Playing the Hunter and the Hunted in Assassin's Creed III

E3 2012: You're not the only predator in this stretch of wilderness.

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One of the most impressive things about Assassin's Creed III is that you immediately see the game's hero as a product of his environment, a Native American raised far away from the Colonial cities of early America. Whether he's stalking a target from high up in the trees or defending himself from the wild animals that roam the early American frontier, Connor comes across as an assassin who knows the wilderness inside and out.

A lot of that comes from how Connor moves through the world, or more specifically, his world. Assassin's Creed III features Colonial versions of Boston, New York, and Philadelphia, but it's the game's large tracts of wilderness where Connor seems most at home.

"We've gone from a very rigid environment made of buildings into a space that's trees and slopes and cliffs, and all of them are organic, unusual shapes," says creative director Alex Hutchinson. "It's a different climbing puzzle for the player, a different combat puzzle for the player."

An overhauled animation system gives the impression that Connor has spent plenty of time getting familiar with those puzzles. When he's running up a steep hill, you see him lean forward slightly and keep his hands just above the ground lest he slip and fall. In the trees, he's able to leap from branch to branch and quickly sidestep any thick trunks in his way. Connor just doesn't seem bothered by what nature throws at him.

Other times, he uses those obstacles to his advantage. One mission in the game involves Connor sneaking into a British camp situated on the edge of a cliff overlooking the ocean. Rather than head right through the front door, Connor can explore the sides of the camp and discover a steep slope leading down to an unguarded rear entrance. He braces himself and slides through the dirt and snow, ready to quietly ambush a camp full of redcoats.

The way Connor exploits his surroundings isn't always pretty. From up in the trees, Connor can throw a weapon that latches onto an enemy's throat, and then instantly yank him upward so that his dangling body attracts the attention of those around him. At this point, you are ready to pounce on those remaining targets, tomahawk in hand.

Watching Connor stalk his prey in the snowy frontier, you almost get the impression that he's a little too talented at what he does. Where's the challenge for the player? According to Ubisoft, there's one simple answer to that: the frontier has plenty of predators not named Connor.

At various points throughout Connor's journeys, he'll encounter wild animals such as bears or wolves--each following different behavioral patterns. A pack of wolves, for example, might circle Connor, forcing you into a tense standoff where you're eyeing the moving pack and trying to figure out who will be the first wolf to strike.

"We wanted you to feel as though it's you versus the wilderness," says Hutchinson. "So we worked a lot on how to make you feel that emotion. That included the behavior of the animals. Do you hear them before you see them? How do they attack you? What's the player fantasy of that?"

For Ubisoft Montreal, it's all about balance. Connor is a talented predator, using the contours of the rugged American frontier to his advantage as he seeks out enemies venturing outside cities and camps. Yet he's hardly the only predator in the gameworld, so at any moment you need to be conscious of your place in the wilderness. A wolf or a bear doesn't see a talented assassin with a hidden blade; it sees its next meal.

But don't worry: not every animal in Assassin's Creed III is a vicious killing machine. "We have a turkey in the game, and I think our turkey AI is phenomenal," jokes Hutchinson. "I believe in our turkey when I look at it."

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Discussion

102 comments
ali1111111
ali1111111

well let us say it  they are making good moves >>>>in the first AC there was  only daylight >>>>but in AC 2 they added he night  >>>> but in  AC 3  thy added whether conditions

Devchi
Devchi

I don't like this setting.

 

Ok, actually, I like, but I don't think the setting fits the series. Why not make him an assassin in the first World War?

They felt the need to shift the lineage of assassins from Europe to North America now, but I think it was a bad move. In fact, the first World War was one of those cornerstones in history that shifted the power from Europe to America, which is perfect.

 

AC II setting impressed me right from the start. Dwelving in the might Cathedrals of Firenze and Venice was amazing. Be a person living in the craddle of Renaissance, among Machiavel and Leonardo, was equally amazing.

With this setting I just feel the assassin lost this aspect. Being in the middle of the most epic events of western civilization, like crusades and renaissance.

 

Still, I hope Ubisoft surprises me. I don't like the setting because it's not the best setting, in my opinion. But it isn't a bad one, at least.

