Timed to coincide with Bastille Day, which commemorates the storming of the Bastille and the beginning of the French Revolution on July 14th, 1789, Ubisoft has released a new gameplay trailer, among other things, for their upcoming title Assassin's Creed Unity
. Revealed earlier this year
will feature a new protagonist, Arno, and will center around the bloody French Revolution, which erupted late in the 18th century.
With so many notable moments throughout history that could serve as the basis of an Assassin's Creed
story, a certain event must be significant enough to be chosen out of thousands of years of possibilities. The man who has aided Ubisoft in picking these events is Maxime Durand, who has counseled the developers with his historical knowledge since Assassin's Creed: Revelations
. To help portray the significance of this time period, a Historical Context Q&A has been released, shining some light on why the French Revolution is the next setting for the Assassin's Creed
Assassin's Creed has featured many historic settings to date. Why did you decide on revolutionary Paris this time? Why is the French Revolution an important period in history?
One could argue that the French Revolution is the birth of the modern world. It is during that time that the charter of rights was drafted; a document that, to this day, is the basis of the UN. It is also the turning point that began shifting western power from the traditional aristocracy to a new merchant class, the bourgeoisie. All of this happened in one of the most brutal and chaotic series of events in the history of Europe.
The French Revolution is a pivotal moment in history as it marked the beginning of a global movement… It inspired modern revolutionaries who patterned their own revolutions on the French model. But the principles of the Revolution – Liberté, Egalité, Fraternité – also laid the foundation of the political liberalism that we take for granted today. It was far more than a simple rebellion against an unpopular King; it was a total rejection of repressive feudal principles that had endured for centuries. The French Revolution gave the middle finger (and the guillotine) to anyone who supported the old social order of Europe. The French Revolution was a time of firsts. It included the first-ever assault on the entire concept of organized religion. The first genuinely “Communist” uprising (which was put down by other revolutionaries.) The first time women had ever wielded revolutionary power. The first modern police state, with show trials, informants, and public executions. On the brighter side, it included the first clear enunciation of modern liberal principles that we in the West take for granted. For all our focus on the American Bill of Rights, the French Declaration of the Rights of Man predated the American document by a year.
What can you tell us about the Storming of the Bastille, that happened on the 14th of July 1789, and which since became a public holiday in France?
The Bastille was a medieval fortress-turned-prison in the heart of Paris, consisting of eight 24-metre-high towers and the thick walls enclosing them. The Storming of the Bastille occurred on the morning of 14 July 1789, as Revolutionary mobs, incensed at the symbol of Royal oppression, laid siege to the fortress...The mob’s primary objective was not to free prisoners, but to seize the huge ammunition stores held within the prison walls. When the prison governor refused to comply, the mob charged and, after a violent battle, eventually took control of the fortress. The governor was seized and killed, his head carried round the streets on a spike. The storming of the Bastille symbolically marked the beginning of the French Revolution, in which the monarchy was overthrown and a republic set up based on the ideas of ‘Liberté, égalité, fraternité’ (liberty, equality and fraternity).
What part of the Revolution will be covered by the storyline? What historical milestones can we expect to witness in the game?
The game will cover several major events that occurred during the French Revolution. From the Estate General which marked the rupture between the King and the people to Robespierre’s arrest, the player will witness key moments from the French Revolution such as the Storming of the Bastille (as detailed before), the Storming of the Tuileries in August 1792 or the Prisons’ Massacres from September 1792, and of course, the beheading of Louis XVI in January 1793.
How will Arno own story be linked to these historical events? Will he meet famous historical characters?
It is important to make a distinction here. When creating ACU, we did not want to be trapped by doing a checklist of historical events. We had to avoid that at all costs. The story of ACU is Arno’s story, and this story happens to take place during the French Revolution (backdrop). Certain elements of the French Revolution affect and reinforce our main protagonist’s story. It is the Revolution that supports Arno’s story; Arno’s story does not bend to the Revolution. The game will be improved in that regard. We want this game to be a fun experience, reinforced by the French Revolution setting.
How is the French Revolution different from the American Revolution featured in Assassin’s Creed III?
I'd say the French Revolution is a very complex period filled with such rich history and we had so many events to choose from...In complexity comparison and without simplifying it too much, the American experience of 1776-1783 mostly became a war for independance against the British crown. The French Revolution was a total rejection of repressive feudal principles that had endured for centuries and which is why the victims were mostly civilians.
At the individual level, it was exceptionally bloody; nearly all of the victims were civilian. It was a time of terror in which no one was safe. A man could be sent to the guillotine on his neighbor’s whim. In sum, it was an extraordinarily violent, cruel, and momentous decade that took Europe by surprise. And while we might think we know what happened, there are plenty of stories from that time which have, until now, escaped popular imagination. In essence, the French Revolution represents a perfect template for an Assassin’s Creed game. To this end, we believe that the fans who enjoyed our previous games are going to love the new setting.
Two new videos have also been released by Ubisoft, the first of which is the aforementioned gameplay video that shows off some of the new features that have been teased in the past.
The second video gives a visual presentation of the history of some of the events that will be focused on in Unity
, including the storming of the Bastille, and the Reign of Terror.
The next chapter of the Assassin's Creed
franchise releases on October 28th for the Xbox One.