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Assassin's Creed: Unity

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This article contains spoilers, meaning it has information and facts concerning recent or upcoming releases from the Assassin's Creed series.
If you do not want to know about these events, it is recommended to read on with caution, or not at all.

Assassin's Creed: Unity
Assassin's Creed Unity Cover
Developer(s)
Ubisoft Montreal
Publisher
Ubisoft
US release
11 November 2014
EU release
13 November 2014
Genre:
Historic Action-Adventure
Game modes:
Single-player
Cooperative play
ESRB rating:
M (Mature)[1]
Platform(s):
Xbox One, PS4, PC
Media:
DVD, Blu-ray Disc, Digital download

Assassin's Creed: Unity is a 2014 sandbox action adventure game, and a sequel to 2013's Assassin's Creed IV: Black Flag, the game has the player take on the role of an Initiate as they explore the story of Arno Dorian, who joins the Assassins to investigate the murder of his adoptive father on behalf of his adoptive sister Élise de la Serre, a member of the Templars.

The game was released on 11 November 2014 in North America, 13 November in Europe and 14 November in the UK. It is available for PlayStation 4, Xbox One, and PC.[2]

Assassin's Creed: Unity is set primarily in Paris during the French Revolution in the late 18th century, with three cities consisting of Versailles, Vendée and Saint-Denis.

Development

Assassin's Creed: Unity began development in 2010 as Assassin's Creed: Brotherhood wrapped up development.[3] Ubisoft's Montreal-based team, in conjunction with nine other studios from Toronto, Kiev, Singapore, Shanghai, Annecy, Montpellier, Bucharest, Quebec and Chengdu are working on the completion of the game.[4]

The creative director is Alexandre Amancio, who also served in that capacity on 2011's Assassin's Creed: Revelations. He was offered the French Revolution game before taking the job of creative director on Revelations. After shipping that game, he was exhausted and took a job in advertising before returning to Ubisoft on Unity in June 2012.[5][6]

Amancio aimed to utilize the then next-generation console technology to push the boundaries of storytelling, and having an engaging love story without making it become a secondary storyline. He cited Ico and Passage as video games that successfully placed romance at the center of gameplay, but noted those were far less complex than an Assassin's Creed game.[7]

Travis Stout wrote the single player story, Ceri Young wrote the co-op missions, and Russell Lees scripted the single-player side missions.[8] The historical characters have been mostly relegated to the side missions, leaving Stout to concentrate on writing a story focusing on Arno.[9]

French historian Dr. Jean Clement Martin acted as script consultant. According to the series' primary historical advisor Maxime Durand, he aided in ensuring the story did not feel too Royalist despite critiquing the Revolution.[10]

The game uses a rebuilt Anvil game engine utilizing the Theatre, Zen and City Lights tools, which respectively improve animation, asset management and volumetric lighting.[11] Quebec professor Laurent Turcot advised developers on the look of 18th century Paris, advising them to look at contemporary paintings and engravings in recreating the past. Nicolas-Jean-Baptiste Raguenet's paintings were emulated for the appearance of the city's water.[10]

Unity has crowds numbering in the thousands, with new animations and behaviors, such as holding hands or chatting to each other, enhancing their believability. When Arno sees crowds from a distance, the civilians' animation rigs are simplified, but as he gets closer, their "bones" increase and their behavior becomes more complex.[12]

Amancio explained the game's cast are using English accents because unlike previous games, where accents distinguished characters and reminded players where they are from, it is clear to the player that the characters in Unity are French so using those accents was deemed unnecessary.[13]

Unlike previous installments, Unity is set to have three composers for the soundtrack: Chris Tilton, Ryan Amon and Sarah Schachner.[14]

Gameplay

Locations and navigation

As the game is exclusive to next-generation consoles and PC, it will enable renderings of Paris to 1:1 scale and crowds numbering in the thousands. Players will able to explore the city's entirety, including seamless interiors and the catacombs, with landmarks like Notre-Dame having a quarter of the building's interior playable. Even empty buildings may have unlockable rooms with treasures inside.[11][15][16] When standing on rooftops, a button can display 3D objects like alarm bells to help the player strategize.[17]

Haystacks have been largely removed in favor of allowing players to control their descent from rooftops, and the controls for freerunning up and down are now separate.[18] Social Stealth has been improved upon with a special crouching mode activated by button, and combat has been made more tactical to feel more realistic: counter kills were removed.[11]

Assassinations in the game are referred to as "black box missions," and harken to the style of gameplay from the first Assassin's Creed. Contextual clues are provided to allow the player to choose and plan their own approach, rather than follow a linear, pre-determined path to the target. Unlike previous games however, an assassination is not deemed successful until Arno has escaped after performing it.[19]

