- "On this land, I am torn. Part of me wants to fight and repel all outsiders. The other part of me is the outsider. In the name of liberty, I will fight the enemy regardless of their allegiance. While men of courage write history of this day, the future of our land depends on those who are truly free."
- ―Ratonhnhaké:ton, Assassin's Creed III Gameplay Trailer.
Assassin's Creed III is a 2012 sandbox style action-adventure video game that is developed by Ubisoft Montreal and published by Ubisoft. It is the fifth main title in the Assassin's Creed series, and is a direct sequel to Assassin's Creed: Revelations. The game tells the stories of Haytham Kenway and Ratonhnhaké:ton, set in the American Northeast from 1754 - 1783, during the French and Indian and American Revolutionary Wars. It also concludes the modern day story of their descendant Desmond Miles.
Assassin's Creed III was released for Xbox 360 and PS3 on 30 October in the United States and 31 October in Europe and Australia, while the PC version was released on 20 November for the United States and 23 November in Europe. The game was also released for the Wii U in North America on 18 November.
Beginning production in January 2010, Assassin's Creed III remained in development for three years prior to its release date. According to Creative Director Alex Hutchinson, the team settled on the American Revolution "once we realized you could meet Washington, sail a boat, leap from tree to tree in the middle of winter and hunt wildlife".
The game runs on a version of the Anvil game engine called AnvilNext, which improves environmental effects, allowing for large battle scenes and detailed close-ups. There are also seasonal changes; the landscape is warm and open in the summer and covered in snow during winter, both of which affect gameplay. Although the seasons change in line with specific memories, fog and rain occur naturally.
However, Ubisoft have said that due to memory limitations, they were unable to include interactive climbing surfaces, such as falling rocks or flower pots.
Creative Director Alex Hutchinson and Art Director Chinh Ngo initially decided to center the game around the American Revolutionary War of 1775-1783 with New York, Boston and Philadelphia being the key settings. Their visit to the Ubisoft reference library was "uninspiring" and the wilderness left an "empty space" which they thought could not work in an open-world game. Chinh quoted, "So I remember I said, We need weather. We need something to fill the space." The direction team decided to add snow, fog and rain in order to fill in the wilderness.
The development of the game began while Assassin's Creed: Brotherhood was nearing completion. Chinh and his team spent six months sketching out ideas and created a pre-rendered prototype which contained a minor forest level; however, this led to unimpressive results. The art team then decided to bring 18th century wilderness to life by featuring it as one of the most recurring environments in the game whilst starting every concept from scratch.
For the design of the New York cityscape, Senior Concept Artist Gilles Beloeil noted that "The goal was to show the difference between the nice Dutch district of New York and the burned-out part." The artist was asked to make the church as an important landmark to create this difference. The mood of this concept was required to be "sunset and very silhouetted".
Exploration is based around a large countryside area known as the Frontier, which is one and a half times larger than Rome in Assassin's Creed: Brotherhood. One third of all gameplay content is contained there. The cities of Boston and New York may also be explored.
Since there is a lot more travel included within the game, the fast travel mechanic has been incorporated, which allows for quick travel from any location. A whole new system of unlocking fast travel has been implemented, which is integrated into the game's natural progress.
More varied methods of movement have been added as well, including climbing trees, cliffs, and other natural elements, alongside leaping over wagons, or sliding under obstacles. Other freerunning elements also have Ratonhnhaké:ton jumping through windows, to trees, and then onto rooftops.
Dual-wielding weapons has been implemented, while fighting and stealth have been completely overhauled with new features, such as double-counters, multiple takedowns, and chain kills. Ratonhnhaké:ton can go into battle with a wide variety of weapons at his disposal, including two Hidden Blades, a tomahawk, flintlock pistols, rope darts, and a bow and arrow. Ratonhnhaké:ton's second Hidden Blade can be ejected and used as a dagger and to skin hunted animals.
Context sensitive actions, such as using enemies as human shields, is also included. The target locking system has been removed and replaced by automated enemy selection, changing the combat dynamics. In addition, assassinations can now be performed with weapons other than the Hidden Blades, most notably the tomahawk and bayonets on rifles.
The combat system has been greatly improved, as there are thousands of new animations, few of which have been carried over from previous installments. Simple defense and counter-attacks are now more difficult, and combat has been focused on putting Ratonhnhaké:ton on the offensive, with attacks based on both speed and momentum.
