It’s that time of year again, when the leaves start to fall, corn fields are cut up into novelty mazes, children dress up in costume and beg for candy, and people break out their heavy jackets as the temperature steadily begins to drop. Yep…it’s the season of releases for the latest installment of the Call of Duty and Assassin’s Creed games.
Annual franchise jokes aside, the latest of the Assassin’s Creed series this year promises to be a revolutionary (see what I did there?) new take on the epic saga of the Templars, Assassins, and the Animus. And with that, here’s five reasons why this year’s release of Assassin’s Creed III should be on your radar:
1) A New Character
Instead of being yet another game to feature the series standouts Ezio and Altair, Assassin’s Creed III will see the introduction of an entirely new character; Connor, a half-British, half-Mohawk Native American assassin living during the Revolutinary War era.
Developers have paid an attention to detail as they’ve crafted Connor, making him into a completely new assassin with a distinct style and feel all his own. With more fluid animation and new combat ideas, Connor will be a much more aggressive and offensive fighter with a special knack for dual wielding weapons. Action is a key element to the gameplay in III, and while he’s hunting down Templars, Connor will be able to knock down enemies, take their weapons, and score a kill, all while on the move. Among many, the most notable weapons used by Connor are the tomahawk, a Chinese rope dart, and of course, the iconic hidden blade strapped to his arm. Other weapons will be available for use throughout Assassin’s Creed III and can be picked up from a number of different locations, each coming with their own advantages and offering players unique ways to score a kill.
2) History That Hits Close to Home
Of all the historical events and time periods covered by games throughout history, the Revolutionary War is one that isn’t necessarily used very often. In AC III, you’ll not only have the opportunity to see the events of the war play out around you, you’ll also get up close and personal with several key historical figures, including Ben Franklin and George Washington.
So how, then, are game makers trying to avoid giving the game a strong pro-’Murica vibe that might be polarizing to international players?
While Connor will be working closely with the Patriots throughout the main story, it should be noted that he’s only interested in hunting down Templars and is using the rebels to help him get close to his enemies (who, incidentially, sit on both sides of the war). Yes, we do know the eventual outcome of the war led to American victory, but the game is meant to stay true to the spirit of Assassin’s Creed by letting the conflict rest with the classic Templars vs. Assassins, all while using the Revolutionary War as a backdrop. Much like the Renaissance-era settings of the previous AC games, the Revolutionary War is a promising theme with its own distinct lore and backstory that gets more and more interesting each time we see new footage of it.
3) An Open, Living World
It’s hard for one to look at the carefully-constructed world of Assassin’s Creed III and not see some parallels between it and Rockstar’s Red Dead Redemption. Playing on ideas of the landscape at the time, III will feature a vast world filled with cities, villages, and the thick forests and lush fields of the frontier.
Within the frontier, Connor will be able to track and hunt prey and sell skins for in-game currency, much like John Marston does in Red Dead Redemption. Connor will also have to deal with predatory hazards such as bears or wolves as he moves through the wild space as well, inviting similarities to the frequent occurrence of being taken down by a random cougar while riding in the mountains.
But it’s not just animals and the vast environment that make the setting of AC III special. While we’re used to seeing the setting around us as scenery, much of the game’s 3D space will be completely accessible instead of serving as mere obstacles to get around. You’ll be able to climb trees and rocks seamlessly and with fluid animations borrowed from actual body mechanics for climbing and moving around such a varied environment, giving the game a realistic and unique feel.
Careful attention has also led to the creation of new crowd mechanics, leading to a much more believable and living world full of humans. NPCs will have their own little conversations, be busy with various tasks, and will be moving throughout the world, no matter where Connor is. You’ll see soldiers cooking at fires in the Patriot camps, scouts closing in on enemy locations in small groups, citizens going about errands, and Connor will even pick up new quests and objectives simply by eavesdropping on conversations. It makes for a believable and robust world the likes of which no Assassin’s Creed game has seen before.
4) Naval Combat
While we’re familiar with all the combat that raged on land, it’s a lesser-known fact that a major part of the Revolutionary War took place at sea in epic naval battles and standoffs.
Developers of Assassin’s Creed III have paid attention to this and have added to the game a naval combat element that introduces some new gameplay mechanics not only revolutionary to the series, but to the idea of ship combat in games as a whole.
With naval combat, players will have the opportunity to take control of an entire ship and its crew, interacting with NPCs and giving them orders as they steer the ship and fire on enemy ships in the water. But it’s not a seamless, easy experience; rather, the whole system naval combat is built upon has many variables and factors that must be considered in order to achieve victory in combat.
A dynamic weather system makes things challenging when storms arise and bring with them unpredictable waters. You’ll have to pay attention to wave patterns, wind, and the way your boat handles them as you steer, all while avoiding the rounds fired upon your ship by enemies and keeping your own ship while sinking. While it’s not pirate or naval combat-only game, it’s still something unique and interesting that promises to be a fresh challenge to Assassin’s Creed fans.
5) New Multiplayer Modes and Conventions
Multiplayer is something Assassin’s Creed has implemented well over the years, and AC III is posturing to be no different. In the game’s multiplayer, you’ll start out with picking one of sixteen characters, each with their own unique feel and use, such as the tank-like Carpenters or the brutal Bears.
After that, you’ll pick one of 14 abilities to arm your character with as they head out for combat. Abilities serve to give you an edge and enhance your playstyle, whether it’s the deceptive Moneybomb that draws masking civilians to you, or the near-invisibility of Glimmer. Each ability gives you the chance to customize your character in a way that best suits you as a player.
Perks such as moving seamlessly through crowds or having a fake body double also allow you an extra amount of opportunity for customization and can be the deciding factor in many gameplay instances.
But perhaps the most interesting part of Assassin’s Creed III’s Multiplayer is its varied modes. You’ll have the chance to prove your skill in every-man-for-himself Deathmatch or work with a team to secure territories in Domination, but one of the new modes in the game includes the cooperative Wolfpack, where players work together against the clock to eliminate targets before time runs out. No matter your play style and preference, the multiplayer of Assassin’s Creed III has something for you, making it sound more and more like an interesting take on the ever-popular multiplayer modes withing gaming.
If you’ve been considering strapping blades to your arms and moving to the woods in order to whet your increasingly painful appetite for Assassin’s Creed III, I’d advise you to take up meditation or some other relaxing activity to help you patiently bide your time until the game’s release. After all, it’s only a few days away and will be on retail shelves in North America this Tuesday, October 30th for the PS3, Xbox 360, and PC (and eventually the Wii U).
And if you do strap blades to your arms and move to the woods, please send in pictures and tell me how you got access to the internet out there. That’s impressive.