Assassin's Creed: What if, that which never was, came to be?
Written by Sorrosyss, January 22nd, 2023

Warning: Some spoilers from across the franchise.

Like every narrative franchise, there are often key moments within stories that stay with fans. A major character death often brings a pivotal change in direction for humanity, and in the case of Assassin's Creed – sometimes an entire change to the history that follows. But what if those moments had played out differently? Have you ever wondered?

Enter the multiverse theory. You might already be familiar with the concept, but if not, it basically hypothesises that there are infinite realms of different realities, contained within a collective multiverse. What does this mean in relation to our reality though? Well, let's say one day you are travelling to work in your car. You pull up to a junction. You turn left, make your way to work, and your day goes along fine as normal. However, in another reality, you might have turned right at that junction, deciding to refuel your car, and regrettably crashed into another
Source: MCU Wiki
vehicle. In one reality you died, in another, you carried on. Much like the principles of the Butterfly Effect, one small difference could have a major effect to an environment, which then ripples out onto others. That is of course but one example, for one individual. Now add that theory across every living being in the universe and across space, and you could potentially have a frankly incalculable number of different realities.

The multiverse is thus often used as a convenient way of telling stories that never have or never did came to be. You're probably most familiar with this from the works of Marvel, who literally have a TV show titled “What If?”, which explores the alternative storylines of their major characters. They also cover the concept of branching timelines and realities within the Loki TV show, with different Loki 'variants'. Of course, they are not alone in using the multiverse as a narrative tool, as DC Comics also had their
Source: Marvel/DC/Star Wars Wikis
pretty famous “Crisis on Infinite Earths” storyline, as well as Star Wars with their Infinities comic range.

Of course, when you look at Assassin's Creed, it's actually not been a stranger to the multiverse either. Take for example, the Tyranny of King Washington DLC for Assassin's Creed III, which portrayed an alternate reality where George Washington fell to the corruption of Isu technology and ruled over America with an iron fist. There are a few other examples within the comics, but arguably the main rationale for seeing these parallel universes within the franchise has been as a result of the scrying technologies of the First Civilization, the Isu. Through devices such as the Eye, they were able to see future timelines as pure
Source: AC Wiki
calculations, realities that may or may not come to pass, an undertaking aimed at extending their existence beyond the solar flare that ultimately would end their society. It was through such divination, that Juno was effectively able to lead Desmond Miles through his ancestors' memories, until finally releasing her from the Grand Temple in 2012.

With this in mind, if we were keen to see potential different realities for new stories, it would make a lot of sense to have the primary framing device simply being the viewpoint of a scrying Isu within the Nexus, such as Juno. Being so far in the past, they literally would have the entirety of humanity's timeline at their disposal. There are a few other potential ways of implementing this unique storytelling perspective though. Take for example, the Reader depicted in Assassin's Creed Valhalla. Whilst his body might be long gone, after touching the pedestal in 2012 Desmond's 'essence' if you will continues within the Grey as the Reader entity. There he looks at all the calculations of potential futures with the aid of connection to the Yggdrasil device, trying to find a way to stave off catastrophes that seem to inevitably befall the Earth and humanity. Of course, now that Layla has also
joined him as a Reader, the pair could quite easily be another narrative viewpoint for other realities, especially if we wanted to explore futuristic settings – something I would be truly fascinated to see.

There is a third option available to us as well. This lies within the nature of the Animus, specifically with the software itself. As a product of Abstergo, we know the company has never exactly been very altruistic with the truth. If we recall Assassin's Creed Liberation, we actually play an in-universe Helix video game product depicting the life of Aveline de Grandpré. The original ending to the game is conveniently manipulated, in that it shows Aveline evidently yielding to and joining the Templar Order. Thanks to the help of the Erudito hacker group, the player is then able to see the actual turn of events. This apparent censorship again offers us a back door into other realities. How much of our other simulation experiences over the years presented by an Animus have been the actual truth as it happened? Or did Abstergo manipulate other data as well? It is possible, especially given the Liberation precedent. There are in fact a few pieces of transmedia that actually suggest that a simulation can be hacked from an outside source
(The Escape Room Puzzle Book and Brotherhood of Venice) as well, so it definitely feels like another viable option for showing other realities to the audience, even if purely from a software standpoint.