The counter system has been completely revamped, as the developers wanted to create more strategy and options, which prompted them to create new reactions based on button presses. To counter, the Circle (PS3) or B button (Xbox 360) should be pressed, followed by that of a secondary button:
- Pressing the Square button (PS3), the X button (Xbox 360) or the Y button (Wii U) allows Ratonhnhaké:ton to kill his target.
- Pressing the Circle button (PS3), the B button (Xbox 360) or the A button (Wii U) will have Ratonhnhaké:ton throw his enemy to the ground.
- Pressing the Triangle button (PS3), the Y button (Xbox 360) or the X button (Wii U) will allow Ratonhnhaké:ton to use his secondary weapon.
- Pressing the X button (PS3), the A button (Xbox 360) or the B button (Wii U) will let Ratonhnhaké:ton stun or disarm his enemy.
With these combinations, the game's developers were able to create multiple combos and enemies that resist different types of counters. The player must press an appropriate button for each enemy archetype to initiate a kill chain.
Assassin's Creed III introduced the naval combat gameplay feature to the franchise, by allowing Ratonhnhaké:ton to take control of a ship named the Aquila in privateer contracts and sea-based memories. A map showing different naval engagements can be accessed either from the Harbormasters in each city or directly from the Homestead harbor. Each successful privateer contract reduced the risk of trading in that particular route.
During naval combat, Ratonhnhaké:ton is initially able to fire round shots and swivel guns, expanding onto other kinds of shot after upgrading the Aquila. He and his crew also have the ability to take cover from enemy shots or rogue waves.
A large factor influencing the naval gameplay is the weather system, which determines the velocity of the ship through wind speed and direction. Utilizing half-sail or full-sail governs the rate at which the Aquila travels; while full-sail lets the ship move at a faster pace, half sail allows for better handling.
Desmond uses the upgraded Animus 3.01 developed by Rebecca Crane while he was in a comatose state. 100% synchronization in memories returns, though synchronization is treated more like experience in an RPG leveling system with a finite amount available.
Activities completed during missions vary in synchronization value. The more synchronized Desmond becomes, the more the synchronization bar is filled, which can also be increased through replaying missions. Checkpoints were also introduced to mission replay, meaning that entire memories need not be replayed in order to achieve the 100% synchronization requirement.
The economic system in the game is different, as Ratonhnhaké:ton can now hunt animals, enabling him to sell the resources gathered from them. These resources can be more valuable depending on quality of the kill performed, and on the weapon type used. For example, the pelt of a slain animal may be of lesser quality (and by extension lesser value) if it is slain with a pistol rather than an arrow.
Along with this, a new property system known as the Homestead has been added, where Ratonhnhaké:ton can invite citizens to stay and build a community. Here, the inhabitants are given a second chance following various mishaps in their lives, and they generate income through trade and crafting. The Homestead expands with every resident that inhabits the area.
Platforming missions, like the Assassin Tombs or Lairs of Romulus, return in the form of Peg Leg missions. As stated by Corey May, "People like those. We like those. It's not something we'd remove."
A regenerative health system similar to the type featured in Assassin's Creed has been implemented, and in order to regain his health, Ratonhnhaké:ton must escape from combat and rest.
Before the game's release, Ubisoft announced a Season Pass available for purchase through Xbox Live and the PlayStation Store for 2400 Microsoft points and $29.99 respectively. The Season Pass allowed early access to five downloadable content packs, including the three-part Tyranny of King Washington campaign and multiplayer components. DLC is also an option for the Wii U, though no Season Pass for this console was available. Choosing to purchase the Season Pass would net an overall 25% discount on all five downloadable content pieces, and it was released alongside Assassin's Creed III on October 30.
The plot of the game begins in the present day with Desmond, his father William, Rebecca Crane, and Shaun Hastings finding the Grand Temple in a cave in Turin, New York. Using an Apple of Eden to access the structure, Desmond activates a large portion of the equipment, as well as a timer indicating when the Second Disaster is predicted to occur, on December 21, 2012. His mind then falls into a fugue state, in which he relives some significant memories of his ancestor, Haytham Kenway.
During a production at the London Theatre Royal, Haytham murders a man named Miko and steals a medallion which he and his associates believe allows access to a storehouse for "those who came before". After Haytham returns with the medallion, he is dispatched to the British American colonies to find the storehouse.
