The Average Gamer

Connor is a Terrible Man

Assassins Creed 3 Weapon - Tomahawk
There are two Connors in Assassin’s Creed 3 depending on how you choose to play the game – one is good, one is bad, and both of them are terrible.

It all comes down to the side missions, really – there’s very little reward for playing them, whether that’s story-based or mechanical. There’s not the blistering heat of discovery that we found with The Truth in Assassin’s Creed 2, nor the meaningful upgrades of health and weapons we received in the rest of the series. Whether you complete the missions is largely up to whether you, as a player, want to do so.

And from that, you get two vastly different readings of our hero.

Nice Guy Connor

If you choose to complete the side-missions, you establish Connor as an unwilling Assassin – an Assassin in name only, a confused boy on a confusing quest – who just wants to forge a community after endangering and being exiled from his own. He lost his mother at an early age and he spends the game searching for father figures that he never finds. His attempts at bonding with others are stilted at best thanks to his dual heritage, so he resorts to making new, safe spaces.

Assassin's Creed II - Connor's RevolutionHe liberates the fledgling cities of New York and Boston. He builds a homestead from very little and watches it grow and flourish into a living, breathing thing by helping the inhabitants in any way he can – setting up dates, playing bowls, herding pigs, fetching doctors, and breaking up fights. He collects almanac pages and feathers and talks to hunters and couriers letters and delivers packages of dolls and hair accessories and buttons to quiet, unassuming men in back streets because he is desperately trying to be a nice guy and he just can’t win.

Occasionally, he’s asked to kill people. He doesn’t seem to enjoy it much, or fully understand why he’s doing it. Later in the game – once he’s decided that liberating the entire country is something he wants to do, which is community-building on a grand scale if you squint – he grows angry with Achilles because he’s forbidden from joining up with the Templars to make everything easier.

Connor – the de facto head of the Assassin’s guild in America – wants to join the Templars. This isn’t the burning fire of Ezio’s revenge, or the cold proficiency of Altaïr. It is a disorentated young man with no direction shirking off his “job” as an Assassin and trying to make a new home to replace the one he lost. And it’s not working. There’s no end in mind. At one point he asks what will happen when he “wins,” and whether there’s peace to be found in that. And you know there’s not.

Scumbag Connor

The other Connor, though, is accessed by not doing any of the side missions. And it’s easy not to do them, too. If you flash through the main missions and disregard everything else, Connor is a lunatic.

Assassins Creed 3 TomahawkAfter receiving a vague suggestion from a mysterious glowing eagle, he staggers out into the world and immediately starts killing people if they so much as look at him funny – remember back to the first few minutes outside of his home camp, where enemy guards seem very keen on shooting at him for reasons that are never made clear.

He walks through miles and miles of wilderness to meet an ageing murderer who lives in the woods in a massive crumbling house, and swears allegiance to him in exchange for being taught the arts of murder.

And he kills people. He travels to the centre of cities for reasons that he can barely remember or even understand, thanks to the game’s poor explanation of what’s going on and why it’s happening at any given moment, and he kills men. Mainly he kills soldiers because they are looking at him; occasionally, very rarely, he kills someone that matters. And then he flees back to the crumbling house in the woods to await his next assignment.

All around him, people need help. Families are abused and evicted; his homestead, made up of two wood-choppers and some homeless girl he found in the forest, is neglected and leaderless. There is an accounting ledger he has opened precisely once and and subsequently ignored. He – and the player, too – doesn’t care.

His pockets are lined with the detritus of his animal kills as a boy; wet, uncured beaver skin, rotting deer meat, a collection of teeth and claws, a pocketful of bear fat. He has carried it around with him for years and years. He stinks. Guard dogs smell him from a street away and start barking.

In the basement of the crumbling house in the woods is there is a hidden room, and it contains wide stone floors and large empty shelves where weapons and clothes should be. There is a bloodstained stone axe on one wall, next to a vicious-looking snare that Connor used to hunt animals once but now never touches.

There is plenty of space for different outfits that he could wear, but the only alternate option is a set of bloodstained rags he wore in prison. (I can’t recommend enough that you wear these if you choose to ignore the side-missions, for the full effect.)

