As I write this, Assassin’s Creed marks its 15th anniversary as a gaming franchise. Today, Ubisoft has about 19 active game offerings in the franchise with its newest, Assassin’s Creed Mirage, set to release in 2023. In spite of some missteps along the way, like one notoriously bugged release, Ubisoft continues to knock it out of the park with its AC stories, characters, and gameplay experiences.
Lately, though, I’ve been aching for something more. When I saw the success of The Witcher on Netflix, I felt like Assassin’s Creed’s powerful storytelling is ready for a live-action streaming series. The Witcher may be based on a book series, but it was the game franchise based on that series that really brought global fame to these Polish stories. Assassin’s Creed has similar global fame through its games, and it is a wholly Ubisoft original creation. Over the last decade and a half, the AC storytellers have established a rich universe that other forms of entertainment media can easily build on.
So the announcement from Ubisoft of a new series for Netflix was certainly met with enormous anticipation. But hold on, I know what you’re thinking: they already tried a live action Assassin’s Creed, right? What about that Assassin’s Creed movie in 2016 with Michael Fassbender? Didn’t everyone say it sucked?
Well, it didn’t suck. It was a good film (and visually stunning). It just had no ability to fully realize the rich AC universe. And that’s not the fault of the filmmakers. Those of us who had been playing the games for years at that point were left feeling like too much was missing. The film felt rushed, and its story and technology seemed incohesive with the world we were familiar with. After all, the story writers connected all of the games with the same core modern-day narrative and characters, and we didn’t get to experience those familiar elements in this film.
Now, though, is the perfect time for revisiting that live-action storytelling with AC. Assassin’s Creed itself boils down to a simple premise: a brotherhood fighting in the shadows to free the world from a tyrannical corporate-political entity that’s secretly moving its chess pieces behind the scenes to gain power around the world. Current shows like Star Wars: Andor are bringing similar story premises to screen, and Star Wars fans are loving it. It’s clear that there’s an audience out there who wants more of this kind of story, even if they aren’t big into video games.
Unlike with the AC feature film, a streaming series could actually get it right. The first Assassin’s Creed game alone had enough character development, intrigue, and action to fill a full season of television. Heck, I’d be happy if they just retold the whole Ezio trilogy over 3-4 seasons of TV. (I admit that I’m a little biased, though, since Ezio is my all-time favorite assassin in the franchise.) With the announcement mentioning a multiple possible series in the franchise, what if it was created like both the games and the new Game of Thrones spin-offs: a connected universe across multiple series set in different parts of a continuous timeline? That would kick ass, and I hope that’s what they have in mind!
Okay, I’ll also admit that I have a selfish reason to want this streaming series, too: I just don’t have the time to play through all the games when they come out. I call myself a passionate fan of the franchise since I picked up Assassin’s Creed: Brotherhood in 2011. But I’ve only finished half of the games. I mostly ache for the storytelling, and I find myself searching for the graphic novels or compilations of cutscenes on YouTube so I can experience each new story outside of gameplay. I’ll still pick up the game when time permits and I want the more immersive experience of being the character.
What do you think about the Ubisoft announcement and the idea of an Assassin’s Creed in the form of multiple connected streaming series? What would be the pros and cons of such a production? And is Netflix the right service to produce this? Let me know what you’re thinking.