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AC Revelations: Back To The Present

by Joe Juba on May 13, 2011 at 08:00 AM

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The bulk of your time in the Assassin’s Creed series is spent exploring historical settings, but the story is just as much about Desmond as his ancestors. While previous titles have focused on Ezio and Altaïr, Revelations will spend more time developing Desmond as a character – which means that the events happening in the present-day timeline will be important.

During our visit to Ubisoft Montreal, Assassin’s Creed Revelations’ script writer Darby McDevitt explained how previous events in the modern-day period will figure into the this game, and the key developments that should be given special attention. We’ve distilled these conversations down to five major points you should know before starting Revelations.

WARNING: Spoilers follow for pretty much the entire AC franchise, so consider yourself warned.

1. Desmond Is Not Okay

At the end of Brotherhood, Desmond falls unconscious immediately after stabbing Lucy. Shaun and Rebecca, presumably with the aid of other Assassins who were en route to the hidden temple, recover both of their unresponsive allies. They plug Desmond into the Animus, but all is not well. After all, people don’t fall into spontaneous comas when everything is fine.

Did the gravity of his attack on Lucy just overwhelm him? Unfortunately, the situation can’t be explained away so easily. “That was the shock that shattered him. But it was a long time coming,” says McDevitt. “Just like what happened with Subject 16 and subjects beforehand, prolonged exposure to the Animus and reliving these fragmented memories really does a number on your head. You begin to develop something like multiple personality disorder, and you slowly go crazy. Putting Desmond back in the Animus is basically letting the Animus handle that partition.”

For Revelations, the Animus functions as a kind of life support for Desmond, keeping his mind from fragmenting into the disparate identities it contains. Even worse, if/when Desmond awakens, there’s no guarantee that this problem will be resolved.

2. Lucy’s Fate Is Uncertain

We know that Desmond is in a coma during Revelations, but the team isn’t talking about what happens to Lucy after the credits roll in Brotherhood. She did get stabbed in the abdomen with a hidden blade, a move that seems to kill a lot of people in the AC series. However, it would seem strange to build up Lucy’s character and her relationship with Desmond only to have her die halfway through the series.

In light of what we know about Revelations now, one possibility is that when Juno (the member of the First Civilization who speaks at the end of Brotherhood) took control of Desmond, her goal wasn’t Lucy’s death as much as it was delivering an incapacitating shock to Desmond’s mind.  The last thing Juno says after Desmond stabs Lucy is “It is done. The way lies all before you. Only she remains to be found. Awaken the sixth. Go. Alone!” Perhaps Juno’s plan was to capitalize on Desmond’s feelings for Lucy, ensuring that his attack on her was so overwhelming that his mind would shut down. It’s possible that Juno knows that in his struggle to regain consciousness in the Animus, Desmond will uncover the crucial piece of the puzzle she calls “the sixth.” The sixth what? Well, Juno explains that, too…

3. The First Civilization Had An Extra Sense

The members of the First Civlization (like Minerva and Juno) are among the most mysterious aspects of the Assassin’s Creed mythology. While Revelations probably won’t answer every question you may have about this long-lost race (“They’re not space aliens!” McDevitt clarifies), they still play an important role. We got a hint of this from Juno when she says, “A hundred years I might speak and still you would not know us. You with five senses. Us with six. The one we kept from you. To be safe.”

The take away from that exchange, according to McDevitt, is this: “Juno explicitly says that they have six senses, not five. That plays a role in our game and how we get to access Altair’s memories.”

This sixth sense is tied to the Eagle Vision ability and the bleeding effect that causes past memories to encroach on the present. Considering how these central these concepts are in Revelations (and how they are evolving), Desmond could wake up with an almost supernatural awareness.

4. The Templar/Assassin Conflict Will Have To Wait

The present-day storyline is much like its parallel historical counterparts in one respect: It deals with the struggle of the Assassins against the Templar. However, with Desmond out of commission, most of the plot in Revelations will deal with delving into his character rather than resolving the war between two secret organizations.

“It won’t go into huge details about the present-day Assassin/Templar conflict; you won’t see any modern-day swordfights. The character development opportunities are huge, though,” McDevitt says. “Because he’s alone in the Animus, we have an opportunity to pause. There’s still a bit of forward momentum in our present-day story, but we get to push the pause button more often and really build his backstory.”

5. Desmond Has A Past

When we meet Desmond in Assassin’s Creed, he’s being held captive by Templars. But what was he doing before that? “That’s a lot of what’s going to be revealed in this story,” McDevitt explains. “The first conversation Desmond has in the AC series is where Vidic basically says, ‘We know what you are. You’re an assassin.’ Desmond says he isn’t anymore, and that’s a tease. Yes, Desmond was a part of this, and at some point he escaped, and he’s been bartending.”

At first, Desmond’s apparent lack of baggage made him an ideal character through which players could learn about the Assassin’s Creed universe. But after Brotherhood, it’s clear that Desmond’s role isn’t just a passive observer. His purpose will become clearer in Revelations, and part of that is tied into his past and his family. After all, ancestry is an important component of the franchise.

“You see what he grew up in and what eventually led to him sitting in an Animus and captured by Templars,” reveals McDevitt. “We definitely find out more about his relationship with his father and mother through his time in the Animus. Because of the coma, it’s offering a very different opportunity to tell a very different kind of story.”

Many things about Desmond are mysterious. His past, his connection to First Civilization, and his role in the Assassins’ war are not currently clear. When it comes to resolving these issues in Revelations, McDevitt simply says, “Our goal is to leave you with more answers than questions.”

For more exclusive Assassin's Creed Revelations info, check back with our hub all month long!