In this reading, Connor is equally directionless and confused, but he’s dangerous with it. Ezio has ends in mind to justify his means, and Altaïr burns with a monastic devotion to the difficult life he has chosen to lead – even if it’s a devotion enforced through punishment.

Assassins Creed 3 Concept Art - Young ConnorConnor, though, hides himself away from society in an underground cave and uses strange technology given to him by a well-meaning but stern elderly black man.

He has a vague sense, a quest even, to stop Bad Men after Bad Men meant he didn’t have a mother or a father growing up, but more often than solving the problem he just ends up knocking the tar out of underlings. He solves none of his problems. He is striving to solve an unsolvable problem. He is a crusader for Freedom and Justice and all sorts of big words that he doesn’t even really understand, a blade in the darkness, a shadow on the rooftops, a fighter for people he’s never met and doesn’t want to.

He is Batman.

He is Batman with no money and no qualms against killing, no veneer of civility to retreat to, no Bruce Wayne to compartmentalise his feelings. He is a bloodstained lunatic who hangs men from trees by their necks and kills ten men over the sake of a trespassing dispute. He is a terrorist.

Is This Good, Then?

It’s an interesting way of looking at the game, for sure, much in the same way you can play Deus Ex: Human Revolutions as the mythical aug who flips out and kills everyone and stalks the bloody streets, just like the protesters in Detroit warned each other about as they sprayed graffiti on walls or warmed their hands round oil-can fires.

Or the way you can view 50 Cent: Blood on the Sand as a daydream in the head of DJ Whoo Kid, one of the supporting characters, a by-product of his unquestioned worship for Fiddy.

Assassins Creed 2 - EzioBut you couldn’t write an article like this about the previous Assassin’s Creed games, as the characters within were clearly-defined enough (if not especially deeply, in Altaïr’s case) not to allow it. Their motives aligned at least partially with their actions.

There’s a disconnect throughout the game where the fun is repeatedly kept at arms’ length from the player through poor communication and misstep after misstep; and the story, and these readings of it, are part of that.

But tell me you can’t imagine Connor crouching in the basement, dressed in filthy rags, waiting for nothing but his next mission. And tell me that doesn’t make the game much, much better.


34 Comments

  1. FLStyle

    7th Jan, 2013 at 10:59 pm

    Good article.

    After a conversation with my casual gamer friends about how we all agreed on Assassin’s Creed III being a disappointment I’ve been trying to put my finger on what exactly it is that rubs me the wrong way. You’ve just nailed it for me.

  2. Sparky275

    8th Jan, 2013 at 11:54 pm

    Altair will always be my favourite Assassin. From the offset it was obvious he was an anti-hero, but he always had the right intentions.

    • Walkie

      10th Feb, 2013 at 11:00 pm

      Totally agree,

  3. rogue_mouser

    20th Jan, 2013 at 2:05 am

    I really hope we’ve seen the last of Connor. The whole game was a huge disappointment, almost a waste of my money. And the dual-wielding addition was purely cosmetic, added nothing to the player experience. Give us back the body-oriented controls of the previous AC games, and add dual-wielding to that. But Connor is a pointless drifter whose actions have little to do with the world he’s in. And all the hype around a game centered around the American Revolution — that great historic event felt like just a time in which to set an adventure. The exact same sequences could have taken place anywhere, any time, with little difference to the story line. And not one of the era’s major players had more than a passing few words. No sense of interscting with history, like there was in the previous games. As much as I’ve loved the AC franchise, I’m going to have to see somethign a good bit more impressive before I’ll waste another $60 on it.

    • The Catnivore

      21st Apr, 2013 at 5:06 pm

      Frankly, You are a perfect waste of energy. The main reason Ratonhnhaké:ton is confused is because he is part of the issue he vowed to resolve, being half-American, half-Settler.

  4. Toblakai

    24th Jan, 2013 at 5:13 pm

    Sadly I feel the that Conner is a character that only those well educated on the revolutionary war from the native perspective can truly understand. As most gamers I have known have little education on history outside of gaming history that would make this character very hard to relate to.

