Assassin’s Creed Unity is set in revolutionary Paris, France. It stands to reason a good majority of the characters are French. So why don’t they have French accents? And can we still hear the game in French if we want to? These questions have been on quite a few people’s minds, so we chatted with Creative Director Alex Amancio to get the definitive answers.
“The idea is that the Animus is translating everything into the language you’re playing in,” Amancio explains. “That’s why, since you’re an Anglophone, you’re hearing all the dialogue and cinematics in English. It would really make no sense for there to be a French accent because that would mean that this French character is trying to address you in accented English. Everyone in the game is not trying to speak English for your benefit.”
But that raises the question: Why a British accent? The answer is simple. When trying to figure out what accent would be best-suited to the time period and the location, the development team took a tip from Hollywood. British accents, they determined, just have more of a period feel than an American accent would. It gives the distinct feeling of being set in the past in a foreign place.
Amancio tells us that players who want to feel fully immersed in the game can choose to play the French version with subtitles. So hardcore Francophiles can still get their authenticity fix simply by enabling French language. And in the final version of the game, players will hear all of the crowd NPCs speaking French. The English you may have heard from the crowds in recent videos has been placeholder dialogue. “The only lines that are going to be translated into English are gameplay-related elements that we need to convey to the player,” Amancio says. “Those parts will be in English. Everything else is in French. You’ll really have the immersion of walking around in Paris and hearing everyone speaking French.”
The most important takeaway is that listening to everyone in the game speak to each other in French-accented English would be… bizarre. Even when Ubisoft released Assassin’s Creed II, many players believed the Italian accents felt strange coming from players who primarily speak English. “It’s an artistic choice,” says Amancio. “It’s a new generation and the story is a little bit more serious, and having everyone speak in a thick French accent would detract a lot from the experience.”
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