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Assassin's Creed Unity Preview - Should Assassins be Working Together?

Joshua Vanderwall | 13 Aug 2014 08:00
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Finally, he infiltrated the church, made his way to the confessional, and waited for the target to show up for the meeting. After a flash of a hidden blade, you see cinematic glimpses into the background of the situation. This is a special lore/story treat reserved for people who put in the extra effort to solve these scenarios in the most cunning way possible. If you just brute force it, you won't get the exposition on what led up to this event. This should definitely help motivate the story-driven players to find more creative ways to complete missions. Then, of course, things got hairy. He was spotted exiting the confessional, assaulted by several guards, and eventually slain by his attackers, which speaks volumes to the difficulty of the mission.

The hands-on demo showcased the co-op play, and I was fortunate enough to have a member of the team sit across from me and guide me through the mission. The co-op experience is definitely something that experts will have a ton of fun with, although they seem to require an excessive amount of patience for either tomfoolery from your allies, or simply waiting for the right moment to strike.

Starting in a graveyard, we were required to get underground, collect an ancient relic, and escape. Simple enough, right? With multiple guards standing over the entrance to the area we needed to reach, we took to the roofs, air assassinated a couple of stand-alone guards, and went about creating distractions. Once we caught the attention of the other guards, we circled behind them, and snuck downstairs. From there, it was twisting tunnels, occasional patrols, and even some locked doors, where I really got to shine with my lockpicking skill. After dispatching another few guards, we liberated the relic, and made our escape. It was relatively straightforward, but I was in the hands of an expert, who I'm sure has completed the mission a hundred times or more.

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With that in mind, even he didn't know exactly where everything was going to be. It turns out, in order to ensure replayability for the co-op missions, while the objective will be the same, each time you play it, there are various elements - locked doors, barred doors, guard locations, and chest locations - that are randomized for each instance. As before, there are skill points for Arno as well, which you'll be able to sink into one of several trees. There aren't branching paths, and you'll eventually get enough points to unlock every skill, but for non-maxed-out characters, it can be hugely beneficial to bring complementary skill sets to the table for co-op missions. One person can take lockpicking, while another may take the improved Eagle Vision. By specializing your players differently, you'll be able to find whole new ways to approach the missions.

Unity is gorgeous, as you might expect from a next-gen-only title. The Adaptive Missions Mechanics setup is amazing, especially for players like myself who often took five tries to successfully stalk a target without being noticed. Having the option to play as a brazen killer or a shadowy assassin will open up avenues of play for players of all different stripes. If you've been looking for co-op AC, this is where you'll want to be, but, despite the randomized mission elements, I'm not sure how much staying power the co-op is going to have. I only saw one of the shorter 10-minute missions, however, and they apparently go up to over an hour in length, so these deeper missions may well have just what it takes to keep players engaged for the long haul. I've got minor reservations, but overall, I can say with some confidence that Unity is going to bring the Assassin's Creed franchise to new heights in graphics and gameplay.

Assassin's Creed Unity is under development by Ubisoft Montreal, and will be published by Ubisoft. It is slated to be available on Xbox One, PS4, and PC, with a launch date of October 28.

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