Ever since the first Assassin’s Creed, the games that followed used the same formula. Upon examination, there isn’t that much different between the games besides some tweaks here and there, and maybe some new weapons. Now, however, Ubisoft is delivering just what the series needs: a game-changer. Assassin’s Creed III, for the Xbox 360, PS3 and PC, is incoming on October 30th.
Let’s start with our new protagonist. Meet Connor Kenway (birth name Ratonhnhake:ton). He’s half-English and half-Native American, which will undoubtedly cause some inner conflict in him given the game’s colonial-era setting. As is evidenced in the narrative he provides in a gameplay trailer:
On this land, I am torn. Part of me wants to fight and repel all outsiders. The other part of me is the outsider. In the name of liberty, I will fight the enemy regardless of their allegiance. While men of courage write history of this day, the future of our land depends on those who are truly free.
The reason for this conflict is that Connor is smack dab in the middle of the American Revolution. He has both sides in his blood as the settlers fight the British for freedom. Regardless of who’s fighting whom, Connor is an Assassin and he’s sworn to fight the Templar regardless of which side they’re on.
There has been some controversy on this issue, as trailers have shown Connor killing mainly red coats, but the developers didn’t intend for him to favor killing the British at all. As I said before, Connor is out for the Templar whichever side they’re on.
Without a doubt, Connor’s going to be the most aggressive assassin we’ve ever played as. Combat no longer relies so heavily on the countering system we’ve all become accustomed to. Instead, it’s to be seen as a ‘combo opener’. Combos in Assassin’s Creed? Yes please! Thanks to the new two-handed fighting style Connor uses, he is a much more offensive fighter. Though blocking/countering still exists, it will not be nearly as effective as using your combos.
Connor can use anything he can get his hands on as a weapon, but it’s been made clear that he will hold weapons in his left hand and tools in his right. Weapons will be more hand-to-hand items like the tomahawk and the hidden blade, while tools will be items that can be used for several purposes. For instance, the bow and arrow or pistol can be used for fighting or hunting.
You know how in past Assassin’s Creed games, after about an hour you’ve seen all the kill animations the game has to offer? Ubisoft has addressed this problem by making kills contextual. They will be based on where the enemy is and what items Connor is using. Add the fact that you can do multiple assassinations, and combo kills, and I think we’re going to have a lot of jaw-dropping moments.
On that note, Ubisoft says that they’ve taken steps to make Assassin’s Creed III more accessible to newcomers. However, the point isn’t to make it overly easy, but to make it easier to pull off difficult actions. So in other words, it will be simple to do that awesome multi-kill the developer performed in the trailer for example.
Another welcome addition to combat is the running assault. For instance, say you’re chasing your target and a guard gets in your way. Normally you would think you would have to run around him, but now you can just cut him down where he stands without breaking stride. Check out the video below, it shows this very welcome maneuver in action. (Along with a peek at the Frontier )
Awesome right? This goes to show that Ubisoft really is making many changes to make gameplay more accessible. Did you notice how Connor assassinated his target with the bayonet he snatched off the gun rack? Assassinations are no longer limited to the hidden blade, any weapon can be used.
Assassin’s Creed III will be utilizing the AnvilNext game engine. Environments will look more realistic, there will be dynamic weather and season changes, and Ubisoft boasts that you can encounter over 2,000 non-player characters in a single sequence. They’re also boasting that Connor is possibly the most detailed 3rd person hero ever created with 1,000 animations for his character alone. Check out the video below if you doubt me.
Connor won’t be alone on his endeavors. The Assassins Guild makes a return once again. Though it’s unclear if Connor can recruit new assassins, he can surely use them for more than killing and making diversions. They can help him sneak into enemy encampments and even help him blend with crowds. Connor will also have the aid of a few historical figures; these include the great George Washington, Lafayette, Benjamin Franklin and General Lee.
Next is the world in which Connor thrives. He doesn’t have the luxury of city life like Ezio and Altaire did. A third of his missions and quests are in the unexplored wilderness of the Frontier. This harsh, unknown woodlands looks like it can be tough when you’re trying to navigate through it. (thanks to the new AnvilNext Engine) It looks like there will be some small settlements dispersed throughout that will have some side-missions available to you, and maybe a few enemy encampments waiting to be infiltrated will be sprinkled in there too. My main concern with the concept of the Frontier was that it would be incredibly unexciting like the Kingdom in the first Assassin’s Creed, but it looks like it will be full of life and things to do.