CCGR_Pheonix
CCGR_Pheonix

I feel like to fully appreciate Assassin's Creed, you have to know your history. It's not solely the gameplay that enthralls me in AC, it's really the settings and the characters. Now Ubisoft is going with something their American audience knows just a bit more, and people suddenly feel entitled that the history should be solid to the way they perceive it.

BlueRaptor7
BlueRaptor7

You vs the wilderness? Isn't Connor a native american who has spent alllll the time in the wilderness? Wouldn't he have already adapted and learned how to mostly avoid hostile mammals and other animals? Seems like Ubisoft is trying so hard to make him a believable character.  Doesn't make a whole lot of sense to me.

 

 

Itsleaking
Itsleaking

Hope I can assassinate Abraham Lincoln.

grim0187
grim0187

This is looking like one of the best AC games yet. The best part about it is it shows America kicking the british back to where they came from!

SPUDIRL3
SPUDIRL3

AC 2 has easily been the best of the lot. the mystery and freshness of that game hasnt been matched by ACB or ACR. But i have to admit AC3 looks to be just what the franchise needs, a completely new direction and a whole new outlook on climbing and combat.

Rippletonz
Rippletonz

I'm telling you right now, this game is going to be incredible.  Just from what I've seen in the trailers, AC3 is worlds and galaxies beyond its predecessors. 

poloalmo
poloalmo

Hopefully the controls won't be so stiff this time

asifah30
asifah30

Hey guys,

 

Dont fight each other. I'd say "Good luck Ubisoft keep it up..............see you on thePirateBay...:)"

goeyguy03
goeyguy03

wtf.. dont want to kill animals... just Red Coats!

menace420
menace420

urdadsbelt <-- that's my gamer tag look me up and add me, i'm the best player in any game imaginable !

FrostDM
FrostDM

Oh snap! I would love if they don't cut out interiors from the final game.

mellowboy101
mellowboy101

Is this Assassins Creed anything like Hitman or Godfather?

method115
method115

I didn't enjoy Assassins Creed 2 at all the story seemed convoluted and confusing and the overall game play just seemed weaker.

 

This one does have me interested but Im not so sure I'll get it. I loved AC1 though one of my favorite games of all time.

Grimkillah
Grimkillah

 @Devchi If you want to call Florence as Firenze, then might as well call Venice, Venezia. For consistency.

AceMarine45
AceMarine45

 @Devchi

 Actually, more accurately the first world war occured in America during the 7 year war. 7 year war put england on the map as number one, till they tried to make the colonist pay for the entire war. Every war has a huge impact on humanity, especially the events after a war.

AzureFeatherFly
AzureFeatherFly

 @BlueRaptor7 What!? Animals are a interactive element of this game, basically the crowds of the forest. The Player is suppose to interact with them and skinning their pelts or hunting for some food is exactly what he should be doing in the wilderness.

Hiroo4
Hiroo4

 @grim0187 The colonists were all British... and we stole the land from Natives... but sure, let's show them who's boss.

adamomars
adamomars

I suppose the correct turn for the character would be 'Assassin'. Hence the title.

grim0187
grim0187

 @Zerosumgame

 Thank you for this insightful comment. Its comments like these that make me wish Gamespot had Kotaku's comment policy.

grim0187
grim0187

 @goeyguy03

 Okay. So just zoom through the wilderness and ignore any hungry wolves or bears that might attack you. We'll see how long you live.

FrostDM
FrostDM

 @mellowboy101 Kinda like hitman but with free running...... and blades....... and history...... and such... Much more faster gameplay than hitman.

AceMarine45
AceMarine45

 @method115

 People forget there is a huge time gap between AC 1 and 2. Both were great games for their time.

grim0187
grim0187

 @method115

 This is a joke, right? Story was convoluted? You play through the eyes of your ancestor. Your trying to stop the Templars from controlling the masses in present day. The world is about to end because of aliens. Hard to understand for you?

 

Gameplay seemed weaker? Umm, it had everything the first game had and ADDED to it. How is that weaker.

