Ubisoft’s Assassin’s Creed series is a video game franchise heavily rooted in history and real-world locations, but none are so recognizable and close to home as the locations in Assassin’s Creed III. The game follows Connor Kenway, the son of a Native American woman and an English man, as he traverses the English colonies before, during, and after the American Revolution. While Connor’s adventures are displaced by over 200 years from our own, he journeys through a plethora of locales that have withstood the test of time and that players could easily go out to see for themselves today.
The first of the two primary locations you explore in Assassin’s Creed 3 is Boston, one of the oldest cities in the United States and the site of many of the famous events leading up to and during the American Revolution. The player, as Connor, witnesses and even participates in many of these events, including Paul Revere’s famous midnight ride or the Boston Massacre. Although Boston is still in its colonial stages, the city is filled with rooftops, trees, and other places that the player can free run across and see all the things to do—in the game, and in the real world.
Paul Revere’s midnight ride through Lexington and Concord is one of the most iconic moments of the American Revolution. As said before, the player gets to participate in the ride itself, but the more historical value is found in another aspect of that night. Boston’s Old North Church is where the famous “one if by land, two if by sea” lanterns were hung to signify the method of the British army’s approach on the towns of Lexington and Concord. Players can climb the church itself to gain a breathtaking view of the city and fill out the in-game map for it. Players can also climb the church in real-life, although they’re encouraged to use the front door and staircases within rather than the bricks without.
In the heart of Boston is Boston Common, today known as the oldest city park in United States. Although its current incarnation only vaguely resembles what it did in the 1700s, Boston Common persists as it did in the Revolution within Assassin’s Creed 3. The park has seen urban development around it and the land has been leveled off for a more uniform appearance, but Ubisoft recreated the gentle hills and more untamed foliage of the area to recapture the original feel of the historic park. It’s here that players see British soldiers camp and begin their missions leading up to the battles of Lexington and Concord. However, in the modern park, visitors are still given insights into history, as Boston Common houses the gravesites of several American-born poets and participants of the Boston Tea Party.
The second full location Connor explores is the fledgling New York City. While it lacks the skyscrapers and sprawling landscape of the modern day, players don’t struggle with the standard Assassin’s Creed free running and parkour-based gameplay that takes them across the rooftops of several historic New York sites.
One of the travel points found within the game’s version of Revolutionary-era New York is at the location of St. Paul’s Chapel. Once part of a series of churches in the New York area, St. Paul’s is among the few that survived the fire that consumed much of the city during the revolution. Although the game does not have the player present for the Great Fire, they are able to visit the burned aftermath later in the game’s timeline. This includes a view of St. Paul’s Chapel, which still stands today, and even served as a haven for those fleeing the tragic events of September 11th, 2001.
The game’s penultimate encounter takes place in New York, during the French bombardment of Fort George, one of a series of Forts in and around the city. While Fort George no longer stands, several of their locales have provided namesakes for businesses and streets in the city. Now referred to as Hudson Heights, the area is home to Fort Tyron Park and is an example of Ubisoft’s dedication to recreating locales that no longer exist. While the spot of Connor’s showdown with Haytham Kenway isn’t the same today, New York has echoes of what once stood there.
The Assassin’s Creed series is a video game franchise built on science fiction, but firmly grounds itself in the events of the past and shows dedicated attempts at recreating mostly, if not entirely, historically accurate locations. With Assassin’s Creed 3, Ubisoft provided players with impressive, if condensed, versions of historic New York, Boston, and the American frontier, to adventure in and experience the history as if they had been there. The adventure doesn’t have to end with the game, as these places are prime destinations to learn about and experience the real American Revolution, which unfortunately lacked Assassins and Templars as far as we know.
Jayson Goetz, the author of this article, is a recent graduate from the Arizona State University who lives in Phoenix. A lover of video games and travel, he’s always ready to bust out a PS Vita and visit new places. He started writing in hope of sharing his experiences with fellow gamers and travel bugs. Get in touch with Jayson here & here.