Overview and History
Because everyone can’t play everything, Assassins Creed is an action-adventure franchise. It depicts a centuries-old struggle, now and then, between the Assassins, who fight for peace with free will, and the Templars, who desire peace through control. The series features historical fiction, science fiction and characters, intertwined with real-world historical events and figures.
The Assassin’s Creed games primarily revolve around the rivalry between two ancient secret societies — the Assassins and the Knights Templar — and their indirect relation to an ancient species pre-dating humanity, referred to within the games as “those who came before”, whose society, along with much of Earth’s biosphere, was destroyed by a massive solar storm thousands of years before the games. The games’ real-world chronological setting begins in the year 2012, but most of the gameplay is in historical settings.
Gameplay is broken into two different styles of play. One is first person, playing in present time. Its played in first person and you can explore your environment. Interaction with the world is minimal. Mostly observing what happens around you, and collecting evidence. The other style is what the franchise has been loved for. It’s played in a third-person perspective in an open world environment, focusing on stealth and parkour. The games use a mission structure to follow the main story, generally assigning the player to complete an assassination of public figureheads or a covert mission. Alternatively, several side missions are available, such as mapping out the expansive cities from a high perch followed by performing a “leap of faith” into a haystack below, collecting treasures hidden across the cities, exploring ruins for relics, building a brotherhood of assassins to perform other tasks, or funding the rebuilding of a city through purchasing and upgrading of shops and other features.
Assassin’s Creed – 2007
PS3, Xbox 360, Windows
After completing Prince of Persia: The Sands of Time near the end of 2003, Patrice Désilets (Dee-Zee-Lay) was instructed to begin work on the next Prince of Persia game, with plans for it to release on the seventh-generation consoles. However, at that time, neither Microsoft nor Sony had revealed what their next consoles would be. The initial development of the game from January 2004 was aimed as a PlayStation 2 title, following the same linear approach that The Sands of Time had taken. However, as more information came in about the capabilities of the next-generation consoles by September 2004, Désilets’ team considered expanding the Prince of Persia acrobatic gameplay into an open world which would be feasible on the newer systems.
Désilets wanted to move away from the lead character being a prince simply waiting for his reign to start, but a character that wanted to strive to be a king. He came upon one of his university books related to secret societies, and its first material related to the Assassins, and recognized that he could have the lead character in the game being the second-highest Assassin, seeking to be the leader of the group. As such, the game began work under the title Prince of Persia: Assassin, inspired by the life of Hassan-i Sabbah and making heavy use of Bartol’s novel Alamut. The assassin character was fleshed out over the course of the game’s three-year development in an iterative fashion. The team had some idea of how the character dressed from Alamut and other historical works, in all white-robes and red belt, but had to envision how to detail this in the game. One of the first concept sketches, drawn by animator Khai Nguyen suggested the concept of a bird of prey, which resonated with the team. The assassin was named Altair, meaning “bird of prey” in Arabic, and eagle imagery was used heavily in connection to the Assassins. The team did take some creative routes to meet narrative goals and avoid technical limitations of the consoles. Altair was to be a heroic character with a bit of a “badass” edge, and the artist borrowed elements of the G.I. Joe character Storm Shadow, a similarly-skilled hero. Rendering long flowing robes was impossible to do on the newer hardware, so they shorted the robe and gave it a more feathered look, resonating the “bird of prey” imagery. Similar routes were taken with other parts of the gameplay as to take liberties with accuracy as to make the game fun to play. The team wanted Altair’s parkour moves to look believable, but sacrificed realism for gameplay value, allowing the player to make maneuvers otherwise seemingly impossible in real-life. Having “leaps of faith”s from high vantage points into hay piles and using hay piles to hide from guards was a similar concept which borrowed from Hollywood films, but Désilets observed that Alamut described similar actions that the Assassins had undertaken.
To drive the story, the team had to come up with some goal that both the Assassins and Templars were searching for. Philippe Morin had suggested using the apple of Eden, which the team initially thought to be a humorous aspect for everyone fighting over an apple. However, as they researched into the game more, the team found that many medieval paintings of royalty and other leaders holding spherical objects similar to globus cruciger that represented power and control, and recognized that an artifact named the Apple of Eden would fit well into this concept.
Among this work was the idea of the Animus, which came about after the team’s decision to focus on the Assassins. The team considered that the player would travel through several different cities, and potentially recount numerous assassinations over the past thousand years, including some fantastical ones such as John F. Kennedy which would require some element of time traveling. Désilets had seen a program on DNA and human history and was inspired by the idea if DNA could store human memories, then they could have an in-game machine that could be used for time and location jumps as well as explaining other aspects of the game’s user interface to the player. Désilets considered this similar to what they had established in The Sands of Time. There, the game effectively is a story told by the Prince, and while in the game, should the player-character die, this is treated as a mistelling of the Prince’s story, allowing the player to back up and retry a segment of the game. Ubisoft’s marketing was not keen on the Animus idea, believing players would be confused and be disappointed that the game was not a true medieval experience. The game’s first trailer show at Electronic Entertainment Expo(E3) 2006 focused heavily on the medieval elements due to this. Later marketing materials closer to the game’s release hinted more directly at the science fiction elements of the game.
In contrast to Prince of Persia, where the general path that the player takes through a level is predefined, the open world approach of this game required them to create cities that felt realistic and accurate to historical information but which the player had full freedom to climb and explore. Outside of special buildings, they crafted their cities like Lego bricks, with a second pass to smooth out the shapes of the cities to help with pathfinding and other facets of the enemy artificial intelligence. To encourage the player to explore, they included the various towers that help to reveal parts of the map. Historical, these cities had such landmark towers and inspired by those, the developers incorporated them into the map, making these points of interest and challenges for players to drive them to climb them. Another factor was guiding the player and devising missions for the player that still gave the player freedom for how to approach it but still creating specific moments they wanted the player to experience. For these cases, they used simple animations developed in Adobe Flash to lay out the fundamentals of what actions they wanted, and then crafted levels and missions around those.