Evtutchenk0
Evtutchenk0

 @method115  comparing assassin's creed 2 to ac1 is your biggest mistake, AC2 is much better than AC1, as it has more content and the plot is more complex, whilst AC1 shows all that i have at the first assassination missionbut the sequels to AC2 are terrible, ACB just sucks terribly, and ACR is a little better but doesn't have anything to add to Ezio's quest, it could've just ended at AC2 and moved on to AC3

ibudimir
ibudimir

 @method115 AC 2 is 100 times better than AC 1...i think I don't need to explain why...you don't know what are talking about....

AceMarine45
AceMarine45

 @Devchi

I also like to add, i agree with you about the setting. Im american and seeing the trailers for the AC just reminds me of my boring History classes. It is the part of history every school smashes into their student's heads.

 

I much rather see a part of history i have not studied.

method115
method115

 @Evtutchenk0 I agree AC2 has more content but  a lot of that content just wasn't fun to me. Like getting that secret armor was just boring IMO. All I admit that the town building was fun but I finished that so quickly into the game. As far as the story it was more complex but it appeared to be so complex but unecessarily so. 

 

I do plan on giving AC2 another chance because I liked #1 so much that I want to try and beat  #2 the overall story of those games seems to be really great.

ali1111111
ali1111111

 @ibudimir  let us speak the truth ..AC2  was good  but the first was  better just look at the combat  in the second  for E:YOU KILL FOUR GUARDS WITH YOU HIDDEN BLADE AND THEY STILL LOOKING AT>> YOU  KILL THE FIRST ONE  AND THE 2 AND THE 3 AND 4 AND NO  BODY ATTEMPT TO ATTACK  THE COMBAT IS  MAD  AND  AC2 WAS TOO MUCH EASY  ?>>> ACTUALLY  IN 2 YOU CANT DIE BY THE GUARDS   UNLIKE THE FIRST ONE!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

Axe_Armor
Axe_Armor

 @ibudimir AC2 was the moment the series got stale. That's why I'm excited for III. I will fix what 2 did.

method115
method115

 @ibudimir Right I couldn't possibly have a different opinion then you on games right? Does everybody who disagrees with your "not know what they are talking about"?

AceMarine45
AceMarine45

 @Brokazaki

 Your right Bokazaki. Till the 7 year war, france owned more land then the British, so did the Spanish. Infact, america has just as much, if not more, of a spanish heritage then britain. However, it is very likely this game is going to focus mainly on virginia and the carolinas, which were part of new england.

poloalmo
poloalmo

 @Hiroo4 Pfff, never mind. Now I remember why I never post anything on this god damn website.

Hiroo4
Hiroo4

 @poloalmo Controls are excellent. What are you talking about?

grim0187
grim0187

 @poloalmo

 Maybe you need to replay it, this time try not using big meaty claws to grip the controller with. You'll find it alot easier. Also, try not to bash the buttons like a raging ape.

Evtutchenk0
Evtutchenk0

 @grim0187 ACB awesome? the plot of ACB feels like that they only made that game because of the Borgias, that on AC2 were only represented by the Pope, and in the real world the one that really were the center of attention was his son that wanted to conquer Italy, it could've ended pretty well on AC2 but they had to overextend the Plot with meaningless conversations that added almost nothing new to the Assassin's creed universe

method115
method115

 @ibudimir I agree with you on many of your points. I cant really comment on the story as I didnt finish the game but it seemed very confusing. I do plan on giving this game another chance though. While a lot of stuff in AC1 was repetitive I liked it. It wasnt GOTY or anything but it was fun. AC2 the story was so confusing they throw like ten different names at your from the get go. Ac2 the missions were different but not as fun all the time.

ibudimir
ibudimir

 @method115 I don't mean to offend you with anything, just commenting...Let's start with the gameplay: AC2 much more different missions,  weapons, moves....AC1: basic weapons, same missions in every town...  Story: AC2-one of the greatest I've seen in games and allot of people agree with that...I don't have to mention Leonardo, night mission in Venice....  AC1: i don't even rember the story...something like - kill 10 people and game finished... I rest my case...

FlyBalla69
FlyBalla69

 @Axe_Armor

 The game actually staled in Brotherhood and Revelations, many of the features in assassins creed 2 was new to everyone compared to the first game.