So going over a lot of the recent released materials, as well as using them to recontexualize previously released info as well, I've sort of pieced together my speculation about the setup for AC7, as well as what I think the themes of the game will be. Be forewarned, this is *very* speculaive
- Osea, after permanently codifying the Detente with Yuktobania following the Circum pacific War, reasserts its position as global stabilizer and protector, often under the auspices of the IUN. The ISEV is constructed as a realization of the international space station project outlined at he G7 2008, ostensibly to support Usea with rebuilding its infrastructure following Ulysses and the Continental War.
- Constraining Osea's capacity to maintain its world policeman role, however, is the growing war weariness of the Osean people. Growing increasingly risk averse, the Osean Military begins to invest substantially in unmanned combat systems to supplant human soldiers and pilots. By the end of the 2010's drones have become a core pillar of Osean defense posturing, while maintaining basing all over the world.
- Meanwhile, Erusea, reconstituted as a Kingdom presumably by ISAF, chaffs against the new world order imposed on it by Osea and the FCU, and elements within the country began to desire to break free of their yoke. These Nationalists use the princess, who was raised in exile before her family was restored to the throne, to advocate a nationalist and anti globalist message, and bring like minded Western Usean states into their fold. These Erusean Nationalists seek to capture the ISEV in order to gain a monopoly over space infrastructure, as a means to restore their national greatness.
- Upon the completion of the space elevator, Erusea launches a simultaneous conventional and cyber-attack, gaining control of the ISEV as well as all of Oseas drones. The extent of the cyber-attack is purely speculative, it could be just the drones or it could also be Osean air defenses as well, allowing the mass attacks on Osean ports. An alternative though would be to have the hacked drones detonate their payloads, crippling the carriers internally. At any rate, a cyber-attack mixed with Osean reliance on UCAVs would explain why, for example, the Albatross's air wing was 'lost'.
- Osean forces, as part of the IUN mission, attempt to seize control of the ISEV, which, and this is really speculative, might be the key to regaining control of the Osean drones. At some point in this campaign, Trigger is involved in some catastrophic incident, and the initial campaign to seize the elevator is a failure.
- As punishment, Trigger is reassigned to a squadron of 'difficult' pilots who would otherwise be court martialed. Initially an 'out of sight, out of mind' outfit for disgraced pilots Osea doesn't want to air its dirty laundry over, the squadron is repurposed in to a makeshift 'penal battalion', assigned dangerous missions without any hope of leave or recognition as a replacement for their UCAVs as 'expendable aircraft'.
- During all this, EASA scientists attempt to improve the AI of their new drone fleet through studying Mihaly's maneuvers. To take advantage of what the drone is capable of, though, Mihaly is subjected to Gs far in excess of what a human can withstand, and the stress is slowly killing him.
I think broadly the questions that AC7 is likely to raise fall into two categories, Why war are fought and How wars are fought. The why is a question I've been thinking about ever since it was implied in screenshots that Osea was utilizing otherseas bases, and the E3 and Gamescom trailers have only strengthened my suspicions. It definitely seems to be going for a globalism versus nationalism angle, which is something AC has touched upon in different ways since AC5. It's too early to say what 'exactly' it has to say about the issue, but it seems like it will be critical of both nationalists and internationalists.
What's really taken up my mind lately is the 'How' question, as it ties together nicely UCAVs, the 444th, Mihaly, and Princess D'elise. There seems to be a theme developing around what does it mean to fight for someone else, or to make someone fight in your place. UCAVs exist to make more war more palpable to your side, but that abstraction come with costs. The 444th our victims of the mentality of getting someone else to fight the war, which to most of Spare squadron seems to be an absurdity. On the other side, we see D'elise conflicted over her warmongering as Mihaly literally destroys his body for the sake of the AI weapon systems that will make him obsolete. Sacrifice is a theme often associated with war, but what does it really mean?
I think the intersection of the abstract reasons 'why we fight' with the reality of what fighting a war actually means is fertile ground for AC to cover. These obviously aren't wholly new themes, AC itself has touched on them before, but it sounds like the thrust of the game will dig deeper into the complexities of war previous ACs have only hinted at.
Honestly my only concern is the extent to which Bandog represents the Oseans as a whole. I think there's a nice contrast between his sociopathy and the relative normalcy of the other Osean pilots, but I just hope we get to see more Reasonable Authority Figures on the Osean side.
Granted this is all speculative, but great detective work.