So last week it was "leaked" that the next Assassin's Creed game would be coming in 2020, which we already knew, and that it would be set during the Viking Age (code-named Ragnarok or Kingdom), which we did not. What's really interesting is that earlier this year it was already rumored that the next Assassin's Creed was going to be heading back to Rome, and that it would wrap up the "Ancients Trilogy," that started with Origins. Now normally I'd say that Rome is probably more likely, except the Viking setting is apparently hinted at in The Division 2, which I admittedly haven't played, and that the initial report comes from Jason Schreier. UbiSoft hasn't confirmed anything as of this writing, but Jason Schreier has a good track record when it comes to game releases, so I'm personally inclined to believe that we're heading North in the next AC game.
Now at first this seems kind of like an odd setting for Assassin's Creed, Vikings weren't exactly known for their stealth, and AC is very much a stealth game. Wouldn't, say, Japan be better setting? The answer is yes, Japan would be a perfect setting, and it's beyond astonishing UbiSoft hasn't realized that yet, but while I will touch on that point later, that's not what this piece is about. I think the Viking Age is an AWESOME setting for Assassin's Creed, and here's why.
Assassin's Creed isn't really a stealth game anymore. Now before you start to argue, please hear me out first. Yes, Assassin's Creed STARTED as a stealth game series. The original, the Ezio trilogy, and AC 3 certainly were. But starting with Origins, AC started moving towards an action RPG, making a full transition to RPG with last year's Odyssey. Origins and Odyssey put a much heavier emphasis on combat, with abilities you can upgrade and better weapons you can buy. Odyssey even introduced mythological creatures as optional boss fights, something the series had avoided until that point. The Vikings are perfect for an action-RPG. They were a hard fighting warrior culture with a deep mythology that still influences popular culture to this day. Even the fighting style fits in with how AC combat has been going. For regular fighting you go sword and shield (like the Greeks and Romans, Vikings used phalanxes and shield walls), and for heavy weapons you could use a giant fricking axe like in Origins; and going berserk would be a GREAT combat mechanic to add as a possibility.
The Vikings were seafarers. Origins had ship-to-ship combat in it, and Odyssey put a heavy emphasis on it, using the boat to get you to different areas, as well as giving you the option to upgrade your ship and higher better crew. The Vikings were master ship builders who made fast sturdy ships that allowed them to strike quickly and be on their way before any reinforcements could be summoned. They even built their ships in such a way that they could travel upriver, something English and Spanish ships could not do.
As a Viking, a player could easily have a home base back in Scandinavia, and different places along Western Europe's coast to raid and explore. If UbiSoft was really ambitious, they could even bring settlements into it, as the Vikings had settlements in Normandy and on the British Isles. Of course, if the game is set during the end of the Viking Age, the game could be about the downfall of the Viking settlements, and end with the Battle of Stamford Bridge. If you don't know what that is, I'd suggest looking it up because it is one of the absolute coolest battles in British history. The short version is this: the English caught the Norwegians by surprise and managed to route the heathen army. The survivors fled across a bridge running over the Derwent River, the English Army was delayed by a single large man wielding a giant axe who managed to cut down any Englishman who stepped forward. Because of the size of the bridge, the Army couldn't rush him. This is what we call a choke point. TACTICS FOLKS! At this point the story becomes something of a legend, and the exact figures will probably never be known. Supposedly the lone Viking killed 40 men and/or delayed the English Army by 4-5 hours, which gave the Vikings enough time to regroup. The nameless Viking was only finally killed when an Englishman took a barrel upriver and jumped inside. When he passed under the bridge he thrust his spear up into the man's groin, killing him. Now, exactly how many men the lone Viking killed and how long he held them off is debatable, but the fact remains that a single man armed with only an axe DID hold off an army for long enough that the rest of the Viking forces could regroup; and he was killed by a man with a spear who floated underneath the bridge. Presumably that Viking went immediately to Valhalla, because holy shit.
So, there's a LOT you could do with a Viking setting for Assassin's Creed. Yes, Vikings have absolutely nothing to do with the Assassin order, but quite frankly, neither do Greeks. The Order isn't even IN Odyssey, or at least the main game. Assassin's Creed is arguably an artifact title at this point anyway. If Vikings are indeed where Assassin's Creed is going next, I say "Hel yes." After all, as the old saying goes, it takes a Viking to raze a village.
But wait! I thought you said you were going to address Assassin's Creed - When the Hell are We Finally Going to Japan? I am, sort of. There's actually a lot of times/places in history that I think would make for awesome settings. Japan is first on the list, but I've included some others here as well.
Japan - Obviously. Samurai, Ninja, constant warfare, Japan is the perfect setting, why hasn't UbiSoft done this yet? I don't know, but I think they eventually will at some point. Now I realize a few years ago there was a UbiSoft executive who said Japan was one of the worst settings for an AC game, but he said the same thing about Egypt, and we know that Origins was already in production when he said this, so maybe they're waiting for the right opportunity. The thing is that there's so much you could do with Japan, you could easily have multiple games there. The Warring States era of Japan is the most well known outside of Japan, and that's probably the default setting one would go to. That said, the Warring States (Sengoku) Period of Japan lasted for 133 years, so there's plenty there. You could do the end of Sengoku and the beginning of the Tokugawa Shogunate, bring William Adams in for good measure. Or if you REALLY want to do a period of social upheaval that's different from what people expect, do the Meiji Restoration, literally the end of the Samurai era. There's so much you could do that I could literally take up another blog post just to discuss the possibilities.
China - I'm not counting AC: Chronicles for anything. I'm talking about developing a proper game. China has a long and fascinating history across several dynasties. There's you're title, Assassin's Creed: Dynasty. Let players climb the Great Wall. And if you REALLY want to do something unique, replace all the weapon combat with Kung-Fu. For example, your sneak attack is no longer a blade, now you snap someone's neck with your bare hands. Or if you wanted, you could still have a tree for martial arts weapons, nun-chucks, bo-staff, etc. You're welcome UbiSoft, that will be one million dollars. I accept cash or credit.
Russia - You play as an idealistic revolutionary in 1917, who helps bring down the Czar. Initially you find yourself making friends with a man named Leon Trotsky who introduces you to Vladimir Lenin. Initially you support the Bolsheviks, not realizing you're merely being used to do their dirty work. Eventually the PC figures it out, but it's too late. Stalin seizes power and your character is executed and thrown into a mass grave alongside all the other innocent people murdered by you in the name of the "Glorious Revolution." Yes, that's dark. You know what else is dark? Russian history. OR there's my friend Stella's idea, which is you play as Vladimir Putin.
India - British Raj. India was under English rule from 1858 to 1947, when the British Empire was at the height of its power. There's a lot you could do with that. There's also plenty of ruins out in the jungle players could explore.
Ancient Rome - This almost seems inevitable, especially if you set it right after Assassin's Creed Origins. The only real issue is that it's almost too much like Greece, which might be the reason UbiSoft goes with Vikings next year instead of Romans.
The Aztec Empire - Pyramids, death cults and human sacrifice. What else could you possibly want?
Antarctica - You play as a Penguin.
Those are my thoughts, what do you guys think? Which settings would you like to see the next Assassin's Creed set? Let me know.