Mul­ti­for­mat and PC

Pub­lisher/de­vel­oper Ubisoft (Mon­treal) For­mat PC, PS4, Xbox One Re­lease Oc­to­ber 28


As­sas­sin’s Creed: Unity, No Man’s Sky, The Crew, Call Of Duty: Ad­vanced War­fare, Dead Is­land 2, The Di­vi­sion, Rain­bow Six: Siege, Far Cry 4, Dread­nought, Hunt: Hor­rors Of The Gilded Age, Bat­tle­Cry, Metal Gear Solid V: The Phan­tom Pain, The Evil Within, Mir­ror’s Edge, Rise Of The Tomb Raider, Dragon Age: In­qui­si­tion, Bat­tle­field: Hard­line, Des­tiny, The Witcher III: Wild Hunt, Abzu, Bat­man: Arkham Knight, Coun­ter­spy, Cri­te­rion’s Un­ti­tled Game, Cup­head, EarthNight, H1Z1, Hot­line Mi­ami 2: Wrong Num­ber, In­side, Lara Croft And The Tem­ple Of Osiris, Lucky’s Tale, Mag­icka 2, #IDARB, Od­dworld: Abe’s Od­dysee New ’N’ Tasty, Pil­lars Of Eter­nity, Star Wars: Bat­tle­front, Ti­tan Souls, The Ta­los Prin­ci­ple, Alien: Isolation, Grand Theft Auto V, Evolve

As­sas­sin’s Creed is go­ing back to its roots. Af­ter the se­ries em­pha­sised the hor­i­zon­tal in As­sas­sin’s Creeds III and IV, it’s re­turn­ing to the cramped al­ley­ways, packed town squares and, cru­cially, ver­tig­i­nous climbs of the early games, which al­ways felt a bet­ter fit for its mix of freerun­ning and so­cial stealth than the two­s­torey build­ings of the 18th­cen­tury United States or Black Flag’s Caribbean wa­ter­ways. Those games were cer­tainly vast, but they weren’t very high. Unity’s vi­sion of Revo­lu­tion-era Paris is both. It’s three times the size of Black Flag’s dry land­mass put to­gether, while Notre Dame, which tow­ers over the land­scape here, is four times the size of Brother­hood’s Ro­man Colos­seum.

The most strik­ing statistic of all, how­ever, is in ev­i­dence when new pro­tag­o­nist Arno Do­rian looks down on a throng of Parisians as­sem­bled to wit­ness an ex­e­cu­tion. There are more than 5,000 people down there, and many of them are AI-driven. The ben­e­fits of mak­ing an en­gine ex­clu­sively for pow­er­ful new hard­ware are plain to see.

The en­gine has been put to fine me­chan­i­cal use, too, with vastly im­proved stealth and com­bat sys­tems, the for­mer a stance ac­ti­vated with a but­ton press and the lat­ter do­ing away with the way op­po­nents in pre­vi­ous games at­tacked one at a time. Af­ter six games in as many years, freerun­ning is also be­ing over­hauled: the right trig­ger and the A but­ton still sends you clam­ber­ing up­wards, but now RT and B will send Do­rian spi­ralling grace­fully down to terra firma. Haystacks will still fea­ture, but as hid­ing places; their im­prob­a­ble role in soft­en­ing the im­pact of a 400-foot swan dive are gone for good.

The head­line ad­di­tion is a set of four­player co-op mis­sions, even if Ubisoft’s de­ci­sion to make all four avatars male led to a news cy­cle it hadn’t fore­seen. The co-op game­play shown so far has seemed rather scripted, but such is the na­ture of the E3 demo, and Ubisoft prom­ises a more dy­namic ap­proach to its quest de­sign. Lose track of your tar­get in a chase, for ex­am­ple, and you won’t fail the mis­sion, but will have to hunt them out again in­stead.

There are con­cerns, most of which can be traced to Ubisoft’s kitchen-sink ap­proach to open worlds. The words ‘added to quest log’ pro­voke a spe­cial sort of ter­ror, and Do­rian land­ing on a rooftop to a bar­rage of icons show­ing the morass of groundlevel dis­trac­tions sug­gests Ubisoft is in no mood to change. We’ll find out soon, since Unity is that rarest of E3 2014 breeds: a new-gen-only game out this year.

As­sas­sin’s Creed:Unity is fur­ther ev­i­dence Ubisoft is com­mit­ted to back­ing new-gen­er­a­tion con­soles with new-gen­er­a­tion games. This year’s PS3 and 360 As­sas­sin’s Creed ti­tle is be­ing built by an­other Ubisoft team

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