We know Assassin's Creed 3 will be good, the only question is how much it will surprise, impress, and promise even bigger things for the future of the franchise. If the latest peek behind the scenes and 'Into The Wild' is any indication, Ubisoft is aiming high. We're not talking about the politically-charged themes of social justice, racial tolerance, or self-identity. We're not even talking about the overhauled combat and traversal mechanics.
New York and Boston may be the most promising for history buffs, the span and fidelity of the wilderness seen in this footage conjures images of Red Dead Redemption, among others (read: deer-wrestling). Players shouldn't get their hopes too high, but don't underestimate the developers' aspirations either.
This look at the wilderness and wildlife of Assassin's Creed 3 comes from IGN, as Part 3 of their 'Making Of' series exploring the nuts and bolts of the development. In the most surprising glimpse into the game's campaign to date, the animals, traversal and hunting seem to be far more realized than previously implied. Animals are nothing new to open-world games set in forests or desert, but anyone who thought that Ubisoft was merely cribbing Red Dead is in for a shock.
Rather than placing animals next to Connor that exist only to be killed or scared off (*cough*Skyrim*cough*), the developers are going a different direction. The wolves are shown to attack civilians, certainly, but animations of newborn pups suckling from their mother and bucks locking antlers in disputes isn't what we anticipated. These are fittingly referred to as 'Simple Magic Moments' by the team - who doesn't want the chance to simply pet a cow, instead of assassinate it? (You can still assassinate it).
The team doesn't go into extensive detail on how necessary it will be for the player to explore the wild throughout the campaign, and rightly so. If these are signs of how much gameplay is packed into the AC3 experience, then it will likely be a lengthy learning curve. Broader themes are the way to go in the name of keeping the game surprising, but people who wish to know a bit more about Connor's costume, animations, and path to development need not fret.
For those who missed the first episode of the series, 'Origins,' take a look now. Starting with the success of Assassin's Creed 2, Ubisoft had a monumental task of not just raising the bar, but raising it as much as AC2 had from the original game. For a series so linked with compelling story, it's a surprise to see just how integral a role the new AnvilNext Engine played in making the setting and story of Connor Kenway a reality.
Traversal, combat, environments, NPCs - nothing was considered 'good enough' once Ubisoft got down to work:
We've also included episode 2, 'Refining the Assassin,' since Ubisoft has tended to speak about Connor on broad conceptual terms. The actual costume, weaponry, and silhouette of the third playable Assassin in the series posed a unique challenge to the animators and art team. We heartily approve of the costume they landed on, but that doesn't mean we wouldn't be willing to pay a little extra to see what other styles they came up with.
Connor is apparently not just the most vicious and brutal Assassin players have yet to experience, but the most physically strong. His prowess in combat is already apparent, with the developers exponentially increasing the number of animations and chances to flow through a combat encounter unfazed It would be interesting to see how he would fare in a fight with Ezio, but out of fear, we'll just say they're both 'killers of their time.'
Of course, making Connor even deadlier means the need for the previous games' infinite chaining of executions was lessened. Now the player won't be overpowered, thanks to Connor's muscle mass, but responsible to put it to work properly against differing enemy types. Have a look at how Connor moved from the page to the pixel, now:
It was quite a risk to take the direction that Ubisoft Montreal has, but it already seems to be paying off. Creative Director Alex Hutchinson has said that gamers are unlikely to see another development like that of Assassin's Creed 3, and it's becoming clear exactly what he means. The team has had the chance to spend almost three years building a bold story, reinventing a winning formula, tackling the issue of race head on, and building a game world comparable to the most praised open world environments in recent years. Any follower of this industry knows how rarely a mission like that is approved by a publisher, even if it's being developed internally.
If it pays off, then who knows what the future might bring for the series. But on ambition alone, Ubisoft deserves some applause.
Assassin’s Creed 3 will be released for the PS3 and Xbox 360 on October 30, 2012. A PC release is scheduled for November 20, with a Wii U version on November 18.
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