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Playing With History: Where And When Next For Assassin's Creed?

The one where everyone is called Darius.

Assassin’s Creed Origins has landed and it’s safe to say that it’s rather good. Indeed, we scored it a great 8/10 and it even gets two thumbs up for my personal score. That’s particularly impressive when you consider that two thumbs up is the maximum thumb-based score I can award!

The public of Planet Earth have only had a few weeks to experience Origins, slide down Pyramids, punch hippos and do a spot of chariot racing, but with video games we’re always left asking ‘what next’? And with the setting of Ancient Egypt being such an unmitigated success for the Assassin’s Creed franchise, breathing new life into a tired formula, I found myself wondering which historical period Ubisoft could tackle in a future instalment?

I reckon its going to be Ancient Greece, and I believe it would be the perfect setting for a follow up to Origins. And here’s why.

Oh, there might be some mild spoilers for Assassin’s Creed: Origins by the way.

Early on in the game, before Bayek takes on the mantle of the first Assassin, his wife bestows upon him a gift from Cleopatra VII, the quintessential weapon of the order, the hidden blade. Thing is, Aya tells him and vicariously the player too, that this was the weapon used to kill the tyrant Xerxes. Don’t you thing its strange that the definitive weapon of an Assassin was not invented by the first assassin and instead it was just a gift? I know I do.

It’s the equivalent of the apple, landing in the garden of Woolsthorpe Gardens, already having a theory of the nature of gravity written on the back of it for Isaac Newton to discover and this leads me to believe that, whilst Bayek founded the Assassin Brotherhood, he is not the first assassin. This assassin is the person responsible for eliminating the tyrant Xerxes and that story would form the perfect background for the next game in the series.

So who was this Xerxes fellow and how many points is his name worth in scrabble? The answer to the first questions is that Xerxes I was the king of Persia, who is perhaps more famously known as the bald bloke with the nose piercing and the weird voice from the film 300. The answer to the second question is twenty points, if only the pesky rule makers of Scrabble would allow it.

Xerxes the Great was the fourth king in the line of Achaemenid dynasty. He ruled the Persian empire at its apex when it was the first global superpower. Assassin’s Creed games depend on a strong antagonist to provide the narrative and context by which the protagonist’s story can be weaved around. Therefore, it must be the sort of historical character that caused some real waves in their lifetime, which Xerxes certainly did when he invaded Ancient Greece in the spring of 480BC.

Location, location, location might be a terrible British TV program, but its also of vital importance to Assassin’s Creed. One of the key features of the game is the appeal of being able to explore incredible buildings, such as the Great Pyramid of Giza, and to experience wonders of the world that no longer exist, like the Lighthouse of Alexandria. Persia and Ancient Greece have both of these in spades, with the opportunities to freerun over the rooftops of the lost city of Susa (one of the oldest cities in the world, dating back 4200 BC) or to clamber up the side of the Parthenon surely not ones to be missed. Both Persia and Ancient Greece could be explored, which would surely lead to the biggest and most varied game world of any Assassin’s Creed – even bigger than the already vast Origins – and there would be ample narrative reason to explore both of these diverse environments when we consider who the protagonist and avatar must be.

Artanbanus of Persia was either the bodyguard or vizier of Xerxes I and was ultimately responsible for murdering the king in the August of 465BC. Now this might involve a little bit of retconning of Assassin’s Creed lore, which tells us that a man by the name of Darius was the assassin who killed Xerxes I – this was mentioned way back in Assassin’s Creed 2, if my memory serves. This contradicts Aristotle assertion that it was Artanbanus who murdered the Crown Prince Darius and then killed his father Xerxes.

So I would retcon the mysterious Darius into becoming Artanbanus, especially as having Xerxes’ father, son and killer all called Darius would be far too confusing. Not only that but Artanbanus had a eunuch sidekick called Aspamitres and I bet this Darius fellow didn’t have a eunuch for a sidekick.

Anyway, Artanbanus would have undoubtedly accompanied the King on his invasion, which would provide the player reason to explore both Persia and Greece within the game, not to mention free run along the massive pontoon bridge that Xerxes had constructed to cross the Hellespont, that is until it was destroyed by a storm. Xerxes, filled with righteous fury had his soldiers give the water three hundred whiplashes and poke it with red-hot irons in retribution.

