There are plenty of highly anticipated sequels coming this year, however, the spot for top dog is pretty close. Of the AAA franchises releasing an entry this year, Assassin’s Creed III is a serious contender for the most anticipated of them all, and with good reason. Sadly, we were not given any hands-on time with the single player portion of the game, but that doesn’t mean we didn’t come away with some good information. The game was privately demoed to members of the press, and I’ve written up my impressions below.
The game is the first one in some time to star a new protagonist, Connor Kenway(Ratonhnhaké), a half English half Native American Assassin. It takes places across a span of 30 years, before during and after the American Revolutionary War. And although it wasn’t shown, Desmond was stated to play a much bigger role in this title, with much more in the way of Assassin capabilities.
Returning of course, are the trusty hidden blades. Beyond that though, the game introduces a whole new range of gameplay elements. For one, the climbing system has been completely redone for this game. It had to be, in order to accommodate the new types of climbable terrain. That includes rocky surfaces, ropes, and trees. They also tweaked the cover and hiding system. Now you can easily take cover in brush and other natural growths, as Connor is much more in his element in the forests. He can now even slide down small inclines to move faster.
One of the biggest inclusions though, was shown off during the Sony E3 Press conference, which is the introduction of naval battles into the game. Command your ship and take on other warships at sea. Words don’t do it justice, so I’ve embedded the video below.
Another major change is the introduction of sidequests. NPC’s now have daily schedules to help keep the world feeling alive, but they also have ability to give you sidequests. These can be completed in any order, and even while in the middle of plot related mission in some cases. It’s one of more RPG elements they hinted at.
Returning again is the ability to travel to different cities that has been absent in more recent entries. These include Boston, Philadelphia and New York. You won’t actually ride to each city like in the first game, depending on fast travel in between locations. The only city demoed at E3 was Boston, however, the Frontier was also demoed and appears to be it’s own location.
Weather also now plays a role in the game as each of these areas, as they can and will transition between summer and winter. This feature goes beyond mere aesthetics. In the frontier for instance, the snow piles high. This means you and anyone moving through the snow are fore to trudge slowly through it. Connor does have a unique advantage in this regard though, being able to move through the trees. An advantage you’ll be sure to make use of often.
The Frontier also features quite a few more interesting elements. For instance, they’ve added wildlife to the game, 2 dozen types. Among them are wolves, bears and cougars. These animals can be hunted and their pelts sold or traded at a city. The old method of buying buildings has been removed from the game, although factions will be making a return. They wouldn’t specify how.
Finally, Connor’s moves and arsenal will differ quite a bit from previous games. You’ll be happy to know he starts off with two hidden blades, no need to earn the second one this time around. Guns also play a but of a larger role in this game, as they were becoming more prominent during this time. However, Connor has a bow and arrow as well, allowing him to pull off stealth kills, much like the crossbow from previous games. Also, new to the arsenal are his tomahawk, and a grappling hook which can be used for climbing or in combat.
Combat is heavily focused on attacking and countering, as it was before, except the developers seem to have embraced it. You will have two items on your pallet at any given time, a tool and a weapon. Healing items are also no longer necessary as they have implemented a regenerating health system into the game.
They have also implemented the ability to double counter. When two enemies attack at once, you can now counter both at once with some cool finishing moves. And with the introduction of more ranged weapons, they’ve added ranged air assassinations which allow you to leap down from a building and take someone out with a bayonet or even the bow.
Quite a bit to take right? And this doesn’t even cover the multiplayer. Assassin’s Creed really does seem like the complete package. Just in time as well, as the series was beginning to stagnate with Ezio. This entry certainly looks to infuse new life into the series and is definitely one of my most anticipated titles this year.