Historically Accurate: AC III’s ‘King Washington’ DLC

By Nathan Grayson on October 4th, 2012 at 5:00 pm.

Evil Washington 2012!

Ubisoft’s officially taken the star-spangled wraps off Assassin’s Creed III‘s first batch of DLC, and it’s probably not what you were expecting. Well, OK, it’s partially exactly what you were expecting – for instance, one of those ever-popular pay-it-all-upfront Season Passes and a couple helpings of extra multiplayer content. But then there’s also the part where you’re trying to kill George Washington. Evil United States Post-Revolutionary God Emperor George Washington. Alternate history, ahoy!

Yes, it’s a wonderfully silly idea, but – depending on execution – it could either come across as chin-strokingly thoughtful or horrendously offensive. For now, though, here’s Ubisoft’s description:

“As the revolution comes to a close, a new and most unexpected enemy emerges. Driven by the desire to secure the fate of the colonies, the greatest hero of the revolution, George Washington, succumbs to the temptation of infinite power. The new King is born and his reign leaves no one untouched. To return freedom to the land our new hero must dethrone a tyrant he once called friend.”

“History is our playground, and Assassin’s Creed teams have always loved playing with historical facts and their consequences as a way to better understand a time period. While Assassin’s Creed 3 concentrates on history as it happens, we wanted to take some liberties with this DLC and tell you how things ‘could have happened.’”

The “what if” tale will unfold over the course of three single-player episodes – each of which will be part of the $29.99 season pass, if that’s your thing. Otherwise, you can simply purchase them as you please, sans the looming specter of financial commitment. 

Setting aside the fact that it’s among the more historically implausible ideas ever conceived (George Washington pretty much single-handedly dismantled any dictatorial powers a US president could’ve had), I’m open to completely batshit over-the-top alternate history craziness. Three episodes implies the storyline will be pretty elaborate, so I imagine it’ll be quite a bit more than someone saying, “Over there! It’s the nefarious yet improbably athletic villain, George Washington. Chase him across some rooftops en route to a supremely anticlimactic and vaguely offensive slow-mo kill.” Time will tell. Or it already has, really. Alternate time, that is. I think? I don’t know. My head hurts.

, .

107 Comments »

  1. InternetBatman says:

    That is a terrible idea. They could have at least gone with something that makes some sense given the popular historical image of a character, like knife fights with Alexander Hamilton, or Benjamin Franklin’s lightning powered mecha-kite chase scene.

    • Premium User Badge

      Gap Gen says:

      There could be a Ben Franklin DLC where you run through the streets of Paris, trying to have sex with as many French noblewomen as possible.

    • RakeShark says:

      To be fair, there’s a little bit of historical significance/accuracy with King George Washington. Not every American was sold on the democracy thing (Mostly the southern colonies), and they wanted something closer to the parlament system with an active king. Further on at the end of his second term as president, people were so enamored by Washington that they wanted him as president for life, kinda like a king. Washington stepped down after two terms and said no thanks to the offers.

      It’s not as far fetched to theorize “what if Washington said yes” as you think. The common population loved him and thought him a god amongst men, and the Continental Army was willingly under his beck and call. Seizing power would have been a viable and sustainable option for him. Turns out he was much happier as a plantation owner.

      I’ll admit mecha-kite Franklin would be kinda awesome.

      • arccos says:

        Exactly. According to the history I’ve read, Washington himself turned down the offer. He’s probably the only US President ever that actually would turn it down.

      • Premium User Badge

        Smashbox says:

        You’re correct, but that’s kind of the whole ‘point’ of Washington. The general of the army that won the war that established a nation was made its leader and then turned down the offer of kinghood/whatever you call it. It was historically unprecedented.

        And some of the myth:
        King George III asked his American painter, Benjamin West, what Washington would do after winning independence. West replied, “They say he will return to his farm.”

        “If he does that,” the incredulous monarch said, “he will be the greatest man in the world.”

