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Assassin’s Creed III preview – Shipping out of Boston…in a coffin

By now, you’ve likely seen the Ubisoft media briefing demo of Assassin's Creed III. And possibly the naval battles during Sony’s briefing. Still, Ubisoft had one more trick up its sleeve with Assassin’s Creed III at E3. We got a behind closed doors demo of AC III’s urban locales in the colonial Boston section. And while the look of snowy New England wilderness and Caribbean vessel fights certainly excited gamers, we think that the familiar territory of urban centers has vastly improved, too.

During the five minute hands-off playthrough, which GR editor Henry Gilbert also saw on the Wii U, we witnessed the new improvements to the Assassin’s Creed formula, and we grilled our demo guide on what to expect from standard AC gameplay moments. The section starts in summer 1773 as Conor stands on a rooftop, waiting to drop down and explore colonial Boston. AC III will introduce weather effects into the action, including rain and snow (at least you’ve probably figured out the snow by now). Conor descends from the rooftop with a Leap of Faith into a moving hay cart. Yes, look for moveable cover, and with it, the ability to stab guards and hide their bodies inside of wheeled hay bales.

 

Conor also has a nifty new method of dealing with dead guards. With corner kills, he (or someone else) can lure a guard around the corner, stab them, then hide the body on his side of the wall, which eliminates the time-consuming task of lifting corpses and hiding them out of public view. And, just as Ubisoft showed off how Conor uses trees and foliage as cover in the forests, he can also pop down in urban bushes and camouflage himself.

We also saw a brutal segment that showed off the new crowd blending. Conor stands next to a group of Native Americans on a pier chit-chatting (as opposed to the usual silent bench sitters) in front of what looked like a carpentry table. As a guard walks by, Conor grabs him, spins him around, and impales him, chin-first, into a pitchfork. That incites a guard fight, and we discovered that now, guards won’t wait their turn to attack an Assassin. Conor will have to fight off two at a time in brawls. It looks like corpse looting is still very much a part of gameplay, as our Ubisoft rep confirmed.

That led us to ask about AC III”s currency system. Although details were vague, it seems that the game will strike a balance between a traditional currency system seen in past games and a degree of bartering. That explains the moment from the media event in which Conor skins a deer. Meat and fur are as much as commodity in colonial Boston as florins were for Ezio.

AC III’s Assassin’s Guild system will get some new flourishes, as well. As Conor escapes the brawl on the pier, he sees an area next to a huge ship (which, incidentally, is the end goal of the demo), but the passageway is surrounded with Redcoats. He summons a group of backup Assassins, all of whom are disguised as British soldiers, and he poses as a prisoner. The ruse works and buys him enough time to scale the walls of the passageway, climb the roof, and use his bow to pick off a guard and draw attention away from the entrance to the ship.

As Conor boards the ship, he picks up a musket. It’s important to note that the deck has three guards on board. We have to admit, we were shocked to see him rush the boat, gore one guard with the musket, then fire a blast to fell a second, then drop the weapon, run full speed, and knock the third guard overboard with a shoulder charge. And as you remember, enemies in Assassin’s Creed games have all of the swimming ability of a Milky Way bar.

As Conor climbs the mast of the ship, one final fact is revealed that you’d probably never notice: the ropes and patterns of the mast carry similar V-formations to many of the trees that Conor traverses in the wilderness sections of the game. In other words, the natural movements that look fluid as he leaps from tree to tree also translate seamlessly into his navigation of boats and skiffs.

While the freshness of the New England forests and naval fights of Assassin’s Creed III have gotten all of the attention, we’re glad to see that the urban battles of Ubisoft’s sequel are evolving in a logical fashion. Amidst a strong E3 with plenty of titles to be excited about, few have us as excited as this one.

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E3 E3 2012

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10 comments

  • BlankDistortion - June 28, 2012 8:55 p.m.

