With Assassin's Creed 4: Black Flag, developer Ubisoft took their open world title from last-gen to current-gen on the back of a swashbuckling adventure. But while AC 4 was a current-gen title, it didn't necessarily have all of the flourishes gamers expect from a PS4 or Xbox One release.
For Assassin's Creed Unity, however, Ubisoft is pulling out all the stops and focusing exclusively on the current-gen platforms. As a result, the development team has been able to push their Anvil Engine in new and exciting ways. For specifics, make sure to check out the trailer above, and then read on.
From a design point of view, Assassin's Creed Unity looks to offer the most expansive and detailed open world setting to-date. Revolution-era France has always been high on our list of most wanted locales for the Assassin's Creed series, and it appears Ubisoft has picked the perfect time to take players on a trip to Paris.
While the AC franchise has always boasted beautifully rendered facades, Unity takes things a step further by fleshing out many of the buildings' interiors as well. One of the key landmarks Ubisoft highlights in the trailer is the Notre-Dame Cathedral, which features an intricately detailed and fully navigable exterior, and an equally impressive interior.
Alongside a fully realized city, Anvil also breathes life into the NPCs in ways never before seen in an Assassin's Creed game. Facial animations have been improved to make sure these non-playable characters still feel like they have a mind of their own.
And of course, it wouldn't be a new Assassin's Creed without improved traversal and combat options. We've seen before how players, as main character Arno, can get from rooftop to ground level in seconds, but this trailer gives players a better sense of the freedom available in the game. The parkour mechanics of the Assassin's Creed franchise have always been hit or miss — sometimes they work perfectly while other times they fight against the player; in Unity, however, it looks like Ubisoft is delivering a more free-form experience.
Similarly, the trailer highlights how combat has evolved for Unity, giving players greater flexibility while also keeping them on their toes. Combat, like traversal, has had its ups and downs but our hands-on experience with the game suggests Unity has some serious improvements to offer.
Overall, the trailer reads more as a canned E3 walkthrough than an authentic look at Assassin's Creed Unity - too many buzzwords, not enough genuine enthusiasm. That being said, there are still plenty of impressive features on display in this up-close look at the Anvil engine — enough to have us excited to see more of the game at Comic-Con later this week.
What about Assassin's Creed Unity's improved engine most impresses you? Where do you think Ubisoft should have put the majority of their attention (open world design, combat, traversal)?
Assassin's Creed Unity releases October 28, 2014 for PC, PS4, and Xbox One.
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