Eurogamer Expo: Hands on with Assassins Creed 3
Assassins Creed 3 kicked off with a bold cut-scene introducing Connor and the plot of the invading British forces, when the game moves into your hands it immediately feels like a huge step forward for the franchise just because of its sheer size and polish.
Set across different sections of the vastly open frontier, Boston, New York and further beyond, Ubisoft have really given this entry a lot more scope and Lead Designer, Steven Masters, was on hand to take a few minutes and talk about his work on the game
“We chose colonial America because we always choose pivotal moments in history and at that time with the battle for freedom and governance really reflects the battle between the Assassins and Templars, it’s also the start of the first super power so it felt right. We’ve rebuilt everything, the frontier map is the biggest we’ve ever created, its 40% bigger than Rome and Rome was our record. That map in particular was a big risk because its such vast open terrain and with animals to hunt and skin, I wasn’t sure it would work.”
Fortunately it works really well, Free running across beautiful fields feels totally fluid and is a great experience, with trees now an obstacle that can be overcome, swinging from branch to branch provided a whole new dimension to consider when planning executions. While the controls should feel familiar to all assassins, they have been refined somewhat, with free running for example stripped back into a one button command, among other, smaller, changes along with the fight system which has had somewhat of an overhaul, you no longer need to lock into a fight yourself, as soon as an enemy is nearby fight mode kicks in and you’re ready for battle!
All of these ideas, or refinements, at first seemed odd, only serve to further back this feeling of fluidity, making gameplay natural. Missions thankfully remain full of everything you should have come to expect from an AC title, only this time with more parameters added for those of us who are gluttons for punishment. attaining 100% sync in some missions requires you to fulfil more than 3 or 4 bonus goals, this of course is never a bad move, encouraging you to play the game in as many ways as possible.
Collectables have also made a come back, however now in the form of side quests for an infamous pirate (or so he claims) named Peg Leg, who will entrust you to find special trinkets on his behalf scattered throughout the frontier and in some rather tricky patches ready for you to grab. Steven was naturally proud of this addition
“I really love the Peg Leg mission, I think they’re definitely the most meaningful collectible we’ve had so far, a real challenge”
Perhaps the biggest addition though is the decision to finally master the sea. In AC3 there will be sailing missions available putting you at the helm of a huge vessel to protect cargo ships from pirates or take down forts. “The naval missions were a big risk, being so diametrically opposed to our standard gameplay but they fit so well in context and as a new dimension it really pays off” Masters explained and again he was right, these missions are handled beautifully with simple and effective controls mapped out to make an addictive new edge, it’s almost enough to make up for Ubisoft’s past mistakes with their stumbling foray into tower defence elements (AC Revelations, I’m looking at you in shame!).
For me AC3 is doing everything right so far, Ubisoft have taken a step back and gone into this title with fresh eyes, taking away the elements that didn’t work or were maybe shakey from earlier efforts and bolstering everything that did work, all while still being bold enough to add some new features and ideas. Before he left I couldn’t resist asking Masters to look into his crystal ball and spill the beans on the future of the Assassins Creed franchise and indeed if this would be the last we would see of Desmond?
“I can’t say [laughs] but yes, we have a plan.”