Assassin's Creed Unity: Dead Kings Review

...and you will know us by the trail of dead.

Whether it's a sequel from an annualized racing series or an expansion pack to a well-received game, there's comfort in the familiar--and, potentially, boredom as well. Dead Kings, the first downloadable content for Assassin's Creed Unity, is an unfortunate example of the perils of taking the beaten path and the design bugs that go with it. So it's a minor blessing that protagonist Arno Dorian returns without a thirst for vengeance or a love interest to protect, his two motivations from the main game. All he wants to do is leave late 18th century Paris...almost as much as I do.

It is from a "one last heist" premise that Dead Kings springs forth. Without the need for money or emotional attachments to complicate the situation, Arno comes into the job as a brooding ex-assassin who just wants to get away from all the dark memories of his time in the city. This is also why Dead Kings is set in the Parisian suburb of Saint-Denis rather than in Paris proper. Safe passage to Egypt is Arno's reward; all he has to do is find a manuscript and solve several tomb puzzles. One would think that a ticket from Paris to Egypt would be less complicated, but it wouldn't be much of a game if Arno just spent a day pickpocketing for boat fare, now would it?

The Marquis de Sade, one of the highlights of Assassin’s Creed Unity, makes a welcome return.
The Marquis de Sade, one of the highlights of Assassin’s Creed Unity, makes a welcome return.

The sight of a new set of vertical bars in the Progress Tracker provides an initial (and irrational) hope that Dead Kings might aspire to more than the usual half dozen story missions expected from Ubisoft's post-release add-ons. Suppress your enthusiasm early: aside from one bar devoted to tracking the six main assignments, the other columns represent an unremarkable swath of optional missions and collectable trackers.

Dead Kings is a wholly unsurprising sampler pack of many of the mission types from Assassin's Creed Unity, right down to the easy-to-solve environmental puzzles. Tailing objectives are painless, as are the foot chases, which both benefit from thick urban designs. As one who was indifferent to the much flaunted crowd densities of Assassin's Creed Unity, I greatly preferred maintaining pursuits from rooftop to rooftop even if my target was on the street. A combination of patience, guard patrol observations, and an ample supply of stealth gear ensures that you can clear a few missions completely undetected, if that's your preference.

No Caption Provided
Of all the Parisian characters sporting inexplicable English accents, these Raiders have some of the strongest cockney accents.
Of all the Parisian characters sporting inexplicable English accents, these Raiders have some of the strongest cockney accents.

If you guessed that the title “Dead Kings” implies that tombs are to be raided, then you are absolutely correct. Much as in the search for the Well of the Souls in Raiders of the Lost Ark, you have an advantage over the looters desecrating catacombs for treasure. Dr. Jones had better information than the Nazis; Arno has wall climbing skills, which is all he needs to get ahead of the Raiders, the new faction of this DLC. They're not an especially bright bunch. In fact, compared to elite guards, alley gangs, and other factions from prior Assassin's Creeds, the Raiders are no more than annoying thugs with longer lifebars.

As if to recognize that we may not have patience for these bullies, Ubisoft included one of the most useful and potent weapons in franchise history: the Guillotine Gun. If you can buy into the absurdity of the Animus, then you won’t laugh when I tell you that I assumed that this weapon would fire wide guillotine-inspired blades, like a primitive version of the plasma cutter from Dead Space. The reality is less novel, more practical, and resoundingly brutal. The Guillotine Gun is a bayonet on steroids; two blade swings can take down brutes and the firing mechanism functions as either a grenade or mortar launcher, depending on the distance. As with any high damage weapon in the series, dealing death is utterly satisfying, provided you don't get caught in the blast of your own gunfire.

The completion of a campaign should leave you with the sensation of a job well done. It should not leave you with the relief of knowing that you won't have to endure another second of a mediocre game. I experienced the latter during my playthrough of Assassin's Creed Unity and had similar impressions of Dead Kings, albeit in a slightly more tolerable bite-sized package. This new content is best experienced by those who have yet to complete the main story, since the Guillotine Gun is a sufficient stress relief tool for coping with Unity's glitches (although you will experience the story out of sequence). As much as I appreciated the shift away from the crime investigation premise of Assassin's Creed Unity, sending Arno on a mere fetch quest turns Dead Kings into the blandest kind of open-world adventure, in which a man who used to be a hero is reduced to a mere errand boy.