        • wodin says:

          Poor King George..mad as a hatter..with his purple wee and all….wot wot…

        • McCool says:

          Don’t get carried away now. There is a bloody lot of precedent for that kind of thing, as long as you take history to have started before 1776.

          • FFabian says:

            Stahp it. Stop raining on these Usians Exceptionalism parade. When listening to USians the founding father were Gods of Freedom and Virtue – except when they were beating their little slave boys into submission to work harder in their nail factories (e.g. Thomas Jefferson)

            http://boingboing.net/2012/09/29/thomas-jefferson-enthusiastic.html

          • Jenks says:

            Wow, you compared the “American Cincinnatus” to… Cincinnatus!

            Bravo sir, truly an excellent find.

            In case you aren’t aware, Cincinnati wasn’t named to honor a Roman general.

          • Haplo says:

            Well, yeah.

            I mean, if he’s called the ‘American Cincinnatus’, then it’s not exactly unprecedented, is it?

            Gonna take the best interpretation here and assume you were just broin’ out and stuff and bein’ all classy about your peer reviewin’.

            Peace.

      • InternetBatman says:

        I would say the him turning down crown is one his greatest defining moments, yes, but I think his others provide ample evidence that even if he had not turned down the crown he wouldn’t have been a corrupt tyrant. He freed his slaves on his deathbed; that’s not great, but it’s also not indicative of a tyrant. In his farewell speech he says he was “not unconscious of the inferiority of his qualifications.” Humbleness is not generally a trait seen in tyrants, Mussolini wrote his biography when he was 28 and Stalin chose the name “man of steel / steel” for himself.

        So in essence they’re creating a completely different character with the same name and face and saying it’s a crazy “what if” scenario.

        • lexoneir says:

          Its the simplistic king = evil tyrant assumption. A good king is very possible, but people are so conditioned to think that democracy is the only possible and moral way to govern. Its comically similar to how plenty of people used to think that monarchy was the only possible and moral way to govern.

          • Mattressi says:

            Especially since all democracy does is replace one tyrant with a few million tyrants. But if half the population wants to dominate the other half, that’s cool, right?

            By the way, from what I can tell, George Washington (like most founding fathers) was very much opposed to democracy. The US is supposed to be a republic…

    • PopeBob says:

      Image seems to imply he got his hands on one of them there alien artifacts from the game and went MAD WITH THE INFINITE POWER OF THE ANCIENT ALIEN GODS or something. So, I mean, it has very little to do with the real historical character and virtue of Washington and more to do with the corrupting power of Ubisoft’s magical MacGuffins.

  2. PopeBob says:

    He’ll save children, but not the British children.

  3. Lifebleeder says:

    I don’t have a problem with an Alternate *What If this happened* DLC. No matter how far fetched it is (and this one is a doosey).

    I do have a problem with a fleshed out, priced, and announced DLC almost a full month before the actual game is released. Which is increasingly becoming the norm.

    • zeekthegeek says:

      You know at this point the game is in approvals at the console companies right? Literally nothing else they can do on the game except work on DLC now.

      • Lifebleeder says:

        I’m not in games development, and I have no idea how long it takes a game to push through the approval process. I’m willing to guess it takes less time for a dev/publisher like Ubisoft, than it would for a small company like Frozenbyte.

        Let’s say it does take an entire month. For them to come out with the whole concept, have it fleshed out over three “episodes”, do the concept art, and announce it suggests something to me. Not only did they announce that not only is this something that is coming, or an idea they are working on. This is a press release with a price. That suggests that they’ve been working on this for a good while.

        Even so, I agree with Link. You’ve got DLC that’s your perrogative. Shut your yap about it until your game releases, and heaven help you if it’s already on disc.

      • Droopy The Dog says:

        I’d be willing to accept they have nothing better to do if the last few games hadn’t been “unexpectedly delayed” for a few months on the PC.

        At that point I can think of something better than DLC they could have been doing.

    • shovelface88 says:

      “It’s that early that we haven’t decided. There are debates as to where we draw the line in the various chunks [of the story],” Hutchinson explained.