After preventing an attempt by crewman Louis Mills to turn him over to a trailing ship while on board the Providence, Haytham arrives in Boston. There, he is tasked with gathering together five men faithful to his cause: Charles Lee, William Johnson, Thomas Hickey, Benjamin Church and Jonathan Pitcairn. In the process, he kills a slave trader named Silas Thatcher and frees a large group of Kanien'kehá:ka tribespeople, believing it will make then amicable to his cause.
One of these Kanien'kehá:ka, Kaniehtí:io, agrees to help Haytham find the storehouse on the condition that he kill General Edward Braddock, the man responsible for enslaving her people. After tracking his movements, Haytham slays Braddock as he retreats from battle at Fort Duquesne. Haytham and Kaniehtí:io then travels to the entrance of the Grand Temple, only to find the medallion Haytham possesses cannot open it. In that moment, the pair reveal their romantic feelings for each other, beginning a relationship that will continue for some time.
Shortly after, Charles Lee is formally recruited into Haytham's organization, the Templar Order. This event surprises Desmond and he ejects himself from the Animus, attempting to absorb this new information. He then engages in a brief fight with his father, saying he is being treated as a pawn, and William strikes him out of anger. Once the tension had eased, Shaun gives Desmond a choice: explore the Grand Temple or return to the Animus.
The story then switches to the point of view of Ratonhnhaké:ton, Kaniehtí:io's son by Haytham. After playing hide and seek with his childhood friends in the forest near his village, he encounters Charles Lee and associates, who forcibly inform Ratonhnhaké:ton that they wish to speak with the village elders. Ratonhnhaké:ton is then knocked unconscious, and on his return to the village, he discovers it has been set ablaze. Though he is able to find his mother and attempts to free her from a collapsed structure, he is ultimately unable to save her, and she dies before his eyes.
Some years later, a teenage Ratonhnhaké:ton is told by a village elder that the reason no one is allowed to leave the nearby valley is because their purpose is to protect the Grand Temple. She then shows him a crystal-like sphere, which activates at his touch and allows him to communicate with Juno. Juno informs him that he and his village are guardians of the Grand Temple, and current probabilities indicate that unless he leaves, his village will be destroyed and his people slaughtered. After showing the Kanien'kehá:ka teenager the symbol of the Assassins, she tells him to leave the valley, find Achilles Davenport – an Assassin – and convince the elder, embittered fighter to train him.
After accomplishing this by protecting the Davenport manor from bandits, Ratonhnhaké:ton adopts the name "Connor" on Achilles' suggestion, and the pair set off to collect supplies from Boston. There Haytham attempts to frame his son for the events of the Boston Massacre, leaving Connor notorious in the city. He then meets Samuel Adams, who gives Connor advice on how to decrease his notoriety.
On his return, Achilles presents Connor with the Aquila, a ship he can use to patrol the Eastern American seaboard. As Connor learns the art of being an Assassin, he is brought into the cities of Boston and New York, as well as a large open area called the Frontier.
After being made a full-fledged member of the Assassin Brotherhood by Achilles, Connor sets out to eliminate the Colonial Templars. William Johnson is assassinated first after he attempts to purchase the land on which Connor's people reside. Next, Connor targets John Pitcairn, the leader of the British forces at Bunker and Breed's Hills.
Connor then pursues Thomas Hickey, whom he discovers is plotting to assassinate George Washington. Connor finds Hickey, and after a brief scuffle, both are thrown into prison. However, Hickey isn't detained for long, and is freed through Haytham and Lee's influence, while Connor is framed for the plot against Washington and is sentenced to death by hanging. Luckily, Achilles and his fellow Assassins manage to free Connor at the execution. Connor then charges after Hickey and manages to assassinate him before the Templar can kill Washington.
With Haytham, Lee, and Benjamin Church still at large, Connor fears they still plot to eliminate Washington. Connor meets with Washington, who informs him that Church has stolen goods vital to the Continental Army and has fled. Connor agrees to pursue him, and in the process meets his father, Haytham.
Haytham reveals his own pursuit for Church, who has betrayed the Templars as well, and the two agree to set aside their differences and find Church together. Upon traveling to the Caribbean via the Aquila and pursuing Church's ship, Haytham and Connor locate Church and kill him, then return to the colonies to meet with Washington.
