Boats, rope darts and meat shields--what's new in Assassin's Creed III

Assassin's Creed III adds plenty of new features to the series' trademark climbing and assassinating, as we found out in a recent three-hour demo.


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Assassin's Creed III is the fourth game in the series in as many years, so the main tenets of it's gameplay are pretty established at this stage. Thankfully, Ubisoft is implementing plenty of new features in its latest game, as we found out when we recently got to spend three hours exploring both Boston and the Colonial Frontier.

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Our demo started in Connor Kenway's homestead of Davenport circa 1773. Straight away, we were introduced to the new rope dart weapon, or "shéng biāo" as it's called in the game. You can fire this weapon at enemies and pull them towards you, but it really comes into its own when used from stealthy positions. For example, you can hide in the grass and pull your enemies into the overgrowth for a silent kill, or shoot from an elevated position such as a tree, then jump down and use your weight to leave them suspended from the branch.

Our extended play took place from Sequence 6, where we were allowed to tread whatever path we liked through the game. Our first encounter was with a woman who had been attacked by poachers just outside our house, so naturally we headed off into the wilderness to take care of said poachers and try out the new tree climbing in the game. Jumping from branch to branch works in much the same way as jumping from building to building--you can hold down buttons and Connor will mostly take care of the rest. Exploring a little further, we also traded items with travellers, got attacked by wolves, and lost £50 on a game of checkers (or English draughts).

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Before long though, we'd decided to head on horseback and ride to Boston, where we were told we could meet famous historical allies such as Samuel Adams and enemies such as William Johnson. Boston offered all the usual Assassin's Creed fare, including View Points to scale, assassins to recruit and items to collect (this time the collectable is almanac pages). We were taked with plenty of unpleasantness towards the British, such as blowing up tea supplies, defending Frenchmen from tax collectors, and generally taking out the invading armies where possible.

With the more modern setting comes technological advances, with more enemies equipped with guns. This means that the combat system has been tweaked slightly--if an enemy lunges at you with a bayonet, you can disarm them either by taking the weapon or using the momentum to drive the weapon into the ground. When you're engaged in melee combat, you sometimes see guards line up to take a shot at you--the best way to combat this is to grab one of your enemies as a meat shield.

Perhaps the biggest new addition to Assassin's Creed is the naval action that takes place on the Eastern seaboard. We went to the docks, jumped aboard a boat and headed out to check for British activity. It wasn't long before we were escorting a ship down to Martha's Vineyard. You take control of the ship's wheel to dictate direction, and then tell your crew whether to sail at full or half mast. You also control the canons, firing at ships or mines that are in your path. Eventually, we hit a fortification that demanded multiple attack runs, and its own cannon bombardments required us to take cover or take major damage.

At its core, Assassin's Creed III offers all the same action you've come to expect from the series, but Ubisoft has certainly added a lot of new mechanics. There are even more new features to be seen in our video preview (including moose fighting!), so make sure you check it out. You can play the game for yourself when it launches on PC, Xbox 360 and PS3 at the end of October, and on Wii U in November.


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