Assassin’s Creed II Concept Art | Ezio Auditore and His Weapons
Honestly, I have stumbled upon this sentiment quite frequently today since the new trailer was released. Many people, such as yourself, watched as Connor stalked down a terrified soldier and shot him in the leg with the sole intention of slowing him down, not killing him. Vicious, and some would argue cruel and predatory, like a cat playing with a mouse before eating it. However, because I am contrary, I am going to argue against these points to prove that, while Connor is a killer by trade, he is not necessarily a cold-blooded one.
Let me break down the new trailer as I see it. We have a soldier, scared out of his wits, running for his life as an assassin chases him through the trees. The man is quite aware that he is a target—Connor is not stealthy about his approach—and yet he keeps running in a straight line. His military training would have taught him that an erratic target is harder to pin down, so why not try to shake his doom? Two possible reasons that lend themselves nicely to why Connor shot him in the leg.
1.) The snow. Ubisoft and Alex Hutchinson have been touting the Anvil Next engine and its weather simulation since March, and have been discussing its effects on gameplay for just as long. Snow impedes movement, almost making it impossible to dodge or move quickly, and both Connor and the soldier know this. That’s why Connor’s in the trees, and why the soldier moves to open ground; the soldier’s one shot at getting away is to have Connor slowed down by the snow too. However, to prevent his target from escaping, Connor shoots an arrow in his leg so he can catch up.
How is this not ruthless? Why couldn’t have Connor shot the man dead instead of just in the leg? Here’s a better question: How do we even know that Connor means to kill him? What if our mission is to capture this man alive? To question him? The display of weaponry is to scare the information out of him. And that brings me to point number two.
2.) The setting. Can I be over-analytical for a moment? Let’s take a look at a still from the reveal trailer.
We have Connor overlooking a major battle from a ledge covered in snow. Now let’s look at a still from today’s trailer:
Now, I could easily be over-analyzing this, but the soldier appears to be desperately crawling up to a ledge. His escape route, while it should have been more evasive, has been stubbornly drawn in this direction. Could this soldier be trying to reach the troops at the bottom of the valley? Does he have valuable information that could sway the outcome of the battle? Is Connor trying to get this information to prevent a major victory for the Templars? It could explain why he doesn’t kill the man outright: he needs the man alive.
While his methods can be argued to be more vicious than some, to say that Altair and Ezio were compassionate and empathetic is a stretch. Yes, in their old age they came to realize the importance of the Creed, and of humanity, but both did some equally vicious things in their youth. Don’t you remember The Beginning in Assassin’s Creed? Altair’s entire philosophy was “It matters not how we complete our task, only that it’s done.” Talk about cold-blooded; he kills an innocent man only because he was in the way.
And Ezio? His first kill is so filled with rage and lust for revenge that he stabs Uberto Alberti FIVE TIMES. There was no room for empathy in his vengeful heart at that time.
So who is to say that Connor is not like these master assassins in their youth? We are following Connor through thirty years of his life; clearly he is not going to be the same man at 20 that he will be at 40, just as Altair and Ezio were not. While you are free to have whatever opinion you’d like about Connor Kenway, remember that our knowledge of him is limited, and that a man does not have to end his life the way that he began it.