I really like doing these lists of upcoming anniversaries as my first blog post of each year. Doing the light research is a pretty fun trip back through gaming history, so here we go: Continue reading
I don’t intend to go really deep into speculation about what the recently confirmed upcoming Assassi’s Creed game focused on ancient Egypt will be like. I kind of just want to bring up some details about the setting some people might not realize, details that separate it from just about everything else the Creed games have done up to this point.
The land of the Pharos is a pretty different setting for a Creed game. Other than the original title, this codenamed “Assassin’s Creed ‘Empire'” would be the first mainline one not centered on western civilization. That not only potentially brings an entirely different color to the main Creed games, but also opens it up to a much greater span of history. Continue reading
I still don’t quite know what to think of information on an upcoming Assassin’s Creed game being broken on 4chan of all places, but one thing did catch my eyes — the mention in that 4chan thread of a desire for a “Witcher-feel” in the game. All I could think upon reading that was “here we go.”
I guess I should have expected it. The Witcher 3 has been named game of the year by over 150 publications (and this blog) for 2015. It’s the hot new game everybody likes. Of course it would become the next secret sauce everybody else is trying to capture. Even if the 4chan thread itself was bunk, we still might see other developers make similar desires known in the near future. Everybody should definitely be learning from good games including Witcher 3, but when big developers say they want to be like this good game or that good game, in my opinion they usually end up missing the point of why those games are good. Continue reading
Yeah this is a brazen question to ask and it is partly to draw attention, but it get’s at the conflict I’ve been seeing in many open-world games made over the last few years, mainly action sandbox games in the Grand Theft Auto tradition. Of course sandbox games can have good main missions, but in a great many of them, main missions seem to actually detract from the central appeal of the game. Continue reading
If finally finished up Assassin’s Creed IV: Black Flag this week after Nvidia gave me a free copy with my graphics card back in 2013. Playing it made me realize things about how sandbox games have gradually strayed from their original design principles and how that relates to today’s trend of open-world games. Much has been said about how Ubisoft does open-world games, but I think Black Flag in particular highlights its issues because it actually contains a unique and fun classic-style sandbox game buried underneath a lot of modern trends. Continue reading
Playing a couple games recently got me thinking about how some video games handle the commanding and piloting of crewed vehicles. It’s an interesting subject because the task goes completely counter to a lot of what console gaming is designed for. I always thought exploring certain things further in this area could lead to new types of games. Continue reading
A while ago I decided to give Far Cry 2 and Far Cry 3 another run before Far Cry 4 came out. I probably won’t be playing FC4 for a while, but I still think the comparison is interesting, if only for all the arguments that persist over which is the superior Far Cry game.
FC2 and 3 are opposites in some ways when you examine the philosophy of each game’s design. FC2 is popularly cited as a flawed gem that didn’t get the recognition it deserved, while FC3 is popular and better executed but also much more conventional in its design. A lot of people who love one hate the other. Everything I’ve heard about FC4 suggests it’s very much the sequel to FC3, but I still like to look back and hope Ubisoft remembers what was actually good about FC2. Continue reading
I’m pretty sure I’ve already laid out my opinion on “resolutiongates” and the importance of framerate on this blog. Now people are worked up over Assassin’s Creed: Unity and Ubisoft’s PR. Despite how I feel about framerates and such, I actually think people are selling the game short. Continue reading
It’s easy to understand that a lot of people are “Assassin’s Creed-ed out.” Despite that, the information we have so far on Assassin’s Creed Unity is just interesting enough to make me want to at least pay attention to the latest franchise entry, yet again.
The franchise, and arguably Ubisoft games in general, have gotten increasingly formulaic since around 2009 (Assassin’s Creed II to be specific). It seems like multiple Ubisoft games from multiple franchises have followed the same formula: experience points to collect, skills to upgrade, things to craft, an economy system, and much of the time an open world with a map full of icons to travel to. The AC games have become annual with their own tried-and-true formula of hay barrels, backstabbing, tailing missions, and other automatic failure stealth missions. If you actually pay attention to what we know about Unity though, it seems like it might try to make the most fundamental changes to the series’ formula since the original game.
Reddit actually has a pretty great, fully-sourced list of currently-known facts about the game. Most of it seems to be tidbits from interviews. What intrigues me is Ubisoft is apparently willing to sacrifice long-standing elements of the AC structure — a structure that I think has gotten bloated over the years. I haven’t played my copy of Black Flag yet (which I was only interested in because of the pirate theme), but if you ask me Assassin’s Creed III could have had half its content cut and maybe gone for a more focused, more polished game. Did running the Assassin’s guild and building a homestead need to be in there? Again? I’m not saying Ubisoft is taking a meat cleaver to the formula for Unity, but it sounds like they’re taking a good look at what really still needs to be there and what doesn’t.
Most importantly, it looks like missions in Unity will be more open-ended. What I and a lot of other people hate most about AC games is stealth missions like the tailing sections where getting seen once or not doing something in a specific way results in an automatic fail state. To put it bluntly, the AC games often seem anti-open-world despite supposedly being sandbox games. In interviews Ubisoft has said that in Unity, a tailing mission instead may start as a tailing mission, but could change into something else if you get seen or if your target is killed. The only real objective there would be to figure out what information that guy had on him, or where he was going. Apparently you’ll also be able to repeat missions and complete them in different ways. Ubisoft is calling this “Adaptive Mission Mechanic.” This basically sounds like what I’ve always wanted AC to be, even since the original — a game where each mission is nothing more than a place and a goal.
The stealth you’ll employ in these missions has also apparently undergone a complete overhaul. If you saw the E3 gameplay presentation, I think you saw Ubisoft employ a crouch or “stealth mode” that’s manually activated. AC thus far has been about large-scale stealth — hiding in crowds and infiltrating large areas. Infiltration of small areas has thus far resulted in the aforementioned frustrating missions. Maybe Ubisoft wants to allow for stealth on a more intimate scale. I still don’t think this is going to be like Splinter Cell or Thief, but it seems like Ubisoft is at least trying to build an actual stealth game here. I have no idea how well it’ll actually turn out.
Another big change seems to be the scale of the world. Ubisoft already confirmed Unity is going to have the biggest world in an AC game which isn’t hard to understand with the move to new hardware. What might feel really different though is that Unity’s locations will apparently vary between two thirds of real-life scale (2:3), and actual real-life scale (1:1). Where locations in previous AC games have been around half of real-life scale (1:2), Ubisoft said Paris will be at or near 1:1. On top of this around a quarter of buildings will have explorable interiors. That sounds like a big leap from just running through buildings in AC3.
Traversal seems to be getting some of the most interesting changes in Unity. A big thing is that hay barrels are gone. If you want to get down a building you’ll have to parkour down there, for which they’ve tweaked the system. There will also be no guards on rooftops. At the very least it looks like Ubisoft is trying to change how AC players perceive rooftop traversal.
There’s a lot more at the Reddit link that I won’t go deep into here. The new combat and skill upgrade system sounds interesting but Ubisoft hasn’t had a lot of luck in that department over the last decade. Co-op sounds like it might be good but I’m not extremely interested. Let’s just say overall Unity sounds like it’s trying to be a true next-gen upgrade for the franchise.
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