Here, Haytham discovers a letter from Washington ordering the removal of all the indigenous tribes from the land, as a number of them support the British. One of the tribes to be removed is the Kanien'kehá:ka, despite their neutrality, and Connor severs his ties with Haytham and Washington as a result. He then takes off to protect his tribe's village from encroaching Patriot forces.
On arriving, Connor finds his people to be safe, but also discovers that the Clan Mother has dispatched tribesmen to turn back the Continental troops sent to purge the village. Connor stopped his fellows from attacking the troops, but is forced to kill his closest childhood friend, Kanen'tó:kon, who had been influenced by Charles Lee.
Connor becomes torn in his mission to eliminate the Templars, believing he can turn his father to the Assassin way of thinking. He then sets off to pursue Lee, who has been disgraced by Washington and taken refuge in Fort George. With the assistance of Lafayette, Connor has New York harbor shelled to create a distraction and infiltrates the fort. However, he is ambushed by Haytham, who reveals that Lee has escaped with the medallion, and the pair engage in battle. Now accepting that his father will not be convinced, Connor kills Haytham.
As Desmond plays these events out in the Animus, he is occasionally taken out in order to recover power cells crucial to exploring the Grand Temple, found in locations such as Manhattan and Brazil. During these trips, he encounters Daniel Cross, a Templar mole responsible for killing the modern day Mentor and initiating a widespread purge of the Assassin Order.
While exploring the Temple, Desmond occasionally encounters Juno, who reveals the events that led up to the first cataclysm that scarred the Earth. During one of these lectures, Desmond reveals that Lucy's death by his hand was no accident, and that he chose to kill her after the Apple of Eden revealed she intended to take the Apple to Abstergo Industries.
When a third power cell is located in Cairo, Egypt, William offers to recover it while Desmond continues to search Connor's memories for the key to the Grand Temple's inner barrier. However, William is captured by Abstergo and held in their Roman facility, the location where Desmond was kept when he was captured and forced to relive Altaïr Ibn-La'Ahad's genetic memories.
Through a video message, Warren Vidic demands Desmond bring the Apple of Eden to him in exchange for William. In response, Desmond infiltrates the laboratories, where he encounters Daniel again. As Daniel corners Desmond, the Templar begins to suffer from the Bleeding Effect, as a result of being "raised" in an Animus and reliving the memories of his ancestors, Nikolai and Innokenti Orelov, for extended periods of time. Daniel then flees from the room in panic, with Desmond in pursuit. After a short chase, Desmond assassinates Daniel and confronts Vidic in his office, where he uses the Apple to kill the Templar and his guards. Desmond then rescues William and uses the Apple to lead them safely from the facility.
Once he returned to the Animus, Desmond observes as Connor pursues Lee once more. After eavesdropping on a ship's captain to ascertain Lee's location, Connor chases Lee through a vessel under construction that has been set ablaze. The two come to a stalemate after falling through a section of the ship, and Connor is impaled at the waist by a broken piece of wood.
Lee asks Connor why he continues to persist, even though the Templar Order follows a cycle of their power waxing and waning. Connor replies "Because no one else will," and shoots Lee in the chest, preventing the Templar from finishing him off. A badly wounded Lee then escapes across a nearby lake via a ferry, with an injured Connor in pursuit. Finally, Connor finds Lee in a pub, and the pair share a last drink before Connor stabs Lee lethally in the chest.
Connor takes the medallion from Lee's body, and several months later, he returns to his tribe's village only to find they have moved elsewhere. He then locates the crystal sphere, presumably left behind for him to find. In the vision that it shows him, Juno reappears and instructs him to hide the medallion where no one else will find it. Connor does so, burying the medallion in the grave of Connor Davenport, Achilles' deceased son and his namesake.
Now with the knowledge of the medallion's location, Desmond retrieves it and uses it to access the confines of the Temple. Here, he and the others find Juno's apparition, who instructs Desmond to activate a pedestal which will save the world from the ongoing solar flares. However, Minerva's apparition suddenly appears and reveals that by doing as Juno says, Desmond will die and free Juno from captivity, allowing her to begin her conquest of the world. She explains that Juno was sealed long ago during the war between the First Civilization and humanity when she plotted to use the machines designed to save the world against it.
