E3 2014: Will Assassin's Creed Unity Retain the Spirit of Altair?

Death from above.

by

Thus far at E3 2014, Assassin's Creed Unity's showing has been a tale of two design approaches.

The first approach is the openly violent one on display during the game's cooperative demo presented at Microsoft's press conference. This demo began by following a dark-robed assassin along a stabbing-heavy journey. After he entered a giant rioting crowd, he was joined by another assassin, and the two made their way to the front. After killing the guards holding back the crowd, the rioters surged forward and the assassins climbed into a window above and roamed the halls of a palatial abode, where they were joined by two other assassin's in a furious free-for-all. There was a silent takedown or two to take in, but the demo was striking for the bloody rampage that ended it. Four assassins battled individual enemies, and their target found himself decapitated, watching his own body from his head's vantage point atop a stake. This was not the Assassin's Creed we were first introduced to so many years ago.

The second idea is the more surreptitious one depicted during Ubisoft's press conference. In this single-player-focused demo, black-robed hero Arno looked upon a rampaging crowd before slipping down the walls to find his primary target, Captain Xavier. The opening parkour sequence was a delight to watch, featuring slick acrobatics showing off the quickest locomotion we've seen in the series thus far. Arno's narration, a sequence in which you might chase after a thief, and Assassin's Creed's signature social stealth were thematic confirmations that the series was not yet ready to abandon its core mechanics. Arno found the captain, and he did so without making much commotion. This was the Assassin's Creed I wanted to see.

Yet I admit I am grateful to see both approaches represented, as fond as I am of the more traditional stealth action that the first two primary Assassin's Creed games offered. I don't know yet how the cooperative gameplay and solitary exploration will mesh, but I have in mind a Watch Dogs-type scenario in which players can begin a mission on their own, or participate in one with other players, either as a guest in their worlds, or with them guesting in yours. The Wolfpack online mode in previous Assassin's Creed games was a highlight, and it seems sensible to see its ideas make their way to Unity's campaign setting. Watch Dogs' insistence on constantly bugging me with opportunities to join other players has me somewhat wary; I would rather Unity not bombard me with notifications and reminders. But if Ubisoft can be a little sneakier about threading in cooperative play, they might actually be on to something with Unity's integrated multiplayer.

Nevertheless, the second demo inspired a breath of relief, and it was there that I noted some improvements over previous games that intrigued me. The first was the apparent addition of an actual cover system in which you could press a button and stick to cover rather than have the game choose stealth stances on your behalf. Suddenly, the prospect of sneaking missions in Assassin's Creed sounds like a delight rather than a burden. The other improvement was the fluidity of descending movements on display. No longer will we need to drop down and grasp protrusions. Instead, we can briskly make our way down to the ground with a grace befitting a true assassin.

But sometimes, I don't feel like being silent. Sometimes, I just want to participate in rhythmic swordplay and shed some Templar blood. I find some delight in knowing I'll be able to do that with a few friends at my side. I don't know whether Assassin's Creed Unity will represent the best of both worlds, but I have confidence that the game will, indeed, unify them.

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Discussion

121 comments
kuda001
kuda001

Altair didn't really have spirit to be honest, rather the world he inhabited was intriguing. Of all the protagonists I liked Ezio the best,  he was a likeable character.

PlatinumPaladin
PlatinumPaladin

I honestly don't see an issue here. The demo from the Microsoft event still sees the Assassin's sneaking around, but they're using the chaos that they've created as cover and working as a team to systematically clear enemies like a modern day strike team. So long as you don't need the team all the time, I don't see an issue.

grey_fox1984
grey_fox1984

I was thrilled to see crouch-walking. It always blew my mind that the company that made Splinter Cell (and in effect, invented the crouch-walk), has omitted such an obvious and useful mechanic from their flagship, annualized stealth series. 

GarGx1
GarGx1

AC lost the 'assassin' with Ezio's retirement. AC III had promise but Connor was ultimately bland and the game was poorly executed, ever tried clearing the map in the wilderness? It did give us the great ship mechanics expanded on for AC 4.


