Now that Assassin’s Creed: Unity has been (slightly) delayed until November 11th, Ubisoft has two extra weeks to polish (and market) their first true next-generation entry in the popular open world game series. While Assassin’s Creed 4: Black Flag was a major seller on the PS4 and Xbox One, the title was also available on last-gen consoles – meaning that even though it featured better visuals and reduced load times, the game was unable to take full complete advantage of next generation console hardware. Of course, that is set to change when Unity arrives – since the title promises to both bring the franchise back to its roots while blazing a new trail for the series going forward.
Just over two months remain and while Ubisoft has been forthcoming about many of Unity‘s new features, others have been held back for future unveiling. Last week, leaked video teased the all new challenge mode “Rifts” and now fresh gameplay footage is helping to clarify exactly how customization and microtransactions work in the title’s four-player cooperative mode.
Speaking to Eurogamer at Gamescom 2014, Assassin’s Creed: Unity Creative Director Alex Amancio detailed the game’s highly anticipated co-op features – revealing that customization doesn’t end with the player’s onscreen look. In the video, Amancio explains that Unity includes over 200 pieces of unlockable gear – asserting that each piece includes specific benefits (and shortcomings). By customizing Arno’s appearance, players also alter how the character plays - allowing gamers to create an assassin that suits their own unique style (stealth, short range brawling, etc).
Check out the video below for a closer look at Unity‘s customization options as well as how accessorizing impacts gameplay:
One of the more controversial design choices in Unity has been the adoption of a microtransaction/free-to-play progression model – a point that Amancio is smart to touch-on in the video. The Creative Director maintains that gamers who do not want to spend money on better gear will be able to acquire the same loot by playing Unity and that the payment option only speeds up the process. No doubt, the move is good for Ubisoft. It will bring in extra revenue and could increase the amount of active gamers in the title’s multiplayer modes - since they won’t need to commit ample time for accessory grinding.
Still, it’s understandable that some dedicated AC fans aren’t pleased by the feature – especially those who enjoy earning their way through a progression system and wear rare loot with pride. If one gamer can simply purchase a powerful piece of armor (that would normally take days to unlock), other players will likely take less pride in acquiring the armor through a traditional unlock point system. Not to mention, microtransactions set the stage for a very slippery slope – where certain pieces of content (often the best or most interesting) is only available as a purchase. At this point, it sounds as though Amancio and Ubisoft aren’t going to lock customization content entirely behind a paywall but there’s no way of knowing where they will draw the line in future Assassin’s Creed installments.
Nevertheless, even though plenty of gamers will be skeptical of the title’s pay to unlock shortcuts, it’s great to see the Unity team is investing actual value in weapons and accessories. Throughout most of the Assassin’s Creed games, more than half of the unlockable guns, swords, and outfits were outright useless compared to a select few standouts – since players could typically acquire near-perfect weaponry relatively early on (or by completing side-missions). In fact, many installments have a near-universal choice for “best” sword or gun – instead of a more robust set of stats that force gamers to find the “best” gun for their particular play style.
Given that there are multiple ways to approach every story mission in Assassin’s Creed: Unity, the updated customization and perk options should provide a new layer to the experience as well as encourage gamers to build an Arno Dorian that is fine-tuned for exactly how they want to take-on the Templars. That is unless they wanted to take-on Templars with a female assassin.
Assassin’s Creed: Unity releases November 11, 2014 for PC, PS4, and Xbox One.
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