Assassin's Creed III Is the Type of Sequel This Series Needs

Why a new hero and a new era are just the tip of the iceberg.

Assassin's Creed: Revelations was an odd game for longtime fans of the series. Judged by its own merits, the most recent entry in the franchise was a perfectly enjoyable and well-made adventure. But for those who know the series inside and out, Revelations had one persistent flaw that was difficult to ignore: the whole thing just felt too familiar. It was a game that left a lot of fans wondering if Ubisoft's creative momentum had stalled, stirring up quite a bit of concern over Assassin's Creed III in the process. Something tells us that the worrying won't last for much longer.

See, here's the thing about Assassin's Creed III: what we've seen looks terrific. This sequel appears to be the breath of fresh air that fans have been clamoring for in ever-growing numbers. One obvious reason is the brand-new setting and protagonist, with 18th-century New England serving as the backdrop and half-Native American, half-English assassin Connor acting as the main character. While Connor's journeys between Boston and New York have him living through the American Revolution, he's very much an outsider with no horse in this race. It's a really interesting premise, but what has us most excited is that this new setting is more than just a chance to explore a new historical era. Ubisoft has cleverly used the Revolutionary War backdrop as an opportunity to evolve the core strength of the game: player movement.

From the beginning, the series' empowering sense of momentum has been a critical part of its overall success by letting you freely dart across rooftops and perform feats of acrobatic wizardry. But what so many of us loved about leaping across rooftops in those early games failed to evolve in any meaningful way with each subsequent installment. With Assassin's Creed III, however, it looks like that might just change. As Connor, you'll spend a good deal of time stalking your enemies not only on rooftops, but also in the wilderness. He can climb trees, leap across branches, and scale sheer cliff faces one handhold at a time. It's more than just an extension of the city navigation on trees: there's a much more feral look and feel to Connor's forest exploits.

Seeing Connor in motion is impressive, and you really get the sense that controlling him in this world will feel very different from controlling Ezio. Part of that is the revamped animation system; Connor really moves like a new man, not some Revolutionary War version of Ezio. You see it in little details like the way he vaults over low obstacles with a single outstretched arm, or the way he sidesteps tree trunks when jumping from branch to branch. Beyond that, Ubisoft is promising a revamped control system, giving you more control over when you want to scale straight up an obstacle, or simply run over it. It's refreshing to see that Ubisoft has gone into such detail to make sure the sense of movement looks just as different as the world around you.

Dual wielding is a new addition to combat.

Connor's journey through this world also requires him to deal with weather effects in a way that Ezio never had to worry about. The story spans a number of years, with chapters set during various seasons. In the wintertime, you might need to stick to the trees because the ground is covered in knee-deep snowfall. It may be fun to see Connor trudging through all that powder like a skier who has lost his skis, but it also means you're in dire straits if a bear happens to sneak up behind you as we saw in our demo. Yet not every type of weather is a reason to worry, as Ubisoft has promised that you'll be able to exploit certain weather effects to your benefit, like using thick fog as a chance to increase your stealth levels during nighttime assassinations.

If you're worried that Assassin's Creed III has basically become Far Cry, don't be: you'll still be spending plenty of time in real, honest-to-goodness cities. According to Ubisoft, Connor will be splitting his time between Boston and New York. We got to see the former in all its British-occupied, pre-war glory. It's a different look from the dense medieval cities of Italy we saw in the Ezio trilogy, with wider streets and more open space to contend with (which Ubisoft can now exploit with up to 2,000 people onscreen at a time). The cities not only look different, but behave differently as well, with opportunities to run through open windows and through people's houses in order to break from your pursuers during a chase scene.

Naturally, each city you visit is awash in turmoil considering the whole American Revolution currently going on. Connor is in an interesting position during all of this. Ubisoft is very careful to stress that this isn't some "Woo! America!" type of game. Connor is an outsider: he doesn't identify with his English heritage, and he has taken issue with his Mohawk tribe after they were ravaged by enemies, and the elders refused to retaliate. Long story short: Connor has found a new home with the assassins, looking to eradicate the newfound Templar threat on this side of the Atlantic.

It's often beneficial to take out the poor little drummer to break an enemy's formation.

