Assassin’s Creed: Rogue Preview: A Templar You Can Believe In
One of the biggest problems I had with Assassin’s Creed 3 was the way the game presented (or failed to present) the series’ ever-present evildoers, the Templars.
Assassin’s Creed 3 starts the player in the role not of the advertised protagonist, Connor, but as Haytham, another assassin who ventures to the New World. Except, as it turns out, Haytham isn’t an assassin at all, but a Templar. The game plays this as a big twist — you’ve been relating to the evil guy this whole time!
Letting players control Haytham and see some of his story was a missed opportunity. Assassin’s Creed 3 has a chance to humanize the Templars significantly, revealing that they’re not all necessarily power-hungry bastards, but, in fact, simply a faction with a philosophy and methods opposed to those of the Assassins. The game almost achieves a more nuanced look at the franchise’s bad guys, but in the end turns the primary antagonist, Charles Lee, into a sort of smirking racist who deserves to be chased down and murdered by the player.
With the upcoming Assassin’s Creed: Rogue, the publisher is again bringing players a look at the Templar Order from the inside. Rogue is the story of Shay Carmac, a former assassin who breaks with the group, joins the Templars, and turns into an assassin-hunter. Think of Shay as Darth Vader exterminating the Jedi after Revenge of the Sith and you might have a pretty good analogue.
At PAX Prime 2014, Producer Ivan Balabanov explained that one of the big thrusts of Rogue is presenting players with a deeper look at the other side of the Assassin/Templar conflict. Shay starts the game as a young, promising assassin, but through a traumatic event begins to question his loyalties to the Assassins and eventually makes the decision to turn to the other side.
“The Assassin’s Creed universe is not a black and white universe, it’s very much shades of gray.”
Exploring the motivations of the Templars, then, is a major push for Rogue, and is also a part of the upcoming new generation AC title, Assassin’s Creed Unity, Balabanov said.
“This is one of the major messages of Assassin’s Creed Rogue,” he said. “Even our colleagues from Assassin’s Creed Unity are making a similar statement. The Assassin’s Creed universe is not a black and white universe, it’s very much shades of gray. Both Templars and Assassins are struggling for something similar, which is essentially making sure that humanity lives in a peaceful environment, but they differ very much in what is this peaceful environment and also how to achieve this goal. In many ways, they are two sides of the same coin, and this is what we’re portraying very much in Rogue.”
Previous Assassin’s Creed games have included mentions of Templar motivations for their actions. In AC3, for example, Templars repeatedly tell Connor (as he kills them) that their apparently evil actions are actually harsh-looking maneuvers with ultimately noble goals, like the attempt to purchase the land where Connor’s Native American tribe lives in order to protect it from Colonial expansion during the American Revolution.