Assassin’s Creed Rumours Fall Flat, Next Game Not in Mesoamerican Setting
If nothing else, the massive Assassin’s Creed franchise has picked up a reputation for taking players to far-flung historical periods around the world. Currently on a hot streak after Origins, Odyssey, and Valhalla, rumors suggested that the next game would take players to the ancient civilization of the Aztecs, exploring the Mesoamerican cultures and setting. This didn’t prove to be the case, with the upcoming games slated to venture to Baghdad, Feudal Japan, 16th-century Europe, and ancient China.
Mythologies and civilizations of old have always been a huge draw across media. You only have to look to the success of the spinoff series Vikings: Valhalla to see the craving for Vikings and the Norse mythology. Still, Mesoamerican cultures, as well-known as they are, rarely get given the spotlight. For those who were looking forward to jumping around temples and just generally being immersed in the novel setting of the Aztecs and similar civilizations, there are some other options.
Discovering Mesoamericans in entertainment
If you were intent on playing an Aztec Assassin’s Creed, another game might not cut it, as the game mechanics of the long-running series are a big part of its appeal. You can still immerse yourself in the stone carvings, ritual sacrifices, jungles, and jaguars of the setting in other media, though. After all, the snapshot of Central American history itself is fascinating. The Maya were responsible for the hieroglyphic writing and awe-inspiring architecture that was so familiar to the region, while in the Valley of Mexico, the Aztecs eventually rose to prominence, controlling much of the region and being the last Mesoamerican empire. However, what we know about the Aztecs has been skewed by their conquerors.
As the old adage goes, “history is written by the victors,” and for the most part, that’s how we have so much information about the Aztecs. When the Spaniards came to Central America, they made copious notes and writings about the Mexica people, giving them a savage and fearsome persona, from their worship of animal-embodying gods to their famous use of obsidian, jade, and jaguar warriors. As is to be expected, the self-labeled civilized people painted a bleak picture of the people that they encountered. Still, after many discoveries in the years since, we at least know that much of the iconic imagery that’s become embedded in the idea of Aztecs and Mesoamerican life is correct.
Even now, new creations in entertainment draw heavily on imagery, such as with the tabletop miniatures game Warhammer. Here, Seraphon attire, armor, buildings, and weaponry are heavily derived from the Aztecs – making them all the more fearsome. One of the more iconic images of the ancient peoples is of Mayan civilization with its stone carvings, which directly inspired the Gonzo series of titles about the little conquistador. In the latest installment, the live casino game Gonzo Treasure Hunt, you play against a whole wall of these ancient animal carvings, looking for combinations on the spin. Being in a live studio, everything else is drenched in the aesthetic as well, with the host even dressed as an explorer.
On the big screen and small screen, there are a few options for you as well. The first that comes to mind is Mel Gibson’s Apocalypto. While it is set during the collapse of the Mayan Empire, the director does say that it shouldn’t be used as a historical document. Instead, it’s a well-made film that will appease your cravings for ancient jungle civilizations at a turning point for the people. It speaks to the destruction caused by a more developed tribe than that of the protagonist until the true enemy sails to the shores. Finally, a series certainly worth a watch is Onyx Equinox, which follows an Aztec boy caught amidst the warring gods.
Finding some Aztec action in video gaming
Right out of the box, if you want to play an exciting, modern indie game that goes all-in on its Aztech inspiration and pits you against the great gods, turn to Aztech: Forgotten Gods. Equal parts historic-fantasy and sci-fi, you play as Achtli on a quest to siphon the ancient power of colossal gods. For more pure Mesoamerican-themed games, you need to look to 2009’s Aztaka and 2017’s Aztzez, both of which are still available to play on PC. Alternatively, for more of a general blend of Mesoamerican cultures and lore, there’s Shadow of the Tomb Raider. The upcoming anime will pick up from this superb, jungle-set game when it arrives.
On the other hand, if you wish to attempt to trifle with the Aztecs as the Europeans once did, Medieval II features them as an enemy game faction to encounter. Once your faction has done what it can in Europe, you can seek to discover the New World, where you’ll find an absurd number of native warriors at the ready. Luckily, there are some more promising Aztec games in the works, with Aztecs: The Last Sun putting you as the rule of Tenochtitlan, and Mictlan: An Ancient Mythical Tale being an open-world, action-adventure romp.
Assassin’s Creed might not be on its way to the post-classic period of Mexico in any of the more immediate upcoming games, but there are plenty of media options out there if you want to indulge in the setting in the meantime.