Desmond Miles has been through a lot over the past five years. The Assassin’s Creed protagonist has lived through two of his ancestor’s lives, uncovering an ancient prophecy that could mean the end of civilization, all while evading the powerful Abstergo Corporation. The historical settings and constant sense of discovery have made for an incredible story, but all good things must come to an end. In only a few short days, Desmond is stepping into the Animus one final time, and Assassin’s Creed III is ending the story with a bang.
Long-time fans of the series have grown accustomed to sprawling cities filled with massive buildings to climb and carts of hay to hide in. Assassin’s Creed III is switching things up, this time focusing on one of the most important moments in history, the American Revolution. Desmond must step into the shoes of Connor, a half-English, half-Mohawk who is forced to play both sides of the war, meeting historical figures like Benjamin Franklin and John Adams. Among the Patriots and Redcoats, the Assassins and Templars are still heavily involved in their own private war, and Connor has been dragged into the middle from an attack on his home.
The new setting is a drastic change in pace from previous games in the series. Much of the game takes place in smaller settlements and vast wilderness, though cities like Boston and New York serve as major locations for the story. With such a vastly unique setting, Ubisoft has made several changes to the tried-and-true gameplay mechanics that have, until now, remained untouched. The free-running mechanic that has been featured so prominently throughout the series has been adapted to allow Connor access to the treetops, and he can quickly make his way through the wilderness with the use of only a single button.
Climbing is not gone, however. The bigger cities still have plenty of large buildings to scale, and players will also be able to explore cliffs along the shoreline. Of course, the frontier is a wild land, and players will constantly have to be on the lookout for aggressive animals. Wolves, bears, and elks can all be deadly if they catch you off-guard, though players also have the ability to hunt and skin these animals for profit.
Previous games in the series have focused on stealthy approaches to taking out assassination targets, but Assassin’s Creed III is focusing on the brutality of war, and it can be seen in Connor’s new combat abilities. Where facing off against several opponents at once was a dangerous situation, the new fluid combat gives players the tools to effectively take on large groups of enemies. Connor can dual wield hatchets, steal enemies’ firearms for quick kills, and make use of his bow for long range kills. There are still missions that require a bit of finesse, but expect a lot of hand-to-hand combat.
One of the biggest additions to the game is the impressive naval combat. While Ubisoft has not mentioned exactly how Connor becomes captain of a ship, players will find themselves in control of an entire warship. Protecting merchant vessels and destroying enemy ships makes for some very exciting gameplay, as cannon fire shatters the wooden frames and debris scatters across the ocean. There is even a full weather system in place, and the seas can be become extremely dangerous and unpredictable during heavy storms.
Graphically, Ubisoft has managed to improve upon the already-impressive character models and settings. Animations are very fluid and realistic, and the snowy frontier lands and open seas are among the most beautiful scenery the gaming world has seen.
Much of the focus has been on Connor’s mission, but Assassin’s Creed III marks the end of Desmond’s tale, as well. Throughout the series, Desmon has been living through the Animus, a device that allows people to experience their ancestor’s memories. The theory is that memories are not just experiences kept hidden away in a person’s brain, but they become “genetic memory,” actual bits of data that can be passed down through genes. It is clear that Desmond has been learning from his ancestor’s memories, picking up new skills as he lives through their eyes. Ubisoft has mentioned that there will be a greater focus on Demond himself this time around, and players may even get to play as him to take down the Abstergo corporation once and for all. After all, he was truly born to be an Assassin.
All good things must come to an end. Assassin’s Creed III launches on October 30. Check out Ubisoft’s demo walkthrough below.