Over the course of 24 games, half of which are mainline titles, the Assassin's Creed franchise has whisked away players on virtual tours of several historical eras and settings from our past. We've stabbed our way through the Middle East, Scandinavia, Italy, France, England, America, the West Indies, Greece, Egypt and more - and it's not like the series is ending any time soon.
By virtue of its long-standing popularity, a large multimedia continuity has been built around the Assassin's Creed franchise including books, comics and even a movie, which expanded the scope of historical settings that our hooded vigilante heroes have explored. Many of these settings would make for fantastic locations in games, and there are even more out there which the series hasn't yet touched at all.
As fans of Assassin's Creed, we've collected some time periods, locations and civilizations we'd love to see featured in the series.
What makes an Assassin's Creed setting?
Before we dive into our selection, first let's take a look at what goes into selecting a setting for an Assassin's Creed game. A few factors related to gameplay and some of the traditions of the series need to considered, and not just any historical location or setting would do.
Generally speaking, the storyline of Assassin's Creed revolves around remnants of a highly advanced civilization that predated humanity and the lingering effects on our world. Powerful relics known as the Pieces of Eden are extant forms of technology used by these Isu, and are often fought over by two factions who are in on the secret, one of which supports absolute free will while the other supports absolute authority - they've had different names across eras and locations but are generally the Assassins and Templars.
Between the borderline magical properties of the Pieces of Eden and the gleeful application of "new world order" style fictional conspiracies, Ubisoft has found a way to smooth over some details that just wouldn't fly in the real world in order to maintain this sprawling narrative. This also makes it easier to wrangle various locations and time periods where no actual Templar Knights of Hashashin were present.
Things to look for in an Assassin's Creed setting are a high concentration of important, momentous events that shaped world history; a combination of place and time when architecture could have been semi-realistically climbed by a person; a setting where melee combat with bladed weapons was still more common than the use of firearms; a time when several historically significant people could have cameos in the story, and finally a setting where it was common practice to leave random carts full of hay absolutely everywhere. Bonus points if wearing an outfit with armor and a white hood and/or a dozen murder weapons strapped to your body was normal in this time and place.
For example, any setting that is significantly more recent temporally than Syndicate and located in a major urban area would make the whole parkour gameplay element difficult to pull off. There are definite exceptions - even today there are places not dominated by glass and concrete skyscrapers that could potentially facilitate this gameplay mechanic, but usually places that are historically and socially significant are also the places that develop fastest, so the selection would be limited; we'd also get close to firearm saturation.
Various folks in decision making positions at Ubisoft have repeatedly stated that Assassin's Creed will never include an entirely modern-day game which skips using the Animus to explore a historical setting. Sure, plans can and often do change, but we doubt this one will, since the whole historical tourism aspect is such a key feature of the franchise. It's practically baked into the DNA of the series.
While you don't necessarily need to go very far back in time, a quick glance at the main Assassin's Creed games and their general public reception shows at least some correlation between temporally distant settings vibing more with players than more modern ones.
Top settings we want to see in Assassin's Creed
Onto the choices then - some of these settings have already appeared in Assassin's Creed media, but not in games, while others have yet to be visited by the franchise at all.
The Roman Empire
This is probably the easiest pick, even more so than the Feudal Japan setting fans have been pleading for. The Roman Empire has been the stage for many important events in the Assassin's Creed timeline, and got multiple references throughout the games - especially during the Ezio trilogy. It also appeared in the decanonized Aquilus comic, featuring the titular character who was a Roman legionnaire betrayed and framed as part of a Templar (they weren't call that back then) plot.
If you want to be technical and pedantic, the Roman Empire has appeared in Assassin's Creed: Origins where large swathes of Egypt were part of it. For the sake of this entry on the list, we mean the European bit. Assassin's Creed is no stranger to the city of Rome itself, being the setting for Brotherhood and briefly appearing in some other games as well, but we never really got to explore it during the imperial era.
Another potentially interesting factor of the Roman Empire setting would be visiting the different provinces. Assassin's Creed games typically feature one single massive open world with a couple of smaller separate areas that you visit briefly for specific missions, but more recent installments have started to bring back more of the multiple maps, like as was present in the fantastic Assassin's Creed 2. Valhalla has several locations other than the England map and the Norway map - just adapt that approach and have players explore areas other than Rome itself. After all, the empire was huge.
