Assassin's Creed 3 ending analysis: What does it all mean?
1st Nov 2012 | 14:00
So you've finished
It's pretty obvious that this is the end of the trilogy, but it's not like Ubisoft are going to just drop their most lucrative franchise. Assassin's Creed will almost certainly return, and the ending of the latest game gives us some pretty big clues about the direction the next one will take.
First, let's recap. After retrieving the amulet buried by Connor, Desmond unlocks the Grand Temple's inner chamber. Juno appears and tells him that she knows a way to save the world from the incoming solar flare, but at a cost. He has to die, and she will be reborn in the physical world. Minerva warns Desmond that freeing her will have dire consequences.
Juno, as it turns out, is the real villain of the Assassin's Creed series. She's been locked away in the Grand Temple for thousands of years, secretly manipulating human history to lead Desmond Miles to her. Before they were wiped out, Juno's people interbred with humans - who were more likely to survive the solar flare because of their greater numbers. This allowed the First Civilization's DNA to live on, and Desmond, who has these genes, is the key to her release.
So Desmond has two choices. The first is to allow the solar flare to engulf the planet, then rebuild society with the survivors. The second is to liberate Juno and save it now, but at the risk of humanity being enslaved by her. Desmond reluctantly goes for option two, perhaps thinking that if he saves the planet now, the remaining Assassins will be able to stop her.
He activates the device containing Juno and is seemingly killed in the process. "It is done," she says, materialising next to his lifeless body. "The world is saved. You played your part well, Desmond. But now... now it's time that I played mine." She steps forward in the direction of the temple entrance, and the credits roll. But what does it all mean?
Juno being released is potentially very bad news for Earth. We know from previous games that human beings were used as slaves by the First Civilization. In Subject 16's video, The Truth, we see a figure in similar garb to Juno and Minerva using an Apple of Eden to control a workforce of humans. So they obviously don't think much of us (except, perhaps, Minerva), and Juno may see her newfound freedom as a way to subjugate humanity once more.
So the next Assassin's Creed game will almost certainly be about the Assassins trying to stop Juno. But will Vidic and the Templars join them, or will they side with her? Exactly how they'll defeat her remains to be seen. Ubisoft Montreal are fond of MacGuffins, so it may be the case that there's some ancient technology buried somewhere that'll stop her.
Desmond unlocking the Grand Temple on December 21, moments before the solar flare, was all part of Juno's plan. If the Assassins had arrived earlier, they may have found a way to save the planet without freeing Juno. But with only minutes to decide, it was their only real option to save humanity. If Desmond had gone for the other option, Earth would have been reduced to ashes; a wasteland, almost entirely devoid of life. Billions of people would have died.
So he bit the bullet and freed Juno, the lesser of two evils. The irony is that the Assassins devote their lives to preserving free will, but in the end they're forced to make a choice that's more in line with Templar thinking. Did Desmond make a mistake? That all depends on whether they can defeat Juno. With him dead, the Assassins will have to find another subject whose ancestors hold the key to humanity's salvation: the perfect opportunity to introduce a new hero.
What's driving Juno? When young Connor sees a vision of her, she says "What once was shall be again", implying that she wants to restore the First Civilization to its former glory before the solar flare struck. She may know a way to bring her people back, or maybe she will be the lone survivor; an all-powerful dictator using an army of human slaves to do her bidding.
Or maybe it's simpler than that. Maybe she just wants revenge. A rebellion of human slaves (including Adam and Eve from The Truth) destroyed much of the First Civilization's influence on Earth, and she may see that as the catalyst for their inability to stop the solar flare and ensuing destruction. If this is the case, she's held a grudge for over thousands of years. Her husband, Aita, was killed as a result of the rebellion, so she may be driven by grief as well.
Whatever her motivation, she's now the official big bad of the Assassin's Creed series. Whoever the new hero is, he'll have quite a job on his hands. But he may have guidance, from Desmond. Yes, he died, but Subject 16 was dead too, and he had a starring role in Assassin's Creed: Revelations. Either the Animus, or the technology that allows Juno, Minerva, and Jupiter - or at least their minds - to live on thousands of years after their death, could be used to bring Desmond 'back', perhaps to guide and share his knowledge with the new protagonist.
However the Assassins decide to stop Juno, it will involve going back in time. But how far? An optional conversation with Shaun in the temple reveals that he wants to try and turn back the dial on the Animus further than they ever have before: back to the time of the First Civilization. Desmond says he's up for it, but Shaun wonders whether the memories will be stable. Altair was, after all, only a thousand years ago, and he's talking about going back by almost 80,000.
BACK TO THE FUTURE
So could the next game be set in one of their cities? Could the ancestor whose memories we inhabit be the one who started the human revolution? It's a cool idea, but we're not sure. One of the things that defines Assassin's Creed is the historical setting. Ubisoft Montreal are masters of recreating specific time periods, digging through the history books to make it as authentic as possible. If they went back to the First Civilization, they'd have to create a city and culture from scratch. They could do it, but it wouldn't be in line with the rest of the series.
If they stick with reality, which is more than likely, there are still a lot of time periods to explore. Feudal Japan, Sumer, the First World War, Victorian England, the Russian Empire, Ancient Greece. The list is as long as human history, and if they can make the American Revolution work, they can make anything work. As for the present day, we may see the Templars and Assassins finally joining forces to crush Juno's plans, but it won't be an easy alliance. William Miles tells Desmond in another optional conversation that they've considered uniting in the past, but that they'd be too paranoid about each other to make it an effective partnership.
Whatever happens, we will see more of Assassin's Creed. If they continue their theme of releasing one a year, it may be sooner than we think. We're fully expecting another Brotherhood-style 'half sequel' before the next game, but we wonder how they'll deal with the fact that Desmond is gone. Connor is relatively young by the end of
There's still a lot we don't understand. Like how exactly Juno was able to stop the solar flare, and why she didn't use that power to save her own people. Minerva's allegiances are unclear: is she on humanity's side? In Brotherhood we assumed Desmond killed Lucy under Juno's influence, but in Assassin's Creed 3 he says he wanted to do it. But questions are always more fascinating than answers, and we're glad there are still some mysteries left to be solved.
Assassin's Creed 4 will be a next-gen title, and we can't wait to see what they do with it. Expect a direct continuation of the events set up by Desmond's sacrifice, a new hero, and a lovingly recreated historical setting to explore - all powered by new hardware.