4 was really just a pirate simulator in the AC world, I guess Ubisoft would have been damned if they did and damned if they didn't give it an Assassin's Creed moniker. it was a great game though, for as long as you stayed on the ship, with a decent story and interesting support characters.


I hope that AC : Unity (7) harkens back to the Ezio days in scale and story. I never liked Altair and the first game was extremely repetitive, AC II was superior in every way.

subt1e
subt1e

I think this is a step in the right direction. After skipping Assassins creed 3 and 4 I'm looking forward to playing through Paris and actually being able to sneak around. I would love a couple Scarlet Pimpernel style levels like some Hitman style costume changes, Actual assassination missions and some rescue missions but I guess that's asking for too much.

deadjuice360
deadjuice360

"This was not the Assassin's Creed we were first introduced to so many years ago." 
I understand you point, but I absolutely disagree.
I am so happy for what I'm seeing in Unity, and what I believe has been missing in the series since the second game. 
It has come back to the dirty, authentic, gritty, violent style that made the first Assassin Creed so immerse.
The series was starting to turn into a comic book. 

Outlandish detailed white outfits that stuck out like a sore thumb, the protagonist being BFF with dozens of political figures of the period. Enzio with his batman gadget belt of tools, Connor running through an active battlefield without being touched. All cool and all, but also distant from how immerse the first game felt.  

Now we have this dirty ugly scary city. We have this scarecrow of a protagonist in a bland simple overcoat that... wow, actually blends into the environment. The stealth and planning is obviously very important. Even though in the co-op demo they seem to just slice their way through everything, but it was done intentionally by people who know the game inside and out to get the point across at the potential of the co-op experience is the least amount of time without exposing many of the new features. They didn't even show off any of the news skill besides lockpicking. It has been mentioned that the co-op demo is just that, a demo. A team came in just to make that demo, there is a chance that the final mission won't be anything like that.

TL,DR version: The fist Assassin Creed game made you feel like a lone wolf assassin, using stealth and planning to bypass dangerous odds just to get at one important target, and to make it out alive.
The other games lost that authentic assassin feeling by empowering you too much.
Unity seems to be capturing an authentic feeling like the first assassin's creed, but this time it captures the feeling of a group of assassins striking in tandem. This is obvious when you see the co-op group interacting with crowds: coming out of the shadows, striking down guards, and blending right back into the shadows in the chaos.

GameYakuza
GameYakuza

the Apple downloads Altair's conscience in Desmond's lifeless body. You heard it first here.

normanislost
normanislost

you know I don't really want to keep the spirit of altair since for an assassin he had one major flaw he couldn't sneak. what is it now? 6/7 games and only now are we getting an actual sneaking system in a game about assassins


while I'll miss the ship combat (standalone pirate game ubisoft!!!!!!) having a city like paris to play in is far more appealing for an assassins game

DarksjeiK
DarksjeiK

I got almost every AC but put them all aside after just a few hours...they just don't stay interesting long enough. I'm 100% skipping this one 

Zombunny
Zombunny

to be honest since the first game ever element has been the same the games just felt like dlc for the first game, so do we really want one more?

Warlord_Irochi
Warlord_Irochi

As long as it has some meaning... ACIV was fun but kinda "without soul" for the lack of better words.

thorn3000
thorn3000

spirit of Altair? Altair had no spirit or personality...they need to bring back Ezio...

IJONOI
IJONOI

Ubisoft have got some work to do before I buy another one their games. For the life of me, I just cant get round to finishing any of them, especially AC3/4 + FarCry3. A few hours in and I'm done. So predictable and samey. Each one just has a new lick of paint. 

genjuroT
genjuroT

If you all want a ninja AC game just play Tenchu Z until they make one. It even has coop. 

genjuroT
genjuroT

Since I only bought and played the first Assassin's Creed. I can't help but read AC as Ace Combat or Armored Core...It's just stuck in my head. I did watch my friend play the rest though. Anyway, this looks pretty neat. Maybe I can play with him now?