Artanbanus could also be involved with the major battles of the period. This would include the Battle of Thermopaylae, in which, according to Zack Snyder, 300 warriors covered in baby oil and little else fought with mutants along a mountain pass. Then there’s the battle of Salamis, in which, according to Noam Murro, the Greek hero Themistocles, covered in baby oil and very little else, had angry sex with Artemesia and rode his horse in slow motion over burning triremes.

Being there to witness King Leonidas’ glorious final stand against the vast might of the Persian Empire would certainly prove to be a spectacular event in the game, but it could also set the record straight. Contrary to pop culture, it was not just 300 Spartans who stood against a Persian army numbering some 150,000 warriors. Instead there were 7000 Greek Hoplites stood in the pass of Thermopayle, but when King Leonidas learnt that a local resident named Ephialtes had betrayed the Greeks and shown the Persians a secret path through the mountains by which they could flank the Spartans, he sent away the majority of his army away, until only 300 Spartans, 700 Thespians, and 400 Theban were left to fight to the death. But why ruin a good story of heroic sacrifice with historical facts?

Would the player, as Artanabus, assist the Persians or the Greeks? That would be for the developers to decide. This is because very little is known of Artanbanus’ motives for murdering Xerxes, we simply know that he did. This is of course ideal for Ubisoft as it will provide them with plenty of historical elbow room to come up with their own narrative that fills in the gaps.

There it is. My pick for the when and where of the next Assassin’s Creed game is Ancient Greece and the Persian Empire. Do you agree? Where would you like to see Assassin’s Creed set next? Let us know in the comments below.

  1. JR.
    Since: Apr 2013

    I think the most popular fan choice is Feudal Japan and I’m definitely in agreement with that – hopefully with a female lead. Although I’d be happy with Ancient Greece or Ancient Rome too.

    Comment posted on 23/11/2017 at 13:21.
  2. Ade
    Since: Jul 2017

    Good suggestion, I could absolutely get on board with feudal Japan. I’d also like to see the Mongol Empire explored in a future Assassin’s Creed too.

    Comment posted on 23/11/2017 at 13:51.
  3. Eldur
    Since: Nov 2012

    An Assassin’s Creed, set in Feudal Japan, with a female ninja and a male samurai as leads (a la Jacob and Evie) would be something I would buy SO hard.

    So, SO, hard.

    Comment posted on 23/11/2017 at 17:42.
    • Ade
      Since: Jul 2017

      You’ve sold me on Feaudal Japan. I’m in. But let’s avoid the stereotypes and have a massive lady covered in armour as the Samurai and a tiny dude dressed, very sexily, as the Ninja.

      Comment posted on 23/11/2017 at 19:34.
  4. tactical20
    Since: May 2010

    Yup, feudal Japan is the one!

    Comment posted on 23/11/2017 at 19:00.
  5. coxy1701
    Since: Apr 2014

    Japan sounds an interesting choice. Hell, so does ancient Greece.
    I disliked the new mechanic’s of origins in the beginning but I actually prefer it now.

    Comment posted on 23/11/2017 at 19:59.
    • Ade
      Since: Jul 2017

      Likewise. Initially the combat was kind of fiddly and I kept on targeting the wrong person or pulling out my bow at a most inopportune moment. Now it’s second nature and I definitely wouldn’t want to go back to the old combat system.

      Comment posted on 23/11/2017 at 21:36.
  6. Coyotecc
    Since: Nov 2017

    Feudal Japan would be cool but a personal second choice would be Arthurian Britain. Knights, chivalry, oppressed masses. Maybe even actual armoured templars. Plenty of scope for story and setting

    Comment posted on 24/11/2017 at 07:41.
    • Ade
      Since: Jul 2017

      Good suggestion. Plus, there’s the added danger of trying to balance whilst freerunning along castle ramparts in armour!

      Comment posted on 24/11/2017 at 15:29.
  7. Tuffcub
    On the naughty step.
    Since: Dec 2008

    Near Future Brixton, South London.

    Comment posted on 24/11/2017 at 16:31.
    • Ade
      Since: Jul 2017

      That would be terrifying.

      Comment posted on 24/11/2017 at 16:56.
Assassin's Creed Origins
  • Developer:Ubisoft Montreal
  • Publisher:Ubisoft
  • Platforms:PS4, Xbox One, PC
  • Release Date:27/10/17