This fall Assassin’s Creed fans are being treated to a double dose of main titles in the franchise, with last-gen title Assassin’s Creed Rogue continuing the naval gameplay of Assassin’s Creed IV: Black Flag and Assassin’s Creed Unity returning to the mainland with a story set in Paris during the French Revolution.
The protagonist of Assassin’s Creed Unity is Arno Dorian, a nobleman who was raised by a Master Templar following the deaths of his Assassin parents. Arno eventually joins the Assassins in order to serve his own quest for redemption, while his childhood friend (and love interest of the game) Élise joins the Templar Order. Outside of the story campaign there’s an entire open world to explore, and a new trailer for Assassin’s Creed Unity introduces some of the sidequests with narration by creative director Alex Amancio.
The open world activities detailed in the trailer include Murder Mysteries, in which Arno must collect clues in order to discover killers, a “revamped contract system” called Paris Stories, Treasure Hunts for the riches of Paris, co-op Heist missions where players team up to plunder loot from the bourgeoisie, and the Cafe Theatre that acts as a hub for collected items, trophies, training etc.
“Immersive” is one of those buzzwords that seriously needs to take a vacation before video game press releases wring all the meaning out of it. The Assassin’s Creed series has a significant barrier to “immersion” in the sense that the games’ narrative casts the player as a modern day figure, who only experiences historical settings by hooking their brain up to a computer, thereby adding an additional layer of separation between the player and the world that they’re exploring.
That’s not a bad thing, of course; this framing device is one of the things that has helped make the Assassin’s Creed series unique, and the somewhat nebulous goal of being “immersive” might be better replaced with aims of making the games fun, interesting, exciting, educational and thought-provoking. Similarly Amancio’s promise of “dozens of hours of content” seems to prioritize quantity over quality, an attitude that has led to previous games in the series being padded out with endless collectibles and dull side content like Assassin’s Creed III‘s crafting system and bowls minigame.
With all that said, some of the sidequests offered in Assassin’s Creed Unity do look pretty interesting. The murder mysteries seem to be based on actual historical events, such as the murder of Jean Paul Marat by the French Revolution’s most famous assassin, Charlotte Corday. Although the Treasure Hunts sound suspiciously like Collectible Hunts, exploring and navigating tombs has been one of the highlights of the series since Assassin’s Creed II and more of that kind of gameplay could be just what Assassin’s Creed Unity needs to bring Paris to life.
Assassin’s Creed Unity releases on PS4, Xbox One and PC on November 11.