Today marks the release of “The Last Maharaja,” the latest story DLC campaign for Ubisoft’s Assassin’s Creed: Syndicate, available on Playstation 4, Xbox One, and Steam. You can check out the trailer above.
Despite its roots in some of the richest parts of global history, Assassin’s Creed has always sort of struggled with telling stories about race and colonialism. We’ve seen the series dip its toe into these waters with Assassin’s Creed: Liberation (originally a handheld-only title), Assassin’s Creed: Freedom Cry (a DLC expansion for Assassin’s Creed IV, later released as a standalone), and most recently Assassin’s Creed Chronicles: India, which our reviewer Suriel Vasquez felt treated its backdrop of British colonialism as scenery at best.
That isn’t to say “The Last Maharaja” can’t knock it out of the park, storywise, but I’ll refrain from getting too optimistic, just based on the series’s track record. Anyway, I’m at least nominally excited that the DLC’s focal character, Duleep Singh, is depicted in the trailer above as being a highly-principled guy interested in returning wealth stolen from his country, which beats a lot of the racist stereotypes and tropes of the Victorian era from which Syndicate derives its setting.
Like many NPCs in the Assassin’s Creed universe, Singh is a real historical figure, the actual last Maharaja referred to in the title. He was friends with Queen Victoria and would later go on to lobby for India’s independence from the British Empire, and he’s also one of few Sikh characters we’ve ever seen in a game. That’s all really cool, and I hope Ubisoft does well by his story here! It would be great to delve a little deeper into the meaning of this character’s “birthright” beyond a pile of stolen gold and the various people Evie and Jacob Frye need to stab in order to obtain it, but we’ll see now that the DLC’s out in the wild, I guess.
Kris Ligman is the News Editor of ZAM. They have a lot of problematic faves. You can find them on Twitter @KrisLigman.