Home Editorial Xiant’s early lessons from Assassin’s Creed 3

I’ve been streaming for the past couple days, and I’m beginning to identify a few weaknesses in my playstyle. It’s still too early for me to do an in-depth analysis of my gameplay, but I have some footage stored up for you guys to dissect.

In the next few days, I’ll be posting two of my best recorded games. Keep in mind, these are good by my neophyte standards. I get first in both games, but that’s more due to the lack of skill in my enemies than any ability on my part.

In the meantime, here’s a quick rundown of where I’m faltering. For those of you with expertise, I beseech you to teach me. Any players like myself who are new to the series, take these points to heart. More importantly, listen to WiNG and all the commenters with serious cred. It will serve you well.


Squirrels can’t stun

This is perhaps my biggest, most consistant failure thus far. I cannot figure out precisely how the stunning mechanic works in Assassin’s Creed multiplayer. This is not to say I haven’t stunned my fair share of people, but my tally of honorable deaths far exceeds my stuns.

Now, the tips box during the killcam says to avoid direct confrontation. Which I’ve done, I think. Correct me if I’m wrong, but isn’t facing away from your opponent while in a blend group and waiting on them being indirectly non-aggressive? Well, in the game’s case, no, because I get 100 and the other guy gets 500, despite the contested kill. From the stuns I’ve watched, many of them occur on sprinting players, or those players otherwise unaware of their target’s presence. I myself have been the unfortunate victim of many a backhand due to my ignorance of my target’s proximity.

Here’s my question to the masters among you, of which I know there are many. What the parameters required for a stun as opposed to a honorable death? Is it distance/speed/line-of-sight/something-else-I-haven’t-considered based? What do you think I’m doing wrong?


I’m blind!

A personal fact about me: I hate not being able to see. Wearing glasses alleviates some of the issue in the physical world, but the virtual is another story. Maps with fog, night maps, changing visibility levels, constant line-of-sight breakers: I hate them all. AC3 has them all except for night maps, at least right now.

It’s good the maps are all well lit, or I might not play the game. What’s starting to irk me, though, is how I’ll have a visual on my target, yet as I scan the crowd, they simply aren’t there. Yes, I know Disguise might be a reason, as might Glimmer. Most of the time, at least for right now, those aren’t the issue. It’s simply my poor vision and my inability to pick a character out of a crowd.

I’ve been playing primarily Deathmatch, as that’s the only mode I can find game sessions for, so I know I’m looking for just one person. At a bad time, I’ll look around me and see only NPCs. My eyes flash between the portrait and the screen as it slowly pans. Nothing. The blue outline seems to snicker at me until it turns grey and my blood pressure spikes.

To the experienced Deathmatch/Assassinate players: what tricks do you have for picking a player from a crowd? Will such a skill come with time, or is it reliant on the keen eyesight I lost years ago?


The Pursuit

I can hear the whispers, and I’m beginning to learn how to ID my intended murderer from a fair distance. It’s a skill I’ll develop through a thousand deaths, much as some of you may have. What worries me right now is my reliance on Sixth Sense. Even the slightest flick of red on my radar and my view flicks in the indicated direction. Nine times out of ten, I’ll catch the barest glimpse of who wants my head on a platter. With my growing knowledge of map layouts, I can better and better predict what path they’ll likely take.

And all that’s well and good, but what happens after I take Sixth Sense off, as I probably will at some point? The transition will be jarring. I know WiNG rated it a 3/5 based on its utter lack of offensive capabilities, but the defensive edge it provides is intoxicating. It’s also a major crutch, one I worry is growing into a necessity.

Now, like anything in gaming, I can learn my way out of dependency. I want to stress to new players that they shouldn’t have this perk on every class like I do. If the match is going south real fast, have it on the “I’m Gonna Win” class. Learn through failure and experience. One of my biggest peeves is someone doing something because some computer told them about it.

Strange that I’m doing just that.


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23 replies to this post
  1. Xiant you are going to be so pissed to learn this. The reason you couldn’t stun all those players is simple: stunning always loses to assassination.

