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