As they started to recognize the need for cities in this open world game, Désilets wanted to make sure they were also able to simulate large crowds, as this had been a limiting factor due to hardware limitations during the development of The Sands of Time; with the PlayStation 2hardware, they could only support having up to eight characters on screen for The Sands of Time, but the next-generation hardware was able to support up to 120 people. Having crowds in the game also led to the concept of “social stealth”, where the main character could mask themselves in the open, in addition to staying out of sight on rooftops.
Around late 2005 to early 2006, following nearly two years of development, the concept for Prince of Persia: Assassin had the game’s titular prince was AI-controlled, watched over by the player-controlled Assassin that served as the Prince’s bodyguard and rescued the Prince from various situations. Ubisoft’s management and the development had debates on this direction; Ubisoft’s management wanted another game in the Prince of Persia franchise, and was not keen on releasing a game with that name where the Prince was not the lead character. The development team counters that with a new generation of consoles, they could potentially make it a new intellectual property. Near the 2006 Game Developers Conference, Ubisoft’s marketing team came up with the idea of naming the game Assassin’s Creed, which Désilets recognized fit in perfectly with the themes they had been working on, including tying into the creed of the Assassins, “nothing is true; everything is permitted”. The prince character was dropped and the game focused solely on the assassin as the playable character.
Following the E3 2006 presentation and the name change to Assassin’s Creed, the Ubisoft Montreal team grew to support the last year of the game’s development. Added team members included those that had just finished up production on Prince of Persia: The Two Thrones, as well as former staff that had recently been let go from Gameloft, another publisher owned by Ubisoft’s co-founder Michel Guillemot.
During Microsoft’s E3 2007 press conference, a demo was shown taking place in Jerusalem. Features that were demonstrated included improved crowd mechanics, the system of chasing a fleeing target, as well as deeper aspects of parkour. This was the first time when Altaïr could be heard speaking. A later showcase had a video showing an extended version of the E3 demo and included Altaïr trying to escape after his assassination of Talal the Slave Trader.
The game was released for PlayStation 3 and Xbox 360 on November, 2007. A pirated version of the game has been in existence since late February 2008. According to Ubisoft, a computer bug was purposely inserted into the pre-release version of the game by the publisher itself to unpredictably crash the game and prevent completion as a security measure, though players were able to use extra content available on the Internet to bypass it. The presence of the bug and performance of the pirated version of the game was believed by Ubisoft to lead to “irreparable harm” for the game and resulted in low retail sales; NPD Group reports that 40,000 copies of the PC title were sold in the United States in July, while more than 700,000 copies were illegally downloaded according to Ubisoft.
Game Informer awarded Assassin’s Creed a 9.5 out of 10, praising the control scheme, replay value, and intriguing story, but expressing frustration over the “repetitive” information gathering missions. Metacritic has an aggregate score for the PS3 and 360 versions at 81%, and 79% for the PC release. Assassin’s Creed won several awards at E3 2006. Game Critics awarded it “Best Action/Adventure Game,”: from IGN, “Best Action Game,” “PS3 Game of the Show,” “Best PS3 Action Game,” “Best PS3 Graphics”; from GameSpot and GameSpy, “Best PS3 Game of the Show”; from GameTrailers “Best of Show,” and from 1UP.com, “Best PS3 game.”
Assassin’s Creed II – 2009
PS3, Xbox 360, Windows
Ubisoft’s Yves Guillemot officially confirmed that Assassin’s Creed II was in development in late November, 2008, during the company’s financial performance report. This was followed by Michael Pachter speculating in GameTrailers’ “Bonus Round” that game would change its setting to the events of the French Revolution, which turned out to be false.
The framing story is set in the 21st century and follows Desmond Miles as he relives the genetic memories of his ancestor Ezio Auditore da Firenze. The main narrative takes place at the height of the Renaissance in Italy during the 15th and early 16th century. Players can explore Florence, Venice, Tuscany and Forlì as they guide Ezio on a quest for vengeance against those responsible for betraying his family.
In the game, the Auditore family’s countryside villa, located in Monteriggioni, acts as Ezio’s headquarters: the surrounding property can be upgraded, drawing income for the player’s use. There are several outlets for using currency, with vendors selling items such as medicine, poison, weapons, repairs, upgrades, paintings, and clothing dyes. When these shops are renovated, Ezio receives discounts at the shops on the goods they sell. Purchasing weaponry, armor sets, and artwork also contribute to increasing the villa’s overall worth, in turn generating more income for Monteriggioni.
The PC version of the game utilizes Ubisoft’s Uplay platform, which includes a digital rights management (DRM) system that initially required all users to remain connected to the Internet while playing. In the initial retail version, any progress made subsequent to the last checkpoint was lost if the Internet connection was severed. Ubisoft stated that if the disconnection was temporary, the game would pause. In addition, the company argued that there were numerous checkpoints spread throughout Assassin’s Creed II.
Review aggregator site Metacritic gave the PlayStation 3 version a score of 91 and the Xbox 360 version a 90. The PC version suffered a hit, but still a respectable 86%. At the 2009 Spike Video Game Awards, Assassin’s Creed II was named Best Action Adventure Game, and IGN named it as the Action Game of the Year for Xbox 360 and Xbox 360 Game of the Year.
Assassin’s Creed Brotherhood – 2010
PS3, Xbox 360, Windows
The story is set in the 21st century and features series protagonist Desmond Miles who, with the aid of a machine known as the Animus, relives the memories of his ancestors to find a way to avert the 2012 apocalypse. The main story takes place immediately after the plot of Assassin’s Creed II, featuring Assassin Ezio Auditore da Firenze in 16th century Italy and his quest to restore the Assassin order, and destroy his enemies: the Borgia family.
Assassin’s Creed: Brotherhood was developed by Ubisoft Montreal. Montreal also worked on both of the other main Assassin’s Creed games in the series and was thus chosen to lead production for the third installment. A new Assassin’s Creed episode featuring multiplayer was announced during Ubisoft’s 2009 fiscal third-quarter results while not revealing its name. In early May 2010, a GameStop employee published on the internet some images of a pre-order box featuring the Assassin’s Creed: Brotherhood title while Ubisoft was teasing the game on Facebook and Twitter. Ubisoft then confirmed the authenticity of these pictures. Brotherhood has not been numbered like Assassin’s Creed II because players, and even developers themselves would have expected a new setting and a new ancestor while this is only the continuation of Ezio’s story.
