The Assassin's Creed franchise is more than just a sandbox-style action-adventure game; it's a piece of historical fiction. Ubisoft plans to uphold and further the themes of history present throughout the series, tackling the American Revolution with its third installment.
But with early American history comes the controversial issue of slavery, which Ubisoft intends to address head on according to the PlayStation Official Magazine UK. Lead writer Matt Turner referred to the last days of slavery as a very current dialogue.
Slavery is particularly important for Assassin's Creed 3 because not only is it a heavy issue during that time period, but many of the slaves themselves fought in the war. Fans have heard about the new frontier-style terrain, the New York and Boston setting, and new protagonist, but until now no information on the role of slavery has been revealed. This could be a detail worth exploring, as it is possible that slave characters could play a significant role in gameplay.
It's something we've been very aware of, Turner says to the PlayStation publication. Everybody had slaves at this point; the first groups who rallied around emancipation didn't come around until 1787-largely driven by Benjamin Franklin funnily enough. That was very much after our game and slavery was maintained in culture.
Turner emphasized that slavery will be portrayed in context just like any other important aspect of the Revolutionary War.
We're going to focus on telling it like it was, he said. We're going to show what was there and what people did in that time, but we want to be careful with how that's covered and how much of it is there. It's an important topic. We won't be afraid to show that it's there but we're not going to make it the focus of our game.
Another challenge in developing the game was finding a medium between both American and English sides without bias. Turner said he has received some interesting reactions from British gamers that may not be too keen on slaying their own kind.
It's funny; I've seen stuff from British fans saying they don't feel comfortable killing their ancestors, Turner said to OPM. I always find that kind of ironic because killing someone else's ancestor is fine? Also, they were British in Assassin's Creed 1 in the Crusades, so you were fine with that?
Turner added that Connor is impartial to both sides, not identifying as colonial or British and is involved in the war strictly for his own reasons. Although the game is set during the American Revolution, the lead writer reveals that is not what the game is about.
Our story is of both the Assassins and the Templars, that's the focus of our story, he said. The Templars get their dirty little hands in everything, so Connor's trajectory through the Revolution isn't on sides at all, he'll be going where the Templars are and they're everywhere.
Assassin's Creed 3 will launch for consoles on October 30th, and Ubisoft is prepping players by teasing them with gameplay footage and teasers. On May 7th a one-minute trailer was released, requiring fans to fill the Unlock Meter to reveal the full trailer. After 1,776,000 tweets, posts and social media shares, the meter will be filled.
Another point that Turner stressed is that the game is made to be universal to each and every player, and it isn't an ode to American pride.
At that point it's not about American or English; it's about English and English and that's something we want to be very clear on. It's not about America Ra Ra it's about freedom and community and about how people are treated in that kind of a situation. And how they want to find their own identity. I think that's something that's universal to anybody.