Assassin's Creed: Unity Eyes On Impressions

Assassin's Creed: Unity Eyes On Impressions

When the end credits to Assassin’s Creed 4 started I was happy. I knew that now that the franchise had diverted into a world of pirates and swashbuckling that it was going to be easy for me to break away from the series. There was no going back to the Assassin’s Creed I used to know, the leaked images of French Revolution era Paris simply looked too much like a big step backwards.

Yet here I am, hours after getting to see a demonstration of AC:U, saddened that I can’t be playing the game right now. What I saw today, from the scenes being played out to the return of the importance of stealth, filled me with nostalgia. I was instantly reminded of the original Assassin’s Creed that launched almost 7 years ago; Unity looks to be exactly what Ubisoft were originally trying to create.

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The first thing we were shown was a bustling city from the eyes of our new protagonist (Arno Dorian) from the rooftops of Paris. Bio Jade Adam Granger, one of the game designers working on Unity, tells us that unlike all of the previous AC titles, getting down from these rooftops is easier than ever before. No longer will you have to keep an eye out for a haystack to drop into. With the new freerun system they’ve engineered you can climb down a building as quickly and effortlessly as you can ascend them.

Holding the right trigger allows Arno to free-run across things that are on the same level he’s at. Holding RT and A together will allow Arno to climb buildings and facades. Holding RT and B together gives you the new and much needed descend abilities. Dropping from edges, swinging off poles and window sills, all in an effortless and amazingly smooth line down to a lower level. It looked fantastic, and will surely make traversing the enormous map a joy. Bio assured us that if you took all of the islands from AC4 and pushed them together, it’d still be smaller than the recreation of Paris they have in Unity.

And what a recreation it is! For the first time buildings are at a one to one scale and, in doing so, gives the world a very multi-layered look. For the most part previous games have had the rooftops all at a similar height with the occasional taller building to scout from. Here, it was hard to see any set patterns to the heights. Buildings simply looked like buildings, and for the first time they were buildings you could explore. It wasn’t apparent if every building could be entered, but many could not only be entered freely and without a load screen, but events and side missions could be triggered or found within them.

The biggest moment for me was seeing how populated Paris was. Bio assured us that the engine could handle up to 4000 NPCs each with their own AI and each with the ability to interact with the others around them. While I can’t say that we saw that many people on screen (it was still an impressive amount) we did get to see many of the interactions on offer. These interactions occur naturally and are completely dependant on who is interacting with who.

In one instance a peasant stole from one of the wealthy civilians, another saw a random killing in the streets, and a bunch of nosey NPCs alerted us to a side mission that Bio labeled as “murder mystery”. The events can be ignored, or you can intervene and become the hero, and for the first time in the AC series, any side missions can be added to a list so you can come back to it at any point without the game pushing you to complete it now.

Next up we’re shown Unity’s version of Eagle Vision. Essentially it’s the same as before, but this time there are a few more colours added to the mix. You see, Paris isn’t just a haven of military and assassins, this time there are numerous factions that each have a distaste for each other, and each showing as a different colour during Eagle Vision. Need to get past a bunch of guards but don’t want to take them on yourself, simply find a way to coerce one of their opposing factions in their direction and make your way past as the two factions fight to the death.

We’re nearing the end of the demonstration now as we near Arno’s target. Bio explains that, like earlier entries in the series, assassinations can be done in numerous ways so it’s best to stand back, get an eye for your surroundings and the best point of attack. Sure, you can probably run straight through the crowd and skewer him with the blade sheathed by your side, or you can turn it into an artform.

Bio climbs the nearest building, shows off the freerun system a little more and then perches just beyond a guillotine where our target is executing a Parisian. As the blade comes down the crowd erupts into cheers. Not all of them cheer though, it’s not scripted, each AI NPC is reacting in their own way, and this is shown again as we see Arno leap from his perch and push the hidden blade into Xavier’s neck. Some run screaming while others stick around to see what might happen next.

I managed to get some quick fire questions in before leaving the Ubisoft booth so here are some bullet point answers to some very important questions.

  • Unity does not include “Brotherhood” techniques found in AC: Brotherhood and AC: Revelations.
  • Outside of 4 player co-op there will be NO multiplayer (they felt it was too far removed from assassins).
  • The game can be played from start to end of the story as a solo experience, but co-op missions are co-op only.
  • Like AC4, you are the person using the Animus.
  • 1 to 1 scale of buildings, but not Paris.

Bio mentioned in passing that the world that she had a part of creating is incredibly immersive, which prompted me to ask one last question. Would there be any form of Oculus Rift/Morpheus support for the PC and PS4 versions? Rift users have been begging for immersive worlds to walk through and experience, and this would be a great way to experience the Animus for real. Her answer? No… but she absolutely loved the idea. Hopefully something we see being incorporated in later entries to the series.

Assassin’s Creed: Unity is looking absolutely gorgeous, and I have yet to see a game look as populated and lived in as this one. October 28th can’t come soon enough.