Minerva, prodded by Juno, then shows Desmond that if the Sun were to unleash its power on the world, he and a small collective of humans would survive to repopulate the world. He would become a religious icon in this new world, but his words would be mistranslated and lead the world to continue a perpetual cycle of destruction. Believing the world would stand a better chance fighting against Juno, Desmond instructs the others to leave and prepare for the oncoming struggle. Desmond then activates the pedestal, taking his life and saving the world. From there, Juno appears and tells Desmond that his part has ended and that her time has come.
In an epilogue, Connor takes down the Templar portraits in the Davenport Manor's basement and burns them, signifying the end of his journey. In addition, his return to his village is detailed further, showing he spoke to a hunter there, who revealed that the land had been sold to settlers in order to settle the new United States government's war debts. Connor also travels to the pier in New York, where he witnesses the last of the British Regulars leave America for good. However, he also sees evidence of the slave trade present in the newly formed nation, right next to the pier of citizens cheering at the departure of the British.
Ubisoft Annecy, who developed the multiplayer components for Brotherhood and Revelations, along with Ubisoft Bucharest, were tasked with bringing multiplayer back with this installment.
There is a new cooperative mode named Wolfpack, where 1 to 4 players are tasked with killing certain NPCs during a time limit, through a sequence of 25 stages. Another feature is the addition of Domination, a team mode, where players of the Animus games console need to capture areas of the virtual map they are designated, before protecting them from the opposite team.
Unlike the previous multiplayer section featured in Brotherhood and Revelations, which was presented in-game as a training initiative for Abstergo recruits, the multiplayer of Assassin's Creed III is shown as a product of Abstergo Industries' entertainment branch, as a way of influencing the general public through a games console adapted with the Animus' technology.
Sixteen Animi Avatars form the base of Assassin's Creed III's multiplayer:
- Lady Maverick
- Night Stalker
- Red Coat (pre-order character)
- Sharpshooter (pre-order character)
- Silent Shadow (Ubisoft Passport character)
- Strong Man
The three additional characters, introduced via downloadable content, are as follows:
Accompanying the Animi Avatars, seven locations are included in the base of multiplayer:
- Animus Core
- Boston Harbor
- Boston North End
- Fort Wolcott
- New York Brewery
- Northwest Passage
- Virginian Plantation
Alongside the three additional characters, three new maps were introduced:
All of these maps have different variations, some featuring rain or snow, and others set during day, evening, or night.
Following the official reveal, Ubisoft announced incentives for gamers who pre-ordered Assassin's Creed III from Amazon, GameStop, or BestBuy, in the form of a free steelbook casing that featured artwork by renowned comic book artist Alex Ross.
For newcomers to the series, the Assassin's Creed Double Edition was released on the PlayStation Network, which brought together Assassin's Creed and Assassin's Creed II in a virtual compilation box.
Assassin's Creed III also has four missions exclusive to the PS3 and PC platforms, which have been available for download since the game's launch date. The storyline is based around Benedict Arnold, a Continental Army general who later defected to the British Army.
With Assassin's Creed III: Liberation released for the PlayStation Vita alongside Assassin's Creed III, linking the two titles would unlock Connor's tomahawk for the Assassin Aveline de Grandpré to use.
Following this, the Xbox 360 version of the game comes in a two-disc set. The first disc contains the single-player portion of the gameplay, while the second disc is required for multiplayer.
Pre-release media for Assassin's Creed III came under heavy criticism from fans and critics for its seemingly biased portrayal of British Regulars. In every trailer and promotional image released, Ratonhnhaké:ton's victims were almost exclusively of British allegiance; leading some to believe that the game would be an America versus Britain story, rather than Assassin versus Templar.
This claim was repeatedly contested by the game's developers, with co-writer Matt Turner denying it would be an "America Ra Ra" story, and that there were members of the Templar Order on both sides of the conflict.
Despite these assurances, criticisms for the decidedly one-sided portrayal of British Regulars continued, despite the release of trailers that depicted the killing of both British Regulars and Continental soldiers.
A number of game review sources deplore the numerous glitches and bugs within the game, even with the day one patch.
Spike TV Video Game Awards
- Game of the Year - Lost to The Walking Dead Video Game
- Best Xbox 360 Game - Lost to Halo 4
- Best PS3 Game - Lost to Journey
- Best Action/Adventure Game - Lost to Dishonored
- Best Graphics - Lost to Halo 4
- Best Character - Lost to Clap Trap (Borderlands 2)
- Assassin's Creed III was later released in the Assassin's Creed: Anthology collector's edition box, consisting of the main games in the Assassin's Creed series.