It’s time for a new assassin.
One of the highlights of PAX East this year was a closed off theater in the center of the exhibition floor featuring a ten minute gameplay demo of the upcoming Assassin’s Creed III. This was the first time that gameplay from AC3 has been shown to the public, so the big reveal has been heavily hyped. And even having not been playable, it was still one of the most exhilarating games on display at PAX East.
Altair and Ezio are finally things of the past, after their welcome was almost (but not entirely) worn out with the two sequels to Assassin’s Creed II. Now we’ve got a brand new assassin, named Ratonhaketon. Don’t worry, you can just call him Connor. Connor, Half Native-American, half British, but exploring colonial America during the American Revolution, Connor takes no side but his own. The series has always introduced high-end technology for its era, and AC3 continues that trend with Connor’s loadout – dual wielded pistols, a tomahawk, and yes, the hidden blade is back in action.
The demo was introduced by one of the lead men on the AC3 team, and he provided commentary during breaks in the action, leading us to some amazing insight. Starting off with Connor overlooking a massive battle scene in colonial Massachusetts, it was immediately evident that the game will allow us to explore war zones on a scale even bigger than Metal Gear Solid 4. It turns out that AC3 will be able to handle up to 2,500 soldiers on screen at once, with intelligent AI capable of performing full-scale interactive battle sequences.
The battle sequences looked absolutely unreal. The soldiers were in full, proper alignments, moving towards each other and firing at a pace in line with the Revolution. Chaos ensued all around Connor, with explosions, soldiers’ heads being blown off, and hand-to-hand combat spraying blood all over the vast field. The most amazing part is that players can (and most likely will) avoid these war zones entirely and miss the amazing amount of technology behind the battles.
Connor’s target was a British templar masquerading as a military leader at his camp well up ahead, so instead of risking death by musket and plowing through thousands of fighting soldiers, Connor took a path off to the side. The path led him to a forest area covered in trees, and Connor immediately began scaling them, hopping from tree to tree like previous assassins did building to building. The game aims to make traversing trees a huge part of the game, and for it to feel as natural as it did with buildings in previous outings. The trees are designed to look as natural as possible in their environments, while still being capable of allowing Connor to remain hidden above. It looked like they succeeded tremendously.
After climbing across a few trees, a small group of musket-wielding British soldiers were seen up ahead. We were then able to see the newest and most exciting weapon in action – the rope dart. This weapon shoots a noose at enemies from above, wrapping around their necks as Connor drops with the rope from the tree, hanging the enemy immediately. It was so quick and brutal, like everything our beloved assassins do, and looks like it will be an unbelievably fun weapon to mess around with.
Connor still had a handful of soldiers to deal with and was now revealed in front of all of them! Assassins must think quickly, so Connor immediately grabbed another soldier and used him as a human shield, causing the remaining soldiers to form a firing squad at a distance from Connor. The developer had said that, even though guns were now common, he still wanted assassins to still do most of their dirty work up close. Knowing this, Connor then brought the human shield closer until they had no choice but to shoot, thus killing the human shield. As we all know, guns took 40,000 hours to reload back in the days of the Revolution, and Connor used this to his advantage as he rushed the group with his tomahawk. In a quick flurry of tomahawk chopping and pistol firing, all the soldiers around Connor were dead and he was ready to move on. And it looked INCREDIBLE.
We were then treated to some free climbing when Connor scaled a cliff side. Like the trees, the developers aimed to make cliff sides appear natural, with multiple paths available to scale. Once he reached the top, his target’s camp was in sight. Aiming to keep out of sight for the time being, Connor showed off another new ability – stalking. Connor can now crouch while walking, allowing him to stay out of sight by sneaking through brush and shrubberies. He eventually reached a spot between two tents, with the campsite in full display. At the very end was his target, sitting on a horse.
The developer stressed that they wanted a constant feeling of action while moving, and it showed off beautifully here. Connor went from his crouched position to immediately darting towards his target. All the troops were alerted and tried to take him out, but Connor made quick work of them with his tomahawks without stopping for a second. Chopping and running, Connor hopped up onto a log and leapt right into his target, tomahawk raised high, as the demo ended.
The last two Assassin’s Creed games, while great, didn’t really change much from Assassin’s Creed II, leading some players to believe the series has grown stale. But with a new assassin, comes a new era. Assassin’s Creed III features enhanced weapons available for player’s to use on a scale never before seen in the series. Assassin’s Creed III looks to be a fitting end to a revolutionary series when it comes out this October.
Our PAX East coverage will continue tomorrow with Super Time Force and Sonic the Hedgehog 4: Episode II.