The history of the Animus is intricately tied to the history of Abstergo and the Templar Order. Since the formation of the ‘Plan’ by notable Templar leaders in 1910, Abstergo has served as the public face of the Order to accumulate wealth and resources while steering the path of scientific progress.
The earliest concepts for an Animus prototype appeared in 1960 under the guise of the ‘Memorium S-2000,’ the most successful iteration of the Animus was later developed under the direction of Dr. Warren Vidic and used on Desmond Miles.
The first real breakthrough in the technology used to explore genetic memories began in 1980 with the Surrogate Initiative, a sister program of Vidic’s core Animus Project. Subject Zero of the Surrogate Initiative was the Project Director, Aileen Bock, who was determined to see the fruits of her research personally.
The Surrogate Initiative attempted to explore memories outside of the subject’s own bloodline, but it turned out to be as dangerous as it was costly. After Aileen Bock suffered a terrible accident in response to viewing a memory in 1981, the Surrogate Initiative was shut down just as Warren Vidic’s Animus project went into full swing.
The Animus Project, unlike its sister program, would only allow users to explore their own genetic memories. It was easier to process in terms of computing and, while still risky to the user, proved less dangerous than the failed Surrogate Initiative.
The experimental Animus Model required painful procedures to be used, though not painful enough to dissuade Vidic from becoming one of the first test subjects to explore their own genetic memory.
It wasn’t until 2002 that the Abstergo Facility in Philadelphia developed a more stable Animus, like the one used on Desmond Miles. Even with improvements to the technology, users of the Animus continued to experience invasive and dangerous side-effects, one of the most pronounced being an intense Bleeding Effect which blended visual and auditory hallucinations of the user with that of their ancestor. Sometimes the effects were so strong as to cause severe mental degradation and psychological instability.
While Abstergo was driving the development of the Animus programs, the Brotherhood of Assassins were following behind as best they could. After fleeing the Abstergo facility in Rome with Desmond in 2012, Rebecca – an Assassin engineer – developed an upgraded version with the help of schematics obtained by Lucy Stillman. This ‘Animus 2.0’ was affectionately referred to as ‘Baby’ and served as the Assassin’s answer to Abstergo’s advancing technology.
Though the Assassins treating the Bleeding Effect with great caution, the Templars immediately saw its value in quickly training highly skilled agents. Abstergo set up the Animi Training Program to give employees the skills they would need to fight the last remaining members of the Assassin Brotherhood.
The Templars’ ingenuity did not stop at training, they also saw the profitable opportunity to adapt data gathered by the Animus Project into compelling, VR entertainment and thus the Animus Omega gaming console and visor were born.
While Abstergo branched into the gaming and entertainment world through highly edited and stylized adaptations of genetic memories, the Assassins continued to suffer setbacks. A group of Russian Assassins endured the volatile technology first hand when an older, bootleg model eventually destroyed the sanity of almost all who used it, excluding one notable exception, Galina Voronina.
The Assassins next foray into the Animus technology after the disastrous experiences in Russia was hacking the Helix system, a cloud-based Abstergo entertainment service. This helped them capitalize on the more advanced and stable Templar technology while reaching out to potential Assassin sympathizers.
These tactics allowed them to hack the memories of Assassin twins Evie and Jacob Frye, which led to the infiltration a Templar office in London, killing notable Templar Isabelle Ardant and locating a critical Piece of Eden.
While the Assassins pull together their own makeshift Animi through the help of Rebecca and older Animus models, they desperately play catch-up with the rapidly advancing Abstergo program.
Following the research based on their massively successful VR technology, Abstergo realized they could maximize the efficiency, even harness the Bleeding Effect, when immersion and physicality are combined with the advanced Animus technology. In 2016, several Abstergo facilities around the world are testing the boundaries of this new technology with the most advanced Animus models yet.
At the American Abstergo facility named the Aerie, the user of the Animus is no longer sitting on a chair or laying on a table, but rather held in mid-air by harnesses. The subject’s experience is much smoother than previous iterations because it can be matched up to an individuals’ neurometrics.
In the Madrid Abstergo offices, the Animus Model 4.3 has begun integration into subject testing. This
See the Animus 4.3 in action in the Assassin’s Creed Movie starring Michael Fassbender and Marion Cotillard starting on 12.21.16.