacted by rolling with the punches. Assassin’s Creed Unity was officially confirmed with an alpha gameplay trailer (unlike many of the past titles).
At E3 this year, we found out that Unity would be the first game in the series to feature cooperative gameplay, with missions for up to four players. Unlike traditional co-op, each player will see themselves as Arno (though will see the others as different assassins).
Players will be instrumental in the French revolution, helping the people rise up against the oppressive aristocracy. Nothing has yet been revealed of the game’s current-day gameplay, though we suspect that there will be some element of that story thread present.
We also know that for the first time since Brotherhood, there won’t be a competitive multiplayer mode. But given what we’re getting in its place? It might just be a fair trade.
We’ll know more as we get closer to October. For more on Assassin’s Creed Unity, be sure to check out the most recent gameplay trailer.