Top 10 Historical Inaccuracies: Assassin's Creed

01. Sail Handling (AC3/AC4/Rogue)

Before you claim we are being petty here, please understand that we did not need a book or website to tell us this - half of the crew in the SuperCheats Bullpen are skilled sailors and can tell you based on personal experience that sails? They don't go up and down instantly.

Point of fact - to handle the complete set of sails that are on the Jackdaw would require a minimum of eight topmen per yard and something like half an hour to 45-minutes to unfurl - note, we did not say SET, just unfurl.

But in the game the Captain calls for full sail and BOINK! He gots full sail! And don't even ask what we think of the speed at which the sails are furled and secured. His crew must be half Cybermen!

Yeah, it doesn't work that way.

Think about AC Rogue whose basic premise was, Aye! I'm a Leprechaun with a spiffy fine ship that can sail against the wind at speeds that allow me to reach the Arctic Circle in two shakes of a lamb's tail! Faith and begorra! Me guns can shoot through waves and hit the target with grand accuracy, doing only enough damage for me to recover the maximum wealth in prizes.

Now you need to read that bit above with a thick Irish accent - preferably a Dublin accent. Umkay?

We are not going to go into the fact that ships in the game can sail against the wind - they really do try to address this by making it not seem like they can - but in reality none of the vessels in the game would be able to sail that close to the wind on point and get anything like the sort of speed that they get.

In fact and to be clear here, unless the wind is behind in a 220-degree cone, most of the navigational activity would involve tacking, which is slow, and difficult and labor-intensive.

Then there is docking - you float up to the dock and hit B and the ship magically slides into place, with nobody throwing or pulling on ropes, or using the windlass - there is no anchor work even though they say they are dropping or raising the anchor - man that involves some serious effort. And spring lines? What are those?

The manner in which ship and sail handling is presented in the games tends to suggest that it was a very trivial process, when in fact crews trained very hard and long to be able to do things like set the mainsails in under twenty minutes!

Yeah, that is Numero Uno for sure.


The thing about the AC series is that it sets out to tell a specific story about specific people doing specific things in order to eventually solve a specific mystery that involves a race of people that may or may not have existed in the past.

Amazingly there has recently been evidence discovered that a technologically advanced society may have existed on earth prior to what we accept as the modern interpretation of science and technology today.

A combination of anthropology and archeology discoveries suggests that a lot of what passes for basic science may actually be the re-discovery of science and not its “discovery” though we are not suggesting that a super-race of aliens existed as the game sets out.

The point is that the games present a narrative and multiple-premises that are reasonable and, more to the point, entertaining. They are fun to play, as are the protagonists in them, but to make that happen they almost have to play with history - and its accuracy.

The important thing to take away from this is that while these inaccuracies exist, they exist to make the story - and game play experience - better for the most part. So we should be willing to tolerate them.

Then again, the wizards at Ubisoft are not entirely without hutzpah - after all when the issue of an anachronistic British Railways insignia was found in the trailer for the upcoming game Syndicate, they pointed out that since the “memories” being accessed are essentially drawn from genetic memory.

So perhaps the reason for that anachronism is down to the power of the mind of the player desiring that symbol to exist to make the narrative fit into their world view?