Darby McDevitt told me last week that the lead characters of Assassin's Creed 1 and 2 aren't related. I've played a lot of each Assassin's Creed game. I thought I knew the important stuff about Altair and Ezio, the series' two heroes from the past.
But Darby McDevitt, writer of this fall's Assassin's Creed Revelations was throwing me for a loop. Thanks to McDevitt, I know I've been wrong about a bunch of things, one of which is a mild plot spoiler for the whole saga that he wanted to share:
1) Altair and Ezio aren't related. I simply assumed they were, since the AC series is about a history-spanning conspiracy that is being revealed as a guy named Desmond relives the memories of his ancestors from game to game. In the first Assassin's Creed, we played as Altair, via Desmond reliving his memories. In AC II and last year's AC Brotherhood, we played as Ezio via Desmond. In this year's Revelations, we play as Altair and Ezio, via Desmond. But our two old heroes aren't related, McDevitt told me. He was standing in front of a demo of the game during a showcase for games publisher Ubisoft when he told me this, by the way. He said it casually, explaining that there was no reason to keep it a secret these days. So... Altair comes from one side of Desmond's family and Ezio the other, I guess. I don't know if this is a big deal, but I was shocked.
2) There are standard side missions, after all. One of the radical changes that I thought was coming to Revelations, a transformation of the series' many side missions to events that were more emergent—where you just sort of happen along side mission opportunities and there are no map markers for them—is... a misunderstanding. That's been misconstrued from the original coverage of the game, McDevitt told me. Minor missions will indeed work that way, borrowing a style seen in Red Dead Redemption for its "stranger missions." But there will still be side missions that you access via markers on the map. (Bonus detail: Some missions will have us, as Ezio, hunting down characters from the game's multiplayer mode, each of whom has a fleshed out story and is some sort of rebel against the society in the game's 16th-century Constantinople. Bonus Detail #2: Some missions will involve capturing territory in the city, as in Brotherhood, which will then transform the area by filling it with ziplines—and these areas can be re-taken by the enemy forces. Bonus detail #3 (!) Some side missions will only be accessible if you have enough brotherhood/minion assassins in your crew, and as you go into these missions you'll get to know your minions in some undefined way.)