Probably the most recent title I’ve played, I got AC Unity preloaded on the box One. That also makes this the first console game I’ve reviewed here, but I’m not really sure my play style really makes that relevant.
Almost immediately after getting the Xbox One, I started following the development of a precision keyboard and mouse adapter for consoles, the XIM4. As the number at the end indicates, this isn’t the first of its line. To be honest, I love having it. This is mainly because I’m a worthless console game player when it’s not something that lets me leverage the years of time I spent in arcades or arcade rooms of various facilities during my childhood years, like Soul Calibur or Marvel Ultimate Alliance.
The only downside is that the context based help is all still in console speak, so those first few hours in a new game are made even more awkward by having to translate console input to keyboard input to making your hands move. Needless to say, mistakes get made.
“Shit shit shit shit shit”
Regardless of my personal experience, Unity was another good step forward for the franchise. As usual, the world they are able to create is as amazing and immersive as ever. I can still remember playing first AC title and thinking about the worlds they created there being large, and now we are given a scale replica of late 18th century Paris. To me this is absolutely insane. I remember hearing that for the first time and thinking, “So that’s why it takes me so long to get anywhere on foot.” To that, I was a little disappointed in the lack of alternative means of transportation. Don’t get me wrong, fast travel was great and is somewhat of a necessity if you want to get anything done in a reasonable amount of time, but the only way Arno could move around the city was that or walk/run/climb.
“If I start down now, I should be able to get across the street in two hours.”
In some ways I liked the simplicity of that small element of the game. You could look at previous titles and say that you had too many options: by foot, by horse, by wagon, by prototype flying machine, or of course – almost everyone’s favorite – by boat. This is something I have liked about the AC series; they are always changing things up from the environment to the gameplay. I’ve discussed the environment, but there was a clear gameplay element that they raised the bar with, and that element was the multiplayer.
It’s not as though these kinds of co-op/multiplayer experiences are unheard of in games, but it’s always in varying degrees in limited veins, like beat ’em up (Castle Crashers, Turtles in Time), shoot ’em up (Unreal Tournament, Mass Effect), military/FPS tactics (Call of Duty, Splinter Cell) or zombies (Left 4 Dead, Resident Evil). This is the first time I’ve run into such a fun, tactically oriented multiplayer experience in the RPG gaming genre. Counting down over a headset to simultaneous takedowns by all your party members to clear guards before sweeping into a target building in Unity is one of my top, all-time gaming experiences. You could certainly argue that other games out there allow you to do this same exact thing, but to me, doing it as an integral part of an RPG experience you are already involved with in a universe like Assassin Creed’s sets it miles apart.
The work Ubisoft is doing with the Initiates community is also very interesting. These kinds of game-specific communities are generally not something I get into. Still, I have to admit I was impressed with the work they’ve put into Initiates, down to the “congratulations on becoming a master assassin” email they send you after completing the single player game. I’m sure that platform has been designed to move into future titles, but I’ll be really disappointed if they don’t provide some kind of time in. I love games that provide the kind of meta data they offer through Initiates, and the things they do based on that data like analyzing your play style would be really cool to track over the lifetime of a franchise.
To me, this combination of single player, multiplayer, in game and out of game features are what defines the next generation of games. And Unity is one of the few games out today where we see all of those elements come together.