    If you attempt to stun your pursuer, your character begins a stun animation. If your pursuer begins an assassination animation any time before the stun animation completes (about half a second), you will get an honorable death. Your character will “lose” and be killed, though the pursuer will also lose points.

    The only way to get a stun is to completely catch someone offguard (they didn’t try to kill you even up to the point where you were actively stunning them) or to use an ability that prevents them from killing you, such as Smoke Bomb or Throwing Knives (at maximum stun range).

    Kills always overwrite stun, so once someone assassinates you, you cannot contest the kill. You can only contest the kill if you hit stun before or simultaneously to an assassination!

    If you cannot catch someone by surprise, your better option is to run and hide. Either you will initiate a chase (and hopefully escape), or you will find a blend spot and attempt to surprise your pursuer again.

    • Yeah, I’m seeing that. The prompt that appears as they start the kill animation, or I start the stun, only lasts about that long. It’s a timing thing, and feels like something of an art to get down perfectly.

  2. Additionally from watching the stream, here are some more tips for you/everyone else who is learning:

    1. Especially on PC, it is easy to walk in a way that makes it obvious you are not an NPC. Try using mobile blend groups to mask your movement patterns a little. Or, if you want, an Xbox controller.
    2. It’s not easy to spot targets all the time, but the main thing is to try to not stand in the middle of the map. If you edge around the map, you will limit where your target can be in relation to you. You will also limit the angles of attack of your own pursuers. And, to compound those points, you will make it more likely to sandwich your pursuers between yourself and their pursuers.
    3. Identifying your pursuers will take time. The number one skill is first identifying players in general, then trying to guess which ones are pursuers. Whenever you see a character do something only a player would do, try to note it in your head and remember their general location. Try to remember which personas are players.

    If you are being pursued, try to move somewhere that will force your pursuer to come out in the open. If you move to the corner of the map and blend into a group that is standing in broad daylight, your pursuer will HAVE to visibly approach you to kill you (unless they use Pistol, of course). Don’t rely on luck to find your pursuer, put them in an awkward position if they want to kill you.

    • Edging the map is a free-for-all tactic in FPS’s too. The middle of any multiplayer map is a killzone and it would be moronic to stay in it for any length of time.

      My first priority before the match even begins is identifying which character models are players. While not a perfect process, I can note who is who without having to worry about murdering them. The rest comes down to analyzing the playing area while in game.

      The only thing that worries me about being careful about pursuers and map edging is not finding my own target if their morons and hanging out somewhere stupid. I know the game is very much about maximizing score, and deaths don’t necessarily count, but if I spend all my time avoiding death, I’ll lose either way.

      • You can still win with stuns. And remember, if you edge the map, you pull your pursuer (and your grand-pursuer, by extension) towards you. Works better in Wanted, though.

  3. i know this is a more considered an advanced tactic but, an easy way to stun probably lower level players is to wait around a corner and when they walk around the corner or a minuscule amount of time before they walk around the corner you are hidden behind run out and go stun them. again this will NOT work against higher level players who know of this tactic. oh and if you watch commentators they will say there is this thing called the drop stun, from my knowledge this has been removed since the last patch. you can also tell if someone is about to kill you if their right arm is sticking out, when someones right arm doesnt look right they are hitting X, square, or mouse1. so if you see a pursuer who is holding out his or her arm you will not get the stun assuming they are 1-3 meters away from you. but if you time a smoke bomb right, again assuming they dont have animus shield or wipe, you will successfully get the stun, unless of course you timed it a bit to late.

    • The more I hear, the more I realize AC multiplayer is a game that comes down to prediction and timing on a minute level. Corner stunning is something I’ve seen done and attempted myself, though I haven’t gotten it down yet. Regardless, I’m going to start experimenting with my playstyle to continue my eductation.

      • In a sense, yes, a lot of it is having to analyze the situation so you can plan your next move and predict your opponent’s. As they say, knowing is half the battle, and a lot of abilities and perks are geared for either confounding pursuers or sniffing out targets.

