For anyone who may be unaware, on Tuesday an image was leaked via Reddit, a screenshot supposedly from Ubisoft’s next outing in the Assassin’s Creed series, Assassin’s Creed: Empire. Whilst it’s hard to glean a great deal of information from the image, it seems to confirm initial rumours that the 10th instalment of the franchise will be set in Ancient Egypt, with the player apparently standing in the entrance to a structure that could be a pyramid or tomb and wearing clothing indicative of the time period.
I never need much of an excuse to talk about Assassin’s Creed; it’s truly one of my obsessions. Ezio’s introduction to the series ranks as probably my favourite game ever. The franchise is always in my mind in some way, shape or form, and ever since the first rumours of Empire appeared my brain has been buzzing with ideas. So, here are three things I would love to see come to fruition in the newest Creed game (and one that probably won’t but is damn cool anyway).
1. Tutankhamun the Assassin, Howard Carter the Templar
Hear me out: Tutankhamun’s death is shrouded in mystery. There are no records of either his death or his final days, although it is known he died around the age of eighteen/nineteen after approximately a decade as Pharaoh. Various experts have legitimate theories as to his death: DNA analysis showed malaria in his system , for example, but his death was unexpected, with him seemingly being entombed before the paint on the chamber walls had even dried. In any case, the circumstances of his death are heavily open to interpretation; so was he an Assassin murdered by Templars and buried with a Precursor artefact?
This in itself throws up more potential plot ideas, especially when it comes to the ‘curse of the Pharaoh’, the alleged curse placed upon royal tombs to discourage thieves. Whilst there is minimal evidence such curses existed, and no such curse was ever found in Tutankhamun’s tomb, that’s never stopped speculation over the ‘mysterious’ deaths of Howard Carter and his expedition. Thus, it could be that the dreaded curse has a simple explanation: Assassins protecting their deceased brethren and their secrets contained within the tomb’s artefacts.
Ubisoft have stated Empire will be a ‘soft reboot’ of the series, allowing for fresh gameplay elements and stretched boundaries over what the game is capable of. Consequently the idea of exploring different layers of connected history is certainly not unreasonable. With Absergo’s Helix software capable of immersing a random lackey into the lives of various historical Assassins, it’s also a possibility to have the modern-day framing story take place within a team assigned to studying the Ancient Egyptian Brotherhood and its secrets as a whole, through the lives of various figures of note on both sides of the equation.
2. A Return to Assassin Tomb Exploration
The player in the screenshot, presumably the game’s protagonist, appears to be standing in the entrance to some kind of chamber, possibly a burial chamber. This gives me hope that we’ll see the return of the Assassin Tombs introduced in Assassin’s Creed II. Personally they were some of the most enjoyable segments of the game – my favourite was the Tomb located in the Basilica San Maria del Fiore in Florence, due to the breathtaking scale and detail of the location.
This is likely where the greatest artistic license would need to be taken, as even the tombs of dead royals were not the warren of twisting passageways that make up some of Brotherhood’s Romulus Lairs. The earliest tombs consist of a rectangular structure called a mastaba, constructed from mud brick with a wood-lined burial chamber cut below the bedrock. The tomb built inside the Great Pyramid of Giza, for instance, is far more complex; the King’s chamber sits in the centre of the structure aligned with the point of the pyramid, with a long shaft stretching through the Grand Gallery to the entrance tunnel. Beneath it lies the Queen’s chamber and way below the bedrock which is suspected to be the original burial chamber, although it would be impossible to transport the sarcophagus to the chamber for burial. Instead the chamber remains unfinished, with a tunnel dug further into the rock that ends abruptly; it’s perhaps a structure such as this that holds the potential for Assassin-y secrets to be hidden.
Of course, much as there isn’t a single Assassin’s sarcophagus beneath any Italian landmark, this doesn’t mean many secret passageways within tombs, tunnels or chambers couldn’t be uncovered by the player and their trusty Eagle vision, which brings me to the next point.
3. Hieroglyph Puzzles
Anyone who’s played either Creed II or Brotherhood will no doubt remember the glyph and cluster puzzles hidden by Desmond Miles’ predecessor upon certain landmarks across Renaissance Italy. They provided not only a neat little side-objective (and an achievement/trophy for uncovering them all) but also pertinent information regarding the history of the immensely complex world the Assassins and Templars inhabit. Empire could easily incorporate Egyptian hieroglyphics into a new incarnation of the glyph puzzle, whether it’s merely a set of clues leading to the location of a secret treasure chamber full of chests, or provides a puzzle to unlock the final door standing between the player and a sacred tomb containing a precious statue that itself opens a Precursor Temple.
4. Amunet the Mentor
Thanks to Creed II, we already have evidence regarding an Assassin from Ancient Egypt, albeit incredibly sparse info. The Tomb located in Venice’s Basilica San Marco is home to the sarcophagus, and Seal, of Amunet, Mentor of the Egyptian Brotherhood and supposedly the one to assassinate Cleopatra VII with a venomous asp. As much as the above ideas surrounding King Tut and Howard Carter are enjoyable to ponder, it’s more likely Empire will feature someone from established series canon (although I’m willing to be proven wrong!), especially when that someone is a Mentor revered enough to be memorialised in statue-form in the Sanctuary of the Villa Auditore.
Cleopatra VII died in 30 BCE, putting Amunet’s reign as Mentor almost 1300 years after the death of Tutankhamun. Whilst this rules out the inclusion of Tut into any storylines involving Amunet, it does provide other avenues such as the mission to infiltrate the palace of Cleopatra and perform the deed, presumably after a series of memories exploring why this needed to happen. I’m in favour of this being an option, as it would be wonderful to see Ubisoft feature another main female protagonist, even if it is only for just the one sequence.
With a culture as layered as the Ancient Egyptians had it’s difficult to cherry-pick certain tidbits to write about, and with Ubisoft’s track record of historical research I highly doubt I’m the only one to have considered the above points. Whether the finished product is a glorious romp through the lives of the inhabitants of whichever Dynasty the game is set in still remains to be seen, but I for one am definitely looking forward to exploring tombs, stabbing Templars and rubbing shoulders with wealthy Pharaohs.
Besides, who’s to say that a Piece of Eden wasn’t recovered from Tut’s tomb and placed into a museum where it resides to his very day?
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