The End of an Era: Revelations’ Lead Writer Talks Ezio’s Final Saga
The battle that wages on between the Byzantines and the Ottomans – is that something that will expand across the year?
Well the game’s really about the battle between the Assassins and the Templars. We’re not saying the entire Byzantine Empire is made up of Templars – the idea in that game is that a bunch of holdouts from the Byzantine Empire that were Templars are still trying to take back the city. Astute fans will notice that the term ‘Byzantine’ didn’t even exist at this time, but we did not want to confuse some of our fans by saying they were Romans as well, because that’s what they saw themselves as. The ruling party, the elites, the emperors of that empire thought of themselves as the Eastern Roman Empire, but we would prefer our younger fans to be able to look Byzantine up on Wikipedia and then start reading. So it’s a little historical anachronism that we’re very aware of, but, at the same time, we don’t want to imply that we are tarring all Greeks of the period as Templars, just key people. But I’m pretty confident that I did my job as a writer where I created a decent amount of moral ambiguity about who’s in the right here. I know that some of the Byzantine characters in the game openly berate Ezio for siding with the Ottomans, a people who just pushed people out of their home. It’s a back and forth, and I want to present every culture as they saw themselves and as other people might have seen them, and try to come to that balance. It’s very weird, it’s very hard, especially when you have a game where people want there to be a badass hero. But there’s some things that happen to Ezio in the game that are very difficult for him to come to terms with, and maybe – I hope – something that players feel like “yeah, that’s too bad” or “that’s weird, that’s upsetting.”
He does have a love interest in the game.
Yes, we just haven’t shown that to you in this demo because it would have been too much content to show you in the time given. But yes, there’s definitely a love interest in there, I tried to write this love story to span at least a good two-thirds of the game, to try to really slowly build it up because in the previous games Ezio just has to blink at a girl and they’re in bed, so in this one I wanted a woman who is just absolutely immune or oblivious to his charms because she has her own thing going on. Sofia Sarto, she runs a bookshop in Constantinople and she’s based on an Albrecht Durer painting called Portrait of a Young Venetian Woman, and the whole idea of a bookshop is to show that it’s about 60-70 years since Gutenberg invented the moving type and books were becoming cheaper. So we liked the idea of showing this era beginning to take root. She has her own hobby, she loves books, she’s a bookseller, and Ezio tries to crack that armor, and she finally realizes that “Oh, this guy is hitting on me.”
He’s got older, does that affect how he views things?
Yeah, he’s wiser, he’s less rash, less prone to thinking with his heart, and he thinks with his head a lot more. He has still got a sense of humor, and he has a nice friendly rival with the Yusuf character you’ve played about with. Yusuf is like the younger version of Ezio, he’s a master assassin.
He could be the next story arc then?
I don’t know… Well they’d have to be related to Desmond – if we choose to keep going with Desmond, so it’d be a little odd if we had two relatives of his meet, but it’s not impossible I guess. I did the math a while ago and you have, after like 30 generations, something like 50 million ancestors – and that’s more than people existed at the time, I think, and the reason the math works out is that, at some point, you start sharing cousins.
It’s not that bad, look up King Charles II of Spain, he has literally a circular family tree, it comes right out and branches back. He was severely deformed, he was like ‘The Idiot King’ or something, well known for his physical and mental ailments.
He would be an interesting assassin.
Yeah [laughs], or target or something. Put him out of his misery.
How strong are the Templars at this stage, we’ve killed a lot of them by now?
We’ve reversed it in this game, the Templars were super strong in the previous two games, but in this game they’re the underdogs, they are using guerrilla tactics, and they are new, they found one of these keys everyone’s trying to find. That’s why Ezio is trying to chase them too, he knows they have one key. They are the underdog, we got rid of the notoriety system as it was in the previous games, because now we’ve split the duties between the guards. Ottoman guards are always neutral unless the Janissary are after you for a story reason. But the Ottoman guards, in general, are always neutral and will just arrest you or try to stop you if you are on the rooftop, while the Byzantines attack you on sight, so it’s a completely different mechanic. The notoriety meter is a measure of how aware the Templars are of Assassin activities, and when it goes all the way full, they will attack one of your dens. It functions in a completely different way, players have to be aware of that and that it’s operating differently. And if you see some Byzantines and some Ottomans, you can actually lure them into one another, and they’ll just start fighting on another and ignore you, if you’re lucky. It’s a completely different dynamic, and I hope fans notice that and play with it.
How does the city size compare to the previous Assassin’s Creeds?
Constantinople’s map itself is a little smaller than Rome, but the city is bigger than Rome was, because Rome had a lot of countryside as well. It’s denser, it’s more hilly, I think this game has the most vertical – as well as horizontal – terrain. We also have a slightly smaller city, a hidden city, in the Cappadocia region of Turkey – it’s fairly large, not nearly as big as Constantinople, but it’s big enough, it’s a nice free-roam area. And then we have Masyaf and Masyaf’s outskirts as well.
Will you still be using freaky weapons, like Da Vinci provided before?
There’s no Da Vinci, but there’s exotic gameplay sequences, but they’re not related to any strange Da Vinci inventions.
So are there any old characters that we see returning, or is it a clean slate?
Only Ezio, and one special cameo by somebody. But I won’t spoil it, because it’s really amusing.
Mario coming back from the dead?
[Laughs] Zombie Mario! Nope, not gonna tell you. It’s not in a dream sequence.
Speaking of dreams, does Desmond stay in his coma for the entire game?
Almost the entire game he stays in a coma, I will say that.
And that’s where he sees Animus Island, and can play about with the BIOS?
Yeah, he’s mucking around in the BIOS, before the operating system. Rebecca has to shut down stuff because they’re using the Animus to keep Desmond’s head intact, they don’t want all the personalities to collapse into one so that he just goes mental. They’re using the Animus to partition all these guys, and he has to break out of his little safe box and go find more Desmond memories to unlock. But the Animus is always gonna be like: “What are you doing? I’m trying to keep you safe.”
And finally, was it difficult solving all the major mysteries left by the previous games?
No, because Corey is still in charge, the Desmond story is still his arc, so we just call him up when we have questions, he’s just down the hallway from us. We have a lot of freedom with each game, because it’s a self-contained story still – Ezio trying to get into this library. Almost everything he does trying to get into that library is unique to that game, as soon as he gets to the end of the game, that’s where I have to consult with Corey and the other writers and say “ok, this grand finale, let’s make sure it sends out the right tendrils, make sure it wraps up the right storylines and stuff.”
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