On a technical level, Assassin’s Creed: Unity is a game to admire. The title delivers fun movements, customization options, a good range of combat finishers and Paris offers many secrets to discover and places to stare at and simply say: nice. The French Revolution provides an environment full of chaos and opportunities to not only perform quick assassinations but also plenty of side quests to rack up a good amount of playtime. Our new Assassin Arno also delivers a fresh story, but Ezio and Desmond are still missed and the Matrix-like scripted events that will flood our experience can be too much. Unfortunately, the recreation of Paris is not only stunning but also a pain to traverse. Arno’s movement has not been refined and it is easy get stuck on weird places when we simply want to run straight. One would think it is time to fix the most annoying issue of the franchise, since everything else has been upgraded to the new generation. Even the ridiculous amount of citizens, peaking at 12.000 on a single mission.
Assassin’s Creed: Unity
This time, the Assassins vs Templars plot is relatively straightforward. Arno’s world is shaken when he is incriminated on an Assassination he didn’t commit. He is introduced to a new mentor, sparkle on top of that some love tales and if you are a story geek, surprise yourself with how Shay Cormac, the Assassin who decides to be a Templar from Rogue, plays an important role on this title.
The missions are also pretty great and fun, some of them being sandbox assassinations featuring several puzzles and routes to take. You can almost forget the tailing missions and the always so annoying out of the Animus interactions. The side quests play an important role on main sequences as well. They will lead to opportunities, and based on them you will need to make up a plan to execute your assassination, which is pretty fun if you ask me. You will not be tasked with running from point A to point B to end someone, and rushing will only make you be promptly outnumbered. For example, on a particular mission you can steal keys from a guard to gain access to heavily guarded cathedral where your target is located. This entrance will lead you to meet a Bishop, and you will later be able to play his role and “confess” your target delivering a first person gruesome death. This makes exploring feel rewarding, and other quests will involve myths, legends, mysteries and cults hiding in catacombs, all of them unfolding worthwhile stories.
The more complex and interesting your plan is, the more Creed Points you will earn. This will make you experiment and retry missions to complete extra goals. Doing so will allow you to get your hands in the most expensive abilities. Customizing Arno is fun but must be done wisely, since you won’t be able to freely grind Creed points outside missions. Choosing between melee and ranged attacks, stealth abilities or health boosts adds a special touch to the experience and gameplay itself. The same applies with the weapons and armor you can buy and upgrade with money, enabling different paths on more difficult missions.
If this is not enough for you, you would be glad to know there is also a companion app if you are rocking an Android or iOS device. The companion app is filled with activities and strategic information to deliver a new and fresh experience on a second screen. The app allows you to resolve hidden glyph puzzles on famous Paris landmarks, manage your own Nomad Brotherhood and unlock exclusive missions and rewards in the original title.
There is also a Season Pass that expands the duration of the campaign 8 hours, and this includes the first title of the new Assassin’s Creed Chronicles called China.
One of the strongest points in Unity is the high amount of co-op gameplay. On top of the 15 hours long story, there are many, many side missions that will not only encourage but also require you to team up with strangers around the globe to do some really fun quests and obtain, in return, some tasty rewards. For example, there are Heists which not only require a minimum of 2 players, but also will demand constant communication. If someone screws up, the whole team will be involved in a nasty mess that will usually end in failure. As you can expect, this can be incredible fun with friends since constant communication with a buddy will help you both to immerse in the world. On the other hand, it can also be incredible frustrating with strangers who are new to the game or simply don’t care wasting several minutes. As with any other online mode, your mileage may vary.
Something similar will happen with missions that need not two but FOUR players at once, or more. A chain is only as strong as its weakest link. If one person dies, the whole team will need to retry the mission. This will create complex situations where you will not only want to help your teammates, but also asses their skills. Would you sacrifice your personal rewards, dictated by your individual performance, to save someone that may -or may not- die and make the whole team lose everything?.
In Unity, Ubisoft went great lengths to make it worth play both single and multiplayer. But one important thing remains true no matter who you play with, or how: you will always be progressing your character, making it more powerful with an ever increasing set of skills and moves that will make you approach different situations and missions in different ways. From novice to master assassin, the level of replay is huge, and if you are an achievement hunter like me, this is always welcome. Can’t finish that mission on time, with the required optional goals? come back leather with skills able to take 2 at once from above and things may become easier.
Graphics wise, Unity is a masterpiece. The downside is the poor optimization in the code. We recently reviewed GTA V for PC and noted how well optimized it was and how smooth it ran even at 60 FPS in old computers. In Unity, you will need a powerful battle station, a state of the art RIG I would say, and even then you will be stuck at 30 FPS or less in Ultra settings. For consoles, this is not an issue due to the graphics, but we are not here to feed the trolls OK?
Assassin’s Creed Unity is a huge step forward graphics and co-op multiplayer wise. There is no doubt that the story and progression system are also rich and fun, but the huge and persistent issues from older versions are still alive, and there isn’t a bigger downer in the franchise like trying to escape, or even chasing someone, and suddenly getting stuck on top of a chair when seconds ago we were doing some parkour magic on top of a Cathedral. The companion app is also a good addition, something we have seen already in titles like Watchdogs or even Evolve, but it is hard to justify the time spent there instead of fixing bugs that people are already tired of.