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Assassin's Creed Transmedia Starter Guide
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1/8/21 By Mike Smith Edited by Ashlea Buckley
In March of 2021, Ubisoft launched a website that would act as a hub for Assassin’s Creed Transmedia. The site contained content for the 2020 - 2021 year, and promoted new stories for both older titles and ones to come, expanding on building eras and locations, such as 9th Century England (AC Valhalla) and the Tang Dynasty (AC Dynasty/The Jade Seal). A second update was to follow in June which added the missing content that had been released prior to the site’s launch, covering titles from the first Assassin’s Creed, all the way up to AC Odyssey.
Branded as “Assassin’s Creed Stories,” each piece of transmedia was labelled under three groups; Classics (adaptations of games/film), Chronicles (new stories with familiar characters, eras, or places), and Originals (all new stories). AC Stories were categorized by literature, illustrated, digital, artbooks, and miscellaneous. In the breakdown below I will be discussing these in more detail as well as a few of my personal labels used in my own organization lists.
My hope is that by reading this article you will be able to understand the value of each type of transmedia and determine how and where you want to start your journey into this vast world built from a great video game.
The best starting point is always going to be the video games. Genetic memories (historical sections) and expanded story from DLC / add-ons allow you to explore the world at your own pace and build an understanding of the locations, historical figures, and story arcs. These are strengthened within the game databases that provide real world information on the subjects. After finishing the story, you will also be able to expand your experience by purchasing other transmedia items.
While playing the game (if you are like me) a strategy guide may be useful to follow canonical storylines, and have detailed maps of the fictional depictions of real world locations. Collector’s editions of the strategy guides include concept art, interviews, and other information about the historical elements and game making process. The only title that does not have an official strategy guide is AC Valhalla.
If you want to learn more about the game’s design, and gain an insight into the development process, exploring the process of converting real history into video games, the official art books cover the worldbuilding of each title. They also add additional information (AC II, Brotherhood, and Revelations). Each game has a published art book, containing information ranging from the colour usage in Odyssey to the weapons of Unity, giving readers a sneak peak at the creation process.
The wide variety of transmedia is represented best in the novels, with each of the Assassin’s Creed Stories labels, from the Classics (ie. the Official Movie Novelization), the Chronicles (ie. the prequel to Origins Desert Oath), and the Originals (ie. AC Heresy). Each piece of literature will guide you through a game’s story, continue the story through new events/viewpoints, or introduce you to a new era and characters, such as Heresy’s Hundred Years’ War. The stories allow you to revisit the worlds experienced in the game and add the narrative ability of a character’s thoughts or passing of time.
While experiencing the written transmedia, you may want to immerse yourself in the story by listening to the official soundtrack of the game. Online streaming services, app stores, or physical discs via collector’s editions and vinyl are the various ways you can locate the music. I myself have added each soundtrack for the games to a playlist. I will listen to them once I have finished the game and am in the process of reading, as I may not be able to appreciate the music in the middle of playing the game.
In addition to soundtracks, audiobooks are also readily available for most of the novels. There are exclusives that can be found through streaming services such as Audible’s Assassin’s Creed Gold which takes place during the Great Recoinage in 1696 Britain, or Echoes of Valhalla on Spotify which tells the real story of Ivar the Boneless through an audio documentary. A Chinese audio series known as 'Assassin's Creed Turbulence', telling the story of Assassin’s Creed: The Ming Dynasty is also in development, which I hope to see released in English one day. Being able to listen to transmedia is a great option for those who don’t have the time to read.
Prior to the release of AC Syndicate, Titan Comics began publishing the Assassin’s Creed comic series, which continued the modern day storyline of the Assassin Brotherhood and Templar Order. Previously, a semi-canon French line of comics were published telling alternative versions of the Ezio Trilogy’s modern story and historical arcs in the Roman Empire and Bahri Dynasty. Although the modern day portions of these comics are not considered canon, they are still a good read. The comics are the current popular release option for transmedia as there are two Asian Assassin storylines and both a prequel and upcoming sequel series for AC Valhalla in production. Additional storylines for games like AC Origins and AC Russia were also told in comic form giving a great visual medium for favorite characters.
The last section of transmedia falls within the miscellaneous/reference tag. Encyclopedias, lore books (ie. Blackbeard’s Journal), and even the upcoming AC: The Culinary Codex are part of this collection of transmedia. They provide reference materials on subjects from the game and historical influences. The reference books are the go to titles for refreshing your memory on the vast gallery of characters and locations.
With the information above, you should now have an understanding of what the transmedia for Assassin’s Creed can offer and use this knowledge to determine where you want to start your journey.
Do you want to learn how Bayek became a medjay?
Have you wondered what happened to Aya after the end of AC Odyssey?
Do you know how much hay would be needed to survive a Leap of Faith?
The Assassin’s Creed Stories/transmedia projects can answer all of these questions, and guide you through a fantastic universe.
About the Author
Mike Smith is a collector of all things Assassin's Creed and a major supporter of the transmedia platform for the series.
With nearly a full library of Assassin's Creed media, he is exploring the universe in order of Genetic Memory, and waiting eagerly for the next story to be released.
Mike joined the program in 2021 as an Online Article Writer, and has a section dedicated to his work in the Community Hub.