Officially, Ubisoft's stance on multiverses has been that there is only one timeline, which is of course our main Assassin's Creed universe. I'm not sure though that what we are suggesting in this article is to actually change or intersect the existing lore, rather to investigate what came before, what could have been, and what could yet come to pass. Traditionally, multiverses offer a convenient escape route for writers. If your franchise suddenly has numerous plotholes or inconsistencies, or simply too much existing canon to write around, jumping your franchise to another dimension of reality is a very easy way to reset your IP entirely. Perhaps that day will yet come for Assassin's Creed, but that is a question for another time. After all, they said they'd never do a game in Japan at one point...

Moving back to our “visions” though. If Ubisoft did want to explore some storylines from the Isu calculations, or to show alternative narratives via Abstergo software, how could they approach this? Well, the most obvious way to achieve this would be
Source: BrunoHM
through a comic series. This is after all where most of the big multiverse IPs originally start off. However, I dare say that gamers would be more interested in something that is potentially playable.

Let me be clear that I am not suggesting these stories replace any upcoming new games and storylines, rather that they are a fun and unique addendum opportunity. The future introduction of the Infinity platform for the franchise thankfully offers a possibility to explore these themes. With a promise of smaller studios being given the creative freedom to do their own concise stories, might one of the Ubisoft teams potentially have a go at doing these alternative reality storylines? For fans, it could be an amazing opportunity for us to have several fan favourite characters back once again, and a great way of bringing back the original voice actors to reprise their roles accordingly. Of course, there is always the deal with Netflix in the background as well, therefore if a game or DLC is not in the offing, perhaps an animated TV show could also achieve the same effect? Something to consider perhaps. Thus comes the moment of truth. What proof of concept stories could we investigate? What narratives from alternative universes would we want to explore? Well, I'm no writer, but here are five examples of what I would consider interesting stories that could be told...

The story to this infamous Isu is well known by now, having played the part of the central antagonist to the franchise for most of
the games. Despising humanity from their beginnings after they assassinated her father within her own time period, the looming Toba Catastrophe pushed Juno into finding any means to try and extend Isu power long into the future, with her end game being resurrection itself. This she finally achieved in 2018 with Abstergo's Phoenix Project, with Álvaro Gramática succeeding in the creation of a full clone Isu body. Her consciousness evidently passed from the Grey into the clone, thus she stepped out onto Earth once again – only to be summarily killed moments later by the blade of the Assassin Charlotte de la Cruz.

Incredibly, this all played out within the transmedia comics, which was a sad way to end a pivotal story arc for the character. Some fans are convinced she has since returned to the Grey to plot yet another return, and with her appearances in both Odyssey and Valhalla, it almost appears that Ubisoft is acknowledging the mistake made in the poor handling of the character. There are certainly some other recent narrative developments that make me think she may well return yet, but that's for another article. However, there is a very simple “What If?” story to plot out here – what if that clone had survived?

Juno's hatred for humanity was pretty clear, and I have no doubts that she would have immediately sought to consolidate her power. She would have known the location of various hidden Isu vaults around the world to weaponise her plans, and she would likely have brought back her love Aita, as well as perhaps several other sympathetic Isu members to her cause. The Instruments of the First Will were a human based group that had been loyal to her for evidently decades, who believed that Juno would usher them into paradise within the “Grey”. Whilst those particular humans would have adored the Isu's attempts to take control of the world, the rest of humanity and specifically those already in power would likely have taken issue with this apparent usurper trying to wrest their control and power away.

