Assassin’s Creed: Unity Preview: Exactly What You’d Expect
Between the announcement of Assassin’s Creed: Unity during Ubisoft’s press event at E3 2014, and the start of my 20 minutes- long, hands-off, dev-curated gameplay demo three days later, here is what I was able to learn for certain about the game:
- Every year, Ubisoft releases another installment of its now seemingly-endless Assassin’s Creed series, and so it is this year.
- Presumably it’s a digression-quel to Assassin’s Creed 5: Black Flag in the same way the sequels to Assassin’s Creed 2 were not actually Assassin’s Creed 3 or 4.
- The game is set during the start of the French revolution.
- It will have a new protagonist assassin named Arno Dorian.
- The Templars will be on one side of the revolution, the Assassin’s on another (or, perhaps, on no side).
- Combat has been reworked, with fencing as an inspiration for swordplay.
- The game will have more le Parkour, more “slouching = stealth”, more things to fall into from high heights that break your fall and also hide you; plenty of side missions, many of them being follow-the-target stealth based busywork.
- For the first time, in-campaign co-op is included, but for some reason co-op will feature on male playable characters.
- New weapons will join familiar weapons.
- It comes out October 28, 2014.
- It will probably ship with an MRSP of $59.99.
Here is what I learned as a direct result of my 20 minutes- long, hands-off, dev-curated gameplay demo, delivered by an Ubisoft dev whose voice was often obscured by the loudness of our surroundings:
- Organization of your sidequests and main-story missions is more dynamic.
- Cutscene and gameplay integration has been improved so that the experience is closer to, say, Uncharted.
- Parkour has been improved, with the ability to direct up or down making it easier not to accidentally make the wrong move when scaling a building.
I do not mean to sound flippant, but the truth is that Assassin’s Creed: Unity, is exactly what you think it’s going to be: an Assassin’s Creed game. By now, the series is as vital a cash cow for Ubisoft as Call of Duty is for Activision, the major difference being that core mechanics are almost never tweaked and the premise never changed. Yes, graphical improvements abound, as they always do, and this time the difference doesn’t feel quite so incremental since this game is being made for PC and
next gen current gen consoles only. And yes, co-op is a nice and long overdue addition to the series, even if Ubisoft had to go and ruin it by clumsily making it a male only affair. But it’s likely to contain the same mixture of thrilling conspiratorial drama and busywork, the same ratio of “genetic memory” experience assassin play to “current day/near future” people having said experience, and to advance the metaplot about the impending apocalypse as much as the previous games have done.
If you’re a fan of the series, and you aren’t put off by the controversy regarding playable female avatars in co-op, then you’ll probably enjoy Assassin’s Creed: Unity as much as you’ve enjoyed previous series entries. If that sounds like damning with faint praise, it’s not meant to be, but as this constitutes the 7th main-series Assassin’s Creed title in as many years, it’s difficult to identity anything particularly revolutionary from what little was revealed at E3. I’m legitimately curious about how the final game will look, and I’m sure as more specific plot details are unveiled, we’ll have much to chew on. But until then, all we have are, essentially, a limited reveal of specs.
They at least look like decent specs. We’ll see.
You can keep up to date with all the E3 news over on our E3 channel.
Ross Lincoln is senior editor of Comics and Cosplay at The Escapist. Find more of his GameFront work here, his Escapist work here, and follow him and GameFront on Twitter: @rossalincoln and @gamefrontcom.