Home Editorial Assassin’s Creed 3 impressions from New York Comic Con

Shambling into New York Comic Con, I checked my to-do list. It was short, but some semblance of order was necessary if I was going to meet my goals for the convention.

  1. Cover Assassin’s Creed 3
  2. Do not touch the filthy masses
  3. Play at least one Wii U title
  4. Give out 4,000 business cards

Items 3–4 weren’t top priority, so I made my way directly to the Ubisoft booth. I needed to experience whatever Assassin’s Creed 3 demonstration they had to offer.

 

A religious experience

There were no video or gameplay stations showing off the AC3. Instead, the company reps directed me towards a huge black cube inscribed with intricate golden script, not unlike the holy Kaaba. Much like the sacred relic, it was surrounded by devout worshippers who, in many cases, had made a harrowing pilgrimage for to reach this blessed place. The small building hummed with an otherworldly energy and, as I approached, the meaning of the golden script revealed itself to me as if by miracle. In English, they read “Assassin’s Creed 3,” and also listed a series of disclaimers about filming, photos, and praying a certain number of times a day. You know, the usual PR stuff.

Waiting around for the doors/vault/interdimensional portal to open, I came to the realization that the black cube was, in fact, a theater. And, just as I began to piece together the spiritual meaning of this revelation, the cube hissed open, a figure beckoning from within.

My newfound spirit guide, Elisa, handed me a small plastic bag and directed me towards a row of seats that, in the following days, would be smothered by the butts of countless nerds. It made me feel like I was, for the first time in my life, a part of something bigger than myself.

Once we were in position, Elisa directed our attention back to the plastic bags we’d been handed. “As you’re making yourselves comfy, please inflate your tomahawks.” These blow-up weapons were to be brandished heartily whenever something awesome was happening on screen. You know, like an assassination or a particularly eloquent reading from the Declaration of Independence. Since I am 1/512th Native American, I was only 1/512 offended by this display. The other 511/512ths of me were pumped to watch redcoats get murdered!

Close enough.

My attention returned to the screen. Previously it had glimmered with demo footage and the sounds of the colonies, but it was now transitioning to what seemed like an Assassin’s Creed 3 title screen. “Valkyrie” of the Frag Dolls would be providing a live demonstration of the game, controlling Connor as he fought, hunted, and indifferently strolled through AC3’s early portions.

Since the Frag Dolls are well known for their social contributions to gaming culture and feminism, I was super excited to have “V” giving the demonstration. Unfortunately, Valkyrie was standing in the back of the room, so there was no way to ogle her and the game at the same time. I resolved to Google pictures of her later, keeping my current focus on Assassin’s Creed 3.

 

Kill, kill, skin, kill

The game immediately opened on the Frontier, the wide-open space that Connor will presumably be defending from encroaching settlers trying to take his native land. Valkyrie piloted our newest Assassin through the forest, tracking a group of deer who, one can guess, were actually redcoat Templar agents in disguise. After following them for some distance through snow and trees, Valkyrie took her avatar into a new, plant-based blending zone (called “bushes” by Ubisoft), where she was able to hide long enough to land the killing blow on the Brits-in-deer-clothing.

But, just as with Assassin’s Creed Brotherhood and Revelations, there are multiple warring factions in game, and no sooner had Connor gutted the convincingly deer-like Templar did another menace arise. This time, an Ottoman warrior disguised as a wolf made an appearance. (Since real wolves hunt in packs, you could tell it was a disguise. Also, he had a really noticeable zipper.) Pulling out his era-appropriate revolver, Connor dispatched the Ottoman and half a dozen real wolves that happened to have strayed too close to the battle.

Walking into a conveniently close colonial encampment, Valkyrie was able to peddle off her newly acquired skins to a leatherworker. While one shudders to imagine what quilt he’ll be stitching out of redcoat skin, it’s probably best not to think about it. The transaction was completed quickly, with the monetary gains quickly disappearing into the extremely minimalistic HUD. Yes, gone are the days of gigantic weapon prompts, Brotherhood meters, and 3D DNA strands. Instead, Assassin’s Creed 3 aims to immerse the player with fewer on-screen elements and more wolf-shooting, kind of how it was in the original Assassin’s Creed.

 

Mission extremely possible

A prime example of an 18th-century soldier.

After interacting with the townspeople and hearing all about their insignificant accomplishments, Connor was ready to attack a nearby British fort. As piddling human soldiers trudged through waist-deep snow, Connor engaged his Assassin Vision® and took to the trees. He skipped deftly and silently between ice-covered branches, coming to rest above a small group of British soldiers who, most likely, were around 16 years of age and had never known the love of a woman.

…And they never would, because seconds later, Valkyrie descended upon the first boy with Connor’s signature Native American kunai. Dangling the adolescent from his throat, she accosted his colleague, using his virgin body to absorb a cascade of incoming gunfire.

At that point, the remaining redcoats were essentially helpless, reloading their muskets in futility. Connor mercilessly slew the lot of them, ending their hopes, dreams, and aspirations with the unforgiving edge of his steel. Then, just as the last of their withered husks fell into the snow, a large, brutish enemy appeared. Able to block one of Connor’s basic attacks, he was quickly felled by another, different basic attack. As the giant’s body fountained blood, we cheered and waved our tomahawks, much in the manner my tribal ancestors would when completing a sacred harvest ceremony.