Faced against the overpowering tech of the Isu, the world super powers would have upped the ante all the way until nuclear proliferation would no doubt have resulted in the destruction of vast numbers of humans and their homes. Given the advanced shielding technologies of the Isu, they would have survived, leaving most of humanity as either reluctant subjects, or in open warfare with the First Civilization oppressor. Where would the Assassins and Templars be within this Present Day setting? Forced to team up, perhaps still at odds over how to deal with Juno, it would be a compelling post apocalyptic setting to tell the tale of a new protagonist in humanity's remaining resistance, within its most desperate hour.

One of the most influential characters within Assassin's Creed is that of Altaïr Ibn-La'Ahad, a Syrian man born into the Assassin
Brotherhood in the late twelfth century. Primarily trained at the town of Masyaf, he was a Master Assassin by his mid 20s, and respected his mentor Al Mualim. Under the latter's leadership the Levantine Assassins had thrived, but it quickly became clear that Al Mualim was deeply interested in artifacts that could change the face of the Earth and the future of the Assassin and Templar factions. His search for an Apple of Eden had even lead to him working alongside Templars, proving how much his desires had already tainted his ideals. Sure enough, once in possession of the Apple artifact, his corruption was swift, as world domination suddenly looked within his grasp. Before it was too late, Altaïr bravely faced his mentor, and was able to defeat and slay him despite the powers of the Apple.

But what if things had gone differently? What if Altaïr had been the one defeated? Without Altaïr, so much of the Assassins timeline would have changed. Ezio would never have finished his path in Revelations, and indeed Desmond would then not have completed his task to open the Grand Temple. Al Mualim would likely have bolstered his position further, perhaps changing the very tenets and ideals of his Assassin Brotherhood to something much darker. Using them as instruments to remove opposition leaders, he would have consolidated his power across the Middle East, Africa and Europe, as more and more fell under the spell of his Apple of Eden. Who then would have the courage to face up to this despot? If the Assassins had begun to conquer, then it would likely have fallen to the Templars to step up to the plate as the only viable counter. With their knowledge of Isu technologies as well, this could be the reality where a new hope lies in a Templar protagonist, as they walk into a world dominated by the most corrupted of Assassin Brotherhoods.

The man born as Ratonhnhaké:ton in the Mohawk Valley of 1756, later adopted the name Connor before becoming an Assassin in his
teens. However, despite his connection to his father Haytham Kenway, he never took the family surname, despite Abstergo's apparent efforts to retroactively rebrand his identity (also Ubisoft's official collectibles apparently, but that's a tale for another time). Connor was instrumental in assisting George Washington and his allies in establishing the United States of America into a singular country. In doing so, he had alienated himself to his Templar father, and set upon a path that ended in only one conclusion between the two of them. But what if there had been another?

Haytham had continually tried to sway Connor away from the Assassins in all of their interactions, even pointing out the deceptions of Washington himself. What if Connor had taken on board this perceived wisdom from his father, and ultimately joined him? Enter Connor Kenway. Proud to take the family name, and believing in the Templar Order's goals, he would no doubt have had to betray Achilles, his Assassin Mentor, and likely have had to kill him. Without Connor's aid, George Washington would likely have failed, or perhaps have been assassinated too – as Charles Lee's ambitions were so abundantly high. With no Assassin presence to stop them, the Templars would have formed the USA into a country of their own design from the outset, altering history in fundamental ways. To see Connor take this darker path first hand, would certainly be an interesting story to witness.

