Connor is not in Kansas anymore.
While I know the opinion won't be popular, I believe the Assassin's Creed series boasts quite possibly the most ambitious narrative in our medium. It's not merely a sandbox stealth game, but a work of historical science fiction whose many key events and characters entwine intimately with those which have shaped our world over the last millennium. Whether you like what it does or not, it's clear that its creators see video games as an ideal place to tell grand, serialized stories. That very same belief is the driving force behind The Tyranny of King Washington, the soon to be released DLC add-on for Assassin's Creed III.
It's difficult to explain the concept behind King Washington without ruining its plot or giving away bits of Assassin's Creed III, but I'll give it the old college try. Connor awakes from a deep slumber to discover a world turned upside-down. In fact, Connor isn't even called by his adopted name anymore, but by his Native American one, Ratonhnhaké:ton. Without spoiling anything, all I'll say is that it plays out much like a lucid dream. Connor seems to remember his life as Connor, including all the events of AC3, but the people and circumstances surrounding him make it quite clear that this isn't the world or life he remembers.
In this world, George Washington has comes to obtain the Apple of Eden, and with it, absolute power. As we all know, absolute power corrupts absolutely, and even Washington proves vulnerable to its allure—in fact, it's driven him stark raving mad. Innocent people are being corralled into churches and burned alive by the dozens to be made examples of, while rebellions are rising up as the people look for a way to end his nightmarish reign. One such person, someone dear to Ratonhnhaké:ton, has brashly attempted to steal the apple from the self-proclaimed King Washington, who in return looks to seek revenge on the entirety of the Native American people. No sooner than you've awoken, you and your newfound ally begin desperately scrambling to warn your village of the coming attack while fighting off Washington's forces.
Things happen very quickly in Tyranny, especially when compared to the core game. You run breathlessly from set piece to set piece, fighting packs of soldiers at a time. This heightened pace is for the best, seeing as the story is split into three two-and-a-half-hour episodes, each of which will be released separately. The director admitted that he was inspired by the TV show Lost, whose cliffhanger endings and mind-bending mythology seemed like a perfect fit for Assassin's Creed. Having been a fan of the show, I can see the comparison.
Tyranny is overflowing with mysteries, and like Lost, the real answers only come to those who look hard enough. Each episode has three “lucid dream artifacts," which once found, unlock a short video giving you a glimpse into what this alternate world is, and how you've arrived in it. Unlock all three videos and you should be able to piece together what's really happened.
Each new episode also introduces an entirely new ability for Ratonhnhaké:ton that steps beyond anything we've seen in Assassin's Creed before. By ingesting tea made from the boughs of the sacred red willow tree, you set out on a sky journey, during which you gain the spiritual power of one of three animals. The first is the wolf, who allows you to summon wolf allies in combat and turn invisible at the touch of a button. The next is the eagle, who grants you the ability to transform into, well, an eagle and soar to distant points, assassinating an enemy upon arrival. The last is the bear, who grants you the strength to overwhelm your enemies with area effect stun attacks. Having these powers really changes the overall feel of the gameplay, further nailing home the sense that this world is wildly different than the one Connor came from.
Each episode will cost $9.99 individually, while the season pass costs $29.99 and features all three episodes as well as the already released multiplayer map pack, a collection of all the vendor exclusive pre-order bonuses, and a digital copy of the new score recorded for the add-on. Be sure to look out for our review of Episode 1: The Infamy shortly after it releases on February 19th, then look for episodes two and three on March 19th and April 23rd respectively.