Assassin’s Creed Unity is probably one of the biggest projects Ubisoft’s ever taken on. Set in Paris, France, the game takes place during the French Revolution (1789-1799) which pits you, the player playing as Arno Dorian (aka. Le Fancypants), against the true powers behind the uprising. Being in France you’d naturally think the people doing the voice acting would be French-speaking, right? Or at least have some sort of a French accent? Well, Ubisoft says the game doesn’t need it because it doesn’t fit into how the series’ deus ex machina, the Animus, apparently translates everything for you already.
For those who haven’t seen it yet, the trailers thus far for the game and all gameplay videos have all had British voice actors with British accents. There’s nothing French about them or the way they sound. Even the NPCs in the crowds currently speak British English and this makes it a little confusing when you consider that every other game in the series thus far has given accents to the characters according to the region the game is set in. Ezio Auditore has a thick Italian accent and frequently teaches players how to swear in Italian as well as learn a few choice phrases.
Assassin’s Creed III even has you learning a few Iroquoian phrases as well, with a mixture of Mohawk and Oneida being heard (ignoring the fact that Connor is probably the worst assassin ever). According to Unity’s creative director Alex Amancio, the decision to not have French accents or any language switching mid-sentence was made to allow the game to appeal to a wider audience (and perhaps to avoid a repeat of the horrible accents of the children in Heavy Rain).
“The idea is that the Animus is translating everything into the language you’re playing in. That’s why, since you’re an Anglophone, you’re hearing all the dialogue and cinematics in English,” Amancio explains in an interview on UbiBlog. “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.”
“It’s an artistic choice. 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,” Amancio adds.
The blog post explains why British English was chosen as the default language as well:
“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.”
I didn’t want to paraphrase that section because I can’t yet wrap my head around this one. How does a thick British accent make sense to a game set in France where you’re playing a Frenchman? This just feels weird and I had been wondering why my brain hurt while watching gameplay footage.
For anyone who wants to play the game with more realistic feel to it, there will be the option to switch the language to French with English subtitles. Amancio added in at the end of the interview that currently NPC voices are in English, but will be switched out with French when the game launches in November 2014.
Source: Ubisoft Blog