    • Adan Rodriguez

      4th Mar, 2013 at 4:20 pm

      I actually agree whole heartedly with you. I’m someone who has seen the whole series of “Liberty’s Kids”, read up on American Revolution like I was a historian paid to do it even though it is a hobby and I absolutely adored this game and actually looked for inaccuracies. Honestly the game was fantastic! I think they sort of short changed Connor with his troubled relationship with Washington, and the lack of showing the founding fathers and warriors such as George Mason, and Daniel Morgan. I rank Assassins Creed up with Brotherhood.

  5. Ashlee

    4th Feb, 2013 at 1:18 am

    I really liked assassins creed 3. And yes, I have played all the other assassins creed games as well. I just think that there was more that they could have done with the story , and with connor as well. I was very confused over what kind of personality he had, if he had one at all. To be truthful, I liked Haytham a lot better. But for me, none of them top Ezio. Thank you, btw, for this interesting article. I like Connor, and this gave me a totally new way to look at him. (And if anyone disagrees with me, keep in mind I am only 17, and my opinion may differ with more experienced gamers)

  6. Zach

    6th Feb, 2013 at 10:22 am

    Of course, let a bunch of mutha fuckin dumbasses explain a game, the game was great, it had it’s intentions to corispond with history, it’s even more difficult, (which if you don’t really like that idea then your one pussy of a gamer), and the whole backstory for connor is that his mother and most of his people were murdered and his British bastard of a father was behind it, he goes to finish the fight to liberate America as told to do so by Juno, and allow his blood line and skills to be passed on to Desmond which was disapointing when he died but it did shape more of the Assassin Creed storyline, and if you can’t appretiate what Ubisoft did to make AC III, then don’t go spreading your bullshit.

    • Grant

      6th Feb, 2013 at 10:36 am

      Hey, hush now, little fella. It’s okay. No need to start calling people names.

  7. Jen

    18th Feb, 2013 at 4:24 pm

    You nailed it. I felt personally that although Connor seemed to have a good personality he just was not a good main character. He did not know really why he was an assassin, did not know assassins and was protecting a tribe and had no idea what his tribe protected. It seemed dumb to me. Atleast the other characters like Altiar and Ezio had reasoons for becoming assassins and had previous ties.

    • DISCO_SHREW

      2nd Mar, 2013 at 2:04 pm

      Isn’t Connors reason fo becoming an assassin the same as Ezio’s? Revenge for the death of their loved ones?

  8. Tony

    19th Feb, 2013 at 4:48 am

    My main problem with Connor is that he was so boring everyone else was more interesting then him, even his mom, and she was just in a 2 or so memories.

    • nopenopenope

      6th Mar, 2013 at 5:50 am

      I have to disagree with you when you said Connor was boring. If you actually played the game, you’ll see why he is behaving like that, especially after what he experienced as a child. Connor is actually emotional, timid and hurt, he reacts emotionally to things and that’s why you get the impression he is cold-blooded. It’s safe to say that out of all three assassins, after playing the game, Connor had the worst life of all. No one would stay the same way they were after experiencing all that. And Connor does care. Also there’s a drastic change from teen Connor to adult Connor, so I can’t understand how you say he has no personality. Character development has a much greater emphasis this time around. Also if you did the homestead missions you can see Connor expressing emotions such as happiness, joy, and at times even anxiousness.

  9. Katrina

    2nd Mar, 2013 at 4:34 am

    I disagree, I liked Connor & how AC3 ended. Connor’s a very tragic person, because his mother died & his people are facing extinction he’s completely lost. This being even more so because he’s neither fully native nor white, & during that time being half & half was worse than being one alone. Connor has an identity crisis, he doesn’t know who he is or where he belongs. Going through the game you see him start to develop who he is, & grow out of being a naive grudge holding boy to a man who understands his goal is unachievable. That’s what all of AC3 was mainly about, Connor realizing that the world isn’t black & white, & dealing with his resentment/anger. Connor isn’t clearly defined in the game because he doesn’t know himself & as you go through the game, that is what you’re supposed to do. Are you going to rise above your grudge or are you going to let it destroy you?

    • adrian

      2nd Mar, 2013 at 9:12 pm

      I totally agree with you, though he is right about scumbag Connor.

