Unpopular Opinion is a new original feature from The Games Cabin. Every two weeks we’ll discuss a debated topic and try to brainwash you into thinking the same way that we do. Failing that, you’ll have something mildly interesting to read. Enjoy! (Last week’s was all about The Order: 1886, read it here.)
Assassin’s Creed is a series all about characters, or least they were. Stories were being told that actually made us think about why these characters are doing what they’re doing. The first game in the franchise revealed that we’d been taking instructions to kill people from a man who wasn’t who we thought he was, and our targets weren’t as evil as they were made out to be. Sure, they were dicks in their own rights, but it was for a greater good. Sort of.
The series has since evolved in how it tells stories, and with that evolution new characters and personalities are thrust upon the gaming public, with varying degrees of success. One of the protagonists that took the lead role was Connor Kenway in Assassin’s Creed III. For one reason or another, players just didn’t seem to like Connor, nor could they understand exactly why he was a bit of a moaning Mary at times. I did, and for that, I bow my hat to Ubisoft for introducing one of the greatest and most complex characters in the series.
Let’s start from the beginning, shall we? Oh, if you’re worried about spoilers, you’re probably better off leaving this one alone until you’ve finished the game. But seriously, c’mon, it’s been out for ages.
Connor Kenway didn’t always go by that name. Before he was given the name ‘Connor’ by his mentor, we first knew him as a child in a tribe of Native Americans where he went by the name of Ratonhnhaké:ton. Try saying that after a few whiskey’s… The story took its time in building up Connor’s rise from little Native boy to full-on machete-wielding assassin. We learned that he was already a skilled hunter out of necessity, and we also learned that he already had a run in with one of the game’s villains early on in his life. We learned that he was a compassionate lad who loved his mother and that he’d have done anything for his tribe who, by extension, were all members of his family. I liked it, others didn’t. For some, the time it took to actually get Connor into the familiar assassin robes was too long. Many didn’t appreciate the subtle build-up of the character nor did they appreciate the extensive back-story. I did, and I loved it.
I understand that games need to be entertaining, but if they’re telling a story at the same time, then you can’t expect a thrill-a-minute; even Michael Bay movies have some slow sections to establish what’s going on. Characters need to be given ample room to develop so that we’re able to better connect with them and understand exactly why they’re shooting people in the balls. Make sense? With Altair we simply know that he was a part of the Assassin Order from birth, whereas Ezio’s games were actually really well done in terms of showing us how a character goes from being a cheeky sod to a stabber of people, to eventually becoming a Master Assassin. In fact, Ezio’s story didn’t even end with his final game; his story was continued later on by way of readable collectibles in a later entry in the series. Interesting, no?
Players complained that Connor was a bit too whiney and didn’t have any humour. Alright, I’ll admit that Connor was no comedian, but he had his reasons for being a little bit grumpy. When he was a young lad, he watched his mum burn to death after failing to save her. He then finds out that his dad is the head of the Templar Order and that he’s gonna need to kill him at some point. Oh, and his tribe (read: family) is being threatened by invading forces who want to take over the land that they’ve held for generations. Sacred land, no less. He’s not exactly had an easy life, has he? Personally, I think Connor was quite a cheerful chap, all things considered.
Where Ezio was given the time to grow on players over the course of his trilogy, Connor wasn’t afforded the same opportunity. It’s a real shame as Connor could have been really fleshed-out if he was given the starring role in another couple of games. We already know he’s a good man with the best intentions at heart; we know his humour comes passively by way of his blunt approach with people – he’s not one for mincing his words, if someone’s a dick, he says it outright. In simple terms, I just think Connor was the most “real” of all the characters, even more so than the present-day conduit, Desmond Miles. R.I.P. What? Didn’t you know? There was a bloody spoiler warning!
Ubisoft decided not to go forward with Connor’s story, despite there being so much more in his time-period to explore. What else did he get up to? What about after the wars? Did he marry? Did he die a hero’s death, or did he just get wasted on liquor one night and drown in the bath? There’s probably an extension of Connor’s story in some comic or novel, but 9/10 fans won’t ever know, and that’s a crying shame. Damn you, Ubisoft, damn you, but even more, damn the people who couldn’t see Connor for what he was. Damn you for demanding another Ezio. Damn you for not embracing change.
What’s worse is that Ubisoft even directly references its decision to ditch the character in the next game in the series, Assassin’s Creed IV: Black Flag. The reference in question even points the finger at the fans to whom Ubisoft bowed before. For the few of us who enjoyed Connor’s blunt charm and his interesting story, it’s a kick in the teeth knowing that he’s effectively been killed off because the vocal community didn’t like how un-Ezio he was.
What do you reckon? Was Connor’s kicking by the Assassin’s Creed community justified, or should he have been given more time to shine? Did you genuinely dislike him, or was it just that, when compared to the charismatic Ezio, he wasn’t as humorous? Share your thoughts on the under-rated character down below.