There is no game that I am more excited for than Assassin’s Creed 3. I came to E3 this year with high expectations for Ubisoft’s latest historically themed murder simulator, and the short time I spent with the game today has only managed to validate all the hype.
Ubisoft wasn’t quite ready to show off a playable demo of Assassin’s Creed 3’s single player campaign yet, but a rep from the company was kind enough to give me a guided tour (translation: he played a beta build of the game, running on an actual system, while I watched) of a section of Connor’s upcoming adventure. Interestingly enough, Ubisoft seemed to only be showing off the game’s campaign mode at the Nintendo booth, where the game quickly distinguished itself by being one of the prettier games on display for the Wii U.
Regardless of what system it’s on, Assassin’s Creed has always had pretty graphics, but AC3 really takes the game’s presentation to a new level. The game has a massive draw distance that lets you see miles ahead of your character, and despite the gigantic scale of the world, each and every object and random NPC is intricately detailed and animated. Of course, Connor is the star of the game, and it’s obvious a lot of attention has been paid in making sure he’ll be just as iconic as Altair and Ezio from previous AC games were. His white coat becomes stained with dirt as he rolls and climbs his way through the game’s colonial streets, and they become stained with realistic spatters of blood when he stabs enemies with his hidden blade or when he brutally hacks them apart with his tomahawk.
The pretty graphics aren’t just for show, either: Connor’s smooth animations aren’t just fun to watch, but they also play a role in the game’s combat system as well. Where as combat in previous Assassin’s Creed games could feel kind of stiff (admit it, you all just stood there waiting for the chance to land an instant-kill counter-attack,) the fights in AC3 seem to encourage constant movement: Connor’s various combat animations can all be chained together, and watching Connor use the momentum from one attack to begin his next attack is almost like watching a kind of brutal ballet. Combat in AC3 isn’t about standing around waiting for the right chance to strike; rather, it’s about charging at your enemies and swiftly hacking them apart before they have the chance to fight back.
Despite his flashy fighting style, Connor is an assassin, so stealth is still an integral part of AC3. The rep playing the game demonstrated a new weapon that Connor can use for stealth kills: a hook-shot like weapon which Connor can use to grab targets from a distance. Once he’s ensnared an enemy, he can either pull them closer for a stealth kill, or in a very brutal option, he can string the hookshot around an ledge and let his target dangle from it and slowly suffocate. Players will also be able to use environmental objects in stealth kills as well: in the demo I saw, Connor grabbed a musket off the ground, snuck up behind a British soldier, impaled him with the musket’s bayonet, and then fired the rifle through the impaled enemy in order to hit another soldier. Needless to say, it was incredibly bad-ass.
Of course, the single player is just half of Assassin’s Creed 3. Like Brotherhood and Revelations before it, AC3 will feature a dedicated, stealth-based multiplayer mode. Ubisoft has created a brand new game type for AC3, which puts an Assassin’s Creed spin on the traditional “Capture the territory” modes that are common in FPS games like Halo or TF2. Like those games, two teams compete to capture points on the map, but unlike those games, stealth is still a key aspect of the gameplay. In order to capture a point, you have to stand within a certain area of the map. Of course, the other team’s goal is to keep you from capturing that point, and they’re all immediately alerted the moment you step into a capture area. If you thought it was challenging to remain hidden from your pursuer before, imagine trying to evade your would-be assassin while trying to stay within a few yards of the capture point. The new mode was a lot of fun, and every match I played was closely matched and almost always came down to the last second. AC multiplayer has always been a tense and addictive experience, and the new gameplay mode in AC3 manages to make what was already great into something even better. Unlike certain other originally single-player franchises that later had multiplayer shoe-horned in, multiplayer is definitely not an afterthought for the AC dev team.
I was hyped for AC3 before I came to E3, and now my excitement for the game is almost unbearable. The only bad thing about my experience with Assassin’s Creed 3 at E3 was the realization that I’d have to wait until October 31st to play more.