Game developer Ubisoft has announced that the next instalment of the hugely popular Assassin's Creed game franchise will have an "all new hero and all new time period". The game is expected before March 2014, but without any firm information, the gaming industry rumour mill has kicked into overdrive.

Assassin's Creed 3

Predictions range from a game involving pirates and naval combat (there was a strong hint of the latter possibility in Assassin's Creed 3, where the player was given optional sea battles). There is also doubt whether the next title will be a stand-alone title or DLC.

A Reddit user claims the next Assassin's Creed game will be named Black Flags, saying: "Anyway, I was on a flight where the lady in the row in front of me was working on a Powerpoint presentation on marketing strategies of several gaming titles. And one that stood out the most was AC4: Black Flags, aimed for release 2013 Holiday season, according to her slide. It already had a cool looking logo for it. Unfortunately I didn't take any photo, just wanted to share it with all the AC fans, and give those who are trying to figure out the next story line a little hint."

A second Reddit user claims the Black Flags content is DLC and is in the early stages of development: "Whilst sitting in a San Francisco Cafe, I happened to overhear two advertising designers discussing a new piece of ACIII DLC, titled Black Flag, that will focus more deeply on naval combat. According to them, the tagline stands as "Survival is the Only Thing Worth Dying For," and the commercial being pitched involves an Admiral of the British Royal Navy attempting to arrest Connor Kenway on the high seas, whilst a Johnny Cash song sets the tone. The DLC is apparently nearly six months out and still in early development, but seems to be a definite project that Ubisoft is working on."

Ubisoft CEO Yves Guillemot earlier said: "We are delighted and proud to announce today that in financial year '14, we will introduce an all-new Assassin's Creed hero, within an all new team and time period, and we expect it to be another major leap forward for the franchise."

Ubisoft Montreal is usually responsible for Assassin's Creed content. However, they have also announced there will be another developer involved this time; the identity of the second developer has not been revealed.

Experts believe the new Assassin's Creed game could launch only after Sony's PlayStation 4 makes a foray into European markets; the game could even become a launch partner for the new gaming console. There is likelihood of the new console releasing in America and Japan by end-2013. But the European release will be pushed back to early 2014.

Assassin's Creed 3 released last October and has sold nearly 12 million copies worldwide.

[Courtesy: Assassin's Creed/Ubisoft]

Assassin's Creed 2 DLCs

Meanwhile, Ubisoft has confirmed release dates for the three special episodes of the Tyranny of King Washington DLC for Assassin's Creed III. The downloadable series will be available for the PC, the PS3 and the Xbox simultaneously; the Nintendo Wii U launch has been delayed.

  • The Tyranny of King Washington: The Infamy - 19 February
  • The Tyranny of King Washington: The Betrayal - 19 March
  • The Tyranny of King Washington: The Redemption: 23 April

IGN reports the storyline revolves around an alternate history in which George Washington crowns himself King. The player, as Connor Kenway, must dethrone Washington and restore political balance.