Ubisoft’s Assassin’s Creed franchise has grown into one of gaming’s biggest names since the release of the first AC game in 2007. Following the great praise and positive reception of the original Assassin’s Creed, Ubisoft has gone on to release numerous other titles in the series, averaging almost one a year. While some video game fans may have been turned off by the continual barrage of exotic locations and deadly assassins, Ubisoft’s next entry into the series, Assassin’s Creed Unity, looks to take the respected franchise in a new direction. This direction is a well-thought out one, as Assassin’s Creed Unity and its new approach to online cooperative play were one of this year’s biggest treats at E3.
The first thing that stood out during the Assassin’s Creed Unity demo was the sheer scope of the title. Set in French Revolution-era Paris, Unity’s game world is larger than all of the islands in Assassin’s Creed IV: Black Flag put together. Adding to the game’s overwhelming sense of size is Unity’s ability to handle upwards of five thousand NPCs on screen at once. The level of immersion and detail this provides for is nothing short of staggering.
The first part of Assassin’s Creed Unity’s E3 demo showcased what players will be able to expect from the general mission structure of the game. In the demo, Arno Dorian (Unity’s protagonist) was on a mission to kill a man known as Captain Xavier. As the mission played out, it was hard not to be impressed with how lively Paris looked. Each character that was visible on the screen bustles about, going through their own unique daily routine. Amid the Parisian bustle, the various factions of Unity can be seen, waging battles against rivals, all completely random and dynamic. The level of detail that has been put into Unity is apparent simply by watching the NPCs, it feels in many ways like watching a living, thriving ant farm and is an absolute treat to see play out.
Building upon this, it is important to note just how impressive Assassin’s Creed Unity is visually. The game’s textures and character detail are wonderful, especially when considering how many different assets can be on screen at once. The decision to keep Unity on the PC, PlayStation4 and Xbox One is undoubtedly a wise one.
Exploring and taking in the sites of Paris is exceptionally entertaining thanks to the shocking new heights Arno can climb to. The highest buildings of previous Assassin’s Creed games pale in comparison to the ones seen in Unity and the game’s new downward, controlled descents allow for the quickest movement seen yet in the franchise.
Unity also features a tremendous improvement to the stealth movement. Arno’s stealth mode can be activated with a button press, and for the first time in the series, the player can take cover on almost anything, creating much simpler ways to avoid detection.
Additionally, Unity also features a vast overhaul of traditional Assassin’s Creed fighting mechanics. This time around, combat will be considerably more difficult and require strict attention to the battle at hand. No longer will combat be a simple matter of button mashing, but rather a graceful and deadly affair that feels natural given the assassin’s innate combat prowess.
The second part of the Assassin’s Creed Unity demo featured the game’s much discussed cooperative play and showcased the game’s four player co-op.
This part of the demo took place on the eve of the French Revolution, with the target who was a notable member of Paris’ high society socialites. The most notable part of this demo was that even with four player-controlled characters; the visuals of Unity never dipped, nor did the game lag or show any signs of slowdown.
As the mission began in proper, the depth of Unity’s cooperative play began to shine. Each of the four players was free to go about the area at their own discretion, allowing for everyone to explore and plan their own method of attack. While moving about, each of the players can coordinate their attacks with one another, which is represented by a timer over their mark on the map. The ability to coordinate in this way adds a great level of depth and enjoyment, as players will be able to experiment with different techniques in order to figure out what works best for their respective team.
During the cooperative mission, the action eventually shifted to a grandiose ballroom, which put the new engine running Unity on display. The lighting and shadows were brilliantly rendered, making the ballroom look more like something out of a classic film than a location in a video game.
Without a doubt, the new and improved cooperate gameplay of Assassin’s Creed Unity will take the storied franchise to a whole new level. With a massive city to explore and some of the best visuals seen in gaming yet, there is plenty to be excited about with it comes to Unity.
Assassin’s Creed Unity is set to ship on October 28, 2014 for the PC, Xbox One and PlayStation 4.
Editor’s Note: This post was written by Raymond Porreca using meeting notes taken by Matt Heywood
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