When Assassin’s Creed Red Could Take Place
Many fans are excited that Assassin’s Creed Red finally brings AC to Japan, but the announcement leaves questions about the exact time period.
Assassin’s Creed fans have long discussed the possibility of bringing the franchise to Japan. That’s finally going to become a reality after Ubisoft’s recent announcement of the game codenamed Assassin’s Creed Red. However, fans still don’t know much about the upcoming open-world RPG, including its exact time period.
Even Assassin’s Creed Red’s setting isn’t as specific as it could be, with “feudal Japan” stretching across several hundred years of the country’s history. Nevertheless, there are a handful of possible periods players might visit during Assassin’s Creed Red.
The Mongol Invasions (1274-1281)
Kublai Kahn launched two invasions of Japan in the late 13th century, with both ending in disaster after storms destroyed the Mongol fleets. Meanwhile, the Assassin’s Creed: Memories mobile game reveals that one of Assassin’s Creed’s Swords of Eden was in Japan. Given how many historical events in the AC universe are tied to a Piece of Eden, it’s not crazy to imagine that one could have destroyed the Mongol navy.
It’s easy to imagine the Templars instigating the Mongol invasion as a cover to steal the Sword of Eden. This even somewhat fits within the established canon since Assassin’s Creed: Revelations revealed that Altair considered spreading false rumors that his Piece of Eden was in Japan. The Assassins also have a well-established rivalry with the Mongols. This includes stealing back Altair’s codex from Kublai Kahn.
However, setting the game during the Mongol invasions might give the impression that Assassin’s Creed Red was copying Ghost of Tsushima, which depicted the same event. While that isn’t necessarily a dealbreaker, Ubisoft may want to avoid the perception that it’s ripping off another popular open-world RPG.
The Meiji Restoration (1867-1872)
The 1850s saw the sudden end to Japan’s centuries-long period of isolationism following the American expedition led by Commodore Perry. This set off a chain of events culminating in a civil war that saw the Emperor depose the Shogun and reestablish himself as the country’s absolute ruler. The period Known as the Meiji Restoration saw the introduction of new technology and the end of Japan’s feudal system.
The novel Assassin’s Creed: Fragments – The Blade of Aizu takes place during this period. It depicts how Templar influence turned Japan’s Emperor against the Tokugawa Shogunate, a longtime ally of the Japanese Assassins. Assassin’s Creed Red could take place concurrently, with the novel serving as a companion to Ubisoft Quebec’s open-world action RPG.
The combination of samurai and late 19th-century technology would give this version of Assassins Creed Red a unique setting rarely depicted in gaming. It would also make it one of the most modern games in the Assassin’s Creed timeline. However, while that might sound like fun, it might not be what most fans want from an Assassin’s Creed game set in Japan. Plus, if Assassin’s Creed Red were going to take place in a later era, Ubisoft probably would have dropped some hints to that effect.
The Invasions of Korea (1592-1598)
While not every Assassin’s Creed game has or needs naval combat, it’s nevertheless been a big part of the franchise for some time. Thus, it would not be surprising if Ubisoft wanted to incorporate ship combat into Assassin’s Creed Red. If so, a good opportunity may be to set the game during Japan’s two invasions of Korea in the 1590s.
This seems more likely considering that Ubisoft Quebec is developing Assassin’s Creed Red under the supervision of Assassin’s Creed Odyssey game director Jonathan Dumont. Odyssey prominently featured naval combat as a core part of the experience and Assassin’s Creed Red could take a similar approach. An Odyssey-inspired Assassin’s Creed Red could see players engage in epic naval clashes as they visit locations around the Sea of Japan. Of course, Assassin’s Creed: Odyssey 2 might not be what fans are hoping for from an AC game set in Japan. It also seems to conflict with delivering the “shinobi fantasy” that Ubisoft’s Marc-Alexis Cote talked about during the Ubisoft Foreword showcase on September 10th.
The Onin War (1467–1477)
Starting in 1467, The Onin War was a ten-year civil war over who should be the next Shogun. The conflict permanently weakened the Shogun and ushered in a period of civil wars called the Sengoku Jidai or Warring States Period. The Sengoku is what many people picture when they think of “Feudal Japan.”
However, most games and other media tend to focus on the latter part of the Sengoku Period, with few depicting its origins in depth. This could help distinguish Assassin’s Creed Red from other ninja stores while delivering something recognizable to most audiences. A battle for the throne also seems like the kind of conflict that Assassin’s Creed’s Templar Order would instigate for their own ends.
The only real problem with this setting is that it lacks any specific ties to the rest of the Assassin’s Creed franchise. This makes it hard to speculate on the plot beyond very broad strokes. However, that could also be a point in its favor since an Assassin’s Creed Red set in the late 1400s would be free to explore the period without too many retcons to Assassin’s Creed lore.
The Late Sengoku Period (1540s-1615)
The last several decades of Japan’s Sengoku Period were a time of significant change and upheaval. Japan saw its first contact with Europeans in the 1540s, introducing new technology like firearms. Meanwhile, the 1560s saw the rise of the powerful warlord Oda Nobunaga, who would set Japan down the path to reunification.
This is also the period of Japan’s history with the most direct connection to established Assassin’s Creed lore. The Assassins established a permanent presence in Japan shortly after 1532, with the Templars arriving in 1549. Notable Japanese Assassins include the famous ninja Hattori Hanzo, while Oda Nobunaga owed his victories to a Piece of Eden.
Big cities like Kyoto could offer a more traditional Assassin’s Creed experience like the upcoming Mirage. Meanwhile, an open world dotted with castles and pagodas sounds like a great way to deliver on the “shinobi fantasy” that Ubisoft promised. Players may also have a chance to participate in the epic battles, sieges, and naval clashes that made the era famous. While it may be a little predictable, the later years of the Sengoku Period seem like the ideal setting for Assassin’s Creed Red.