The game was developed primarily by Ubisoft Montreal in Canada. Production was aided in part by four other Ubisoft developers: Annecy, Singapore, Bucharest and Québec City. The multiplayer mode is mainly developed by Ubisoft Annecy, the studio responsible for creating multiplayer mode in Tom Clancy’s Splinter Cell: Chaos Theory. Ubisoft also announced plans for downloadable content (DLC) after the game’s launch. Two sets of free DLC have already been released under the names “Animus Project Update 1.0” and “Animus Project Update 2.0”. The first includes the new map Mont Saint-Michel and one new mode, Advanced Alliance. The “Animus Project Update 2.0” was released in January 2011, was also free, and included another map, mode and the introduction of a player grading system. From the perspective of performance, Ubisoft have commented that they hope the gaps between the PlayStation 3 and Xbox 360 versions will be even smaller with Brotherhood.
While still in development, creative director Patrice Désilets left before the game’s presentation at the E3 2010. Ubisoft and production manager Jean-Francois Boivin stated that he only took a “creative break” after completing his task on Brotherhood. A teaser trailer of the multiplayer mode was released on the official site before the E3. A cinematic debut trailer was diffused during Ubisoft’s E3 2010 press conference along a walkthrough of the game’s beginning. The Microsoft Windows version has Nvidia 3D Vision and multi screen support through AMD Eyefinity. It also uses Tagès copy protection, as well as Ubisoft online services platform, but doesn’t require an always-on Internet connection to play. Late November, 2010, a novelization of the game was published. The novel is a sequel to the previous novel.
The game introduces a new management system: the player can recruit new members by destroying any of twelve “Borgia towers” around Rome where papal troops are stationed and then rescuing disgruntled citizens in their districts from being harassed by guards. The player, as Ezio, can then send them to assignments around Europe or call them for support during missions (if they are not already occupied). Tasking the novice Assassins makes them gain experience, and the player is able to customize their appearance, skills, and weapon training to some degree by spending the skill points they have earned. Assassins can die on missions, from which they will not return. Ezio masters new gadgets, such as Leonardo da Vinci’s parachute, which can be used when jumping from tall buildings, along with poison darts, a faster acting poison, a crossbow, and the ability to hold and throw heavier weapons like axes.
Horses play a larger role in Brotherhood, not only used as a means of transport (inside the city for the first time) but as a component of acrobatic sequences and advanced combat as well, allowing ranged weapons to be used while riding them. Brotherhood also introduces various types of horse-related assassinations, featuring horse-to-horse assassinations. There are environmental objects like the flower pot in Assassin’s Creed II to move faster inside the city (a system of tunnels around the city allow fast travel), as well as new objects such as merchandise lifts to quickly climb up high buildings or structures.
Unlike previous installments, Desmond can leave the Animus at almost any time. This allows Desmond to explore the present-day town of Monteriggioni. The player is also offered virtual training, a mini-game where the player may test their free-running or combat skills.
Assassin’s Creed: Brotherhood is the first game in the main series to feature a multiplayer mode. The players are Templars in training at the Abstergo facility. They use the animi (plural for animus) seen at the beginning of Assassin’s Creed II to access memories of old Templars and to acquire their skills using the “bleeding effect”. There are eight game modes (Wanted, Alliance, Manhunt, Chest Capture, Advanced Wanted, Advanced Alliance, Escort and Assassinate) and different maps, including the areas from the second and the third game like Florence, as well as new maps like Rome, Castel Gandolfo, Siena and Mont Saint-Michel. The gameplay in multiplayer mode is similar to the core gameplay of the series, as players are required to use their assassination and stealth skills. The players must hunt down targets while being hunted themselves. Players earn points by performing assassinations, defending against pursuers, attaining bonuses or completing mode-specific objectives. It also contains a variety of characters, most of which must be unlocked.
Brotherhood was received very well by critics, Metacritic ratings are 88% for PC, 89% for 360 and 90% for PS3.
It won best Action Adventure game in the Spike TV Video Game Awards 2010 The game has also been nominated for 7 British Academy Video Games Awards in 2011, including Best Game. It won an award in the Action category, losing to Mass Effect 2 in the category for Best Game.
Assassin’s Creed Revelations – 2011
PS3, Xbox 360, Windows
This story is again set in the 21st century and features the series protagonist Desmond Miles who, with the aid of a machine known as the Animus, relives the memories of his ancestors to find a way to avert the 2012 apocalypse. Revelations features two other returning protagonists: Altaïr Ibn-La’Ahad in 12th and 13th century Masyaf, and Ezio Auditore da Firenze in 16th century Constantinople. The main story follows the Assassin Ezio’s journey to unlock the secret of Altaïr’s vault in Masyaf using disc-like artifacts containing Altaïr’s memories.
Assassin’s Creed: Revelations was initially conceived as a Nintendo 3DS game called Assassin’s Creed: Lost Legacy about Ezio traveling east to the Assassins’ former city of Masyaf, where he would have discovered the origins of the Assassin Order. It was first announced during Nintendo’s E3 2010 press conference. It was quietly cancelled and its main concept was developed into Assassin’s Creed: Revelations.
In November 2010, Ubisoft’s CEO Yves Guillemot teased “something Assassin’s related” in 2011, despite an earlier statement by Ubisoft Montreal’s Jean-Francois Boivin that no Assassin’s Creed game will be released in 2011. Geoffroy Sardin of Ubisoft later confirmed that there will be a “big” Assassin’s Creed game in 2011. Guillemot also explained that ultimate goal for Ubisoft is to release new games in the franchise annually along with Ubisoft’s most popular other franchises. In February 2011, Ubisoft CEO Yves Guillemot confirmed that the next Assassin’s Creed game would be released during its next fiscal year, which starts on April 1, 2011, and ends on March 31, 2012.
On April 29, 2011 the game’s name was released on the official Assassin’s Creed Facebook page, with a link which led to a flash file. The teaser clip included the words, “Altaïr Ibn La-Ahad, Son of no one” in Arabic which hints that Altaïr, the main protagonist of the first game, may once again be the main protagonist of the game. A third teaser clip for the game showed the city of Constantinople, which hints at it being the setting for the game. In the E3 rumor section of its April 2011 issue, Xbox World 360 said Assassin’s Creed: Revelations is not Assassin’s Creed III, but suggests that game is also secretly in the works. Revelations was likely to be “another slimline Brotherhood-style offering”, Xbox World 360 stated. On May 5, Game Informer released details of the game, and the game was “officially” announced by Ubisoft at Electronic Entertainment Expo 2011.