      “And unlike some people we really don’t start work on it until the game is finished. It is not on the disc.”

      Source: http://www.eurogamer.net/articles/2012-09-28-assassins-creed-3-dlc-will-be-a-what-the-f-chunk-of-story

      Simmer down and drop the pitchforks, folks.

  4. Premium User Badge

    Gap Gen says:

    Um, wow. This is certainly an interesting take on the period, if nothing else.

  5. Discopanda says:

    I’m both mildly offended and impressed at their audacity! I mean, I really shouldn’t be offended, but damn if this doesn’t hit me right in the patriotism glands.

    • Mattressi says:

      Hell, I’m mildly offended – and I’m a bloody Aussie! It just seems wrong (even if it’s meant to be crazy) to turn one of the most anti-tyrant people into a tyrant. Some people, no matter how much power they could gain, would rather leave other people with their freedom.

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        Jackablade says:

        It’s not really any worse than having that vicious bastard Gandhi crushing all in his path in Civilisation.

        • Mattressi says:

          Not a Civ player, but that sounds pretty bad, too. I like some alternate history things (“what if X took power, instead of Y” or “what if ___ won the war”), but to me it seems disrespectful to play “what if scenarios” which essentially amount to “what if ___, who dedicated his entire life to opposing X, suddenly was all for X”. I can understand when it’s about someone who wasn’t diametrically opposed to something (say, for example, making Bush, or any US president since the civil war, into a complete war mongering tyranical dictator – and no I’m not getting into an argument over whether they already are/were), but it’s like saying “what if Allied soldiers in WWII suddenly decided that the Nazis were right and joined forces to help them rid the planet of all non-Aryans?”. It’s just wrong.

          • TCM says:

            US _could_ have joined the Axis in WW2.

            It is a thing that possibly could have happened, given the right circumstances (which thankfully were not in place)

            [Edited Note: An admittedly much more likely scenario is the USA staying isolationist due to no Pearl Harbor attack, and the UK possibly losing the war in Europe if Hitler were intelligent enough not to open up a second front with the Soviets until the free world was dealt with]

            Just saying, points of divergence for alternate history could be more extreme than you think.

            (Tossing out a macguffin of absolute power is definitely playing fast and loose, though)

            As both a patriotic American, and a lover of alternate history in all its forms, no matter how contrived or ridiculous, this sort of thing appeals to me.

          • Mattressi says:

            You know the Allies weren’t just the US, right? I’m talking about all Allied soldiers, mid-war, seeing what the Nazis were doing and going “hey, that seems like the right thing to do” and joining in.

          • TCM says:

            No, but had the US joined the Axis, there is very little chance that the Allies would have won the war – And I know that is debatable, but yeah.

          • InternetBatman says:

            That seems unlikely given that the reason the Japanese attacked Pearl Harbor is because the US (then the major petroleum producer in the world) had enacted a gas embargo against Japan.

        • Theboredfish says:

          My god. I created an account just to reply to this.

          Gandhi is ridiculously bloodthirsty in Civ. I’ve tried being his Ally, and making peace, and co-existing, but he is consistently out for blood. I need to get some screenshots of the “Evil Gandhi face” in Civ IV for this.

        • Geen says:

          Yeah. Screw Gandhi, he keeps on nuking me!

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      Naum says:

      It’s interesting to read this thread from a German perspective, since we actually don’t have any important historical leaders that I couldn’t imagine becoming manic tyrants. Heck, even most of the WWII resistance is usually presented as a bit of a double-edged sword, with people like Stauffenberg more worried about the military chances of success than about concentration camps. I guess that’s one of the reasons why patriotism isn’t really a thing around here (as far as I know).

