Another edition of Montreal Comiccon has come and gone, leaving me in a bittersweet haze of my purchases, notes and swag that I accumulated over a span of three days. Montreal Comiccon is the ultimate work/play event for my colleagues and I, since we’re there as gaming journalists and fans of pop geekdom. This year was a particularly great convention; the sheer amount of video game content was fantastic, and I was saturated in activities that celebrated my favorite passion, as well as the rich gaming culture Montreal has to offer.
And gaming-related activities I did do.
Aside from trying (and getting my ass handed to me) Ubisoft’s upcoming Tom Clancy Rainbow 6: Siege, meeting some amazing indie devs in Multijoueur’s indie alley and helping out at the Extra Life Montreal Guild booth, I also both participated in and attended a ton of panels. They were all great and I’ve noticed that with every con I attend, the amount of panels I go and see tends to grow. One of my surprise favorites was Ubisoft’s ‘Assassin’s Creed Brand’ panel, given by brand Head of Content Aymar Azaizia and artist/writer Karl Kerschl.
And by “surprise” I mean that I truly didn’t expect to enjoy it as much as I did. I’ve played a few Assassin’s Creed games. I knew there was extra content floating around, waiting to enrich the depth and mythology of the two rival factions: the Knights Templar and the Assassins. Also, the themes of the overarching story are a sweet mix of science fiction, history, pseudoscience and fantasy, so that’s always a plus. I just didn’t know know the extent of the franchise. In a world littered with fractured stories, leaving people yearning for more content (*cough* GRRM), Assassin’s Creed is teeming with it, and is continuously striving to expand it’s breadth of lore, becoming a juggernaut in transmedia storytelling. What was pretty wicked about the panel was that they not only spoke about official Assassin’s Creed media, but also of community created art, stories and more. What also struck me was the diversity present in the franchise (we’ll just overlook the Unity fiasco). Ubisoft is no stranger to proliferating equality within the gaming industry, from supporting Brie Code’s Ubidiversity team in Montreal to the promotion of the ‘girl gaming’ team, Frag Dolls. This focus continues in the way they seek to build the story of Assassin’s Creed, invoking various cultures, ethnicities and POVs to create it’s world.
There’s also a worry that usually haunts transmedia franchises in that there’s always a delicate balance in diluting the story, and adding to it. This fear was voiced by a fan in the panel, but the doubt was quickly dissipated. Assassin’s Creed has a dedicated team that works hard to continuously add to the world, rather than oversaturate and effectively ruin it.
This got me straight onto google, and looking up Assassin’s Creed material that stray from the core content. In celebration of the upcoming Assassin’s Creed Syndicate and the fantastic panel, here are 5 some of the coolest, beyond-the-main-series Assassin’s Creed content that add depth to the franchise (some mentioned during the panel, others not), including a link to some of the best fanart available!
Games: Assassin’s Creed Chronicles
Okay, so most of what will be shown here, including the Assassin’s Creed Chronicles, comes from UbiWorkshop. Still a relatively new initiative, this branch is located in Montreal and has the responsibility of creating transmedia content in order to deepen the universes of Ubisoft games. They work amongst the developing team over at Ubisoft Montreal, ensuring proper flow between the main games and side material.
Assassin’s Creed Chronicles is a series of upcoming games for Xbox One, PS4 and Uplay. Assassin’s Creed Chronicles: China has already been released, and both Assassin’s Creed Chronicles: India, and Assassin’s Creed Chronicles: Russia are upcoming. Each game is separate, but coalesce narratively.
This series not only allows you to visit non-Western European locations, it also allows you to embody diverse characters, such as Shao Jun, a young female assassin trained by Ezio Auditore, and in Assassin’s Creed Chronicles: India, you play as Arbaaz Mir. Diversity FTW! Check out the trailer below, and click here for more information.
Comics: Assassin’s Creed Brahman, Assassin’s Creed The Fall and Assassin’s Creed The Chain
Comic books and graphic novels are usually the first route in creating transmedia content to extend stories beyond the core games. Two of the titles above (Assassin’s Creed The Fall and Assassin’s Creed The Chain) set the groundwork for the Assassin’s Creed Chronicle series set in Russia.
Both The Chain and Brahman were discussed during the Montreal Comiccon panel, and I fell in love with the artwork, particularly the imagery and color used in Assassin’s Creed Brahman. It felt wondrous; it felt alive.
All three were created by award winning artists Karl Kerschl and Cameron Stewart and were incredibly well received. If you’re a fan of the series, or comic books in general, I highly recommend you head over here to check them out.
Books: Assassin’s Creed Forsaken and Assassin’s Creed The Secret Crusade
Another common way to expand a series is through literature. While most of the books act as a succinct summary that corresponds to specific games, some are snuck into the middle and add the new stories or missing links into the overall narrative.
While there are many Assassin’s Creed books, Assassin’s Creed Forsaken and Assassin’s Creed The Secret Crusade are widely touted as fantastic, mostly due to the fact that they bring forth new ideas and information to the franchise.
Assassin’s Creed The Secret Crusade chronicles the life of Altaïr, beginning with the execution of his father and his subsequent training as an assassin under Al Mualim. Assassin’s Creed Forsaken is written as a journal in the first perspective, following the life of Haytham Kenway, and his rise in the Templars.
Written by Oliver Bowden, Forsaken and The Secret Crusade, as well as the others in the series are well worth a read if you want more details in the lives, thoughts and motives of your favorite Assassin’s Creed characters. So if you’re a book lover, you should consider picking up the novels.
Animation: Assassin’s Creed Ascendence
I’m sure you’ve all heard about the recently announced Assassin’s Creed motion picture that’s currently in pre-production. Michael Fassbender, your favorite cyborg/nazi infiltrator/superhero, is both an actor and a producer on the film. While little else is known, I can guarantee one thing: the series will translate extremely well on the big screen. As time goes on, we’ll obviously be receiving more details. If you can’t wait that long, there’s some good short films, including Assassin’s Creed Ascendence which acts as an connector between Assassin’s Creed II and Assassin’s Creed Brotherhood. It follows Ezio Auditore and includes real historical figures such as the Borgias and Leonardo Da Vinci. If you’re a fan of the series that enjoys a healthy dose of fiction with their history, watch this short. You can find it pretty much anywhere on the internet, including various *cough* questionable routes. There are also other ones worth watching, but this one falls amongst the best.
Bonus! Fan Art by ChaoyuanXu
Alright, so there is a ton of beautiful, officially licensed Assassin’s Creed artwork available for your viewing pleasure. However, as DeviantArt is one of my favorite websites, (you can find some of the best fan art for virtually every piece of entertainment in that community space) I decided to send some love its way . And why not recognize fans, like you and I, who take time to reimagine and recreate popular characters in popular franchises, including Assassin’s Creed?
One of the most talented artist out there is ChaoyuanXu. One of his most recent works is pictured above, and he does a lot of original imaginations, including those set in different time periods in China. He actually began making art about assassins in China before Assassin’s Creed Chronicles: China was created! Obviously he was onto something and the result is magical. Head over here to view his work.
If want to view other really talented fan art, Empty Lighthouse Magazine did a sweet roundup a while back. Head over here to check it out.
You can watch the full panel right here:
If you want to check out the full extent of what UbiWorkshop has to offer in terms Assassin’s Creed products including clothing and other apparel, head here. They also have a lot of products for their other series as well.
What transmedia content from Assassin’s Creed is your favorite? Sound off in the comments below!