The game was developed primarily by Ubisoft Montreal in Canada. Production was aided in part by five other Ubisoft developers: Annecy, Massive, Quebec, Singapore, and Bucharest. Lead writer Darby McDevitt said that Revelations would not answer all the burning questions clouding the series, stating “Well, we won’t answer everything because Desmond’s story continues. But fans will definitely know most of the important details of Ezio and Altair’s lives, and how they fit into the grand scheme.” McDevitt also stated that 85 percent of Assassin’s Creed’s overarching plot is already “mapped out”. McDevitt claimed original Creed protagonist Altaïr had his story arc written for two years, and that Ezio’s ultimate fate was planned during the development of Brotherhood.
Voice of Desmond Miles, Nolan North, urged Ubisoft to adopt motion capture methods similar to Naughty Dog’s Uncharted. Speaking in an interview, North admitted there is a “disconnect” in the Ubisoft game’s current setup, which has voice actors provide voice facial animation separately from body motion capture, which is recorded by different actors. “I wish it wasn’t done separately,” North said. “Don’t get me wrong, the mo-cap actors do a great job, but there will always be somewhat of a disconnect when it’s done this way. After my experiences on the Uncharted franchise, where the actors do both performance and voice, I can honestly say there is absolutely a difference.”
The PC version of Assassin’s Creed: Revelations does not force players to always be online to work like its predecessors, despite Ubisoft’s recent claims that its policy is a success, insisting it has seen “a clear reduction in piracy of our titles which required a persistent online connection”. Even then, the always-online DRM was permanently removed from all single-player games. It does, however, require a one-time-only online activation the very first time the player plays the game, which will permanently bind the activation code to the player’s account, and thus, it does not need to be activated again on the same account if the game is reinstalled for some reason. This also applies to reinstalling on another computer. Following that, the player can permanently play the game in offline mode.
Metacritic scores are straight across the board a good game, PC, 360 and PS3 are all 80%. 1UP gave the game a rating of B+, stating “While Revelations lacks that one supreme improvement or standout mechanic that defined AC2 and Brotherhood each, it’s still a damn fine sendoff for Altair and Ezio.”
Assassin’s Creed III – 2012
PS3, Xbox 360, Windows
The story of Desmond using the Animus reliving his ancestors memories to try and advert the 2012 apocalypse. The flip side of the story is set in the 18th century, before, during and after the American Revolution from 1754 to 1783, and follows Desmond’s half-English, half-Mohawk ancestor, Ratonhnhaké:ton (Ra-doon-ha-gay-doon), also known as Connor, as he fights the Templars’ attempts to gain control in the colonies.
Work on Assassin’s Creed III began in January 2010 (almost immediately after the release of Assassin’s Creed II) by a senior team of Ubisoft developers. The title was in development for two and a half years and had the longest development cycle since the first Assassin’s Creed. When Ubisoft first revealed Assassin’s Creed: Brotherhood in 2010, as new details came to light, there was some confusion within the gaming community as to whether this would be Assassin’s Creed III. According to the developers, Brotherhood was not Assassin’s Creed III, and the third installment would not star a “pre-existing character.” Ubisoft Montreal’s developers stated in their interviews that Assassin’s Creed III would be released eventually.
Jean-François Boivin of Ubisoft also stated that each numbered title in the series will introduce a new lead character and a new setting. Patrice Désilets, former series’ creative director, said that the series has always been planned as a trilogy. He also commented on the story of Assassin’s Creed III, saying that it would focus on Assassins’ quest to prevent the end of the world in 2012, and their race against time to find temples and Apples of Eden built by “Those Who Came Before”. Desmond would be searching for clues as to the locations of these temples, by exploring memories of one (or more) of his other ancestors.
Ubisoft said that when Rockstar’s Red Dead Redemption released midway through Assassin’s Creed III’s development, it was surprising to see Rockstar had included wild animal hunting and a giant frontier to explore—features both planned for its own sequel. Lead writer Corey May said Ubisoft’s now looking at Red Dead’s success and trying to take the formula in “new directions”. Similarities between these two games are down to “a convergence of minds”, said Assassin’s Creed III writer Matt Turner. Creative Director Alex Hutchinson said Ubisoft steered clear of making the Assassin’s Creed III protagonist a female character because the game’s setting is not a strong match. Hutchinson said while many people wanted to see female assassins in the series, the American Revolution setting makes it difficult this time around.
Assassin’s Creed III features new weather simulations such as snow, fog, and rain. The seasons can also change i.e., Summer and Winter, which not only affect visuals but also gameplay, as the player will find that they run slower in deep snow. Snowfall can reduce visibility for the player and enemies, aiding stealth. Unlike the past games, this one includes animals varying from domestic (horses, cows, dogs) to wild (deer, wolves, bears). The wild ones are found in the Frontier and can be hunted for meat or marrow in order to be sold. The quality of the kill determines the price, encouraging the player to hunt silently. For this, traps and bait can also be used.
The economy is now based on the Davenport Homestead, which also acts as Connor’s adoptive home. The site can be visited by people such as carpenters, tailors, etc. suffering from displacement due to the war. Helping and interacting with these non-player characters(NPCs) will encourage them to settle in the Homestead. From there on, the player can craft various items and trade with them, and then sell the goods to the cities via caravan. The player can also help them build relationships with each other, which will then result in the formation of a small village. The player can also upgrade the Homestead manor as well as Connor’s ship, the Aquila.
A revamped version of Assassin’s Creed: Brotherhood’s recruitment feature returns as players can enlist citizens to the Assassins’ cause by completing “Liberation” missions. They also have a much larger skill set, which allows them to start a riot, provide a covert escort, act as a personal bodyguard, etc. Other side missions include collecting Almanac pages, exploring underground tunnels to locate fast-travel stations, joining hunting and fighting clubs, investigating frontiersman rumors about UFOs and Sasquatch, “peg-leg” missions in which Connor goes to underground forts and wastelands to uncover the legend of Captain Kidd’s treasure, and others.