Our top picks would be Gallia and/or Germania (maybe not both due to the similarity), Africa (the province as Romans used it, not the continent as we do; though the province of Africa is on the continent) and specifically Carthage, and either Dacia, Pannonia or Dalmatia as a third region.
The Persian Empire
"The Persian Empire" is a bit of a misnomer, as there were several; what most people refer to as the Persian Empire in everyday conversation (yes, cool people talk about ancient superpowers when chatting) is the Achaemenid Empire, which was at its peak under the rule of Darius I. The Achaemenid Empire also has played a significant role in Assassin’s Creed lore. In Assassin’s Creed 2, we learn that a Persian assassin called Darius (no, not the ruler - that would be pretty cool though) slew Xerxes I with a hidden blade - the first recorded use of the iconic concealed weapon. This tidbit of lore would be expanded upon in a DLC for Assassin’s Creed: Odyssey, but a full fledged game set in the empire would be ideal.
While the Achaemenid Empire’s territory at its greatest extent did have some overlap with the territories of the Roman Empire at its greatest extent, the bulk of the land under its aegis stretched to the east, covering geographical regions which Assassin’s Creed has avoided almost entirely.
While the conquests of Egypt and the Greco-Persian wars are the most widely known conflicts that involved the Persian Empire, a potentially more interesting and unusual direction to take would be the exploration of how the empire was founded and expanded eastward. Cyrus the Great managed to craft a civilization greater in territorial extent than any other before it, and while this had very real and tangible reasons, it seems like perfect fodder for a “the Pieces of Eden did it” plot.
While Assassin’s Creed doesn’t exactly give us an academic view on history and is still an action-adventure game about glowing magic artefacts and stabbing people, the potential these games have to educate shouldn’t be ignored - Ubisoft sure didn’t, what with the Discovery Tour modes in Origins and Odyssey.
Plus, Ubisoft is no stranger to the setting, what with the whole Prince of Persia series being theirs (and ignored, sadly).
Sticking to this region, we could go even further back in time to the age of ancient Babylon and the Babylonian Empire. Mesopotamia is frequently considered the cradle of civilization, and even Babylonia was preceded by several empires in the same region. We could also list the Akkadian and Assyrian empires here to be honest, but Babylonia is just personal preference.
Throughout its colorful history, Babylonia was swept up in all sorts of dynastic struggles and clashes with neighboring states, all the while serving as a hotbed of cultural development as the groundwork for modern urban life were being laid. The Period of Chaos in particular seems like a great setting for an Assassin’s Creed game, where a two decade interregnum would have made Babylon an ideal battleground for proto-Templars and proto-Assassins trying to establish a foothold of influence in the region.
The good thing about going further and further back in time is that exact records become more and more sparse, giving the developers more leeway with weaving the storyline into the overarching plot of the series and threading in Pieces of Eden; however, what records we do have paint a fairly complete picture of how dynasties, rulers and other key individuals navigated the period, so we have a pool of “celebrity cameos” to draw from as well.
Architecturally we'd look at different styles and designs but similar structures and building techniques as what has appeared in Assassin's Creed: Origins, meaning the parkour gameplay would be facilitated. Since Assassin's Creed had always included overarching themes of hidden powers altering the course of human history, it would make all the sense for the series to go back into the roots of our modern civilization.
Come on, this one writes itself. Who wouldn’t love a ninja assassin, and there are so many aspects of this era and setting that lend themselves perfectly to Assassin’s Creed, both in terms of gameplay and story. Swords, easily climbable houses, political intrigue, ronin, samurai… it’s all there!
No wonder then, that it is one of the most frequently requested settings by fans ever since it became clear during the Ezio era that the franchise isn’t going away anytime soon and is also willing to explore multiple time periods and settings. Japan is one of the most popular of settings to be explored in popular media, and itself is a major player in the video game industry.
Little explanation is needed as to why Feudal Japan would be a fantastic setting for a game because there are plenty of games that demonstrate it perfectly - both in realistic contexts, and in heavily fictionalized versions that are still based on the same culture and aesthetic. There's plenty of inspiration going around, you could sit the devs down for a Kurosawa marathon as a start.
