Later this year, the Assassin’s Creed franchise will visit 19th century London in the upcoming (and still rumored) Victory — but even now, the series is being picked apart by an English university. A group of inquiring minds studying physics at the University of Leicester have performed research on the legitimacy of the leaps of faith performed in-game, and they’ve found that they aren’t all too scientifically accurate.
Given that a large part of the action in the Assassin’s Creed games takes place across rooftops, players have always needed a way to get back down to street level swiftly and safely. Rather than simply climb down the side of the building they clambered up, it’s possible to simply fling your character into conveniently placed hay bales — no matter what the height you’re falling from.
Like many players, the University of Leicester has called out Ubisoft for this cavalier approach to the act of jumping off a building. According to the paper, the amount of straw depicted in the game could only cushion a fall of around 13 meters, going up to 50 meters if the jumper is willing to deal with some serious bodily harm. The biggest leaps in the game, however, are seemingly out of the question:
Even using the most optimistic survivable impact accelerations, incurring severe injuries in the process, the leap off the cathedral in Acre requires a greater amount of cushioning than is depicted.
As if the botched release of last year’s Unity and the ensuing backlash from fans of the series wasn’t enough punishment for the franchise, now we have evidence that its gameplay is built upon a foundation of lies. In reality, the games should simply follow a man using advanced technology to relive the countless broken ankles and other injuries suffered by his long-suffering ancestors.
It may seem strange to criticize a game with such heavy sci-fi elements for a lack of realism, but the haystack mechanic has stood out like a sore thumb since the earliest entries in the series. Its first installment was widely promoted on the strength of its realization of cities like Jerusalem and Damascus, but the slapstick approach to losing altitude detracted from its then-impressive recreations.
However, in the case of Assassin’s Creed, there are plenty of different academics who might have something to say about the franchise’s efforts. Historians would suggest that not all of the series’ content has been particularly accurate to real events — and a decent computer science teacher might just have helped out with some of those infamous glitches in Unity.