Assassin's Creed Unity
+ Up to 4000 AI NPC on screen at once.
- It’s not out yet.
"I have yet to see a game look as populated and lived in as this one."
- Assassin's Creed Unity
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Comments Comments (21)

Posted by jtbthatsme
On Friday 13 Jun 2014 11:15 AM
I've only finished one AC game an just started AC3 I am really enjoying these and with the release of Black Flag last year and this one upcoming I am certainly going to be enjoying it for some time yet.

This game looks great from the demo they've shown to date.
Posted by drunk_monk
On Friday 13 Jun 2014 12:15 PM
Im glad this sounds as good as I expected
Posted by tom_nz
On Friday 13 Jun 2014 2:37 PM
4000 AI on screen at once? What the hell? That is crazy talk! What could Dead Rising 3 do?

This is going to bring me back to the AC series. Looks so much fun!
Posted by LeftoversNZ
On Friday 13 Jun 2014 2:42 PM
This new gen take they've made on Unity looks fantastic and looks set to breath new life into the franchise which even for me as a big fan of the series has felt it getting a little stale. The sheer number of NPCs on screen, actual interiors and the fact they've factored in the climbing down buildings now is a great start to this early look at the game.
Posted by ReaperCrew
On Friday 13 Jun 2014 3:00 PM
Excellent, sounds like they've fixed the annoying instance during the chase/race sequences where if you didn't do it perfectly, you'd end up climbing instead of continuing your free run. Number of times Edward tried to run up a flag pole on me...

No multiplayer, kind of shame I was hoping for some 4v4 or FFA matches.
Posted by kiwiatlarge
On Friday 13 Jun 2014 5:30 PM
I would consider going back to AC if it is developed just for the new gen, and if it went back to what made AC2 great... ie: not sending assassins off on missions, not tower games, not hunting and climbing trees and roaming mediocrely small and unexciting cities, and not pirate ship sailing...
Posted by Gonzala
On Friday 13 Jun 2014 5:38 PM
I've yet to play AC but the whole series looks great!
Posted by ALK3MiST
On Saturday 14 Jun 2014 12:02 AM
i can't help but feel let down. i was hoping for a total break from this renaissance looking era. maybe this should've been the first ac we got.
but after my b****n, i know i'm gonna get it and love it none the less.
Posted by Coddfish
On Saturday 14 Jun 2014 4:52 AM
13 June 2014, 05:30 PM Reply to kiwiatlarge
I would consider going back to AC if it is developed just for the new gen, and if it went back to what made AC2 great... ie: not sending assassins off on missions, not tower games, not hunting and climbing trees and roaming mediocrely small and unexciting cities, and not pirate ship sailing...
Unity is developed just for new gen :)
Posted by kiwiatlarge
On Saturday 14 Jun 2014 11:02 AM
14 June 2014, 04:52 AM Reply to Coddfish
Unity is developed just for new gen :)
Yep, so, so far it looks like it is ticking the boxes for me.... It's a hard one. Brotherhood and Revelations were essentially expansion packs, so you could argue didn't push things enough.... 3 and 4 took the focus away from the fabulous architecture and cities, and La Parkour style clambouring up high heights...
Posted by scotteffone
On Saturday 14 Jun 2014 2:04 PM
I've never played an Assassin's Creed game so will hopefully get in to it with this. Looks nice.
Posted by reavers
On Saturday 14 Jun 2014 2:20 PM
The whole co-op thing is really nice. Here's hoping that they can bring more interesting and fresh elements to the game like the co=op
Posted by CloudAxel16
On Saturday 14 Jun 2014 4:06 PM
I'm so glad I can play this solo. It's just how I play games and forced co-op would have ruined it for me.
Posted by Rahulk
On Saturday 14 Jun 2014 9:06 PM
This game looks great and I look forward to playing it, If I manage to get a new console any time soon. AC3 was a bit disappointing, loved AC4. I wonder if there will be any AC games for last gen consoles.
Posted by Jas
On Saturday 14 Jun 2014 9:53 PM
sounds good very excited for this game
Posted by Bappernz
On Sunday 15 Jun 2014 6:45 AM
sounds like i should start saving to buy this one then
Posted by Sovereign
On Sunday 15 Jun 2014 12:21 PM
Can not wait for this.
Posted by scotteffone
On Sunday 15 Jun 2014 2:47 PM
14 June 2014, 04:06 PM Reply to CloudAxel16
I'm so glad I can play this solo. It's just how I play games and forced co-op would have ruined it for me.
I agree. I like the way watchdogs went in terms of the multiplayer and hope it can be expanded on. I'd like to see more single player games like those where you can also influence other peoples games popping in and out of others seamlessly - essentially the NOCs you currently see become actual players doing their thing.
Posted by jamesg
On Sunday 15 Jun 2014 6:53 PM
I only have 2 Questions before jumping in to ACU:

-Is it Aiden Pearce The One Connected To The Animus?
-Are The Horses Back?

Posted by CoffeeAddict
On Sunday 15 Jun 2014 10:18 PM
Cant wait to see this game in action, but will it include the sailing aspect? That was my favourite part from AC4.
Posted by Frail182
On Monday 16 Jun 2014 10:55 AM
This will be an early Christmas present for me..cant wait to get my hands on this...