  6. Unaco says:

    Just for those who were wondering, the Devs have said, specifically, that the DLC is meant to be a crazy, WTF? slice of gaming…

    http://www.eurogamer.net/articles/2012-09-28-assassins-creed-3-dlc-will-be-a-what-the-f-chunk-of-story

  7. Captain Joyless says:

    Washington, Washington

    6’8″, weighs a fucking ton

    opponents beware, opponents beware…

    He’s coming, he’s coming, he’s coming…

    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=sbRom1Rz8OA

    ON A HORSE MADE OF CRYSTAL HE PATROLLED THE LAND

    • RakeShark says:

      I contend this amateurish concoction. George Washing rode on a horse of STEEL, FIBERGLASS, AND QUESTIONABLE GAS MILAGE!

    • DogKiller says:

      That’s the most amazing thing I’ve ever seen. I am awed.

    • rapier17 says:

      John Adams, 2nd US President, penned something similar once:
      “And then Franklin smote the ground and up rose George Washington, fully dressed and astride a horse! Then the three of them, Franklin, Washington and the HORSE, proceeded to win the entire revolution single handley!”

    • Geen says:

      He’ll save the children, but not the british children.

  8. Rictor says:

    What that image is lacking is some half-naked chicks at the foot of the throne, and maybe a chained lion for good measure. I want King George Washington to be really, well…kingly. Like something you would find on the cover of a cheap fantasy novel.

    ALL HAIL GEORGE THE CONQUEROR!

    • Timthos says:

      And maybe a bald eagle perched on the back of his throne.

    • RakeShark says:

      Perhaps a lion skin rug maybe. Perhaps on the non-scepter hand a leather hawk glove with a double headed bald eagle eating a British baby with one head and singing the Lord’s gospel with the other.

    • The Random One says:

      Also a bunch of skulls at his feet, all of them with crooked, brown teeth.

    • sputim says:

      Like this? http://i.imgur.com/CSry9.jpg

      That’s Dimitri from Darkstalkers.

  9. HothMonster says:

    Buy 60$ game and 29.99$ season pass or wait till the gotye edition costs 29.99$, hmmmmmmmmmmmmmmmmm?

    • empyrion says:

      Exactly. I’m currently swimming in my unfinished game collection, but I’m not swimming in shiny coins. Funny how that works.

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      Dilapinated says:

      This is becoming the case increasingly frequently, yeah.

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      MajorManiac says:

      Not forgetting that the 60$ version will be riddled with game-stopping bugs.

  10. Pattom says:

    Why Washington? He spent most of his post-Revolution years craving retirement, only serving as President at all because the Constitutional Convention couldn’t unanimously agree on any other candidate and pushed him into it. In that sense it’s not offensive, just silly. And it’s doubly weird since there were two other Founding Fathers who would make more believable dictators: Alexander Hamilton, Washington’s Treasury Secretary, who was such an infuriatingly smug manipulator that Thomas Jefferson refused to work with him and resigned from the administration; and John Adams, Washington’s Vice President and the 2nd President, who was considered a small-minded, anal-retentive prick by the other Founding Fathers who always had to have his way. Just say one of them got an alien Apple, then brainwashed Washington and the Convention

    • ScubaMonster says:

      Well, I think the point of this is what IF he was the exact opposite. Just a fun alternate reality type thing. Sort of like the Marvel What If comics.

    • Skabooga says:

      You did not just diss Adams and Hamilton. Adams was an arrogant jerk, but he got things done that needed to be done. Granted, most of my like of Adams comes from the semi-inaccurate musical ’1776′, but even still, the ideals he espoused and the resolutions he bull-headedly pushed through were enlightened or at least well-suited to the needs of the country at the time.

      Hamilton, beyond being a firm Federalist, also contributed much to creating a fantastic governmental financial system in the nascent nation.

      But, granted, both of them would have made better choices for dictator than Washington.

      • mrpage says:

        Washington as dictator is an interesting choice not because he would ever have done it, but because he’s the man who could have done it, had he been so inclined.

        Jefferson was an a$$, the fact he couldn’t work with Hamilton is no stain on Hamilton.