-s3r6i0-
-s3r6i0-

Honestly, I couldn't care less about this series anymore. They had a good IP, had they treated it with respect this game would be the new Grand Theft Auto V. R* developed other IP's on the side like Red Dead and Bully and then transferred all their skills and refinements to their bread and butter, GTA. That's why GTA is still a revered series. Assassins Creed has been milked more than an old cow. Watch Dogs was a disappointment, too. Ubisoft sucks.

OHGFawx
OHGFawx

Still waiting for them to top AC2. Not going to shell out $60 to find out either, just like I didn't with AC4

irwin888
irwin888

This has by far been one of my most favorite franchises, so I am glad to see it making such a strong showing. My only real grievance has been with the tacked-on multiplayer. Oh I've tried it and found some amusement to be had, but in the end i can't help but feel it was never necessary, and worse, only detracted from what more they could have put into the single player aspect.


With this new co-op implementation (if that is all the multiplayer they plan to put into the game) it feels like they might be moving in the right direction - more focused on the core experience. Either way, this looks like one of the best reasons for me to finally upgrade to the next gen. Keep it rocking Ubisoft!

Uiltetwr
Uiltetwr

The original assassin's creed game wasn't that great gameplay wise however the concept and story were great, now I feel as though the series is at an opposite of that, great gameplay average story, Edward was better than Connor but still lacked a little something, Connor was trash yet Haytham was amazing, and Ezio was great but theres still one Character that is loved and adored by many fans, myself included and that's Altair, I believe Unity needs to recreate strong characters four empty assassins are not better than a strong one and like everyone else I ask UBISOFT cut the bullshit where are the damn ninjas, it is the PERFECT setting for assassins creed yet you keep stalling and stalling.


And for the modern day story use William Miles for crying out loud, they had the opportunity to use him as the main character with the apple of eden and everything at his fingertips Desmond was compatible and all his decendents..... HIS FATHER INCLUDED why did they not have William turning dark and getting revenge for his son, forms a new creed and assassin order to stop abstergo/Minerva, would've been perfect storyline Templar rejects/ Newbreed assassins fight manipulated abstergo 

theprismhead
theprismhead

@title It's impossible to retain something you lost long ago (in AC2 to be precise). They might reacquire it although I highly doubt that.

anarky23
anarky23

Sounds like this game fixes all the previous issues I had with the other ones. Better stealth, Smoother parkour, Improved combat and open missions.

Lawrencevanrijn
Lawrencevanrijn

i like this review, it voiced some of the concerns I had. My biggest issue had been the amounts of glitches in the past. perhaps this version deals with them. the open city side (as implied) seems like a huge plus.

wrestlemaniaw
wrestlemaniaw

I want next AC to have something with japan/china , some ninja action!

Metallicwolf29
Metallicwolf29

How about an AC that deals with westward expansion? Maybe help the Indians fight the Americans? Doubt this will ever happen tho

lilflipp
lilflipp

Can we just get an AC based around feudal Japan and that era? Ninjas, samurais, mountains. Running on those tiles rooftops like in those kung fu movies. Pirates are done, can we do ninjas already.

battlefront1943
battlefront1943

Two months before AC BLACK FLAG released I got a deal for all of the AC games for $20.  I played them all and then went directly into BLACK FLAG.  I absolutely loved BLACK FLAG.  It's still a great game, but...

... after playing it...

... I don't care to play another AC game, especially not one that's land-locked.  I'm a fan of history and AC (and in fact have read a lot about the French Revolution), but I don't feel a need to ever play another game in that series -- it just feels "done."  It has nothing to do with the quality of UNITY's build or artistry...  it's just simply that I've grown tired of the premise.  It was good while it lasted -- great at times with AC II and BLACK FLAG -- but I'm done.


ps -- Ubisoft, Even with the way I came to your games, I think annualization of AC and FAR CRY is a big problem.  Gamers get fatigue.  An integral part of the gamer's psyche is having to wait for a sequel.  Annualization just makes the process drudgery, even if the game is good.

itswinter
itswinter

@GarGx1 Only thing I hated about ACIV was that Edward and Anne never married.  I expected them to in the end.  :/