 

Dodge, duck, dive, and dodge

Immediately following the altercation, Connor was presented with a “Snitch” character he had to catch, lest the redcoats win. The exact gameplay reasoning wasn’t completely explained, but it’s my understanding that when one team catches the Snitch, the battle ends instantly. Valkyrie was quick to anticipate its darting movements, securing the treasure violently with her tomahawk. 150 points to Gryffindor.

Making his way around a rocky outcropping, Connor showed off a few new maneuvers:

  • Freestyle rock climbing
  • Freestyle snow walking
  • Freestyle tree swinging
  • Freestyle falling down a hill

These actions demonstrated a new palette of motion capture, as well as novel considerations for terrain navigation. Upon reaching a particularly scenic bluff, our hero was well positioned to complete his mission of murdering a Templar target.

We weren’t told why this particular Templar had to die, but it’s probably related to tea, or taxes, of treading on snakes. He looked like the kind of jerk who could tread on helpless snakes all day, so Valkyrie tiptoed into his base, blew up his gunpowder reserves, and stabbed him right in the snake-treading back. With that, the demonstration ended, and we were escorted out of the Assassin’s Creed 3 ceremonial cube.

 

Assassin’s Creed revelations (the literal kind)

With every virtual redcoat, deer, and and wolf in the simulation killed and skinned, there wasn’t more to see inside the demo booth. I made my way to the Ubisoft desk, where a representative agreed to answer a few questions about Assassin’s Creed 3.

Immediately it was evident that this particular professional didn’t have a large amount of experience beyond the kind of gameplay segments we’ve seen elsewhere, but I thought I’d ask about general impressions of AC3.

  • Regarding difficulty, Assassin’s Creed 3 “would be fairly easy for returning players, as well as new players.” There were no details about controlling in-game difficulty, though the familiar tiered mission objectives were hinted at.
  • I asked if Connor wouldn’t be a bit too conspicuous for social stealth, and the rep said AC3 would rely more on “environmental blending.” Connor would be using bushes, trees, and snow to his advantage more than he could rely on passing crowds. It was also revealed that an Assassin Brotherhood mechanic would be returning in AC3, though in a different form: fellow assassins can  disguise as redcoats, escorting him into an area as a presumed prisoner.
  • When queried about the goals of the Templar in the storyline, I was told “the Templar agenda will be significantly more clear” and that any moral gray areas that remain in the Templar/Assassin struggle would be cleared out.

Not nearly enough people cosplay as Altair. It’s probably because of the whole finger amputation “thing.”

Although I wasn’t able to extract a great number of answers, the experience was overall positive. I got to see the game in all its soldier-slaughtering glory in person, after all. I was generally impressed with the animations, voice acting, and graphics, though I retain my previous reservations about the overall difficulty of Assassin’s Creed.

Hopefully, Assassin’s Creed 3 delivers the action, strategy, lore, and heart that fans of the series deserve at this point in the game’s life cycle.

If not, I guess there’s always the multiplayer component.

After all, it worked for Revelations, right?

9 replies to this post
  1. Well, since we’ll be switching protagonists in AC3, I guess there’s finally a reason to explainably and permanently wipe all of the weapons Ezio has accrued in his forty years of facestabbery. Because seriously, we have swords, daggers, throwing knives, bombs, different bombs, different bombs you’ll never use because they don’t help you stab people, a crossbow, poison blade, poison darts, the ability to kill anyone whose face you don’t like from anywhere by whistling to your buddies, the ability to kill everyone whose face you don’t like, and a freakin’ GUN, all of which I never used because countering equals win and the hidden blades’ fastest speed means the most counters, what more could you add? A magical orb that makes people around you die by invisible, magical versions of your buddies?

    Oh, I guess Altaïr had that one too. And I bet you Connor will be running around with even more weapons in addition to the old ones by the fifth mission. Seriously, Ubisoft. Tomahawk, hidden blade, throwing knives, gun for emergencies. You don’t need any more! Maybe force you to actually go back to the design of one blade for the majority of the game like in Brotherhood, too. You’re not a demigod slaughtering everything in sight, leave that to God of War, or any hack’n’slash, for that matter, you’re a single man, facing an army and getting his target anyway because he’s stealthy!

    I think I may be digressing, but honestly, that’s what everybody here is thinking. And they’re going to continue with the same concept for multiplayer, too. Just let me ask you this, can it possibly be intended for a game to regularly break into chases, not due to noobish hunters, but due to hunters trying to escape their prey who knows they’ll get the stun?

    • Good points all around. I don’t like carrying 500 weapons. Perhaps another option would be giving you 3 weapon slots and making you switch them out based on the mission.

    • Ok lemme propose a new weapon for the assasins in general. A hidden gun shooting blade that explodes into a cloud of poisin covered invisible magical freinds to do your bidding. BOOM problem of to many weapons solved!!!

  2. I remember hearing rumours that you may be able to fight on the side of the Redcoats in this game. I hope that’s still true as it just feels wrong to be constantly fighting the ‘good’ fight for a bunch of rebel upstarts.

    • Given that Desmond (or whatever faceless plot device you’ll ‘play’ as) is in the future and knows what happens, he’d have to be pretty stupid NOT to want to fight with the redcoats. Who wouldn’t want to join the British in every situation possible, anyway?

  3. I think they should (if you were actually listening to me speak instead of reading stupid words you would catch my sutble sarcasm) let M.Night Shamalamamamamamama direct the AC movie so that everyone is even more confused about the movies plot as compared to the video game, also…beans…that is all.

  4. In Brotherhood and Revelations the hardest aspect of the game was ……………. Selecting a Weapon you actually wanted !!

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