        • Skabooga says:

          Ha, true on all counts. However, that Jefferson and Adams were able to reconcile their differences after retiring and continue their friendship where it had left off redeems Jefferson at least somewhat in my eyes. Heck, Jefferson would make a good dictator choice: despite his states-rights leanings, he nonetheless wielded considerable executive power during his term, and with the Louisiana Purchase more than doubled the United States’ landholdings at that time – surely such a fact is fertile ground for plenty of crazy conspiracy theories.

      • affenkopf says:

        You say ‘beyond being a federalist’ like being a federalist was a good thing. *shudder* Ah and the great financial system he built, nothing like giving power to the banks.

      • crinkles esq. says:

        Hamilton was insufferable. Read the book “Plain, Honest Men: The Making of the US Constitution”. He had the audacity to make a speech during the Constitutional Convention extolling the virtues of the British government. Hamilton declared, “The British government is the best in the world, and I doubt much whether anything short of it will do in America.” He also argued for an executive figure elected for life, with “absolute veto on any laws passed and sweeping controls over the departments of finance and foreign affairs” — a figure probably none too different than this King Washington mockery than the Ubisoft Montreal developers have foisted upon us. Hamilton’s speech was met with such a “deafening silence” that he exiled himself from the rest of the deliberations.

        If anyone had the antidemocratic impulses to desire and grasp a monarchy, it would be Hamilton, not Washington, whom despite his faults was a selfless servant of the country he helped bring about.

        • aurens says:

          my understanding of that speech was that it was an intentionally gross exaggeration to get the convention to warm to a strong executive in comparison. the delegates were pussyfooting around having any strong central executive even after the failures of the articles of confederation and hamilton understood the need for a single executive for governmental agility. in other words, he was using the door in the face technique ( http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Door-in-the-face_technique ).

          • crinkles esq. says:

            Well, the book’s author Richard Beeman made no such inference to Hamilton’s intentions, and he’s a noted historian of revolutionary America. His speech was more than five hours long; a blistering tirade against the states-minded New Jersey Plan (though he even felt Madison’s federalist Virginia plan was weak). Hamilton was widely known for his British leanings and he was rather combative in all of his debates, so I think this was just par for the course. I think he simply misjudged the controversial nature of his points and the unwillingness of the men assembled to hear them.

          • aurens says:

            i disagree on your final assessment, but it’s been years since i’ve read about this stuff so i’ll defer to you and mr. beeman.

  11. Shooop says:

    It’s so stupid it juuuust might work.

    Even if it doesn’t, I’m looking forward to the inevitable Fox News shitstorm either way.

  12. Tei says:

    I knew about this since forever. He invented cocaine and have 70 penis.

  13. GenericKen says:

    I like it. Hamilton and Adams may have had the temperament for monarchy, but Washington had the opportunity.

    How do you turn Washington evil? Simple – kill Abigail. Have democracy do it; trample her at a slave auction or something. Hamilton can even whisper in his ear at her funeral.

  14. Hug_dealer says:

    even better, tyrant george should turn out to be a robot from the future!

    i have never really liked the AC series. Its just way to on rails. Dishoneredable is what AC could have been, no not the sci stuff.

  15. Grey Ganado says:

    I like this take on DLC. The DLC is not part of the story so it doesn’t force me to buy it.

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    Screwie says:

    I would love it if this turned out to be an obscure Home Movies reference.

  17. Kuraudo says:

    In terms of outrage, this is the equivalent of making a dlc pack where you assassinate the founder of Islam.

    • RakeShark says:

      I could totally picture that!

      .. waitaminute.

    • PopeJamal says:

      Totally not true. No Americans think George Washington was a divine…
      Most Americans don’t think Georg…
      Some…

      OK. There are at least seven Americans who don’t believe that George Washington was a divine being from the planet Freemason.

    • Supahewok says:

      Except that the President of the United States will not tell the American people to “KILL ALL THE EVIL DEMON FRENCHMEN OR YOU WILL GO TO HELL!!!”

      Thank God must American Muslims don’t bother with the crazy ass Muslim theocracies.

