Recently, rumors started showing up, claiming that Assassin's Creed III would be taking place in Colonial America. Game Informer and Ubisoft later confirmed that this was true with two shots of our hooded hero standing in front of a Colonial era American flag. Pretty cool eh? Still, this only brings more questions. What will the story be about? What new gameplay elements will be introduced now that the setting has changed to the New World? We don't know for sure, but we can certainly speculate.
Let's start by looking at what our new hero is carrying on his body. The recently released Game Informer cover includes a perfect shot of both the front and back of our protagonist as he stands atop a snowy hill. He carries a small hand-axe in one hand and a single-shot flintlock pistol in his other. Strapped to his back is a second holster filled with another flintlock pistol. People used to carry dual flintlocks in order to fire two shots quickly by holding one gun in each hand. This was particularly important because the reload time of gunpowder weaponry was so high back then.
This may actually point toward a type of dual-wielding system in Assassin's Creed III. The fact that the protagonist is holding an axe in one hand and a pistol in another might even mean you can mix and match the weapons you carry. This would allow you to use a melee weapon in close combat, while still holding a firearm in case you needed to handle a more distant opponent. Then again, Colonial firearms were not known for their long distance accuracy. Instead, the pistols in Assassin's Creed III may in fact be short-range yet extremely high-damage weapons.
There is a feather tied to the axe, which seems to reference a type of Native American design. The same design can be seen in the rather impressive longbow and quiver that is strapped to our protagonist's back. First of all, this means that Assassin's Creed III will probably also be including two-handed weaponry, which opens the doors to two-handed swords, axes, and even muskets and rifles. Secondly, this may mean that the Native Americans play an important role in the story. They could have something to do with the Pieces of Eden or Those Who Came Before.
The final item our new protagonist carries on him appears to be a cavalry saber. Not only does this mean that swordplay is returning to the Assassin's Creed series, but also that it's possible we might see an increased focus on mounted combat as well. The protagonist's leather chaps would also suggest this.
That's about all the info we can speculate from the images we've seen so far, but if we take a historical look at the time period, we can come up with a few more assumptions. For one, the stealth gameplay will have to be greatly changed. Colonial cities were not nearly as big or vertical as the cities of Rome and Venice. There were far more small buildings and wide open tracks of land, which means espionage may be harder this time around. There will most likely be an increased focus in sneaking around under the cover of darkness.
It's hard to talk about what sort of assassination tools and abilities our new protagonist will have, because political assassination was not common in the days of Colonial America. However, another running theme of Assassin's Creed is cutting edge technology, or at least technology that is cutting edge for the time period the game is set in.
Of course, the first technological advance that comes to mind is gunpowder warfare. There were many different types of guns to choose from in Colonial times. The classic musket fired metal pellets down a smooth-barreled gun, while the rifle featured a more powerful and accurate projectile shot down a spiraled barrel that unfortunately had an even slower reload time. To compensate, Revolutionary War gunsmiths actually double barreled guns with a pivot in the middle. To switch between the two types of ammo, one would simply pivot the correct barrel into place and lock it down. It's possible that interesting pieces of personal gunnery like this could be available in Assassin's Creed III.
The Colonial Period also popularized the use of cannons and mortars in warfare. From small mounted swivel guns to huge howitzers, heavy weaponry became far more commonly used. These cannons could fire iron shells, bombs, hollow cases that shattered into shrapnel, and more. Engineers made all sorts of different types of ammo for cannons. Grapeshot turned your cannon into a gigantic shotgun, firing many small iron balls to poke holes through your enemies. There was also bar and chain-shot, which was composed of cannonball halves connected by iron rods or chain. Hot-shot was particularly devastating, as it fired molten shards of iron at the enemy. Using cannons with this kind of flexibility in Assassin's Creed would add an awesome gameplay element indeed.
Who knows what other elements of Colonial America will find their way into Assassin's Creed III? We might see naval warfare evolve due to the well-known power of the British navy. We might see a focus on poisons and hidden knives, which were easily hid up someone's sleeve. We might even see some well-known historical figures like George Washington play a role in the story. After all, an image of the main character next to our first President surfaced at some point during the reveal of Assassin's Creed III but was quickly taken down.
For now, though, all we can do is speculate. That being said, Ubisoft CEO Yves Guillemot said that this may be "the biggest launch in Ubisoft History." So whatever Ubisoft decides to do, it will probably be awesome.
Angelo M. D'Argenio
Date: March 1, 2012
*The views expressed within this article are solely the opinion of the author and do not express the views held by Cheat Code Central. This week's is also purely a work of fiction*