One of the more tragic figures within the history of the franchise was undoubtedly Arno Dorian. Born to the Assassin Charles Dorian,
as a young boy he sadly discovers his dead father seemingly assassinated by Shay Cormac, whilst on a visit to the palace of Versailles. Arno is then adopted by Francois de la Serre, the Grand Master of the Templar Order in France. None the wiser to his father's Assassin background, Arno grows up alongside the de la Serre's daughter Elise. The two remain romantically close into their early adult life. That is of course until Francois is assassinated, with Arno implicated as the murderer. From jail he meets with the Assassin Pierre Bellec, learning the truth of his own father's loyalties. Joining the Assassin Brotherhood, then sets him upon a path in search of the actual murderer, leading him to Francois-Thomas Germain – yet another Templar. After reconciling with Elise, Arno leads her against Germain, only for her to tragically be killed in a final confrontation between them all. Arno thus had lost everything, once again.

But what if Elise had survived? Arno certainly had a frictional relationship with the Brotherhood, dropping in and out at times, but I am sure his victory over Germain would have won him some immediate plaudits. The local Templars would likely have had a power vacuum, into which Elise as a de la Serre could likely have pushed for leadership given her father's reputation. With their influential positions in both factions, the two would ultimately have married, and one likes to think they may even have been able to broker a truce within France between the secret groups, providing a unity that was once promised. Whether this truce carried beyond France is an interesting concept to consider. Either way, Elise's death proved to be a traumatic plot point to many fans, with many considering it to be completely unnecessary and pointing to Ubisoft just killing off female leads as a pattern of diminishing female characters in general. In a franchise known for darkness and tragedy, being able to see Arno and Elise together again in this alternative ending would at least give us a happy conclusion for a change.

The Eagle Bearer, Kassandra, was a human-Isu hybrid who led a campaign against the Cult of Kosmos within Greece in the fifth century
BC. Most of her adult life had been spent as a misthios, running errands and offering protection to those who needed it. Such was her nature, it came as no surprise to find her father Pythagoras was also a protector, as he stood over the entrance to the infamous Atlantis, a former Isu colony. His life span had been extended by a Staff of Eden, an Isu weapon that evidently prevented its wielder from ageing. Upon passing the staff to Kassandra, her father passed away, leaving her with the job of being the 'Keeper' to the staff. Within the staff lay the Isu entity Aletheia, whose simulations helped mentally prepare Kassandra for the long life that lay before her. Sure enough, as centuries passed, Kassandra found herself hunting down corruption, and removing Isu artifacts from the world that caused harm, as we saw depicted in Assassin's Creed Valhalla. This continued until the modern day of 2018 AD, where she met with Layla Hassan, the “Heir of Memories”, to whom Aletheia told her the staff should be passed to. A short time after relinquishing the staff, Kassandra fell to the ground and evidently passed away. (though I still find it very questionable how there are no body remains or clothes on the ground a short time after...)

But what if things had taken a different turn? Perhaps Kassandra could have sensed the corruption that lay ahead in Layla's future, and instead elected to retain the staff? Or... perhaps her latent Isu DNA had been permanently changed by the staff, meaning she was still effectively immortal even without it? It's a compelling thought for a character that has become massively popular in the fandom in recent years. What would Kassandra do in the Present Day now though?

One could argue she would probably still continue her mission of protecting humanity from Isu artifacts, and invariably find herself caught up in the ongoing invisible war between the Assassins and Templars. Given that it has raged for hundreds, perhaps thousands of years (in some form), there is every likelihood that it would continue long into the future as well. That is ultimately where we could see Kassandra end up, in a futuristic setting where robotics and cybernetics create a new division within humanity, as technology further impacts the battle between control and free will. Having the Keeper in such a setting would finally give us the chance of seeing a Cyberpunk like setting within the franchise, with a neutral observer in Kassandra as our protagonist. With history so often our playground, it might be quite compelling to head in the opposite direction of time thanks to the scrying calculations of Isu technology.


Anyhoo. Those are my ideas and visions for alternate universe stories, but what about yours? Share them in the comments below, or let us know on our social media channels.

(Finally, I'd just like to say a very special thank you to BrunoHM for assisting me in visualising this concept and my ideas with his excellent mockup imagery. Thank you!)

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