by Ewan Wilson
Assassin's Creed: Unity's pre-order exclusive is pants
Yesterday, a photo of an advertisement for Ubisoft’s upcoming Assassin’s Creed: Unity promising exclusive “pants” for those who pre-ordered the game was uploaded to the net. First impressions told us all this was silly. Assassin’s Creed is a series known for simulating historical settings, and often touts period accuracy, so pants that make you run faster seem more than a little contrived. Even at the best of times, the series seems to work against itself, countering all the energy and effort put into capturing historical spaces with a cluttered HUD and an abundance of needless sci-fi trappings. But special pre-order pants? That’s ridiculous.
Except these pants aren’t just a silly marketing mistake – they’re a missed opportunity too. Pants were in fact a big deal during the French Revolution. The name of one of several revolutionary factions, the Sans-culottes, referred to the kind of pants they didn't wear. Urban labourers and members of the working class, the Sans-culottes wore trousers to distinguish themselves from the bourgeoisie of the day who wore silk knee-breeches (culottes).
When Ubisoft Montreal agreed to produce an “exclusive” set of pre-order pants for Unity, perhaps they should have taken things a little more seriously. They could have offered more than just a +5 stat boost, they had a free pass to introduce a proper game mechanic involving different kinds of pants whilst keeping within the spirit of the revolution. Instead, we got the usual throwaway rubbish.
In the end the sans-culottes ended up losers in the revolution. Yet today we’re all wearing trousers, whilst very few of us wear silk knee-breeches; I’d call that a historical victory. There’s probably a good metaphor in there somewhere.