(no spoilers in comments please; I’ve only ever beaten Assassins’ Creed II, thank you very much)
This summer, I have decided to play through the Assassins’ Creed series, a franchise with six games in its main series, starting with the second, Assassins’ Creed II. I’ve beaten that one, and am on its sequel, Assassins’ Creed: Brotherhood, the third in the series. In this game, there is an online multiplayer mode, in which you attempt to assassinate other, real-life players, which, to my great surprise, still exists; the game has been out for four years, and there have been three sequels to it, so I’d expect all the Assassins’ Creed fans to flock to the newer games, but this is not so.
Hell, there are some people on level one on multiplayer, suggesting that they’ve either picked the game up for the first time, or have beaten the single-player mode years ago and are only now getting into the multiplayer side of things, a level of procrastination that would impress even the most unenthusiastic of EPQ students.
But surely not every player can be marathoning the series as I’m doing, right? So allow me to suggest some reasons for the unexpected popularity of a single mode of a four-year-old game:
Abstergo is real: the online is non-canonical, and involves an organisation called Abstergo using high-tech machines to allow their agents to live through the memories of assassins from the Renaissance, so the online matches are, according to the game’s cutscenes, training exercises for shadowy agents. And if Abstergo are real, or a similar organisation is plotting world domination through the means of assassination, the online of AC: Brotherhood could be being used to train these operatives.
Let’s players: I know for a fact that Stephen Georg waited six years to do an LP (a playthrough of a video game with commentary) of the first Assassins’ Creed, so there could be legions of small-time YouTube gamers, who have just finished their walkthroughs Super Mario Sunshine and Slender, and have looked to old games for new inspiration. Although I shouldn’t mock or caricaturise these guys too much; they’re basically the YouTube version of me.
Ignorant newcomers: I’d encourage anyone to try new things for the first time, and I maintain that people who have never got into video games have tried to do so by playing every stand-out game of the last few years, to see what they’re missing out on, a bit like trying to get into football by watching only the Brazil 1970 team. I call these folks ‘ignorant’ because they missed out on the real gem of 2010, Mass Effect 2; Brotherhood is a close second, I’m afraid.
Knowledgable newcomers: Alternatively, real-life students of assassin history (it’s a thing – see?) who know nothing about video games might be playing old Assassins’ Creed games to see the best gaming representation of their particular historic organisation of interest.
Something to do with the number nineteen: Sorry, I’ve just finished Stephen King’s Wolves Of The Calla, in which the number nineteen is both meaningless, and the answer to everything, and both all-answering, but ever mysterious. Wait, the name of the game’s protagonist, Ezio Auditore, and his birthplace, Firenze, have a total of nineteen letters. IT”S TRUE! OH GOD, I’VE CRACKED IT! SPARE ME JOHN FARSON!
Alternatively, people might just like older games.