Assassin’s Creed 3 Tyranny of King Washington: The Betrayal Review

Warning! This review contains some spoilers for the story of Assassin’s Creed 3, and some for “The Infamy” as well. It was kind of impossible not to reveal some story points in order to create an accurate review, but here’s your warning.

Assassin’s Creed 3‘s DLC package continues its foray into Bizarro World with the release of “The Betrayal,” the second of three parts of alternate history DLC “The Tyranny of King Washington” that explores the idea that George Washington could have declared himself king, gone crazy, and started murdering everyone.

While the first chapter, “The Infamy,” suffered from being utterly confusing as it dropped main character Connor (known as Ratonhnhaké:ton more often in this portion of the story) and players into an alternate reality with zero explanation, things have better footing in the DLC’s second chapter, “The Betrayal.” That’s mostly because the game is done asking questions. The immediate threat of Washington and his goons has to be addressed, and we’ll figure out what the hell wormhole we fell down later.

Now that we’re into the second chapter of Tyranny of King Washington, we’re starting to see a little more of the whole of the DLC that Ubisoft is bringing to Assassin’s Creed 3. We already know that the goal with King Washington is to create a piece of interesting DLC that doesn’t necessarily add more to the overall Assassin’s Creed 3 story, and therefore won’t cause confusion down the line among players who didn’t buy the add-on package. Unfortunately, both DLCs continue to cause confusion for players who did buy them.

Storytelling might be a bit of a mess in this DLC, but The Betrayal continues to expand on Assassin’s Creed 3′s gameplay features in some interesting and meaningful ways, which means that at the very least, this DLC gives you new mechanics to mess around with that fundamentally alter, often for the better, the way Assassin’s Creed is played.

Assassin’s Creed 3: The Tyranny of King Washington Episode 2: The Betrayal
Platforms: PC (Reviewed), Playstation 3, Xbox 360
Developer: Ubisoft
Publisher: Ubisoft
Released: March 19, 2013
MSRP: $9.99

Last time, during “The Infamy,” players set out to take down two of Washington’s key military figures — Benedict Arnold and Israel Putnam. As it turned out, upon assassinating Arnold, it seemed that the men were being controlled by an Apple of Eden, one of those crazy powerful artifacts from the First Civilization that are usually the MacGuffins to chase in Assassin’s Creed games. Washington has one such Apple, affixed to a scepter, and he uses it to do all manner of evil things.

With his dying words, Arnold sends Ratonhnhaké:ton to find and “free” Benjamin Franklin, but Ratonhnhaké:ton is captured by Putnam. “The Betrayal” starts with players in a jail cell expecting execution, but quickly escaping with the help of Ratonhnhaké:ton’s magical wolf invisibility powers. Oh, and Franklin, it turns out, is another of Washington’s advisers and just as ruthless as everyone else.

The Betrayal centers on finding and dealing with Franklin, starting with the player escaping the jail and later moving around Boston, rather than the Frontier, as was the focus of the first episode of the DLC. It isn’t long before players get access to a new capability, as well — the Eagle power, which allows Ratonhnhaké:ton to become cloaked and actually fly a short distance as a bird. This ability comes into play almost immediately by allowing players to make quick assassinations, then escape to rooftops and rafters with the touch of a button.

While the wolf cloak power in The Infamy was an interesting addition to the game’s stealth mechanics, the eagle power is a true game-changer. Remember climbing things? Yeah, you won’t do that anymore. Remember running? Screw running. Now you fly, chaining your eagle gliding together to run down fast-moving targets such as fleeing bureaucrats and even a horse. How you get around in The Tyranny of King Washington is now fundamentally changed, and that big addition to the game makes the DLC handle in a way that’s very fresh.

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3 Comments on Assassin’s Creed 3 Tyranny of King Washington: The Betrayal Review

Hawke

On March 28, 2013 at 3:04 am

I feel

MIPA

On April 2, 2013 at 11:02 am

How can anyone be confused with this DLC? It is CLEARLY explained before you even launch the DLC that Connor wakes up to find the world around him changed. The full explanation is NOT supposed to be laid out in front of you from the very first moment. That’s the whole point. The reasoning for the alternate reality is coming together through bits and pieces of memories that you locate throughout the game world.

IF you’re still confused, do the following:

1) Learn how to read. They have programs for adults who never learned to read.
2) Read the description of the DLC
3) Stop skipping cutscenes and pay attention to the story
4) Stop expecting everything to be laid out in front of you

Phil Hornshaw

On April 3, 2013 at 8:29 am

@MIPA

Not revealing information is one thing, but it’s hard to care about the stakes of “Tyranny” if you have no idea where you are or what’s going on. What information is coming together “in bits and pieces” that explains where we are and what we’re doing? All we know is: Connor wakes up somewhere weird; Connor follows around alternate versions of people in his life; other people are crazy and/or murderers. Does it matter that Connor’s mom dies in the first DLC if she already died in the main story, the world that actually matters? Does it have the same impact? Without even knowing if this is a real person, there are no emotional stakes.

Furthermore, I’m not skipping any cutscenes and I’m not confused — the DLC does a bad job of giving you anything. You don’t need to know everything, but you do need to know stakes, and why a story should matter to you, and how it affects the characters. Even Connor spending more time being a character about it — wondering where he is and how he got there, discovering new information about his supposed plight — would be enough. The DLC is very much “It’s a video game” about it and that’s weak storytelling.

Beyond that, I’d argue I shouldn’t have to read the DLC description to get the story of a narrative-driven video game. Again: bad storytelling.