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Assassin's Creed Unity

Ten Things You Need To Know About Assassin’s Creed Unity

One of the fun surprises of Monday’s press conferences was the opportunity to see two distinct demos of Assassin’s Creed Unity in action. Today, I was shown a guided tour of each, and was able to glean a number of features that set the new game apart, both from previous AC entries, and from action games built for older generation consoles.

It’s Truly New-Gen

After seeing Unity in action, it’s easy to understand why the game is heading exclusively to PS4, Xbox One, and PC. Members of the development team explained that the core team for Unity got started right after the completion of Brotherhood in late 2010. From a completely reworked technical engine and visuals to a number of brand new features in navigation, combat, multiplayer, and mission structure, it’s a game that feels new-gen down to its DNA. 

While many players enjoyed Black Flag, the new-gen versions were little more than visual upgrades. That same can’t be said for the fundamental shifts in gameplay and tech that characterize Unity. If you’re curious about a truly new-gen AC game, this is the project that will satisfy your questions.

The Setting 

If you know your history, then you realize why the French Revolution is an amazing choice for an AC time period. For the historically challenged, the French Revolution is rife with awesome and awful bloody conflicts, and a turning point in western democracy and lawmaking. Moreover, as a French company, it’s likely that Ubisoft has a special interest in portraying this time period and location with care and detail. 

As it’s presented in the game, Paris is a massive playground. If you don’t count the ocean, the sprawling cityscape of Paris, including its many interiors and underground catacombs, is twice the size of the world in Assassin’s Creed III. 

The city is breathtaking, filled with some of the most beautiful man-made monuments you could imagine. I learned that locations like the Louvre, the Bastille, and the Gardens of Luxembourg are just some of the spots we know are in the game. We got a special glimpse inside Notre Dame Cathedral, which is breathtaking. Even with work yet to be completed on lighting, it’s a remarkable space to visit, even in a virtual world. When it’s complete, rays of sun will shine through the stained glass windows and reflect colored patterns directly onto the floor. All by itself, the cathedral is a huge playground, with a planned dozen different entry and exit points into the large space, from tunnels beneath the building to open paths at the top of the bell twoer – I can’t wait to visit the final version and explore all of its nooks and crannies.

A New Hero

Arno Victor Dorian is our new protagonist, and there are a few juicy details that Ubisoft shared with me about the new character. Arno is native Frenchman who was born in Versailles, the home of France’s royal family leading up to this tumultuous period. While we don’t know the specific circumstances, Arno is on a quest of redemption that brings him into the assassin’s organization, and that redemption is the focus of the story – the French Revolution is merely the background to that personal tale. The story is said to be going back to the structural roots of the series, with a narrative structure that has Arno slowly ranking up through the Assassins’ organization, a little bit like what we experienced with Altaïr and Ezio.

Cooperative Play

Perhaps the single biggest innovation in Unity is the introduction of four-player cooperative play throughout the campaign. What may not have been clear from Ubisoft’s early demos is how much this cooperative feature is entirely optional. Solo play is still a totally valid way to confront the game, but the option now exists to bring friends along if and when you want some company.

Here’s how it works. While wandering the world, you regularly enter taverns scattered around Paris. These taverns act as a social hub, and often have merchants from whom you can pick up new equipment. More importantly, if you have any friends currently playing Unity, you’ll see a “ghost” version of that player sitting about in the tavern. This indicates that player is out doing missions in their own instance of the game. You can approach their ghost and request to join their mission. If accepted, you are transitioned to their game and both of you reset to the most recent checkpoint, and continue on from there.

Up to four players can join together in this fashion. In your own game, you’ll always be Arno – the other players will look like random other members of your brotherhood. Lots of missions and activities are available for cooperative play, but there are some story missions that are set aside to be solo only. 

Crowds

I prefer to avoid hyperbole when talking about a pre-release game, but there’s no two ways about it; Assassin’s Creed Unity has the most impressive crowd tech I’ve ever seen in a video game. Up to 1000 individual AI characters can appear in a crowd, each acting independently and reacting to each other and, more importantly, to your actions. 

The crowd regularly presents all sorts of activities that you can choose to engage with at your leisure, but if you try to do them all, you’ll never make any progress in the rest of the game. You might interfere in a fistfight, or chase down a pickpocket. These situations emerge organically, and give you constant chances to get into some action.

Like previous games, many streets can have crowds through which you can sprint, while others are dense enough that it makes more sense to push your way through. Unlike previous games, Unity now includes truly dense crowds – groups so tightly spaced that neither you nor your enemy targets can run through them. 

