PAX Prime 2014 | Two Fresh Doses Of Assassin's Creed

Yesterday I had the pleasure of meeting with Ubisoft representatives and getting a private demo of both Assassin’s Creed: Unity and Assassin’s Creed: Rogue.

For those of you that don’t know, Unity is a current gen game, releasing on the PS4, Xbox One and PC. It follows the adventures of Arno Dorian as he does his Assassin thing through Paris during the French Revolution. Assassin’s Creed: Rogue, on the other hand, is a last gen title, seeing a release on the PS3 and Xbox 360, which follows Assassin-turned-Templar Shay Cormac. In this title, players will be spending an equal amount of time on the water, in naval bits reminiscent of Assassin’s Creed IV: Black Flag, and standard on-land portions.

I’ll start with Rogue, as that’s the slightly less exciting of the two entries (partially because it’s not current gen). Rogue essentially looks like Black Flag 2. All the systems have been updated, so naval combat is now more responsive with a faster, tighter turning boat. Players will have a gatling gun of sorts that can be used to slay enemy sailors before boarding as well as hitting specific weak points on enemy ships.

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One of the biggest improvements seems to be that the world is simply larger than previous titles. The North Atlantic is sailing heavy, while the River Valley is an even split between naval and land content. New York returns (from Assassin’s Creed 3) but redone, this time before the New York Fire; allowing players to explore areas that weren’t available before.

I found it interesting that they’re going with a Templar protagonist. I know he’s a former Assassin, but from what I could tell from the weapons and styles of combat he employs, there isn’t really anything that makes him feel like a Templar. He’s just sort of the same guy we’ve seen in all the other games, only this time people call him a Templar. Not a huge deal, but that stood out as a little odd to me.

Assassin’s Creed: Unity on the other hand, stood out for a lot of other reasons. Good reasons.

The two main features that were highlighted by our friends at Ubisoft were the cooperative multiplayer experience, and the character customization within the game.

To start with character customization, players will be able to tailor Arno to their liking both aesthetically and functionally. There will be over a hundred weapons and “wear-ables” that players can choose from, each of them with their own distinct visual style and their own statistic bonuses. Give that players can also use skill points to drive Arno’s capabilities in different directions (from offensive combat styles, defensive combat styles, to a stealth and agility focuses) these wear-ables and weapons can be used to further specialize Arno in the player’s chosen direction or can be used to buffer some of his weaknesses. This means that players will always be able to both look the way they want to look, and feel rewarded, functionally, for doing so.

Pretty cool, right?

Well that was actually the less cool of the two features.

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The Multiplayer really impressed me with this title. We played a quick “heist” style mission with two players during the demo. To do some, we spoke to a specific NPC who gave us the mission, linked up with each other and entered the mission area. Now, Unity has revamped the free running this time around (they’ve had to redo the engine a bit with the transition to current gen, and took the opportunity to make some improvements.) Running across rooftops and climbing walls now felt more seamless.

There were plenty of sections where we had to work together to take out guards that would be difficult to approach as a single player. Both the actions available and the design of the level contributed to a rewarding feeling of teamwork. It was, for lack of a better word, just a lot of fun. Even when we goofed in a courtyard area and attracted a slew of guards, teaming up in open combat was also very enjoyable. My only complaint was that in open combat, the players didn’t seem to be able to perform joint attacks to kill a common foe that felt cohesive enough. That was something that I feel would have been pretty “Assassin-y.” Small complaint though about a feature that is by and large extremely good.

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The last bit of information I received about the multiplayer in Unity was in regard to the “Taverns” in the game. Apparently, players will be able to see their online friends (via PSN or Xbox Live or what have you) that are playing Assassin’s Creed: Unity as “ghostly figures” in these taverns. These taverns essential serve as multiplayer hubs. See a friend playing the game? Talk to his Tavern-ghost and you can immediately jump into his game. That sort of seemless transition between multiplayer and single player will only contribute to the positive experience players are sure to have.

These multiplayer missions are also said to be involved with the main narrative backdrop of the game, giving further insight into the events going on in the city and the major players in the French Revolution. None of it felt half-baked or rushed,  Assassin’s Creed: Unity‘s co-op is legit.

Assassin’s Creed: Unity will see a simultaneous release with it’s last-gen brethren Assassin’s Creed: Rogue on November 11th 2014.

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