  10. adrian

    2nd Mar, 2013 at 9:08 pm

    I have to disagree, about good guy Connor. He is a native kid who didn’t meet his father for a long time. Saw his mother burn. Also saw his original home burn to the ground. Which happened by the hand of a man who was working with his father, at the order of Washington, of whom he decided to help win the war for independence. He left his home, not exiled, to do the best that he can for his people. Which, in his mind was to help gain America’s independence. Along the way, he helps people he doesn’t even know, and invites them to live near him. Sure he’s using them as workers to start building a small town, but he does it as fair trade . For saving their lives or other things. Wanting to join with the templars, his father, was just finding a common enemy, like many games have done. Good guy Connor is not a terrible person, maybe a little mixed up, but not terrible. Though I do agree about scumbag Connor, he’s just an angtsy teen with a lot of weapons and fighting skill.

  11. Sanandreas818

    5th Mar, 2013 at 11:33 pm

    I don’t really get all the hate for Connor. I personally liked him as a character. People don’t seem to understand why he is the way he is. I mean, he watched his mother get killed, his entire village was destroyed, he was forced to kill his best friend. It’s easy to see why he is so uptight as a character. I really wanted them to continue the story with Connor. Too see him mature as a character. But it’ll still be great to play as his grandfather in the sequel.

  12. nopenopenope

    6th Mar, 2013 at 5:45 am

    I thought Connor was the best character. I mean where do I start, he wasn’t driven by personal revenge, unlike Ezio. In Ezio’s situation all he wanted was revenge on those responsible for his father and brothers’ deaths. Connor on the other hand, he wanted to eliminate the Templars TO HELP HIS PEOPLE. And when you say Connor is ruthlessly killing people I jet have to laugh. Were we even playing the same game? When Haytham killed the cart driver in the woods and stabbed the impostor in the brewery Connor spoke against him. Connor tries NOT to kill people. And also when you say people are “homeless and Connor doesn’t care.”, did you do the Homestead missions? Connor lets people live on the Homestead and pretty much turns their lives around. Without Connor these people wold most likely be dead. Lastly Connor doesn’t want to join the Templars. No, absolutely not. He wishes to work with them to achieve a common goal both factions are aiming for: peace and stability. Connor doesn’t want to turn into a full-fledged Templar and adapt ALL of the Templar ideals. He instead wants both groups to work together to minimize bloodshed. Now think, is Connor really such a bad person? Next time you judge a person’s character ( even if they are a fictional character ) look at both perspectives of their actions and motives.

    • OITJ

      7th Mar, 2013 at 3:36 pm

      Completely agree with “NOPENOPENOPE” you nailed it there, I think people really don’t understand the difference between Connor and Ezio. Ezio is my most favourite character as well as many others but people really hate on the fact that Connor isn’t as charismatic as Ezio, that his boring and unlikeable, but Connor is really one of my favourite and respected characters, his personality makes sense. Think about it Ezio’s life changing experience of watching his family die happens when his in his late teens, his personally has already been shaped. Although Connors tragedy happens when he was a child, his still maturing and these events really impact how he acts when he grows older. Throughout the story Connor isn’t a bad and terrible guy, his just fighting what he believes would lead to freedom for the country and his people, the only problem is that is quite naïve at first about which allows many people to manipulate and use him. Connor is a tragic character but that doesn’t make him a bad character, you have to cut him some stack after all the thinks he goes through, he has good intentions that makes him very noble.

    • Ezioisdabest

      16th Mar, 2013 at 6:20 pm

      The thing is that Ezio learned to look past his revenge at the end ( Sequence 13 Bonfire of Vanities ). Connor instead all he knew was fighting. Thats why all called him mad. He kept on fighting even when all he had fought for had turned their backs on him. AndHaytham is highly against killing innocent, women and children, but he still knows better than to leave loose ends. And when has Connor cared about the countless redcoats he has killed. Haytham always wanted a child but didnt want them to have similar life he had as a child ( propably get to know more in AC 4, and why he changed sides) so he couldnt kill Connor, wanting to instead save him and get him see reason and get better relations as father and son, but Connor doesnt even seem to care after he kills Haytham because he is so consumed by the will to fight and pursue Lee. He wants to be good person but ends up being bad.

