I'm a little bit confused. In Assassin's Creed 3 for example, you have to find the key, and therefore you need to relive Haytham's and Connor's memories, because those are the exact memories which tell you, where the key is.

But how does the Animus know that it should reproduce those memories? Or did Shaun and Rebecca pick those specific memories? But that wouldn't make sense, since they didn't know what was going to happen in those memories.

  • 2
    It is possible to know when something happened without knowing what happened. If someone went out into the forest to hide something, you'd have to go into their memories to know where they buried it, but you'd know exactly what memory to go back into.
    – Nerrolken
    Jun 11, 2015 at 16:45

1 Answer 1


How does the Animus know which memories to show?

An early cutscene from Assassin's Creed II suggests that the Animus operator can search through a subject's DNA based on some parameters. This cutscene in particular suggests that Lucy is searching for bits of Desmond's DNA that match up with certain portions of Subject 16's:

A side conversation with Shaun Hastings in Assassin's Creed III further suggests that the Animus has some sort of control for moving forwards and backwards through a Subject's DNA timeline:

Transcript of the relevant bits:

Shaun: Ah, Desmond, there you are! Can I ask a favour?

Desmond: Maybe...

Shaun: When this is all over, I'd like to try turning the dial back on the Animus. Like, all the way back. To the time of the First Civilization.

Desmond: You think it would work?

Shaun: There was no real loss of fidelity when you visited Altaïr. Then again, that was about a thousand years ago and I'm looking at going back at least seventy thousand more.

Okay, how does the operator know when to go looking for memories?

The Lost Archive DLC for Assassin's Creed: Revelations reveals that Abstergo learned about Ezio through one of Subject 16's ancestors:


Italian Man 1: Have you heard of the Assissino (Assassin)?

Italian Man 2: Si. (Yes.) Ezio Auditore.

Vidic: Find out about this "Ezio Auditore". I want his records on my desk by the end of the week.

So that's one way they could find out about individuals: trial and error.

Finding time periods is a little trickier, but not insurmountable. A good theory is that the historical record gives them an idea of the rough timeframe, either through direct writings (Like Altaïr's codex) or extrapolating from historical events (The sudden rise of the Borgias, for instance, is a good indication that a Piece of Eden is floating around). Once they have a timeframe, they locate the ancestor who lived during that timeframe.

  • So, they knew that they should try it with Haytham, because of historical records ?
    – Guest
    Oct 27, 2014 at 22:49
  • That's one possibility. I just thought of another which I'll add Oct 27, 2014 at 23:46
  • That's a good explanation. Thank you very much. And I wanna add something : I think the Animus itself skips unimportant parts of the ancestor's memories, not Shaun and Rebecca.
    – Guest
    Oct 28, 2014 at 0:22
  • That's certainly possible, but I'd be hesitant to agree. That ascribes a lot of intelligence to what's basically a high-tech View-Master. Oct 28, 2014 at 0:29

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