We’ve all heard about it and we all know it’s coming, but for some reason the AC franchise just didn’t seem to “grab” any of us as much this time around with Unity. Maybe it’s because that for all the talk surrounding Unity, we still haven’t got a lot of the details. Well let’s sort that out. We’ve got a host of details in our preview that will definitely rekindle the burning need for Creed you’ve been missing. We’ve got everything from character background/bios, the historical setting, beautiful screenshots and even the nitty-gritty on the new Anvil gaming system. Brace yourself Arcadians, here we go…
“At the dawn of the 18th century, revolution is brewing. After years of oppression, the people of France rise up against the inept aristocracy. Amidst the chaos of revolution, a young man named Arno embarks on a path of redemption. Driven by guilt for his perceived involvement in the death of his adoptive father, Arno joins the Assassins and sets off on a quest to eradicate the conspirators, a new radical branch of the Templars, who are pulling the strings of the Revolution and preparing the coming of a new world order.”
Now, to delve into the history of it all, to this day, historians still argue on the actual sequence of events of the French Revolution and on the responsibilities of all the different factions present. With Assassin’s Creed Unity, Ubisoft promises gamers an uncluttered vision of history, focusing on the essence of the times. We’ll see different factions like the loyalists, the moderates and the revolutionaries and among each faction, there are nobles and commoners. But of course, above all those factions, working in the shadows, are the Assassins and the Templars, fighting their age-old struggle.
To understand the setting, the French Revolution was far more than a simple rebellion against an unpopular King; it was the rejection of repressive feudal principles that had endured for far too long. The French Revolution sent a defiant message to anyone who supported the old social order of Europe. It was a time of firsts. It included the first-ever assault on the entire concept of organized religion, the first genuinely populist uprising, the first modern police state, with show trials, informants, and public executions, all very real and dramatic metaphors for the philosophy and ideals of the Assassins and Templars. The French Revolution saw the birth of the charter of rights; it’s the inauguration of a new world.
In essence, it’s the perfect template for an Assassin’s Creed game.
So with all that said, just what historical ‘points of interest’ can we expect to see during your play though AC Unity?
-Estates-General : The last meeting of the Estates-General was at the beginning of the French Revolution (1789), in the face of a financial crisis, instability, and a useless king. The crew from the Third Estate, fearing that they would be overruled by the two privileged orders, led in the formation of the revolutionary National Assembly, signaling the end of representation based on the traditional social classes. Arno finds himself in the Hôtel des Menus Plaisirs while the King addresses the Members of the Estates-General: the Nobility, the Clergy and the Third Estate.
-Storming of the Bastille: The Bastille was a medieval fortress-turned-prison in the heart of Paris. The Storming of the Bastille occurred on the morning of 14 July 1789, as Revolutionary mobs, incensed at the symbol of Royal oppression, laid siege to the fortress.The mob’s primary objective was not to free prisoners, but to seize the huge ammunition stores held within the prison walls. It’s governor was seized and killed, his head carried round the streets on a spike. The storming of the Bastille symbolically marked the beginning of the French Revolution, in which the monarchy was overthrown and a republic set up based on the ideas of ‘Liberté, égalité, fraternité’ (liberty, equality and fraternity).
-Execution of Louis XVI: The execution of Louis XVI, by means of the guillotine, took place on 21 January 1793 at the Place de la Révolution (“Revolution Square”, formerly Place Louis XV) in Paris. It was a major event of the French Revolution. Louis was arrested, imprisoned with his family, and ultimately condemned to death. His execution made him the first victim of the Reign of Terror. His wife Marie Antoinette was guillotined on 16 October, the same year.
-Reign of Terror: The Reign of Terror was a period of violence that occurred after the onset of the French Revolution. It was marked by mass executions of “enemies of the revolution“. The death toll ranged in the tens of thousands. Nearly 17,000 people were executed by guillotine, and another 20,000 to 30,000 were executed by other means. In Paris alone, approximately 3,000 were executed.
-The September Massacres: In the wake of Danton’s National Convention decree of August 1792, Paris was plagued with bloody massacres throughout the month of September, especially in the Grand Châtelet prison… where Arno tries to locate one of his targets.
So now that we know the when and why, lets settle the question of who. Who are our main characters and what drives them through this story and more importantly, where do their allegiances lie?
All throughout the game, the player will be able to cross path with a huge cast of famous historical figures such as the Marquis de Sade, Louis XVI, Napoléon, Robespierre or Mirabeau. These characters left their marks on history and have very unique personalities sure, but its our main characters we really want to peel back the layers on. So without further adieu…
The son of a murdered commoner, Arno (21) is adopted at a young age by Francois De La Serre, a minor nobleman. He grows up in Versailles alongside De La Serre’s daughter, ÉLISE. Arno and Elise are fast friends throughout childhood and fall deeply in love in their teenage years before Élise leaves to further her education in Paris. When Arno is framed for De La Serre’s murder, he learns of his true heritage, joins the Assassins, and fights to save Paris from sinister Templar machinations.
Arno is Brash, forceful, independent and smart but above all else he is driven by the guilt of his (perceived) fault in the death of his adoptive father and that’s what drives him on a redemption quest. The Assassins order is a means to an end for him, at least at the beginning anyway, much like a young Ezio Auditore.
He is a charismatic character with a good sense of humour, but he’s also a no nonsense kind of guy, so his humour often comes off as sharp and witty. This sharpness also seeps out into his physicality and his fighting style is more deadly than what you might be used to seeing in Assassin’s Creed.
-Élise De La Salle:
The only child of François and Julie De La Serre, Élise (19) grew up in a modestly wealthy but incredibly privileged environment. She is Templar affiliated and is the heir to her father’s dynasty. She was raised lavishly, but sneaks outside frequently to explore the city, practice fencing and riding. Her father supports her tomboyishness, it is a De La Serre family trait after all.
