Why Assassin's Creed's Templars Have the Right Idea

Written by: Carlos Zotomayor

Features | Jan 17, 2017

Assassin's Creed Assassin's Creed Rogue Assassins Shay Cormac Templars Ubisoft

Let's face it: the Assassin's Creed movie was bollocks. If the weird use of Kanye West's music in a trailer and the preemptive notion that video game movies are bad didn't give it away, then the first 10 minutes of the film surely did.

Apart from the horrible acting by not-so-horrible actors, it was the complete watering down of the philosophies of the Assassins and Templars that made me wish I took a leap of faith into a nice, soft pile of concrete. Templars do not want to cure violence, nor do the Assassins condone it.

Though Assassin's Creed portrays the Assassins as the good guys (largely because the name of the franchise requires it to do so), I was always of a mind that it was the Templars who had the right idea. While the Assassins go around killing anyone with a neck in the supposed name of free will, the Templars have a concrete and realistic plan for achieving peace.


What do both sides really want?

Let's take a step back - the Assassins' ideology is the wish for a world where mankind is able to express its individual ideas, hopefully resulting in freedom and liberty with the human race reaching its full potential.

Their mantra of "nothing is true, everything is permitted" is a reflection of this - that there is no one true way of understanding anything and that people should be open-minded and not oppress those who think differently, lest they get stabbed in the jugular.

The Templars, on the other hand, wish for perfection NOT by subjugating mankind (as those text blurbs at the back of the game boxes imply) but by guiding it through purpose, order, and control.

It is to this end that they put their members in places of power. Government officials, company CEOs, school principals - if there's a title on it, chances are that there is a Templar among them.


That makes the Templars seem like the bad guys.

Well yes, it does look like the Templars are at the crap end of the stick here. But that's because most of the games are from the Assassins' perspective and portray them as murderous douchebags who manipulate people.

But can't the same be said about the Assassins?

Don't they commit first degree murder and then tell the masses that it was to make the world a better place?

Though not many people have played it, Assassin's Creed: Rogue was a really good game that showed just how questionable the motives of the Assassins are.

[MINOR SPOILERS]

While controlling Assassin Shay Cormac, you discover that the Assassin Brotherhood has been delving into temples in order to recover Pieces of Eden, those holy relics that seem to be able to do anything from microwaving popcorn to enslaving minds.

These Pieces of Eden in particular can destroy the surrounding vicinity if disturbed by an outside force. Though the first artifact they tried to retrieve destroyed an entire city in Haiti, the Assassins continued their search regardless of the innocents slaughtered. This eventually leads Shay to switch sides and join the Assassins' well-funded enemies in order to prevent his former allies from indirectly killing any more people.

[SPOILERS END]


It is in this game that we see the Brotherhood not as a know-it-all organization, but as a cult that jumps blindly into things it does not fully understand, thereby putting the human race in danger.

Its blindness even extends to its own philosophy. In hoping that people will someday reach perfection through free will, the Assassins already doubt that it will ever come true. 


But it's working; humankind has thrived thanks to the Assassins!

Has it really?

What have the Assassins done, apart from kill countless people and turn the hoodie industry into a lucrative business?

After committing genocide (most likely in a very showy manner), an Assassin makes like that one guy at a party who attends it just for the food and disappears as soon as he is finished with his task. They don't teach their cause to the masses to help them on their path, but rather "work in the dark to serve the light" (a motto Batman would use) and hope for the best.

Sure, they may have had certain allies such as Niccolò Machiavelli and Charles Dickens (some of whom were Assassins themselves), but the Assassins as a whole never really made any direct changes to society, other than supposedly protecting mankind from the Templars.

The Templars already have a vision and have been working slowly towards it century by century. Though they do not preach their cause like a town crier who has had too much to drink, their presence is felt due to the very nature of society and their actions.

They've put people in governments and companies to better facilitate the masses and give them things like sliced bread and the ability to relive the lives of their ancestors, something the Assassins pirated off of them. And while killing is sometimes involved, at least the end goal here is more tangible than living on the prayer that people will get along in the future.

The Templars adapt and change to the times while the Assassins remain focused on age-old mantras and the idea that the best way to kill people is with a wrist blade and not something more practical... like a gun.


But I'd rather be free than live under the rule of someone else!

Let me put it this way: you already live in a society that is bound by rules someone else made years ago. The Assassins' hope for a society that is completely free and at peace will never be realized because freedom is not an invitation to peace; it is an invitation to chaos.

As long as people have different ideas, conflict will always arise. If one person firmly believes that Zelda is actually the boy in Legend of Zelda, then all hell will eventually break loose between him and the majority of the world's population (as the Internet has shown, too much freedom can be a bad thing).

If the world conforms to a specific way of thinking like the Templars believe, then there is structure. While under rule, this does not mean that there is no room for an individualistic mind; it just means that ideas are regulated. Would you like to live in a society with a group whose idea of a good time is killing people and then defacing modern architecture? I didn't think so.

Let's just say that the Assassins get their way and a world where all ideas are expressed becomes reality. If a person's idea becomes too dangerous, does that mean that the Assassins have to put him down to save the rest of mankind? That makes them no better than the Templars; the only difference is that the Templars won't be hypocrites who contradict their own philosophy.


This article is way too long.

I seem to have talked too much.

The philosophy behind Assassin's Creed is so deep that I'm pretty sure even the developers have no idea how complex it actually is. They would rather just let players control one side of the coin and assume that the other is in league with Satan.

There is a lot of room for the franchise to grow should Ubisoft let players take a look at the other side like they did in Assassin's Creed: Rogue. But alas, with a horrible movie and another inevitable title that will be released this year, I guess I'm going to side with the Templars for the meantime. 






About the author: Carlos Zotomayor

Zoto can see your underpants. Mmm... tasteful.


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