Every new Assassin's Creed game has given us a wider selection of Assassin gear and abilities, graduating from the homely joys of the hidden blade to the high-end delights of bomb-making. Assassin's Creed 3's contributions include a Tomahawk (shaped like the Assassin logo to boot - good IP migration, Ubisoft), an Injun bow and something absolutely bloody awesome you'll only find out about by picking up issue 84, now on sale. Go on. Wait, read the rest of this first. Beware series spoilers.
The game's lethal antiquities aren't the only chaps who've seen tune-ups, however; modern day murderer Desmond Miles has come along in leaps and bounds too. Once upon a time, he was just some bum with a murky family tree and a mysterious resilience to bed sores. But with the thickening of the plot, he's become more and more capable, leveraging the tricks he learned at Assassin Summer Camp and those "bled across" from his Animus adventures. Nowadays he's as quick on his pins as Ezio and Altair, and he can trace their movements as ghost images in the present. Not a man to be taken lightly.
The first Assassin's Creed 3 trailer stays true to tradition by ducking all mention of Desmond. The 21st century context is evident in the form of silvery Animus static and steely caption text, but these presentational touches aside, it's all about defending the sovereignty of a free America by axing redcoats in their silly, chinless, snaggle-toothed faces.
This is ferociously sensible from a marketing perspective - "look, a guy with a tomahawk" is an instant hook, whereas "look, a digital recreation of a guy with a tomahawk as experienced by one of his distant descendents, care of a chair-shaped mind-reader" takes a bit of explanation. Still, we can't help thirsting for more news of Mr Miles, last seen waking up in a van somewhere in New York State. As you do.
Will his gradual rise from stubbly vegetable to semi-useful alternative to fun continue with Assassin's Creed 3? Are we nearing the day when (whisper it) Desmond can actually appear in an Assassin's Creed game as himself without scuppering the score, rather than donning the hood of some venerated ancestor? There are a few clues to go on.
For one, we have little doubt that Desmond will again explore present day versions of environments from the past in Assassin's Creed 3. Ubisoft has already aired its interest in settings that change over time, revealing that we'll visit towns and cities before and after events like the Siege of Bunker Hill or the Great New York Fire. It's hard to believe the developers will pass up the opportunity to string in the 21st century here, given Desmond's proximity to these locations. Assassin's Creed plots have edged closer and closer to allowing direct communication between eras, with Ezio addressing his unseen manipulator at the close of Assassin's Creed: Revelations. Making such links, tacit or otherwise, is important when you're dealing out the dramatic progression at intervals of 300 years.
Revelations also, in theory, purged Desmond's poor brain of Ezio and Altair's digital psyches, meshed together following that little accident at the end of Assassin's Creed: Brotherhood. Long story short, the campaign is all about exorcising their spectres by enacting critical events in their lives, like that time Ezio sexually harassed a bookseller. Now that Desmond's awake, his mind should be his alone again, except... except that's a bit of a letdown, isn't it? Sorting simulated genetic memories from realities has proven a thrilling ordeal, and while we're happy to say goodbye to Altair and Ezio at this point, we suspect/hope Ubisoft won't abandon the idea of mingling personalities.