As a member of the aristocracy in the waning days of the Ancien Regime, she had access to the finest tutors, medicine, and food available. After her mother’s death in 1778, Élise spent a great deal of time traveling, including several years of study in Paris. After her father’s death, she seems to vanish from documented history, likely as a result of Revolutionary efforts to purge records of the nobility.
Assassin’s Creed Unity is powered by the new Anvil engine, Built with next-generation hardware and online environment in mind, the new Anvil has three major pillars support which powers Assassin’s Creed Unity;
-THEATRE – New state-of-the-art tools that enables Ubisoft to push the boundaries of cinematic performance and animation. It is those ingredients that bring us closer to true dramatic performances.
-ZEN – Zen is Ubisoft’s new system for productivity and infrastructure. It’s a game-changing pipeline for how to deal with next-gen assets and the interaction between global production team.
-CITY LIGHTS – Games are catching up to CG-level of quality and thus, high definition graphics are no longer the differentiation factor. True differentiation comes from mastery of volumetric cinematography; the ability to master art direction in a 3D physical space. City Lights encompasses all the tools that let you create a realistic Paris that is more immersive on a cinematographic scale.
The 3 Assassin’s Creed pillars(Navigation, Combat, and Stealth) have been completely rebuilt from the ground up too. Let’s take a closer look at exactly what that means to us as both long-time fans of the franchise and ultimately, as the players;
–Navigation: This time around, the idea with navigation seems to deliver a greater feeling of freedom to the player by allowing them to go anywhere they want, anyway they want. As the player will discover and explore the dense city of Paris, they won’t be restrained to a certain numbers of predefined paths that designers created especially for them. By rethinking navigation, there is more control and precision, giving the player a ton of options to move within the city at all levels, interior and exterior. For instance, it is now possible to free run up and down on any side of any building which makes navigation more efficient. In Unity, you don’t have to use a haystack in order to reach the ground level anymore; you can now take the path you fancy!
–Combat: The combat system has also been completely re-invented based on a new philosophy. Fighting previously, was two things: the player deals with several enemies or the player deals with one enemy. Before Unity, the focus was on the latter but discarded the former. When an enemy was attacking while you were fighting another one, the only possible move was the counter and the only thing you could do was to switch to a new enemy. Now, Ubisoft have built a new system where the you can deal with different enemies (move away from one, get close to another…). It should hope to make combat easier to learn but at the same time deeper.
And then another layer is the different types of enemies (“archetypes”). For example, the player will not be able to parry, only to dodge a certain type. When fighting several enemies of different kinds, all with unique strengths and weaknesses, the player will enter the flow state and make each fight unique and challenging. This should make the fighting more difficult, driving Unity back to the roots of the Assassin’s Creed franchise, which remains stealth.
The end result is that enemies truly attack in groups, making the combat more challenging yet more rewarding. The strategy of “waiting in line to get countered” is no more. You’ll have to be pro-active. You’ll have to adapt yourself. And sometimes, you’ll have to retreat before you die – and this is where all that stealth comes into play…
–Stealth: Stealth has always been the main Assassin’s Creed pillar, which seemed more than enough of a reason for Ubisoft to give it the re-design treatment too and hopefully reinforcing the very heart of Assassin’s Creed.
First of all, they’ve added ‘Stealth Mode’, which is triggered at the touch of a button. When the player enters Stealth Mode, all their actions are stealthier. The player will make less noise and will be lessto be detected.
Secondly, there had been a cover system added to allow players to feel more connected to their direct environment. You can now use the various architectural elements present in the game to hide.
Thirdly, stealth within the crowd has been rethought. Now that there are real crowds with more than thousands of NPCs, if the player tries to hide, they can do so simply by entering the crowd. The player now has more tools and more possibilities to act stealthily.
So now (hopefully) with Unity, the player has the stealth levers to use stealth exclusively and act like a true Assassin: attack, disappear in the shadows, let the enemy panic and take advantage of his confusion to strike again.
Lastly we’ll just stop for a minute to appreciate what Ubisoft have done to bring Paris to scale within Unity. Paris promises to be huge and constantly bustling with activities. With more massive crowds, interior spaces, underground networks and all the different systemic elements, the developers are boasting a rich sandbox with many adventures and rewards. In order to entice players to explore this systemic open-world, they aim to make sure to make sure that the players believe in this world, immersion.
To achieve this level of immersion, Paris has been built to be more life-like than any previous Assassin’s Creed cities built so far; with for example 1:1 scale buildings.
Additionally, the player will be able to explore a lot of interior in Assassin’s Creed Unity. There are also monuments, like Notre-Dame, that can be visited and that have been faithfully realized. All in all, the player will be able to explore hundreds of different interiors in Paris. And those interiors will not be empty spaces; they promise to be full of characters, rewards, stories, social hubs, and merchants.
Moreover, the interior spaces bring new navigation routes. In previous Assassin’s Creed games, the player could escape in the streets by climbing walls or reaching rooftops. Now, the player can escape by entering through an open window, climbing a flight of stairs and diving through the first story window before jumping to a rooftop.
This just about concludes our preview for Assassin’s Creed Unity. As I’m sure you’ll all agree there seems to be more work put into this game than any AC title before it. Having been developed by 9 different Ubisoft studios, that comes as no surprise to me at all. I can now say for my own part at least, my faith in the series is higher than it’s been since Ezio took his first leap of faith, while my patience has plummeted just as fast.
Ubisoft has delayed Assassin’s Creed Unity by two weeks and confirmed the title will have a Day One patch. The latest entry in the franchise will now launch on PS4, Xbox One and PC on November 11 in North America and November 13 in Europe and Australasia.