Memories

For memories, instead of the player being given a series of objectives, Ubisoft has developed the Adaptive Mission Mechanic, which gives players several potential paths to complete a mission. For example, choosing to stalk a target will lead to a chase if they detect you, as opposed to causing desynchronization.[15]

Customization

The Assassins' weapons and appearance are customizable, while experience gained can be spent on four different specialties: "Melee" (offense), "Health" (defense), "Ranged" (navigation), and stealth.[20] For example, Arno can possess Eagle Pulse, which allows him to sense how many guards are in a location he intends to infiltrate. Like other skills, it can be upgraded with experience points at the player's discretion.[21] He can also unlock a disguise skill to escape pursuing guards. The player will be able to upgrade all of Arno's skills, given his objective is to become a Master Assassin.[22]

There are around 200 choices for Arno's gear, which can benefit gameplay:

  • Hoods can decrease a guard's reaction time as well as increase the radius of Eagle Sense.
  • Chest items refer to the Assassins' robes, which changing can increase the time you can spend blended in the crowd, and the time it takes for a guard to detect you.
  • Arm items change the appearance of the Hidden Blade, increasing melee damage and the Phantom Blade's ammunition, but can also increase the time it takes to revive allies.
  • Belts and sashes increase the number of health points and items carried.
  • Pants and boots can decrease fall damage and running noises, as well as providing extra health.[20]

Cooperative play

"Assassins do not only embark on their own quests (like Ezio avenging his family), they have to pay their dues to the Assassin council. So players will have to complete what we call Brotherhood missions, in shared experience, to fulfill their duties towards the Assassins."
―Alex Amancio discussing the reason behind cooperative gameplay.[[src]]

Following the success of Wolfpack in Assassin's Creed III and Assassin's Creed IV: Black Flag, Assassin's Creed: Unity is the first game in the series to introduce campaign co-op. Up to four players can take on story-based missions including sabotaging an execution, protecting an emperor or assassinating a target.[2] However, the co-op missions will be optional, all story-based, and can be completed singularly as well.[16]

Co-operative gameplay starts at taverns, where the player can see a "ghost" of a friend who is also playing. Approaching said ghost can establish a request to join the friend on their mission, and both will be loaded to the mission's nearest checkpoint.[18] Amancio expects players will spend a third of their time in co-op mode.[11]

Players can unlock skills that will benefit a whole group: these include the Disguise skill, Group Healing, the Assassin Cache for sharing bombs and ammunition, and Communal Sense, which colors targets' locations across the whole map.[23]

There are heist missions for the Assassins to steal money. The more an Assassin is detected, the less money will be gained. Amancio commented that the co-op missions will encourage players to work together, thereby avoiding a session from falling apart with gamers who refuse to co-operate.[22]

Other

The modern day portion will return, but will differ from the Abstergo Entertainment setting of Black Flag.[15] This time, players will play as themselves, as the Initiate being contacted by the Assassins at one point requesting you to explore Arno's memories for them as well as help them in the present day against the Templars.[24]

The game introduces Time Anomaly missions, where Arno is transported to Paris in another historical era such as World War II.[23]

Unity is set to be the first game in the Assassin's Creed series to lack the competitive multiplayer, since its initiation in Brotherhood.[16]

Controversy

The development team had intended for players to choose the co-op characters' gender, but it was abandoned due to time constraints. "It's double the animations, it's double the voices, all that stuff and double the visual assets", Amancio explained. "Especially because we have customizable assassins. It was really a lot of extra production work."[25]

This caused an immediate uproar of anger from many fans of the series. Even Assassin's Creed III animation director Jonathan Cooper criticized this reason, stating, "In my educated opinion, I would estimate this to be a day or two's work. Not a replacement of 8000 animations", explaining "Walk/run cycles and idles are the easiest way to define a character. Everything else is androgynous."[26] He also revealed Aveline de Grandpré shared more animations with Ratonhnhaké:ton than Edward Kenway did.[27]

In response, Ubisoft issued the following statement:

"Assassin's Creed Unity is focused on the story of the lead character, Arno. Whether playing by yourself or with the co-op shared experiences, you the gamer will always be playing as Arno, complete with his broad range of gear and skill sets that will make you feel unique. With regard to diversity in our playable Assassins, we've featured Aveline, Connor, Adéwalé and Altaïr in Assassin's Creed games and we continue to look at showcasing diverse characters. We look forward to introducing you to some of the strong female characters in Assassin's Creed Unity."

Editions

To date, Ubisoft has announced several collector's editions of Assassin's Creed: Unity.

Unity-Amazon edition
  • A retail copy of Assassin's Creed: Unity.
  • A collector's box.
  • A replica of Arno's pocket watch.
  • An exclusive weapon: the Parade Pistol.
  • One exclusive single player mission: Chemical Revolution.