    Don't know if you all know, but according to the Jimmy Kimmel ACIII commercial, there is more to look out for in the economic part of the game. Apparantly, you can go to the market, and buy just about anything that is there. So I believe food and liquids, the usual upgrades, and who knows what else. That's just the shopping part of it all though, and I thought I would throw it out there. There is also more to combat if you didn't notice, the entire system has been more or less rebuilt. The counter button, which I believe was circle on the gameplay demo, serves as your throwing, countering, blocking, and dodging depending on what button you press next. Other than that, the health system is more like that in AC(1). It doesn't regenerate during combat, and there isn't any 'medicine', and it is probably constant during the game (because there isn't armor anymore). Customization will PROBABLY be better, just my speculation. With the removal of armor, the 'tailors' will have to become a little more interesting than they were before. Other than that, I think that there is going to be a very exciting amount of outfits for us to stroll around in during the game. The entire game is going to be at least double the size of Rome from what I gather. The frontier is HUGE, and not empty either, but you probably already know about all the little 'settlements' and camps, forts and other things like that, so I won't go into that. Both Boston and New York are rumored to both be about half the size of Rome, plus the addition of Philadelphia for at least one mission in the game (It isn't supposed to be free-roam). Other than that, the entire mediterranean area is free-roam, both on and off boat, without any size confirmation. Sorry, first post, don't really know if this is the best way to say all of this, and I wasn't sure if everyone knew all of it. Oh, and ask away if you have any questions concerning the game, I just posted some things that might not have been too obvious or easily noticed.
  • EwoksTasteLikeChicken - June 7, 2012 4:08 p.m.

    How much does anyone wanna bet that you're gonna fire the Shot heard 'round the world?
  • ericthesmith - June 7, 2012 9:21 a.m.

    I realized while reading this that even if they didn't change any mechanics from AC II I would still want this game.
  • fattoler - June 7, 2012 6:26 a.m.

    Didn't Conor say he was an outsider in this conflict? So why have all the trailers for this game shown him fighting Loyalists?
  • Falcon4196 - June 7, 2012 7:10 a.m.

    Conner isn't really fighting Loyalists he's fighting Templars. Templars like having people in positions of power. At the time the British were the dominate force in the world. So it would make sense that the British ranks would be full of Templars.
  • Meleedragon27 - June 7, 2012 4:44 p.m.

    The trailers in question were likely something thought up by marketing to attract buyers. Yes, they could show Conner killing patriots along with the redcoats (and he likely will be killing patriots, too, for reasons too long to explain here), but showing him just slaughtering redcoats will attract more American buyers since it gives the game a "patriotic" vibe. That may not sound like much to you (especially if you don't live in the States), but it actually makes a lot of sense from a marketing perspective: They gotta make this game that takes place during the American Revolution appeal to a large number of people. The American market is pretty big, and the game itself has plenty of stuff that would make appealing to them pretty easy. Thus, marketing decides to cater to that crowd in the hopes of attracting more buyers come launch day.
  • system1988 - June 7, 2012 5:40 a.m.

    This is going to be so epic... I think that Ubi is trying to renovate the entire series mechanincs and approach of assassination with this new game... and I seriously think that they nailed it. I haven't been this excited since AC II. This is totally what we, the hardcore AC fans want! I will not be surprised at all if this game sells more than all the rest combined. AC II was a huge game, not size wise but story- wise, as it span through almost 30 years of Ezio's life and now Ubi is doing the same with Conor. Not only that, but from what I have seen, the game maps, if put together, are larger than Rome and Constantinople combined! The wilderness alone is started to be 1 and a half time larger than Rome! This game will force me to move my toilet closer to my PC... not the other way round!
  • MasterBhater - June 7, 2012 4:42 a.m.

    -Weather Effects -Naval Battles -Hunting -Bartering -New ways to blend -Pitchforks -The ability to use muskets -More ways to take out guards silently -Fellow Assassin's who are smart enough to set up ambushes/ruses -MORE THAN ONE PERSON ATTACKS YOU AT THE SAME TIME DURING A FIGHT -Tree Climbing -A bigger focus on actual "Assassination" Assassin's Creed 3, you shall be epic.
  • Shinard - June 16, 2012 2:10 p.m.

    -MORE THAN ONE PERSON ATTACKS YOU AT THE SAME TIME DURING A FIGHT Just... yes. Finally an end to the "wait... wait... counter, counter, kill... wait..." fighting style of previous ACs.
  • Odis - June 7, 2012 1:59 a.m.

    Did anyone else notice in the gameplay demo they showed off at the Ubisoft presentation that for a second, while Connor was standing next a bowl or something, one of the button icons changed to pick up? Will that mean that now we'll be able to pick up random items and use them on our rampage? Or was it just me and it was for something else.

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