Assassin’s Creed III also features naval expeditions. Using Connor’s warship, the Aquila, the player can navigate the high seas. Control of the ship relies on environmental factors such as wind direction and speed, local presence of storms, high waves, and rocks. Engagements are by cannon, with broadsides covering both flanks of the ship, swivel guns that can be used to damage smaller ships which can also be boarded to find treasure, and chain shots from the broadsides as well to take down the masts of larger ships and disable them. The Aquilais used in the side missions known as “Privateer missions” and is also used in some of the main missions.
The Wii U version of the game has extra features. The player has the ability to change weapons on the go and the map is always visible on the Wii U Gamepad. The Wii U version also supports Off TV Play. With this feature enabled, the main screen is redirected to the Wii U Gamepad.
Ubisoft recommends the PC version of the game to be played with a controller even though it will still support keyboard and mouse setup. Ubisoft Montreal’s creative director Alex Hutchinson admitted: “We’re definitely supporting PC, we love PC, but I think it’ll be PC with a controller. I don’t see us investing hugely in a mouse and keyboard setup. I think if you want to play on PC and you want to play Assassin’s Creed, you have a controller.”
Assassin’s Creed III received positive reviews, with critics praising the visuals, narrative, combat style, hunting mechanics, naval missions and Homestead system, while complaining about the game’s glitches and some of the missions’ prescriptive layouts. Metacritic has the PC release at 80%, 360 at 84% and PS3 and WiiU releases at 85%.
The 2013 D.I.C.E. Interactive Achievement Awards, the game won the award for Outstanding Achievement in Animation and was nominated for Adventure Game of the Year, and Outstanding Achievement in Sound Design. Losing those two categories to The Walking Dead by Telltale Games, and Journey by thatgamecompany, respectively.
Assassin’s Creed IV – 2013
PS3, PS4, Xbox 360, Windows
This game continues the struggle of the Assassins and Templars. The framing story is set in the 21st century and describes the player as an Abstergo agent. The main story is set in the 18th century Caribbean during the Golden Age of Piracy, and follows notorious Welsh pirate Edward Kenway, grandfather and father of Assassin’s Creed III protagonist Ratonhnhaké:ton and antagonist Haytham Kenway, respectively, who stumbles upon the Assassin/Templar conflict. The attempted establishment of a Republic of Pirates utopia (free from either British or Spanish rule) is a significant plot element.
I missed this title when it came out, Alan had to tell me how great it was, when he played it on the WiiU. It was given away for Xbox Games With Gold, and it was a fantastic experience. I loved how much I was able to complete, but pretty frustrated that achievements were on both single player and multiplayer, so I couldn’t get them all.
The game features three main cities; Havana, Kingston, and Nassau, which reside under Spanish, British, and pirate influence, respectively. In addition, locations like Port-au-Prince and smaller locations like Greater Inagua are used as main story points. It also features 50 other individual locations to explore, including atolls, sea forts, Mayan ruins, sugar plantations, and underwater shipwrecks, with a 60/40 balance between land and naval exploration. It has a more open world feel, with missions similar to those found in Assassin’s Creed, as well as fewer restrictions for the player. The world opens up sooner in the game, as opposed to Assassin’s Creed III, which had very scripted missions and did not give players freedom to explore until the game was well into its first act. The player will encounter jungles, forts, ruins, and small villages and the world is built to allow players much more freedom, such as allowing players to engage, board, and capture passing ships and swimming to nearby beaches in a seamless fashion. In addition, the hunting system has been retained from Assassin’s Creed III, allowing the player to hunt on land, and fish in the water, with resources gathered used to upgrade equipment.
A new aspect in the game is the Jackdaw, the ship that the player captains. The Jackdaw is upgradeable throughout the game, and is easily accessible to the player when needed. In addition, a new underwater component has been added. The player has access to a spyglass, allowing the examination of distant ships, along with their cargo and strength. It can also help determine if an island still has animals to hunt, treasures to find, high points to reach for synchronization or additional side-quests to complete, such as assassinations and naval contracts. An updated form of the recruit system introduced in Assassin’s Creed: Brotherhood has returned, allowing Edward to recruit crew members. While Kenway’s crew will remain loyal to him, they can be promoted to captain acquired ships, and are needed to assist in boarding enemy vessels, they cannot assist in combat or perform long-range assassinations, as in previous games. Ubisoft removed this aspect of the brotherhood system, believing it allowed players to bypass tense and challenging scenarios too easily.
In the present day, at the offices of Abstergo Entertainment—a subsidiary of Abstergo Industries—in Montreal, Quebec, players engage in modern-day pirating through the exploration of Abstergo’s offices, eavesdropping, and hacking, all without combat. As well, various “hacking” games, similar to previous cluster and glyph puzzles, are present, that uncover secrets about Abstergo.
Multiplayer also returns, with new settings and game modes, though it is only land-based.
In early February 2013, during its quarterly financial call to investors, Ubisoft CEO Yves Guillemot confirmed that the next Assassin’s Creedgame, due for release some time before April 2014, would feature a new hero, time period, and development team. Development began in mid-2011 at Ubisoft Montreal by a separate team from the one on Assassin’s Creed III, with additional work done by Ubisoft studios in Annecy, Bucharest, Kyiv, Milan, Montpellier, Singapore and Sofia.
Lead content manager Carsten Myhill stressed away from the sentiment that the sequel should have been a spin-off in the same vein as Assassin’s Creed: Brotherhood or Assassin’s Creed: Revelations, given the ostensible similarities with Assassin’s Creed III. He stated “The whole feeling of the game is completely fresh and new. It will feel very different from Assassin’s Creed III. I think it completely warrants the Assassin’s Creed IV moniker, not only with the new name and setting but the attitude and the tone of the experience.” Assassin’s Creed IV is the first main series numbered title to carry a subtitle, a decision which Myhill says was made to clearly distinguish the pirate theme from the rest of the franchise.
Assassin’s Creed IV: Black Flag received “generally favorable” reviews, according to review aggregator Metacritic, with critics praising the open world gameplay, side-quests, graphics and naval combat. Aggregate scores for PS4 at 83%, PC with 84%, WiiU and 360 at 86%, and 88% for the PS3 release.