At times you'll see Connor assume the role of the lone wolf on the battlefield, similar to those scenes in Metal Gear Solid 4 where Snake crept through an ongoing war independent of either side. One scene has Connor running downhill through a full-on warzone, dodging cannon balls erupting in clouds of dirt and debris in pursuit of a British officer. It's an interesting form of stealth compared to previous games: rather than blending into a crowd of people, you're trying to blend into a scene of chaos and death, sneaking toward your goal while trying not to die yourself. It sounds a little impractical until you realize it's an awfully effective way to catch your target while he's distracted.

This being an Assassin's Creed game, it's not all watching other people fight: you'll be doing plenty of that yourself. Ubisoft has promised a number of tweaks to the combat system, including dual-wielding weapons, human shields, and even the ability to stab enemies at a dead sprint without breaking stride. There even seems to be a little bit of the most recent Batman games in there, with Connor being able to string up enemies from tree branches to distract the attention of a larger group.

So yes, Connor is a very impressive assassin. His tactics are a little more feral (climbing trees and blending into the wilderness) and a little more guerrilla (those enemies you string up from trees? They can be dead), and moreover, he moves with a distinct style and animation set all his own. We really like what we've seen of Connor the assassin; now we're just wondering about Connor the hero. Ezio was one of those wonderfully memorable protagonists you got to see grow and mature over time. We're hoping Connor will be just as interesting, but in his own distinct way. So far Ubisoft isn't revealing a whole lot about Connor's backstory, so we've got our fingers crossed that we'll be given reasons to care about his role in the story as opposed to, say, Altair from the original game.

The wilderness is an important part of ACIII.

All told, Assassin's Creed III looks like the type of sequel that we were hoping for all along. There's a new historical era to explore, a new main character to learn about, and a whole slew of tweaks and outright overhauls to the gameplay that should make this a fresh experience compared to the deja-vu-inspiring Revelations. Naturally, all that comes with the caveat that we've seen only a small slice of this game and haven't had the opportunity to play it for ourselves just yet. So keep an eye out for more Assassin's Creed III coverage coming your way this year. This is definitely a game you'll want to have on your radar.

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Discussion

325 comments
glack123
glack123

Everyone likes to crap on Revelations. I got that "familiar" feeling when I played Brotherhood. Revelations felt like a breath of fresh air and it tied together Desmond, Altair, and Ezio's stories very well. Also AC1 is better than Brotherhood and Revelations and Altair kicks ass! Can't wait for AC3.

SamuraiSeven
SamuraiSeven

If they don't fix the textual control scheme and the puppeteer control system, I'm not even interested.  After playing them all, I am frustrated with the lack of precision controls.  Loved the first one but I have  missed the stealth action ever since.  

theloneultimate
theloneultimate

The clothing color system was not at its best as it was. In AC II. Apart from that this game even might not feature a hookblade or assassins brotherhood. I.e. assassins signals. In revelations there were no horses in the cities... Hope this changes now... the wilderness concept is fascinating and all that but what about the animi ?? They are te integral parts of the series... What about desmond ?? What about the reality and who i s the next subject 18 of the animus ??? Is this game focsing only on histry ???

defiant09
defiant09

It does look amazing but it feels all too much like "The Patriot" meets Assassin's Creed. Of course it was a long time ago and we're the closest allies on the planet now but I just couldnt feel comfortable where the Brit's are labelled as the bad guys. Being from the UK myself I just wouldn't like sink a hatchet into some poor Red Coat's neck as he falls to ground holding the Union Flag. Maybe I'm just being patriotic or taking it too seriously but I think I know how every German feels when a WW2 game get released.

sachind1231
sachind1231

"...but not the sequel we deserve." Sorry, had to do it

maddog123
maddog123

already preordered, got my cool tin box with the cover art. gonna be friggin sweet

 

Carlos161
Carlos161

Really excited for this. Hope it'll be as good or even better tha AC II

Imperiusmax
Imperiusmax

So far this game looks a lot more interesting than Revelations. Ubisoft has revived my enthusiasm for this series.

strothers101
strothers101

Yeh I still maintain, even though it looks epic, that this will be another giant pro USA circle jerk. Which is kinda lame.

isshiah
isshiah

i wonder what desmond will be doing this time around... no more boring platforming, i hope.

Xero1246
Xero1246

i've got only one problem with this game: RELEASE DATE IS TOO FAR!!! :(

gunnplay
gunnplay

Stunning. I love how Ubisoft Montreal pulled one over on us and made us believe that they were becoming annual and stale, that they were turning in to EA Tiburon. Definitely not the case! This game will be defining, mark my words. Also, @Shaun McInnis Nice work on this article. I appreciate that you gave ample space to discuss exactly how movement has improved in the game, and how it completely changes the fundamental gameplay into something new and innovative. It seems sometimes that writers (and players) tend to focus on concomitant features as opposed to actual gameplay. Bravo, sir.

