The future of Assassin's Creed series promises twists and "something really big," the writer of Assassin's Creed Brotherhood tells Kotaku. But what about the new game's cliffhanger ending? "
"We have a lot of twists waiting," Jeffrey Yohalem told Kotaku during a recent telephone interview. "There's a lot that's going to happen that should be surprising.
SPOILERS: In this post, we're talking about the ending of Brotherhood.
At the end of Assassin's Creed Brotherhood, the series' modern-day protagonist, Desmond Miles, appears to lose control of his body. He turns toward Lucy, the Kristen Bell-voiced modern-day assassin who has been assisting Desmond for all three major Assassin's Creed games. She's been helping him relive the lives of his ancestors and survive attacks from the historical foes of her assassins guild, the Templars.
Lucy and Desmond have reached a key artifact, Desmond has lost control of his body as he sees visions of some spectral pre-human ancestor. He unsheathes a blade, turns to Lucy, and he kills her.
The screen goes dark, credits roll and two new new voice is heard, some men talking about someone (Desmond, presumably) going into shock and saying to put "him" back in the Animus… what just happened?
Don't ask Kristen Bell. Yohalem said that longtime Assassin's Creed creative director Patrice Desilets, who left the series and parent company Ubisoft earlier this year while Brotherhood was still in development, had attended Bell's voice-recording session and had hidden the details of her character's apparent death from her. "He didn't show her that," Yohalem said. "I don't know whether she knows yet."
Perhaps Lucy is dead. Or perhaps not.
One theory is that Desmond, who had been reliving the memories of his ancestors in the three main Assassin's Creed games through the device called the Animus was actually experiencing his exploits with Lucy through an Animus as well. Think of the layers of dreaming depicted in the movie Inception, the notion of dreaming within a dream that is mentioned by some of the characters in Brotherhood in that game's early hours. Maybe he only stabbed a dream of her.
Yohalem confirmed that the new voices speaking about Desmond during the credits were indeed new people we haven't heard from before. As for the Inception-style layering of dreams? "I have seen that theory," he said. "People seem to debate between that and whether the Assassins have grabbed Desmond or they've taken him out and hooked him up to some horrible animus in a car." Or maybe Desmond's been captured by the bad guys?
All three main Assassin's Creed games have ended on this types of cliffhangers, leaving gamers panting to know what's next. "When we write these games we treat them as seasons of a TV show," he said. "Ultimately a season of a TV show ends on a cliffhanger… I love the moments in the West Wing when he's been shot — or has he? — or there's that terrorist attack on the president in one seasons and you wait all summer to find out whether he's alive or isn't he."
The end of each main Assassin's Creed game has left gamers not only wondering what will happen next but who they will play as next. Desmond has essentially been a bit player in his own series, with gamers spending the majority of their time playing as Desmon's ancestors, Altair in the first game and Ezio in the next two. One popular theory among fans is that Desmond, whose 2012 version of our world may be heading to some sort of cataclysm, will eventually be the main playable character of a future AC game. "Some people want no present at all," Yohalem points out. "Ultimately we've decided that the Renaissance and/or any historical destinations is what people come to Assassin's Creed for, but at the same time people like the science fiction." Does this mean that we shouldn't expect a Desmond-starring game? "Maybe, maybe not. It really depends on how much time we have... how big the time is, what the resources are, what we can do simultaneously, stuff like that."
Assassin's Creed Brotherhood's single-player was made in about a year. A new AC game is already planned and slated for late 2011 release. Surely the team knows where it's going next.
The Assassin's Creed series has been increasingly impressive as sequels built upon the original to construct a conspiracy narrative filled with clues for the gamers to sort out. The series is now consumed by its most ardent fans with the kind of sleuthing and passion of fans of TV's Lost. But earlier this year, the chief creator of all it, Patrice Desilets, left Assassin's Creed.
A fan could justifiably wonder if Desilets took the "true" future of the series with him. Yohalem, who helped write Assassin's Creed II with Corey May, who did the first two console games and is still with the company, claims that the team still knows what is supposed to happen. "We're not going to lose the reins of this. It's very clear where we're going. We don't just make things up out of thin air. It's very thought out. It's all going toward something really big, so stay tuned."