  4. Concerning Stuns: Stun range and Kill range is the same. Using throwing knives on a target will tip the range advantage to your favor. A pursuer who is gunning for you will likely mashing the kill button, so when attempting corner/ambush stuns, make sure you’ve thrown off their lock; most players will stop mashing when the lock ends as to prevent a civilian kill.

    Concerning finding targets/pursuers: Fortunately, Deathmatch is my forte, though this applies to all modes. Try to sniff people out by behaviors first (this takes care of things like disguises as well). Fast walk motions are a subtle but major red flag. Anyone “wobbling” in the open is someone trying to look for their target (if you know it’s your pursuer, then that means they haven’t found you yet, so take advantage). Anyone heading straight for you or is taking a lot of shortcuts is also suspect.

    For picking out people by avatar, first take some time to learn the most unique features of each character, such as the Hessian’s hat or the Bear’s coat. Hats are generally your best bet, though anything that is large and simple works. First figure out who are the extras and filter them out mentally (All modes will have 10 NPC models). If the Sharpshooter and the Redcoat are your extras, you know that anyone with a rifle on their back is an NPC (barring disguise) or the Hessian. (Of course, if you are hunting the Hessian, you’re finding him by his hat since you are ignoring the rifles)

  5. Concerning personas, in Deathmatch, the game will fill the map with two and always two NPC personas. Thus, at the beginning of the match, look around for who exists more than twice (Blender, just to be sure) and then conclude that everyone who is NOT an ‘innocent’ persona is a player. This is functionally equal to remembering who is a player, but consumes less resources right at the start of the match. The game will notify you when somebody joins, then civilians will change persona if they’d share it with the new guy, so watch out.

    Once you’ve identified someone to be a player, always assume they want to shove something into your face that is not cake. Again, the problem is simplified by using inverse logic. Don’t ask if that dude behaves like he’s your pursuer, ask if a pursuer of yours would behave like that.

    This game’s targetting and spawning system is broken. Take that into account at all times. If you are, say, in first place with only one pursuer since somebody who is blending beside you killed the second one, it’ll pay off to lock them and mash M1. Believe me, it will.

    Generally, you must keep in mind that your adversaries are at least 99% human, so if you can confuse or shock them, you’ll get better results out of it than you’d expect. Also abuse slight programming missteps like the pitiful and inconsistent lock system, but not glitches. Exploiting is simply dishonorable. It’s enough that all ‘professional’ matches boil down to who can exploit the most glitches, you don’t need to do that.

    Other things have either already been said or boil down to practice. Use map knowledge to project LoS so that you know which corners you need to check if your target suddenly comes into LoS. Similiarly, remember there is no Sixth Sense for offense. Predict where your pursuer is most likely looking and bolt out from another direction if you can manage the distance within reaction time.

    Basically, the rest is practice. Picking people out of crowds will become significantly easier once you learn how to differentiate personas at first glance. So will looking for nuances like an outstretched arm or weird walking pattern.

    While a controller would be better, you can blend the odd walking paths you get from 8 directional movement into near invisibility by adjusting camera and input correctly. Do that enough and you’ll be able to mimic NPC movement while looking at (and locking) something behind you.

    • Everyone, I like this man. He is a gentleman, scholar, and crazed murder machine. I demand that he come to the stream and laugh at me.

      LAUGH I SAY!

      • Watching your earlier stream, I can understand why you like me. Given our mutual liking for sarcasm, easily distractable commenting style, horrible luck with the ACMP system, and dislike for Swiss cheese. (I’m such a terrible patriot.)

        I’d like to join you on the stream. In fact, I’d even invade your session to give you a personal lesson. IN PAIN! At least if we could get an acceptable latency for both parties going and get together at an acceptable time, which might prove difficult given that I assume you are also six timezones ahead of me.

        But hey, hit me up and we may be able to put it together.

  6. Question: Do dropstuns still work in ac3? Tried it a few times and only worked once. Starting to think that one time was just lucky.

      • That gives us one more thing to abuse, as I’ve done just recently.