Fox-13
Fox-13

Uau, I wasn't expecting the story to cross the Atlantic in this timeline but it sounds great to me! I think that Ubisoft is gonna score again for sure!

valium88
valium88

Toy aspect sounds cool. But I hope they don't make a game with lot's of repetative side-stuff at the cost of a good and long story. Depends on the layout of the game really, and how open it really is.. I'm excited to see more what becomes of this.

soulfulDAGGER
soulfulDAGGER

A spectacular series. Cannot wait for this game.

slainta
slainta

@noodlzethegreat "america was built on immigrants so if you dog america your dogging your history"? It's the other way around, buddy. We made [part of] your history, not the opposite!! :D

noodlzethegreat
noodlzethegreat

he says tomahawk so damn cool haha and RPG element i think that would be cool would be to level up system..str,dex, def, agility, etc.. like a dark souls. so certain weapons or assasin skills can be used.. and kills quests doing ceremonies at camp fires to boost xp or str. or speed for a short time that could go towards a level up system. making decesions like mass effect well say he is native american drinkin peyote to get your spiritual animal then ur spirit animal could depend on your decesions or what you chose to do for certain missions stealth out in the open.. duel weilding yosemiteee sam style ... then choosing so would have certain skills or aspects.. climbing faster.. arrow skills... leveling those up.. instead of just doing sequences and oh i can do this now and im the bee's knees at it on the first use.. a progression w/skills as to character personality progression like we saw with ezio.. or as you level up with sidequests finding hidden armorment adds to skill points are you a better air based assasin run and gun, (but i do understand your n assassin you should be able to master all) character progression is all im getting at..i think this is a cool idea.. but dont go over board with it we arent asking for a turn based assasins creed cause my assasins claw is ready r2 button haha comment has been Tradmarks by noodlzethegreat and UBI if you want to use me as an idea machine im all yours or for any company for that matter.. Imagination at constant work : )

noodlzethegreat
noodlzethegreat

[This message was deleted at the request of the original poster]

true_gamer007
true_gamer007

@super_rider That's a good way not to expect much but what does it means it looks like a RPG. Where did you get that? I don't see any RPG element!

legionofme
legionofme

".. you'd be muslim right now if it werent for the american revolution.. and thats a damn historic fact... " hahahahahhahahahahaha What on earth do they teach you people in school?

super_rider
super_rider

@true_gamer007 AC II was a really good game, and i enjoyed it a lot.. but i'm not expecting much from this..looks like a role playing game..

noodlzethegreat
noodlzethegreat

sick of people giving america a bad rap.. i actually got to meet some people who were from the uk and were at the cubby bear with there band.. awesome blokes they were.. they praised america we have all walks of life.. and i agree dezmond is american.. he would honestly have to find ancestry somewhere in america.. and dont forget america was built on immigrants so if you dog america your dogging your history,.. we wouldnt be the country we are today if it wasnt for all walks of life.. youd be muslim right now if it werent for the american revolution.. and thats a damn historic fact... and to shaun mcinnis.. umm do you not rememner need for speed 2?? wether your putting up hit points or drive trains it was an open road rpg.. u tart

noodlzethegreat
noodlzethegreat

Assassins Creed 5 : modern jungle??? i still remember the first one showing maybe hints to different settings peru... spain... i do enjoy the series its still neat as shat to pull off what ezio was able to pull off.. i allready see the pre order nonesense with dlc and ooo ooo you can get a ezio hood or t shirt.. either way im sure this title will find away to let us down.. im not dogging it.. cause the trailer looked too legit.. and the idea of the tomahawk.. oooo brings back memories of killer instict haha either way looks great .. please dont go corporate with this one.. pleeeeassseee......

legionofme
legionofme

Just watched the trailer to this game against Bon Jovi's 'Dead of Alive" and suddenly the choice of setting makes sense. Ubisoft are Mavericks *nods* This game is for mavericks. If you're not into killin' for yer uncle, you're no maverick, you're anti American. But don't worry, Ubisoft announced this is not a 'woo America' game. It must be true, you use a tomohawk!

true_gamer007
true_gamer007

We all were amazed by the changes Ubi brought to ACII. Perhaps, just like that, ACIII is up to something innovative and interesting. AC fans, just keep faith Ubi. I hope we're about to get amazed again.