  13. Jorge

    17th Apr, 2013 at 2:36 am

    I think we can all agree on one thing. If we had a chance to walk in public with his costume and a tomahawk we would all do it.

  14. TooMuchEstazio

    9th May, 2013 at 7:32 am

    Sorry but i just thought connor was extremely lame and naive. Not to mention a gigantic pussy. He’s always whining and the part when he wanted achilles to “step outside” just really pissed me off. This dude taught you everything, gave you all his shit, lets you crash at his place and could probably still kick your ass. #4’s main character just needs to have a more badass personallity. I can’t take anymore of this pussy shit.

    • Colby Murphy

      7th Aug, 2013 at 6:30 am

      Are we playing the same game?

  15. Malcolm Stumpf

    11th Jun, 2013 at 10:23 am

    I love Connor, though none of your generic points are wrong. He’s an honest, tragic man who is constantly being manipulated into fighting other people’s battles for them. He trusts that other warriors like Washington will be honorable, and fails his People because of it. And that was his only real goal, to protect his Tribe. He is an enemy of the Templars because he knows they would destroy his culture, but ends up championing a nation that does the same. He’s not a bad character, just not your typical gritty bad-ass video-game protagonist.

  16. sward

    20th Jun, 2013 at 4:39 pm

    ac3 was a big disappointment but you gotta accept, the gameplay was good , specially the fighting and climbing part.

  17. Ronaldo Lalditore

    2nd Jul, 2013 at 7:13 am

    true, the combat and gameplay were the best parts about the game. I hope ACIV’s combat will be similar.

  18. Colby Murphy

    7th Aug, 2013 at 6:29 am

    Hm… I, personally, have found Connor to be the Assassin with the most developed background. I understand that you aren’t saying he isn’t – you’re simply saying he is only developed correctly by playing the side missions.
    I don’t think I played all the side missions or even many, in fact, but he seemed, at times, both a cold-hearted killer and a deeply vengeful and angry child/teen/man. But he has the most developed background because, like Ezio, he begins his journey with the death of his family. Unlike Ezio, however, we follow him across his lifetime. Plus, I feel like AC3 took on a much darker, more serious tone than AC2, in which Ezio seemed to forget what he was fighting for, simply that he had contracts to which he promised his blade. In other words, he seemed to forget that he wasn’t just some hired gun. In AC3, Connor is constantly taking on a much darker mood, one that was much heavier than Ezio’s light-hearted comical mood.

  19. Else Kling

    29th Aug, 2013 at 3:24 pm

    Personally, I liked AC III way more than the last two games because of Connor. There was some kind of conflict in him – the conflict between the naive Connor and the scumbag – that made him really interesting in my eyes. That was a great step from AC Revelation’s “OMG he needs children so we just let him get this woman who could be his child and let him marry her”. Ezio and his whole character just got more boring over the cause of his games.
    Connor wanted the best but the game showed that even the purest intentions can lead you nowhere. He is not the bad-ass assassin Altair and Ezio were. He doesn’t need to be. The game left me a bit unsatisfied in the end but I think that’s what the developers wanted. You have fought hours and hours for a cause and didn’t get what you wanted. You were as confused as your main character, as caring and as ruthless as him. In the end it didn’t help you. You just wasted your time on a video game. Sounds a bit like a Take That on gamers, doesn’t it?

    And, by the way, there’s a whole lot of people not playing the game for the story but for the murdering of “innocent bystanders” (e.g. redcoats).

  20. Victor Zsasz

    14th Oct, 2013 at 2:12 am

    why is he a scumbag? because he’s Native American?

    • Debbie Timmins (Weefz)

      14th Oct, 2013 at 12:16 pm

      There’s a whole bunch of reasons given in the middle section of the article, none of which are related to his heritage.

  21. Food

    11th Dec, 2013 at 9:09 pm

    He’s not terrible. Becoming an assassin is becoming a murderer. So if you call him a murderer, you’re saying Ezio and Altaïr are murderers too.

    • Joseph

      24th Dec, 2013 at 3:25 pm

      Connor is one of my favorites. Ezio is definitely on the list. Altair, never liked his cold personality, my new, top favorite assassin is Edward

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