  18. westyfield says:

    ‘What if George Washington were history’s greatest traitor?’, this DLC asks. What if, indeed.
    Sincerely,
    Britain.

    • fallingmagpie says:

      ZING!

    • Skabooga says:

      Heh heh, well-played.

    • PopeJamal says:

      LOL, youmad brah? America is the bessssssssssssttttttttt! LOLWUT!

      Sincerely,
      Waffles “DudeBro” McButter

      Clan Name: TeamAmerika_F_Yeah
      XBox Live ID: DickMcBigins
      PSN ID: SnatchStufferXXL
      AOL: DooshMcBaggins
      Motto: “Come at me bro!”
      Website: http://mma-4lyfe-f-yeah.biz

      • RakeShark says:

        I was going to go for a slightly more classier:

        “The French! How did we not see that coming? Hate you so much.
        Sincerely,
        Britain.”

      • Sparkasaurusmex says:

        wow you almost make me feel ashamed to be United Statesian.
        if only that wasn’t accurate satire!

    • derbefrier says:

      and the winner for funniest comment of the day goes too…..

  19. kikito says:

    I hope he’s protected by a cohort of traditional american ninjas.

  20. Jahandar says:

    My first reaction was to be revolted by this (pun possibly intended), seeing as it’s antithetical to everything Washington was, but after thinking about it, I think it might be a good way of showing how good he was by contrasting with what he could have been.

    Obviously time will tell how well they pull it off.

  21. Sparkasaurusmex says:

    Sounds more accurate than high school text books here in Texas

    • Supahewok says:

      The hell part of Texas are you from, then? We learned our history just fine, taking both sides into account.

      • Sheng-ji says:

        Not necessarily just a case of “Where in Texas” but also “How old a textbook”. I’ve got quite a few really old history textbooks, some of them are embarrassingly inaccurate – For example, the Spanish Armada, the older the textbook, the more heroic Drake was, the worse the Spanish navy was etc etc

  22. rapier17 says:

    They should do a DLC showing the aftermath of the American revolution entitled “France – 1789: How to bankrupt your nation and go from a 10 million livre surplus to a 110 million livre debt funding a revolutionary war and sending your army & fleet to fight in it, just to put one in the eye of your old enemy who slapped you in French & Indian War.”

    In my eyes they should have done something with Tom Paine, who no one ever really knows about when it comes to the American Revolution. Which is amazing because his book ‘Common Sense’ was instrumental in starting the war & gathering support from the population of 3 million who lived in North America at the time (his book sold 150,000 copies – the best-selling book in America at that time). Jefferson, inspired by the corset maker from Thetford, wrote the Declaration of Independance a few months after the book was printed. He was centuries ahead of his time with his thoughts & ideas, so they could easily have twisted it round to involve him and an apple or something.

  23. int says:

    Emperor Washinton is pure fantasy.

    The real Emperor of America was Norton!

    • Wang Tang says:

      That was the first I thought when I saw the headline. Who needs a kings anyway when you have an emperor.

  24. b0rsuk says:

    I’m so happy the king’s room is full of shadows. I was able to instantly realize the king is evil. Otherwise I’d have to determine that by his actions, and that would be confusing.

  25. D3xter says:

    I find it very concerning that you are able to talk about “Day One DLC”, “Season Pass DLC” and all sorts of newfound buzzwords without any lack of cynicism or sarcasm, it almost sounds like dare I say… unreflected marketing.

  26. Haplo says:

    Sold on this DLC purely based on just how incredibly pimpin’ King George W looks on that throne.

  27. enobayram says:

    I don’t see the need for an alternate history, we’ve had many evil United States post-revolutionary god emperors in the recent history…

  28. Premium User Badge

    Devan says:

    “While Assassin’s Creed 3 concentrates on history as it happens, we wanted to take some liberties with this DLC…”

    I’m totally fine with making creative alternatives to historical stories, as long as it’s clear that’s what it is (which is the case for this DLC). What I don’t agree with is Ubisoft pretending that they weren’t taking significant liberties with the main game too.