ACU bastille edition
  • A retail copy of Assassin's Creed: Unity.
  • A jumbo steel case.
  • A copy of the official soundtrack.
  • A copy of the official artbook.
  • Two lithographs.
  • Two exclusive single player missions: Chemical Revolution and American Prisoner.

Unity-Collectors edition
  • A retail copy of Assassin's Creed: Unity.
  • A collector's box.
  • A copy of the official soundtrack.
  • A copy of the official artbook.
  • A 16" Arno figurine.
  • A music box.
  • Two exclusive single player missions: Chemical Revolution and Killed by Science.

Unity-GameStop edition
  • A retail copy of Assassin's Creed: Unity.
  • An exclusive weapon: the Razorhead Spear.
  • One exclusive single player mission: Chemical Revolution.
  • A "Spin to Win" opportunity.

Acu-collector-guillotine-e3
  • A retail copy of Assassin's Creed: Unity.
  • A collector's box.
  • A FuturePak case.
  • A copy of the official soundtrack.
  • A copy of the official artbook.
  • A 41cm Arno guillotine figurine.
  • A secret Paris map.
  • A framed canvas print.
  • Two lithographs.
  • A customized tarot card game.
  • A music box.
  • Two exclusive single player missions.
  • Exclusive weapons and outfits.

Unity-Notre Dame edition
  • A retail copy of Assassin's Creed: Unity.
  • A collector's box.
  • A copy of the official soundtrack.
  • A copy of the official artbook.
  • A 39.5cm Arno gargoyle figurine.
  • Two exclusive single player mission: Chemical Revolution and American Prisoner.

Unity-Special edition
  • A retail copy of Assassin's Creed: Unity.
  • One exclusive single player mission: Chemical Revolution.
  • Royal Arsenal exclusive weapons and outfits pack.

Marketing

For the 2014 San Diego Comic-Con, Ubisoft designed an obstacle course, where parkour experts and stuntmen were on hand to help fans recreate the freerunning moves they will see in the game. An animated trailer debuted there was produced by Rob Zombie, designed by Tony Moore and narrated by Féodor Atkine.[28]

Gallery

References

  1. ESRB
  2. 2.0 2.1 Assassin's Creed: Unity Official E3 2014 Co-op Commented Demo
  3. Vincent Pontbriand's Linkedin page
  4. IGN - 10 Ubisoft studios developing Assassin's Creed: Unity
  5. GameInformer: From Revelations To Unity: Creative Directing Assassin's Creed
  6. Alexandre Amancio's Linkedin page
  7. GameInformer: Can Assassin's Creed Unity Pull Off A Love Story?
  8. AC Initiates: The Network Podcast - Episode 5
  9. Ubisoft YouTube: Amancio SDCC interview
  10. 10.0 10.1 Fast Company Co.Create: The (Fun, Violent) History Lesson Inside "Assassin's Creed Unity"
  11. 11.0 11.1 11.2 11.3 DualShockers - Assassin’s Creed Unity FAQ Answers All Your Questions about Story, Co-op, Next-Gen Graphics and More
  12. GameInformer: Watch The Largest Crowd Assembled In Assassin's Creed Unity
  13. YouTube: Assassin's Creed Unity - E3 Story Interview with Alex Amancio (Creative Director)
  14. Twitter - Loomer979
  15. 15.0 15.1 15.2 UbiBlog - Assassin’s Creed Unity: 9 Things You Need to Know
  16. 16.0 16.1 16.2 Kotaku: Assassin's Creed Unity's Paris is Huge. Really Huge.
  17. Eurogamer Video: Assassin's Creed Unity's new parkour and combat explored
  18. 18.0 18.1 GameInformer - Ten Things You Need To Know About Assassin's Creed Unity
  19. Gamespot - How the Assassinations in Assassin's Creed: Unity Encourage Patience and Creativity
  20. 20.0 20.1 Gematsu: Assassin’s Creed: Unity Gamescom screenshots
  21. IGN Live E3 2014: Assassin's Creed Unity Gameplay Demo
  22. 22.0 22.1 GameInformer: Special Edition Podcast – Assassin's Creed Unity
  23. 23.0 23.1 Assassin's Creed: Unity 101 trailer
  24. Gamestm - Assassin's Creed Unity 'modern day' setting teased
  25. Polygon - Ubisoft abandoned women assassins in co-op because of the additional work
  26. Twitter - Jonathan Cooper
  27. Twitter - Jonathan Cooper: "Aveline de Grandpré shares more of Connor Kenway's animations than Edward Kenway does."
  28. Official website: Assassin’s Creed Experience

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