        1. Be just out of kill range for target on the ground while on a rooftop yourself.
        2. Get knifed. (Thinking they could escape?)
        3. Drop (fastwalk) off the ledge, roll right into kill range denying your target perhaps even an honorable death.

        Okay, yes, that’s highly situational and needs the right roof to work (I did it off the little building in Fort – DM), but it looked awesome and got the job done.

        So I guess what I’m saying is that inventiveness will be rewarded by the game in most cases. Think outside the box to then punch the dude who’s still thinking inside of it IN THE FACE.

        Also, I’m not sure, but could it be that my rule of two NPC personas does not apply in 3 anymore? This is a Ubisoft game we’re talking about, so glitches are possible, but I’ve seen a crowd of three and maybe more civilian personas in Deathmatch.

        Nevertheless, identifying people through first glancing at their persona and then looking for suspicious behavior still is the way to go, as you’ll also be examining somebody for their persona while checking if they are one of the little sheeple that walk around.

        Finally, an extension to my earlier tip, always assume everything wants to kill you. Some NPC behaving out of order? Unless you’ve got good cover, and you rarely do at lower levels, inch away stealthily. Force that Disguise player to reveal themselves. Bodyguards are powerful, but they need their given movement pattern to be effective, so just avoid it. You’ll find that it’s surprisingly easy to get past a Bodyguard. You just out-smart a piece of Ubisoft AI. I hope you’re proud of yourself.

        And never never ever use Fastwalk if you can help it. It’s good in theory, but very noticeable even if you don’t know the animations very well yet. Think ACR’s Renegade. Once you’re out of the vaccuum you’ll find yourself thinking in on the hunt and see someone fastwalking through the crowd, they are about that obvious.

      • I wouldn’t say “never use fastwalk” but “never use it thinking you can stay hidden.” It is still a good tool for maintaining your approach meter in various situations, as long as you’re of the understanding that it doesn’t shield you from identification. And fastwalk can be safe when other players near you are in high profile, increasing the odds that they will trigger lock warnings that distract your target from your approach.

    • They work, but as Wing noted, you have to get them as they hit the ground, so you need to time it closer.

      Since I can’t reply to Toraka’s post: All game modes are populated with 10 models. In a full match of DM, two are extra. On the other hand, DM with 4 people means 6 extras.

  7. I’ve done some testing and found that you don’t really need Sixth Sense. Sure, I’m what you could call an experienced player, but just give yourself the cold turkey, swap out Sixth Sense, and go with it. You’ll be surprised at the results.

    Think about it this way, what does SS do for you? It speeds up your escapes and allows pursuer warnings in your entire line of sight instead of just your screen.

    Now, how often are chases triggered and more importantly, how often is it down to those last seconds whether you win or lose it? I’d say that the first case in itself is already very unlikely (with a good lobby, at least), add in the second and you’ve got an ability that maybe does something once in ten matches of Wanted or Manhunt – Defense as I can’t think of another mode where hidden escapes are possible or relevant. (I have never played Domination because it’s dumb.)

    So let’s just judge it for its ability of letting you grow eyes on the back of your head. Actually, it doesn’t even do that. You first need to have a pursuer in high profile for long enough so that you can notice, then there’s reaction delay to that, then you have to turn the camera and identify them, then react to their behavior, once again with delay. Usually, by the time you get to the third step, you’ll turn around to see a gun smiling at you, which will be quite the sight of your life. Because you’ll be DEAD.

    Yes, the ability to see pursuers you aren’t looking at is great, but my point is that Sixth Sense is only really useful if they hit just that time interval where you still have time to react but there is no chase triggered. And, before you pull that argument on me, you WILL react to chases faster than an SS warning. As the pursuer would have to remain in high profile until you can actually see them in order for you to be able to identify them, that further narrows down this perk’s use.

    Big deal, really. Compare to chopping, what, ten seconds off of the cooldowns of three skills, always having a friend with whom to share stories, hot cocoa, and being stabbed in the face, or being physically able to reach Animus Hack.

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