GameYakuza
GameYakuza

@DarksjeiK if it took you 6 games to realize that, the problem might not lie in the games.

nazgoroth
nazgoroth

@DarksjeiK Depends how much history is your thing i think... i keep playing ac brotherhood to explore Rome for instance, and i'm looking forward to climbing the Notre Dame.

normanislost
normanislost

@Warlord_Irochi yeah have to agree they should just make a standalone pirate game but greatly expand apon the pirate part


oh and sort out the combat AC4s combat was a downgrade from AC3 it seemed more clunky and less fluid

yngsten
yngsten

That's because Altair was an assassin, not an aristocrat in beautifully tailored garments fit for a princess.

theprismhead
theprismhead

@thorn3000 On the contrary, the first AC was the best. The fighting system was definitely the best, the enviroments were more varied and you were a real assassin, not some punk like in AC2+.

emmm78
emmm78

@thorn3000 I concur, the only ACs I actually enjoyed and played through the end were the two Renaissance Italy and that was mainly because of Ezio character and story. 

nazgoroth
nazgoroth

@thorn3000 I'm with this man/woman completely on this. Bring back a personality like Ezio,.

yngsten
yngsten

@IJONOI


I agree, same with Watch Dogs, all they did was switch out the hidden blade with a smart phone, replace Aiden with Desmond and it's the present day AC.

Trev9421
Trev9421

I respect your opinion and politely disagree.

ialgwaiz
ialgwaiz

@OHGFawx AC4 is sick, dude. I liked it way better than AC2.

If you like far cry 3 you should check out AC4. 

genjuroT
genjuroT

@wrestlemaniaw Could play the Tenchu series until then. 

ialgwaiz
ialgwaiz

@Metallicwolf29 AC3 was the crappiest one. They even somehow managed to make Ben Franklin uninteresting

bicelis
bicelis

@lilflipp People have been asking for that since AC2. I really do not understand why they still haven't done that.. You couldn't ask for a more perfect setting.

genjuroT
genjuroT

@lilflipp Imma let ya finish, but Tenchu was the best Japanese stealth assassin game of all time. lol. Seriously though, I think AC could make a ninja game look pretty badazz.

ialgwaiz
ialgwaiz

@battlefront1943 Dude, it looks like you can walk into buildings now. I think that's super impressive so I'm not really on board with the idea that this rapid fire sequel treatment is necessarily bad. Even if this one sucks you  can skip it and next year they'll have something new that might be really cool. 

Also you really didn't need to play all the AC games. Props but seriously dude half those games sucked and the story sucks balls 

Dredcrumb9
Dredcrumb9

@battlefront1943 you are totally wrong and lack imagination. There is infinite potential with the Assassins Creed games, and especially the Far Cry games.

Sw33tEscape
Sw33tEscape

@battlefront1943 I agree with everything you said. I'd just like to point out that Far Cry isn't annualized. It's been almost 2 years since Far Cry 3. I do agree that annualization can make for stale games and possibly impede innovation.

Darkefka
Darkefka

@theprismhead @thorn3000 fighting system in AC1 was a fest of counter attacks, you just blocked every time and countered to one shot every one... ''the best'' fighting system'', really?

battlefront1943
battlefront1943

@Dredcrumb9 @battlefront1943 Hmmmm...  do you know my imagination?  I make a living from mine, do you?

Infinite potential?  No such thing...  especially in stories.  Everything "jumps the shark" one day.

battlefront1943
battlefront1943

@deathstream @battlefront1943 The problem wasn't that I got tired of the formula as much as I got tired of the basic premise of the series.  I enjoyed BLACK FLAG immensely, but as a pirate game, not an AC game.  Now, at least without a long break and some big changes/advancements, I just don't want to revisit the world of AC.  The whole assassination angle just seems so boring and almost trite now.  In essence, I'm saying that I feel like AC "jumped the shark"...  

... and my playing all of the games in a short time is no different than binging on an entire tv show in a few weeks.  If the show is good, you want more even after watching all of the eps.  Well, I "watched" all of AC, and I don't feel the need to "watch" any more.