All of Connor’s attention won’t be focused on the Frontier though. He will be able to enter colonial Boston and New York. City life will supposedly be more dynamic than ever, bustling with activity. However, under the seemingly pleasant exterior, is the tension of being under British rule. It’s this tension that Connor can use to his advantage to take care of business. Citizens will scratch your back if you scratch theirs. For instance, a citizen can lead a guard that’s impeding Connor’s progress into an alley where Connor waits around a corner to ambush him. The aid of citizens will certainly give you more options while infiltrating, and maybe they’ll even assist you in a fight? That would be helpful, but sometimes you need to make a run for it. Ubisoft has worked to make entering buildings seamless by taking away the loadtimes. Some will still need that pesky load, but many buildings you can just run straight through to escape a pursuer. (i.e. chasebreakers)
The free-running, gap jumping, faith leaping way of travel is back. Connor has the same graceful parkour-esqe way of travel as his predecessors. Though as seen previously in the trailers in this very article, he has to use trees to utilize stealth in the Frontier. Though it looks like it may be a bit of a pain, Ubisoft assures that it will be as easy as traversing rooftops. He won’t be restricted to just trees though; Connor will be climbing up cliff faces and any natural foot hold he can find. It will be up to the player, as always, to find accessible climbing points.
Stealth looks like it will be a lot more user-friendly than previous games. It could get to be a pain sneaking from crowd to crowd without guard’s awareness meters turning red and blowing your cover. (Especially when you’re trying to get 100% synchronization) Now it only takes two people for you to blend, and there are checkpoints from which you can restart from, so you don’t have to start the whole mission over.
What would Assassin’s Creed be without some awesome new vehicle to drive, fly, or shoot from? In Assassin’s Creed: Brotherhood you drove Leonardo Da Vinci’s tank prototype, and fired a machine gun on a carriage. In Revelations you went Burnout style with a carriage and got crazy with a flamethrower on a boat. In Assassin’s Creed III you’ll be put in charge of a ship. This isn’t going to be a one-time sequence as in previous titles though. There will be plenty of missions ranging from navigating through a tight space, to finding and taking over an enemy ship. So we know that the missions won’t be repetitive, but how will the ship handle? Though Ubisoft said that they were considering going for a simulation feel, they decided to go with the tight and responsive controls they’ve always used. That’s all well and good, but let’s not forget to mention firepower! Your ship will be equipped with two options; a swivel turret for more delicate precision, and the broadside cannons for devastating your opponent in one swift, well-timed, shot. The cannons will have 3 different options as far as ammunition; chain shots for taking out masts, grape shots for blasting soldiers off the enemy vessel, and last but not least, heat shots—literally flaming cannonballs. Selecting shot types will be the same as selecting weapons in Connor’s quick-select.
Before I get to multiplayer, there’s one thing I haven’t mentioned; Desmond. At a Ubisoft press event, creative lead Alex Hutchinson says that Desmond needs to end. But what does that mean? Are they going to kill off Desmond, or simply end his side of the story? Maybe they’re tying the game up to be a trilogy. Only time will tell. One thing is for sure, there’s going to be more Desmond in this installment than any other.
There were some rumors that there was going to be a beta, but in actuality there won’t be. Ubisoft is focusing on getting the final product out there. As for multiplayer itself, there will be many welcome changes!
Hopefully multiplayer will be just as fun as in Brotherhood and Revelations. It’s looking promising, that’s for sure.
With all this new exciting information you’re probably considering pre-ordering Assassin’s Creed III. I took the liberty of checking out the special editions that are available for pre-order on the Assassin’s Creed website.
Join or Die Edition is also available for pre-order.
These are the two with the most bonus content, but there are some others, such as the Limited Edition available on Amazon (see below). Not to mention you can always just get the retail version. As long as we get to play the game, who cares?
So there you have it. Assassin’s Creed III looks to be a monster of a game, and will have us busy exploring the American Frontier for hours upon hours this October.
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