The story could involve corrupt and cruel Templar-aligned Shoguns, a wandering masterless samurai who gets recruited by the Assassins, there would be a Piece of Eden involved. It's even an established element of the series that messing with precursor ruins can result in earthquakes, and Japan being an earthquake hotspot makes it an even better match. This really seems like a no-brainer - it's possible that's part of the reason why Ubisoft has avoided this setting despite it being highly requested by fans.
While it wasn't exactly pre-colonial in that depiction, Mesoamerica has already appeared in Assassin's Creed media - specifically in the comics. We won't spoil the plot, but at least one Spanish character appears in that story. Throughout Assassin's Creed 3, Black Flag and Rogue we've seen a lot of how the Assassin-Templar conflict affected the colonized Americas, and all of them involved returning themes of the cultural (and literal) genocide white invaders visited upon the indigenous populations.
While this topic makes for good drama, focusing exclusively on white apologism and ignoring the harmed cultures is just another, subtler form of erasure. This is why it would be great if the series would explore this interesting setting in a time period entirely before the arrival of Europeans. Since we know that in the lore there are a lot of precursor sites throughout Mesoamerica and that the Assassin/Templar ideologies aren't actually a new thing but the extant variations of ethical differences among the Isu, it would be an interesting plot to see the same conflict arise independently.
In geographic terms, Mesoamerica would be a significant departure from just about every location explored in Assassin's Creed games (exceptions being the brief gameplay sections of Liberation and Black Flag that actually took place in Mesoamerica), giving us an exciting new landscape to parkour through. The Aztec and Mayan cultures are also hugely distinct from any other around which previous games have revolved (and each other if you do a bit of reading, really) which once again taps into this series' often overlooked capacity to educate.
Mesoamerican architecture is also just really really cool.
Okay, maybe I'm just biased because I'm a Bionicle fan - no, definitely biased - but Polynesia would be such an utter curveball. When has a video game ever been set in Polynesia? Like sure, you can fly over it in Microsoft Flight Simulator I guess, but actually set in Polynesia? This would be breaking new ground, something critics often deride Assassin's Creed of never doing.
Not to be confused with Micronesia and Melanesia, Polynesia is the immense region of the Pacific Ocean that's roughly triangular in shape, with New Zealand, Easter Island and Hawaii at its three tips. This huge swath of ocean is dotted with countless inhabited islands with distinct but similar and generally underrepresented cultures, complete with some of the most obscure mythologies and histories.
Assassin's Creed has already established that major mythological deities in ancient cultures were actually just members of the Isu species, so it wouldn't be a stretch to make Tiki, the first human according to Māori mythology, one of them too.
A game set in Polynesia would undoubtedly be very much naval-focused not unlike Black Flag, but like our Mesoamerican suggestion it would be interesting to explore the setting in pre-colonial times. How cool would it be to visit Rapa Nui and climb atop a Moʻai to uncover a section of the map?
The conquest of the Carpathian Basin is arguably the most momentous moment in the history of Hungary, because without it there wouldn't be a Hungary. It wasn't just one big organized settling, but rather a protracted period of tumultuous events spread across the 9th and 10th centuries. Pushing into Central Europe from the east, the proto-Hungarians ended up getting into conflicts with various other powers in the area.
It's all been mythologized extensively, and has all the trappings of a historical epic - seven clans with prominent leaders, migration into a new frontier, magical deer, pillaging so extensive that western European countries developed specific anti-Hungarian prayers (not that they helped) and so forth.
According to Assassin's Creed lore, by this point in history the Hidden Ones/Assassins and the Order of Ancients/Templars were already well established international shadow organizations pulling political strings of the highest order, so an entirely new nation pushing their way into the Carpathian basin would definitely have caught their attention.
If the game would be set during the earlier legs of the conquest, known locally as the "honfoglalás", then the nomadic marauding nature of the clans would lend themselves to a similar setup as Assassin's Creed Valhalla. The protagonist would likely manage their camp while organizing raids on the side while the story is happening.
Assassin's Creed is a franchise that definitely won't be disappearing anytime soon, and whatever some players might think of the repetitious open-world gameplay this series always took fans on virtual trips to interesting and exotic locations throughout the world and history. These are just a few settings we'd love to see the series explore in future games, and are eagerly awaiting news of where things will head next after Valhalla.