Assassin’s Creed Rogue – 2014
PS3, PS4, Xbox 360, Xbox One, Windows
This game still follows the centuries-old struggle between the Assassins, who fight for peace with free will, and the Templars, who desire peace through control. The story is set in the mid-18th century during the Seven Years’ War, and follows Shay Patrick Cormac, an Assassin-turned-Templar who hunts down former members of his Brotherhood after being betrayed by them. Gameplay in Rogue is very similar to that of Black Flag with a mixture of ship-based naval exploration and third-person land-based exploration with some new features.
Naval aspects from previous games return with the player controlling Shay’s ship, the Morrígan. The Morrígan has a shallower draft compared to Edward Kenway’s Jackdaw from Assassin’s Creed IV: Black Flag, allowing for river travel. New features include new ship-based weapons such as releasing an oil slick which can then be ignited, Puckle guns, and the ability for enemies to board the Morrígan during ship-to-ship combat. The arctic environment also adds features to naval gameplay and exploration, as certain icebergs can be rammed with an icebreaker. However, the underwater diving missions featured in Black Flag do not exist as swimming in the North Atlantic causes the player’s health to rapidly deplete due to the frigid water, though Shay is able to swim in the waters of the ‘river valley’ area.
For combat, the game introduces an air rifle, similar to the blowpipe from the Black Flag which allows the player to silently take out enemies at a distance. The air rifle can be outfitted with a variety of different projectiles, such as firecrackers. The player can also use it as a grenade launcher, which fires off shrapnel grenades and other loads. Hand-to-hand combat has been slightly altered, and now enemy attacks can be countered with timing, similar to the Batman: Arkham series of games. Enemy Assassins feature archetypes similar to previous games, using skills that players have been using throughout the series; they can hide in bushes, blend in with crowds, and perform air assassinations against the player. Poison gas can now be used as an environmental weapon, and Shay has a mask that can mitigate its effects.
Side missions and activities return, with a number of them based on those of the previous games. Reflecting Shay’s role as a Templar, the game introduces a new side mission: Assassin Interception. These mirror the Assassination side missions in previous games, in that Shay, after intercepting a messenger pigeon carrying an assassination contract, must prevent an innocent being assassinated by finding and killing Assassins hidden nearby.
By March 2014, an Assassin’s Creed game code-named “Comet” was revealed to be in development, set for release on PlayStation 3 and Xbox 360. By the end of the month, additional reports indicated that “Comet” would be set around 1758 in New York, as well as feature sailing on the Atlantic Ocean. The game would be a direct sequel to Assassin’s Creed IV: Black Flag, and would feature a Templar named Shay as the main protagonist. Haytham Kenway from Assassin’s Creed III and Adéwalé from Black Flag would also make appearances.
The game was officially announced on August 5, 2014, following a leak of the title. Game director Martin Capel described the game as finishing the series’ “North American saga” and that the game was designed to accommodate specific fan requests, such as taking on the role of a Templar. The game is intended to “fill the gaps” of the story between Assassin’s Creed III and Assassin’s Creed IV: Black Flagand has “a crucial link” to the events of the previous games. In addition to Ubisoft Sofia’s work on the game, contributions are also being made by Ubisoft studios in Singapore, Montreal, Quebec, Chengdu, Milan and Bucharest. Ubisoft also stated that the game was being envisioned without multiplayer components “at this stage”, but did not rule out any modes being added after the game launched. March 2018, a remaster of the game was released for PlayStation 4 and Xbox One.
The game got average to positive reviews. Daniel Krupa from IGN gave the game a 6.8/10. He praised the engaging story, the nuanced lead character, atmospheric scenery, but criticized the lack of Templar abilities included, bland encounters with other main characters, uninspired side quests, empty world, as well as the frustrating combat and traversal system, which he stated has shown no improvements. He also criticized the game for not encouraging the player to explore the world.
Metacritic’s aggregate scores have the PS4 and Xbox One remasters at 71%. The PS3 and 360 releases at 72% and up to 74% for the PC.
Assassin’s Creed Unity – 2014
PS4, Xbox One, Windows
The struggle between Assassins and Templars continue. The other side of the story is set in Paris during the French Revolution; the single-player story follows Arno Victor Dorian in his efforts to expose the true powers behind the Revolution. The game retains the series’ third-person open world exploration as well as introducing a revamped combat, parkour and stealth system. The game also introduces cooperative multiplayer to the Assassin’s Creed series, letting up to four players engage in narrative-driven missions and explore the open world map.
The game was meant to be rebuilt, with fencing being used as an inspiration for the new system. In addition to returning weapons from previous games, Assassin’s Creed Unity introduces the Phantom Blade. The Phantom Blade uses the mechanics of a crossbow to fire a silent projectile at a great distance, while still serving the same role as the Hidden Blade in previous Assassin’s Creed games. Navigation for the game was also overhauled: new “Free-run up” and “Free-run down” commands were added to make it easier for the player to scale buildings in either direction. Additionally, Arno learns new moves throughout the game, but the player can also purchase new skills as well. With the updated, larger crowds, new interactions with them are also available. The crowd regularly presents many activities, appearing organically, that the player can then choose to engage in at their leisure. Examples include scaring a group of bullies by pulling out a weapon, “settling” a disagreement between two civilians by killing one of them, which is usually a Templar, or chasing down a thief who has just pick pocketed somebody.
For the first time, the series allows players to customize the characters’ abilities, adopting a skill tree that enables players to assign points earned through gameplay to improve their skills in stealth, melee, and ranged combat, and health. Players are also able to customise their weapons, armour and equipment to further complement their individual style of play. Players also have a wider selection of weapons available, including swords, axes, spears, rifles, pistols and throwable items, such as smoke bombs. The expansion DLC, Assassin’s Creed Dead Kings, adds the formidable guillotine gun, which from gameplay I saw on YouTube, is a grenade launcher with an axe head for close combat fighting.
