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E3 2014: Assassin’s Creed: Unity – The Series’ Bloodiest Yet
Although it was technically leaked a few months earlier this year, Assassin’s Creed: Unity has made its official debut at E3 this week and what Ubisoft have shown so far has me excited. The game is due in October and with a new hero, setting and co-op component, it could very well end up being the bloodiest, most compelling installment of the series so far.
Viva La Revolution
I’ve made no secret of the fact that I wasn’t a big fan of Assassin’s Creed: Black Flag. I’m willing to concede that it’s probably mechanically superior than the previous installments of the series – it also stripped out a lot of the historical elements that have drawn me back to the series time and time again. Assassin’s Creed: Unity is set to fix this by bringing the series back from pirate fantasy to historical thriller by moving the action to the French Revolution.
Revolutionary France is a setting that myself and other fans of the series have been calling for since AC2 and it’s thrilling to finally have our wishes granted. Revolutionary France is a bloody, political and fascinating period of time for the series to explore and like its Ezio-centric installments, there’s a lot of cool historical figures like Maximilien Robespierre that’ll likely work their way into the series mythology. In addition, there’s a lot of big historical events like the Storming of the Bastille that I can see ending up as playable missions in the game.
A Return To The Series Urban Roots
While the naval components of AC3 and Black Flag were come of their strongest features, I’m glad to see the series returning to its roots with Unity. Ubisoft looks to be leveraging their new setting to put a renewed focus on the sprawling urban exploration that defined the first two installments of the series.
Given the new setting, it’s unsurprising that the game will feature a fully explorable Paris brought to life by the game’s new engine. The handful of trailers that have surfaced showcase the rich architecture of the city and the new level of detail that environments will feature courtesy of next-generation platforms.
No Room For Lone Gunslinger Types
While the last three or so installments of the series have dipped into the multiplayer side of things, Unity looks to be foregoing the usual competitive offering in place of a new co-operative campaign. Inspired by Black Flag’s Wolfpack mode, Assassin’s Creed: Unity will let up to four players team up for more complex assassinations and could end up being the biggest addition to the series formula yet.
Whether the entire single-player campaign of the game will be playable in co-op is unclear at this moment but from the looks of things, this side of the game will be heavily influenced by Watch Dogs with players able to jump in and out of each others’ games. Even if these parts of the game end up limited to a select few missions, it’ll set an interesting precedent for the series going forward.
A Brave New World
No word yet on whether or not Unity’s present-day components will follow on from Black Flag or whether they will be more like earlier installments of the series. Unlike previous installments of the series however, proper stealth mechanics will be making their debut in Unity. Stealth mode can be activated at the press of a button and Ubisoft emphasized their desire to let players develop their own approach by building this into the game.
While a lot of the biggest changes Unity will be bringing to the series are broad structural ones, there are also some more nuanced mechanical improvements on the way. Early trailers suggest a reworking of the series’ iconic Eagle Eye, more explorable interiors and more complex faction dynamics.
Like every Assassin’s Creed game before it, Unity looks like it could be the series best entry thus far. While it looks to be stripping away the flair and scale of Black Flag, the series return to its urban roots and the implementation of co-operative multiplayer could be just what the series needs at this point. Black Flag proved that the series still has plenty of life left in it, but Assassin’s Creed: Unity could be the game that truly rises from the ashes to leaves a legacy in Ubisoft’s revisionist history books worthy of its setting.