Ubisoft’s Assassin’s Creed titles are known for using history to shape their stories. Heck, they may have even helped some of you pass a test or two back in the day. Up next in the series is Unity, set in Paris, 1789, a city caught in the throes of the French Revolution. Gameplay centers on Arno Dorian, a master assassin who aims to reveal the true powers behind the bloody uprising. Here are eight things to know before the game hits shelves on November 11, 2014.
1. A revamped engine transforms the series
Developed by Ubisoft Montreal, the game’s “Anvil Next” engine is poised to blow you away. Earlier versions of Anvil powered the previous two AC titles, but it was rebuilt from the ground up for Unity. “Because of these new-gen consoles, this is the first time that we can fundamentally change a lot of the core mechanics and a lot of the stuff under the hood in terms of engine, game mechanics, and actual game structure,” Creative director Alex Amancio explained at E3. “So this is what Unity is. It’s not a reboot. It is a reinvention of Assassin’s Creed for this next generation.”
2. Artificial intelligence takes center stage
Unity’s beast of an engine allows up to 2,000 NPCs (non-player characters) on screen at one time. This is perfect for generating the huge, rioting crowds of the French Revolution. We’re sure these unruly mobs of AI characters will be an asset when Arno is sneaking around Paris on impossibly dangerous assassination missions. We can’t wait to hear the sounds of the mobs echoing through the city, crafted by audio lead Richie Nieto.
3. It’s locked at 900p
While many next gen titles are aiming for 1080p resolution at 60fps, Assassin’s Creed: Unity is taking a different route and running at 900p at 30fps for both Xbox One and PS4. Ubisoft’s senior producer Vincent Pontbriand told Videogamer that even the next gen consoles’ CPUs just wouldn’t be able to handle the artificial intelligence required for crowds of NPCs. Pontbriand explained, “We could be running at 100fps if it was just graphics, but because of AI, we’re still limited to 30 frames per second.”
4. It’s a next gen exclusive
Unity will only be available on Xbox One, PS4, and PC, because older consoles just don’t have the necessary processing strength. If you have a PS3 or Xbox 360, don’t despair. Ubisoft is releasing an alternate game just for you: Assassin’s Creed: Rogue. Set during the French and Indian War, this spinoff features different characters and a separate story from Unity. If you’re equipped for PC gaming, you can play both.
5. New stealth, combat, and parkour mechanics
Stealth is a key element of gameplay in the AC series, so it’s no surprise that Ubisoft would focus on enhancing these qualities in Unity. There’s a stellar new stealth mode and cover system, along with an upgraded combat system. Parkour movements have been optimized for the next gen controllers’ new button layouts. With full motion control, free running up the Notre Dame cathedral looks like it’ll be a breeze. Now if only it were that easy in real life…
6. Meet the “phantom blade”
Of course, the “hidden blade” gauntlet weapon is returning. It just wouldn’t be an Assassin’s Creed game without it. This time around, Ubisoft updated the iconic stealth device into the “phantom blade,” a dual action device that’s sure to turn you into a finely tuned assassination machine. Joining the familiar retractable blade is a badass new folding crossbow feature. Yes, it’s now possible to discreetly hide a crossbow up your sleeve. We hope Daryl from The Walking Dead will build one of these things soon. Want one for yourself? Pick up a working, dart-shooting replica and use it to annoy the crap out of your friends.
7. Co-op mode and skill trees have arrived.
You can now complete cooperative story missions in the world of Assassin’s Creed, and we can’t wait to try it out. A new skill tree feature allows players to customize the heck out of their abilities. Each assassin selects a class that best suits their gameplay style: Melee, Stealth, Health, and Ranged Weaponry. This rich new customization system will be especially helpful for co-op missions. Are you a fan of stealthy gameplay? Team up with your melee-inclined buddy and take on enemies together for maximum ass-kickage.
8. The French Revolution isn’t the only war you’ll experience
A new trailer has unveiled an unexpected jump in the Unity timeline. Arno’s assassination missions won’t be confined to Revolutionary France. Instead, he’ll be catapulted into World War II era Paris. How will this fit into the overall timeline of the game? We’ll have to wait till the November 11, 2014 release date to find out.
Ubisoft’s Assassin’s Creed: Unity is a promising game with a ton of new features. With the addition of co-op mode, it’s sure to deliver hours of extra gameplay, and it’ll take us much longer to get tired of it. Who knows, we may even learn some history while racking up the kills with our convenient wrist crossbows.
E3 Gameplay footage