Assassin’s Creed Unity also introduces cooperative multiplayer to the series. Players can enter taverns, which act as social hubs in the game, where you can see if any friends are playing the game at the current time. If they are currently in a mission, they will appear as a “ghost” version of their player, allowing you to approach it to request to join their mission. If accepted, you are transitioned to their game and both of you reset to the most recent checkpoint, and continue on from there. Up to four players can join together in this fashion. The player will take on the role of Arno, customized within their own game, with other players appearing as their own customized version of Arno in their own sets of equipment, weapons, and armor. Many missions and activities will be available for cooperative play (which the player can also complete on their own), but there are some story missions that are single player only.
There are significant tie-ins with the Assassins Creed Unity Companion App, a “freemium” click app with limited “direct ties to the overall story of Unity”. There are a significant number of chests, assassination targets, and other collectibles that are visible to all players but only accessible to those who have completed certain goals within the app. Following an update in February 2015, this requirement is no longer necessary, meaning players who have downloaded the update, can now collect all the chests in the game without having to play the companion app.
Chris Carter from Destructoid gave the game 7/10, praising the new movement system, likable lead characters, iconic setting, smooth animation and improved draw distance. New additions such as character customization and huge crowds were also praised. However, he criticized the predictable story, technical issues, and the mission design of co-op multiplayer, as it is impossible to play some missions solo. He stated that “Unity feels like a step back. … It lacks that grand sense of roaming the uncharted seas in Assassin’s Creed IV: Black Flag, or even the open-ended feel of the wilderness in Assassin’s Creed III, but it’s a journey worth taking if you’re already into the series.”
The Metacritic aggregate scores are 70% for the PC and PS4, and 72% on the Xbox One.
Assassin’s Creed Syndicate – 2015
PS4, Xbox One, Windows
The modern setting is still Assassins against the Templars. The other story is set in Victorian era London and follows twin assassins Jacob and Evie Frye as they navigate the corridors of organized crime, and take back the city from Templar control. The open world design lets players freely roam London.
Composed of the greater area of Victorian London, consisting of seven boroughs, the world of Assassin’s Creed Syndicate is much larger than previous entries in the series. The player can also perform side missions, which were designed to reflect the fight for power in London, and are cohesive to the game’s main story. In keeping with a historical context that more closely resembles the modern day, the city guard of previous iterations is replaced by a Victorian-era police force, who will rarely attack the player unless a crime is committed in their presence; the player’s main enemy is instead a Templar-controlled street gang called the “Blighters.”
The game lets the player control two characters: twins Jacob and Evie Frye. Jacob is a hot-headed brawler, specializing in close-ranged combat, while Evie is strong in stealth and relies on her intelligence and wit. Additionally, Evie is the first playable female protagonist of the main series. The main weapons of Syndicate include brass knuckles, a compact revolver, a cane-sword, and the traditional Nepalese curved kukri knife. The game also introduces new systems to navigate the world: a rope launcher, which allows the player to rappel up structures, or create a zip-line between buildings; carriages, which can be piloted or simply occupied by the player, and can be the setting of fights and parkour chases; and a train, which serves as the main base for the player throughout the game. Unlike its predecessor, the game has no multiplayer mode, and does not feature a companion app.
I have not covered the details of all the DLC content that adds on to the games, but this one has an extra story that I find really interesting:
“In 1888, Jacob Frye meets Mr. Weaversbrook and warns him not to publish Jack’s letters as he wants to spread fear in London. He then receives word of another murder and goes to investigate. Jacob goes after the Ripper, who begins following him before eventually attacking. As the Ripper pursues Jacob, it is revealed that he knows Jacob personally, and possesses Assassin abilities. After escaping, Jacob reaches his lodgings, but the Ripper arrives and attacks again, with Jacob seemingly being killed.
Following the incident, Jacob’s sister Evie arrives from India, having been summoned by Jacob some time before, where she is greeted by police inspector Frederick Abberline, who informs her that Jacob is missing and presumed dead. He also tells her that she may be the last Assassin remaining in London, and the only one capable of stopping the Ripper. After finding Jacob’s lodgings, Evie takes some non-lethal fear tools used by the Indian Brotherhood. She also deduces that the Ripper is in fact one of Jacob’s Assassin Initiates. Afterwards, she kills the Ripper’s lieutenants who have been aiding in his crimes and frees a number of prisoners he had been keeping hostage. All the while, the Ripper stalks Evie.
With more murders occurring, Evie is pressured to find the Ripper quickly; after the Ripper’s final murder, Abberline makes it plain unless she delivers the Ripper, he will not be able to stop her from being arrested for the crimes – Evie vows to stop the Ripper or die trying. She re-examines all of his old crime scenes and finds hidden clues that lead to him, as well as learning the fact that all of the women he murdered were Assassins. She later finds a message left by the Ripper, which reveals that he never forgave Jacob for failing to protect his mother from being killed by Starrick’s men. Evie deduces that the Ripper is waiting for her at Lambeth Asylum, where he was imprisoned before Jacob recruited him into the Brotherhood. Meanwhile, the Ripper returns to the Asylum and murders his former tormentors and destroys all records of his true identity. Evie arrives shortly after the Ripper and kills him in battle.
Afterwards, she finds an imprisoned but still alive Jacob. With the Ripper dead, Abberline agrees to cover up the Ripper’s identity as an Assassin in order to protect the Brotherhood.”
Daniel Krupa from IGN gave the game an 8.2/10, citing the design of the city and the lighthearted plot as high points, while criticizing the repetitive combat, yet saying it was better than Unity’s combat. Metacritcs scores the PC release at 74%, PS4 with 76% and 78% for the Xbox One.
Assassin’s Creed Origins – 2017
PS4, Xbox One, Windows
Set in Ancient Egypt near the end of the Ptolemaic period (49–47 BCE) and recounts the secret fictional history of real-world events. The story follows a Medjay named Bayek, and explores the origins of the centuries-long conflict between the Brotherhood of Assassins, who fight for peace by promoting liberty, and The Order of the Ancients—forerunners to the Templar Order—who desire peace through the forced imposition of order.
* The Medjay were an elite paramilitary police force, serving as desert scouts and protectors of areas of Pharaonic interest.