The Good
The Guillotine Gun is rewardingly lethal no matter the range
Classic Assassin’s Creed mission types have some innate appeal
The Bad
Fighting Raiders is almost as one-dimensional as their personalities
Arno’s new brooding personality makes him less likable
About GameSpot's Reviews
Other Platform Reviews for Assassin's Creed Unity

About the Author

Going into Dead Kings, Miguel had already become familiar with Ubisoft’s vision of Paris after about 20 hours in Assassin’s Creed Unity. (That included a 100-percent sychronization playthrough of the story.) Dead Kings served as a reminder that Miguel dislikes playing a gofer in open world storylines.
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Avatar image for tshipe

I picked up Black Flag for the generally positive reviews after a tour in Shadow of Mordor, which, besides some story line faults, is an awesome fun game that had fluid combat and responsive controls that were spot on. Assassin's creed is terrible. The controls are sluggish, the combat is absolutely boring and unimpressive, and the story was lame. I mean, what is all the hype about? The only good thing was the graphics. I know this isn't the AC getting reviewed here, but Black Flag had good reviews so I decided to try it out. This isn't a quality game by any means; I can't imagine how terrible Unity is with that game actually receiving bad reviews. First and last AC I will ever play. Ubisoft needs to stop this franchise, and people need to open their eyes and stop buying this crap. I mean, how good can a game be when it seems like they release one every 5 months.

Avatar image for lonrot

@tshipe: Actually they release a game every 12 months.

Avatar image for theblackfrog

hmm, is it really that bad? even if its free...?!

Avatar image for Dark_Infinite

Struggled to finish the story of this awful game...I could handle the bugs but come on what were they thinking when they made this story...terrible.

Avatar image for m-kswiss

The fact that "Unity" was the sub title given to this game for technical reasons just goes to show that Ubisoft wasn't trying to make a good story. ACU was just an engine showcase

Avatar image for jakeandrew

@Dark_Infinite: Couldn't agree more.

Avatar image for xscrapzx

Unfortunately, they have taken the series to a place where it has completely lost itself. Being an assassin is no longer impelling or mysterious . It just seems the longer this series drags on the whole Assassin Creed way loses its cache. Maybe because it has been beat to hell over the past few years, but even Black Flag instilled much that the previous games had before it. The story in Unity was hacked, the way people act towards you in the game is even more ridiculous, and the whole point to being an assassin is completely lost. I don't even know why we are Arno, and where does he even stand in the whole universe? What was the purpose of going to France to begin with, and at what point does the Templars and Assassins having involvement with every historic event ever known to man become over done, if hasn't been over done already? I didnt think I would ever say this as I have loved this franchise from the first one, but annual releases and a hacked up game with really no purpose what so ever in the Assassins Creed universe is completely killing the series. Simply adding a ton of content and having more than half of it being broke is a complete waste. Instead of spending that time building broken and crap companion apps more time could have been spent polishing up the story and making Arno mean something in the universe of Assassins Creed, as well as making the game run properly.

Avatar image for lewisholyland

@xscrapzx: You speak very wise words.

Avatar image for Thanatos2k

Laughable that they were at one point thinking of charging for this.

Avatar image for deactivated-58a613a89f5e9

I've been playing the AC series since the original game. I am not what you would call a "RAGING FAN" at all, the lore and mythos around the animus and it's convoluted stories of magic apples and templars are, frankly, completely lost on me.

That said, the series has shown that despite all the story rubbish they are capable of being highly entertaining games. But dress it up in as much dribble as you like, UNITY is absolute RUBBISH. I accept that if I want a silky smooth framerate at some insane resolution that I need a PC in general. But to play UNITY at it's 15fps in crowded or highly detailed areas is a crap experience. I've played it for maybe 10 hours plus, the more I play it the more I hate it. It just doesn't measure up to the expectations of a AAA title at all. Do yourself a favour.. play 10 hours of UNITY, then jump back to your 360 and play 10 hours of AC: Revelations. Revelations has better gameplay, better performance, a better story and a more "together" and cohesive world to experience.

If Ubisoft keep shipping AC games that vary so wildly in quality there is no doubt that the AC games are destined to die a slow and painful death, and deservedly so. No amount of DLC is going to convince fans that UNITY is anything but a mediocre title at best. You can't polish a turd.


Avatar image for KBABZ

@t1000_v2: The MythBusters actually proved that you can in fact polish poop. But the key there of course is that it's still shit, which is what Unity is: polished shit. Looks pretty, but still shit.

Avatar image for fzazzetta

oh well, Miguel Concepcion is a good reason to stop reading gamespot's reviews.

Avatar image for huntinwabbits

i would love to see there next game in the civil war era or the western times ya know cowboys and natives

Avatar image for spareunicorn

Please, you must not go down the arrogant way of subtitling your work like Kotaku, "...and you will know us by the trail of dead."

Really? Don't be a dick.

Avatar image for chieflion

Tbh ass creed is dead as these kings, until they find a story that makes sense of all the animus nonsense, im a non fan

Avatar image for mr_nee

"Arno’s new brooding personality makes him less likable" I can agree with this. You could see all AC proitagonists morally growing and maturing. Arno's final words of the base game made me think he will go the same way. Instead we get a broke drunkard on path of selfdestruction.

Other than that I rather enjoyed it. It has a TR feel thus far

Avatar image for projectpat72988

Is there no matchmaking for the multiplayer missions? Are you serious? What is this Destiny again. The only choice I have from the menu is to play in private....when I go to the icons it says invite players or play in private. Really?

Avatar image for Criggie

Did anyone actually think it would be good. I for one didnt my pc version of unity still has horrible framerate issues that patch 4 did nothing for..I'm done with ubijoke...I requested a refund and they blamed steam..go figure. Of course the dlc blows...

