Assassin’s Creed is undoubtedly one of the most popular and recognized franchises of this console generation. With four critically acclaimed console titles, along with a bevy of other content, it has solidified itself as one of the best franchises in the action adventure genre. This being said, it’s hard to not get excited for Assassin’s Creed III, the next installment in the series due out later this October.
In Assassin’s Creed III, the ongoing war between the Assassin’s and Templars has been moved from the dense and rich cities of Italy, to the vast and open American Frontier. Taking place over the course of 30 years, the story is before, during, and after the American Revolution. Unfortunately, the suave, yet badass Ezio will not be making the trip across the pond; however, we are introduced to a new character and lead, Ratonhnhaké:ton or more easily known as Connor. Half Native American and half British, Connor is conflicted with whom to fight for; however, it is this conflict that drives the story. This is Connor’s story of how he became a part of the Assassin order and also a part of the fight in the American Revolution. Along his journey, Connor will encounter many historical figures such as George Washington, Ben Franklin, and Charles Lee, ensuring that history is still an integral part of the series.
Announced back in February, not much was known about the title other then the fact that it will complete the story of series protagonist Desmond Miles. It wasn’t until spring that new information began to surface, revealing details such as the new assassin Ratonhnhaké:ton (Connor), and the new historical timeframe the game would be taking place in – the American Revolution. Although these were big announcements that revealed some major changes to what we’ve been used to, gamers and fans of the series were still a little unsure about this next installment. It looked as if Ubisoft would once again have to evolve the series and surprise gamers with this next installment, and boy did they when they revealed the title at this years’ E3.
The images and videos shown from E3 2012 are probably still fresh in everyone’s mind. At Ubisoft’s press conference, gamers and critics alike were shown to a dazzling gameplay demo showcasing new animation and gameplay, mechanics that of the biggest things that were revealed; however, the environment and player animation were the most intriguing and amazing. Parkour has always been a core feature to the Assassin’s Creed series. In many aspects, it was the element that separated Assassin’s Creed from any other action adventure game out there at the time, and it essentially became the face of the franchise when it came to the gameplay experience. In Assassin’s Creed III, running and climbing through a wide-open environment is still an integral part to the gameplay experience; however, it has been totally revamped and looks better than ever. The dense gridded cities that always made up the environment in past Assassin’s titles are now gone, and have instead been replaced by the vast American frontier. Tree navigation is the new parkour navigation system that allows Connor to deal with the dense forests of New England, as well as the seaside cliffs on the cape. Essentially, with Connor you can now grab onto and climb any kind of surface. Whether it’s squared, round, or uneven, anything with a handhold that looks climbable is climbable. Sharp ninety-degree angles no longer encompass the environment and are now instead replaced by smooth uneven surfaces. This change in scenery opens the door to a variety of new gameplay mechanics, redefining the franchise’s core gameplay. Seasons such as winter and summer have been implemented in the game, and both have their own unique effects on Connor. For instance, during winter, snow slows down Connor, encouraging the player to climb and stay off the ground. Furthermore, another new feature that comes with this radical shift in scenery are wild animals. According to Hutchinson, “there are over 200 different species of animal in the game, and they all offer unique opportunities or threats to Connor.”hadn’t been seen in an Assassin’s Creed title. Combat was always criticized in previous Assassin’s titles; however, Assassin’s Creed III looks to change all of this. In being a new assassin, Connor now always fights dual handed, with his primary weapon in one hand and a tool in the other. In order to pull this off and make the combat look and feel as fluid as previous titles, a new button scheme was mapped out for the controller, making it easier and smoother to control Connor when it comes to the art of killing. As with past Assassin’s titles, countering is still a staple aspect when it comes to combat in Assassin’s Creed III. Enemies now attack in unison, generating a new and uberly stylish “duel-counter,” and now, after you counter an enemy, you have the choice to either dodge, assassinate, or throw them. The new combat specks don’t end there; however, assassinations have also been totally redone. Since
Connor is a new assassin, he can now assassinate with any weapon, and can also perform “running assassinations,” which is when he kills a series of enemies all while on the move. According to creative director Alex Hutchinson, the team at Ubisoft “wants to give off the impression that Connor is always on the move,” and so far, it definitely looks like they have succeed this with this new combat scheme.
Although the great American frontier has replaced the congested city, cities, or rather colonies, will still play an important role in this next Assassin’s title. Famous and historical colonies such as New York and Boston will be central hubs in the game, and will offer a different gameplay experience as opposed to being out in the wilderness. The classic running and climbing on top of buildings, as well as the new addition of running through buildings, will make its return upon entering these cities. Perhaps one of the most exciting new additions to this next Assassin’s title; however, is naval warfare. Since the historical timeframe of the game takes place during the American Revolution, it only seemed natural to include ship warfare, so Connor will obtain and captain his own ship later on in the game. According to lead game designer Steve Masters, “there are a couple of ship-based outings in the main storyline; however, there will be plenty more in side missions.” In the same way that the city and wilderness offer their own unique gameplay experiences, the same can be said when sailing the open seas. A fully integrated weather system will be seen on the high seas, and there will be a variety of different cannon shots, such as the chain-shot or grapeshot when it comes to ship combat. The player will be able to move freely on and throughout the ship, and can even board enemy ships with his deckhands to take out the enemy crew. Although geared mostly towards side missions, the naval warfare in Assassin’s Creed III already looks far better and more fun than the simple tower defense game seen in Assassin’s Creed Revelations. With three virtually different, but distinct, atmospheres to experience and explore, the environment and setting in Assassin’s Creed III will be a refreshing take on the series.
The single-player in Assassin’s Creed III isn’t the only thing to get excited about, though. Multiplayer will be making a return, and it’s already been confirmed that the game modes Manhunt, Wanted, and Artifact Assault will all be returning for this next installment. Two new multiplayer modes known as Domination and Wolfpack were recently revealed. In Domination, two teams of four will compete against each other in controlling certain zones throughout the map. Players will need to blend in with surrounding NPCs in order to capture the zones and then they will need to defend the area from the opposing team. Wolfpack is the new co-op multiplayer mode that’s essentially a wave mode. Four players will work together to find and take out NPC targets within a limited amount of time, with extra time added for special kills and synchronization. There are a total of 25 waves, or sequences, that increase in difficulty making this a game mode that bears some similarities to Gears of war’s ‘horde’ mode; however, there is a heavier emphasis on working with your teammates in order to surpass each sequence and earn a bunch of experience. Either way, it’s co-op for Assassin’s Creed, which is something totally new to the series and something to definitely get excited about.
Hutchinson and the team at Ubisoft Montreal truly believe that they “have the most robust third person character in action games today,” and from what’s been seen and revealed so far, they just might. If anything can be said, they for sure have the most robust third person character in any Assassin’s Creed game to date, and this title is definitely shaping up to be the best in the series. With a completely new historical setting and environment, a new combat scheme and navigation system, and new multiplayer modes, this is one title that for sure needs to be on your radar. Assassin’s Creed III will be available on October 30th for the Xbox 360 and PS3, and November 23rd for the PC. It will also release for the Wii U; however, a date has not yet been set.