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Comments
  • I'm really intrigued by the new free-running controls. On PC you'd just hold down a combination of keys to climb up and jump around. Jumping DOWN is a different button/key now, right? I really want to see the controller/keyboard layout, haha. Looking forward to this game.
  • I cant wait for this game. Black Flag was in my opinion a let down. It's the first assassins creed that I was disappointed with the story because it didn't really have one that kept me interested. This is definitely a day one pick up for me.
  • I'll probably be picking this up, but it isn't a day one buy for me. It's visually breathtaking and the co-op option is intriguing but how much of the game would be dependent or challenged by that feature? Personally 'I'd like to wait and see what will be new to the AC franchise with this title. It's def an upgrade over past titles ( goes without saying) but so far nothing excitingly new has been shown.
  • One thing that still isn't as clear as it should be... Can my friend and I run around Paris together outside of missions? Or is the co-op strictly relegated to those missions that allow it? If it's the former, then sweet. If it's the latter only, then that's kind of a let down because I'd rather have free roam co-op with missions than strictly just missions.
  • Oh god this all sounds great. So far this is my game of the show.
  • It's too bad they made some great steps in the way of sea battles.. and are now dumping it. Pirates are just cooler than anything they've done before or since. That being said, Arno's outfit is probably my favorite out of all the protagonists'.
  • I have zero interest in coop play. I have no understanding of why people want it in a story game. In my experience, having other players in your game just means them talking all over everything. It not only destroys the immersion it also usually makes you miss what the npcs are saying. I think multiplayer everything is as crappy a mechanic as the light/dark path nonsense.
  • How is Arno a native Frenchman when he has no accent whatsoever? he sounds more British than anything. This kind of confounds me actually, why set a game in France if they're not going to sound French? Hell, it's even more noticeable considering Ubisoft is freaking French themselves.
  • Great read! I'm definitely getting interested a second time with Assassin's Creed. I like the new and renovated approach to the cult classic. The revamped free-running, extensive customization system, massively increased crowd density, and co-op options are among my favorite new key features. I may actually purchase this Assassin's Creed!
  • "Moreover, as a French company, it’s likely that Ubisoft has a special interest in portraying this time period and location with care and detail" I should probably point out that the game is being made in Canada...
  • I was hoping that since this was next gen Co-op there would be an option for two man couch Co-op. *sigh* Its so hard to find good games that I can play with friends without having to play over the internet.

  • It looks like this has a strong chance of winning Game of Show. It sounds and looks amazing!

  • So the co-op is online only? I swear I hate these companies now because they have made it nearly impossible for me and my wife to play a game together without separate games, consoles, and televisions!
  • Man, Ubisoft's whole presentation could be summed up as "sequels with coop!" I prefer to play single player games alone, so I'm a bit worried about how the coop features will be implemented. But if it just makes the games a bit harder for me, fine. I like a challenge.
  • This is the first Assassin's Creed I've been interested in since II. I'm glad to hear they're revamping it from the ground up to look at the things that plagued the previous ones. The game play looked amazing. Can't wait to take some heads off French Revolution style. Marie, we're coming for you!

  • Depending on how the reviews go, I may jump into the AC series with this game. On a side note, why can't I help thinking this will be made in the unity engine? Is that just me?

  • Literally checked just about everything off my wish list for this game. Thank god they're returning to a dense city setting.

  • I'm loving how there's finally co op in the AC series. And a cover mechanic. You can never go wrong with a good cover mechanic. Seeing the dense crowds during their demo was awesome. Made it feel more authentic. This game is becoming a must buy now. Oh, and more rpg like customization also has me excited. Can't wait to play this game with friends.

  • "The story is said to be going back to the structural roots of the series..." that's what I'm talking about! I've been a fan of all the installments from day one, but I felt that Black Flag's story was lacking. Glad to see we're getting back to what makes a Creed game a Creed game. This amongst other aspects of this article have me salivating for Octobers release!!!!
  • This one has my interest piqued, as it seems to be a return to a historical period that I do find interesting, ironically enough I always found Euro-history to be boring, but I find myself more intrigued by the Ezio series, and after experience this potentially. I have yet to still complete IV, and I thought I'd love it, and haven't even brought Black Flag.

    I have not given up on this series, as I will still complete the previously two mentioned games out of loyalty, and a sense that people do say they were enjoyable; but hopefully this new AC will give me a reason to complete these two in time so I can fully enjoy this one.

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