Development of Assassin’s Creed Origins started in early 2014, after the completion of Assassin’s Creed IV: Black Flag. The series had been following a yearly release cycle, but after the launch of Assassin’s Creed Syndicate in 2015, Ubisoftchose to delay the release of Origins until 2017. Ubisoft CEO Yves Guillemot cited a desire to focus on the quality of the individual titles, the opportunity to develop future games with new engines, and the disappointing sales of Syndicate as the reasons behind the decision.
During production of Assassin’s Creed III in November 2011 Ubisoft conducted a fan survey exploring potential settings for future titles. Ancient Egypt was one of the most popular choices, but Alex Hutchinson, the creative director of Assassin’s Creed III, dismissed the results as he considered Ancient Egypt—as with the other two chosen settings, feudal Japan and World War II—as being “the worst choices” for a setting. The development team hired Egyptologists to assist in making the open world more accurate to the time period.
The “eagle vision” mode, which was used by the franchise to give the player the ability to scout an area by highlighting enemies and objects, has been replaced by a Bonelli’s eagle named Senu as a companion. The player is able to take control of Senu and scout an area in advance, highlighting enemies which will then be visible when they return to controlling Bayek, the game’s main character. The player can also tame various predators which will serve as a companion for the player and assist them against enemies. Naval combat, underwater exploration and tomb raiding return to the series.
The game also features revised combat mechanics. Previous titles in the Assassin’s Creed series used a “paired animation system” whereby the player character would engage with an enemy and combat would be dictated by a series of predetermined animations based on player inputs and scripted AI movements. Origins moves to a “hit-box system”. When the player wields a weapon, they will strike at whatever is in range, allowing them to hit enemies directly, injure individual body parts, and creating the possibility of missing an enemy entirely. Complementing this is the way weapons fall into different categories and are rated on their damage dealt, speed and range. Enemies will be drawn from several basic archetypes that use a variety of tactics in combat which, combined with the hit-box system, will require the player to learn the attributes of individual weapons and tailor their playing style to succeed in combat. As enemy combat is also dictated by the hit-box system, the player has been equipped with a shield and needs to balance their offensive and defensive capabilities. Locations within the game world are designed to enable the player to choose their playing style by offering stealth and open combat as equally-viable choices for completing objectives.
Origins introduces an arena-based combat system where the player fights waves of increasingly difficult combinations of enemies culminating in a boss fight. While the introduction to the arena is incorporated into the main story, the arena mode stands alone from the wider narrative. The game world features several arenas, with a variety of enemy combinations and unique bosses not found in the game world. The player is able to unlock additional weapons and equipment by completing arena fights.
Colin Campbell of Polygon gave the game a score of 8.5/10, writing, “In essence, Assassin’s Creed Origins is much the same game as the original Assassin’s Creed, which came out a decade ago. It’s a formula that people like to play, and it’s certainly been honed and improved over the years. Origins is, then, undoubtedly the best iteration of this formula yet. But I yearn for a fresh approach and new ideas, something that astounds the senses as much as the wondrous world this game inhabits.”
Metacritic aggregate scores have the PS4 at 81%, 84% for the PC and 85% on Xbox One.
Assassin’s Creed Odyssey – 2018
PS4, Xbox One, Nintendo Switch, Windows, Stadia
Set in the year 431 BC, the plot tells a fictional history of the Peloponnesian War between Athens and Sparta. Players control a male or female mercenary who fights for both sides as they attempt to unite their family and uncover a malign cult.
Assassin’s Creed Odyssey places more emphasis on role-playing elements than previous games in the series. The game contains dialogue options, branching quests and multiple endings. The player is able to choose the gender of the main character, adopting the role of Alexios or Kassandra. The game features a notoriety system in which mercenaries chase after the player if they commit crimes like killing or stealing.
The player character, is a mercenary, and a descendant of the Spartan king Leonidas I. They inherit his broken spear, which is forged into a blade to become a weapon that grants the player special abilities in combat. The game uses a skill tree system that allows the player to unlock new abilities. The three skill trees are “hunter”, which focuses on ranged attacks through use of a bow & arrow, “warrior”, which focuses on weapons based combat (swords, spears, axes etc.), and “assassin”, which focuses on stealth & silent take-downs. This replaces the system used in Origins, which granted the player a series of passive abilities.
The hitbox combat system introduced in Origins returns and is expanded upon to grant the player access to different special skills when the ability bar fills up. These skills include calling a rain of arrows and a powerful kick to knock opponents off-balance, and are similar to the “Overpower” mechanic introduced in Origins that let the player use a powerful finishing move in combat. The game also features a gear system in which each piece of armor the player wears has different statistics and provides a range of advantages. These can be equipped and upgraded individually.
Assassin’s Creed Odyssey also features naval combat again, with the player having access to Hellenistic-era warships to explore the Aegean Sea. The conflict between Athens and Sparta is represented through a “War System” which enables players to take contracts from mercenaries and participate in different large-scale battles against hostile factions. The war system can change a faction’s influence over a region.
The player can develop romantic relationships with non-playable characters of both genders, regardless of their own character’s gender. Creative director Jonathan Dumont commented that “since the story is choice-driven, we never force players in romantic situations they might not be comfortable with (…) I think this allows everybody to build the relationships they want, which I feel respects everybody’s roleplay style and desires.” Players and critics appreciated this inclusion of queer romance options. However, many reacted negatively to a plot development in the Legacy of the First Blade DLC in which the player character has no choice but to enter into a relationship and have a child with a person of the opposite gender, considering that this invalidated their character’s identity and the roleplaying aspects previously emphasized by Ubisoft. Ubisoft responded that “we strive to give players choice whenever possible in Odyssey and apologise to those surprised by the events in this episode”. Ubisoft later stated that the forced romance would be removed with a future patch along with a modified cutscene. However this consisted of editing the cutscene slightly so that the player could tell their child they were only doing it for the blood-line – the child is still compulsory.
EGMNow gave the game an 8.5/10, writing “Assassin’s Creed Odyssey lives up to its namesake. By fully investing in becoming an action RPG, Odyssey’s characters, combat, story, and scope are beyond anything the series has accomplished so far. Its ambitions might get the better of it sometimes, like in how it divides its story moments or in how the leveling system can get out of hand, but the overall experience is, simply put, epic.” Metacritic aggregate scores have the PS4 version at 83%, the PC release at 86% and the Xbox One release is up at 87%.