Avatar image for xsonicchaos

They're no serious thugs if they don't have cockney accents.

Avatar image for frozenuxx

Pfff hahahaha

Avatar image for damelcfc

I had no game breakers but I am aware they did exist so would not say they didn't - what I want to chip in and say is that I'll probably (DL'ing at the minute) enjoy this more than the main game as for me, there is just too much to do in Unity - it does lots and lots of things ok rather than a few things brilliantly - The AC series needs stripping back down to what it does best and why veterans of the series now were attracted to it in the 1st place. I've been steadily going off the game for a while now - so not sure if its the series that's outgrown itself or I have outgrown the series......

Avatar image for silversix_

no wonder they gave it for free LOL

Avatar image for skittymiao

@silversix_: They wouldn't. But after assuming that their reputation would dramatically fall, they gave it for free.

Avatar image for NinthFall

How long is the Dead Kings?

Avatar image for garretthegamer

@NinthFall: few hours long if you do all the stuff there is to do.

Avatar image for skittymiao

30-40 mins if you watch the cutscenes. The Worst DLC ever.................................

Avatar image for m-kswiss

Haha I think the AC3 dlc was the worst. Those animal powers, oh God

Avatar image for taggart77

Thumbs up for the band shout out in the subheader.

Avatar image for garretthegamer

Someone is still salt after the initial release of unity, honestly i only had one or 2 glitches during my playthrough and they weren't game breaking. This DLC was pretty fun, we get to see a depressed Arno near the end of the french revolution where he has basically become a sad fart, but meeting a little boy who still has hope for a better france despite his parents leaving him. It has sort of a "ahhh arno is reborn ending" because the little boy paved arno a happier future knowing he still can make a difference.

There is a bit of content thought with a couple hours of the main story, side missions, and collectibles. I thought raiders were fun to mess with, because all you gotta do is kill the leader then they poop themselves, and it would be funny using the cannon on a pack of 15 of them.

I really liked this DLC, and it was free so you can't complain.

(also cool outfits)

Avatar image for ccehrler

I agree. I really enjoyed AC Unity. The story was very interesting and made one think a little deeper about the meaning of "unity" (Templars and assassins maybe?) he was raised by a Templar and was seeking redemption after all. And yeah he was drunk in DK but his hope for humanity in the end is what makes him more mature and wiser. I never have a problem with glut hong and I loved the gameplay and the different assassinations to do with the hidden blade! I've been a fan of Assassins Creed since it came out in 2007 and still am.

Avatar image for Rojaazu

@garretthegamer: I wish I could say the same about my game experience. Got it on day-one, and after 20 hours of gameplay, the glitches overwhelmed me. They weren't game breaking, no, but they were enough to make me ragequit after getting stuck in a wall, and falling through the floor in different spots on the same mission.

I stopped playing until they finished releasing all the large patches to fix things. So I downloaded the patches and started playing again.. Not even ten minutes into the game, it crashed on me. I sold the game after that. I love Assassins Creed, but I've just lost all interest in Unity. I'll wait until the next one.

Avatar image for xsonicchaos


I think falling through the floor and getting stuck in a wall whithin a mission, forcing you to quit the game, qualifies as gamebreaking.

Avatar image for deathstream


To be fair, those things have long been features of the AC series.

Avatar image for patsfan365

this review just makes it sound like the reviewer is still salty about Unity's rocky launch but doesn't really have anything to criticize about the DLC so he nitpicks. Most negative comments in the review are about the main game and not even the DLC.
"the relief of knowing that you won't have to endure another second of a mediocre game. I experienced the latter during my playthrough of Assassin's Creed Unity"

This new content is best experienced by those who have yet to complete the main story, since the Guillotine Gun is a sufficient stress relief tool for coping with Unity's glitches" (implying the game hasn't been patched by now)

it's a minor blessing that protagonist Arno Dorian returns without a thirst for vengeance or a love interest to protect, his two motivations from the main game"

We get it, you got a bone to pick with Unity, but maybe focus on Dead Kings in a Dead Kings review.

Avatar image for TheBruuz

It's incredible how you can sell the same thing in a different jacket over and over and over and over and over....

Avatar image for SythisTaru

@TheBruuz: This was free. Derp.

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Assassin's Creed Unity More Info

  • First Released Nov 11, 2014
    • PC
    • PlayStation 4
    • Xbox One
    Assassin’s Creed Unity is the next-gen evolution of the blockbuster franchise powered by an all-new game engine. From the storming of the Bastille to the execution of King Louis XVI, experience the French Revolution as never before, and help the people of France carve an entirely new destiny.
    Average Rating729 Rating(s)
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    Developed by:
    Ubisoft Montreal
    Published by:
    Action, Adventure, Third-Person, 3D
    Content is generally suitable for ages 17 and up. May contain intense violence, blood and gore, sexual content and/or strong language.
    Blood and Gore, Intense Violence, Sexual Themes, Strong Language, Use of Alcohol