DiMuTk0
DiMuTk0

no tower defense (great !!! ) join hunting and mushrooms gathering clubs (whaaaaaaaat ?!?!).

Kickable
Kickable

@akiramaycry whatever you say fanboy.

PaulJanson
PaulJanson

@the_requiem Took the words right out my mouth!

PaulJanson
PaulJanson

@chilly-chill Well, who are you to decide if a game to have MP or not? 0_o Multiplayer to games are like scholarships to college because for a game to be good, they're not needed, but it helps and doesn't hurt to have one. I don't see how it's force fed, it ain't like a youtube ad saying "Play multiplayer for 20mins to access story mode"

75king57
75king57

I just have a feeling that this game will be remember for a long time to come ;)

NorseLax09
NorseLax09

i don't know what everyone is complaining about. America at this point is rich with history. Europe is boring and is always the same old thing. Wouldn't this be the natural progression of the AC story? i mean, isn't Dezmond american? Wouldn't tracing his ancestry back eventually take us to the American colonies at some point? It will be a breath of fresh air for the franchise.

gstealer
gstealer

@ Poodger If I was close minded I'd call NORTH Americans, just Americans, like you did. As if North Americans are the only Americans IN AMERICA. What makes South America any less "american" than North America? Same question goes to Central America. The FACT is, there are much more interesting historical places and facts to visit, than the U.S. As if the gaming industry wasn't so, say, "addicted" to the U.S, it's already becoming boring. So a little change of scenary is very welcome. In case you didn't understand anything (which is likely), it's a political thing too.

reyace
reyace

@Arnoud1976: Well, (speaking for other people), it is nice to see something that actually relates to us. You can think back and be all like, "My great great great great great grandpa was in the American Revolution!" Alot of people can actually relate to it. Though it would be very interesting for their next game to be somewhere in Europe. :P

reyace
reyace

This is a must buy for me already. :D

akiramaycry
akiramaycry

@kickable Yes I know its influence (when positively mentioned) Or its called outright copying (when negatively mentioned). The very sublte MGS cinametic touches that Kojima produces are "borrowed" by the likes of Ubi. Sigh. Yes..what a nice combination. Slap in the formula of two good games into your own because your own got repetitive as hell year after year. Let the downs begin!

Ares360
Ares360

Give me a kick ass collectors edition or give me death!

glimpus
glimpus

This game looks so bad ass I had to go back and play some AC2 last night. I'm gonna play some more right now.

Arnoud1976
Arnoud1976

UGH why America? surely other parts in the world have large forests. America has been done to death and is boring as hell. Why not russia during the revolution or Paris during theirs. Spain during the inquisition, Netherlands and the 80 year war. Hell pick asia or africa for my part, why has it always have to be the damn America's? Sigh

Chronologo
Chronologo

I just hope that we don't end up playing assassins creed IX in a few more years... maybe after this one they should make the last game. I want to play as Desmond fighting in his actual time!. Still this one looks good and refreshing for the series

zeusbark
zeusbark

Ok, this looks great, I didn't even bother with the series after Assassin's Creed II, but I'll definitely pick this one up!

TMkiller1987
TMkiller1987

In My opinion brotherhood and revelation were a mere distraction while another team was working on AC3 They are taking a new turn to AC like they did from AC1 to AC2 witch i gotta admit i enjoyed AC2 more then brotherhood and revelation.

Meerkat123
Meerkat123

The story mode looks great and fresh :) I just hope that they get rid of the damm smoke bomb in multiplayer

Jackthearesomew
Jackthearesomew

@theloneultimate Hope it is only focussing onnhistory. The real life is so boring! What are we going to do? Argue with the guy at the hotdog stand and then got to jail for killing him? Ha boring. History isthe best part of this game! Lol i bet you play call of duty. Unlike us REAL fans.

Jackthearesomew
Jackthearesomew

@defiant09 Actually there are templars on both sides Said Ubigabe

faycerol3media
faycerol3media

 @strothers101 As a half-breed much like O'Connor (half white half filipino) I have no doubt in my mind that this isn't going to be tailored to either America or Britain. Ubisoft's message is all about the inidvidual vigilante who knows that it's not America, Britain, Cherokee..etc. that is in control. It is the self. Ubisoft understands that America and Britain were both two pawns in a bigger scheme, and plan to tell it that way. The only person they believe is in the right is the assassin's order, the free spirits of the world. That is who they will circle jerk.