One of the key new features in Assassin’s Creed Unity is the cooperative play, where up to four Assassins can band together and complete various missions. At Gamescom 2014, I got to sit down and play through such a mission, with a little help from one of the developers.
Before I could take the controller, I was introduced to the game’s new customization options. Players will be able to customize the way Arno looks and fights by choosing from a collection of garments and a wide arsenal of weapons, from swords and axes to pistols and rifles. These choices will also effect various stats, like armor, damage and speed. In addition, players can also upgrade Arno’s abilities, like climbing, combat, stealth and vitality. By the end of the game Arno will be a master Assassin with maxed abilities and skills, but until then players will be able to mold him to fit their own play style.
Now was the time for action; or rather stealth. I was joined by a fellow Assassin and we proceeded into the nearest sewer. The mission we took was a heist mission, where the goal is to sneak into a guarded vault and steal all the money. Heist missions are a way to earn lots of cash quickly, assuming you can complete it in one piece and undetected. These missions reward stealth, so if a guard sees you, you will lose some of the money gained at the end of the mission – the longer you are exposed, the smaller the reward gets. This reward is not shared by the two Assassins, so if one is spotted, the other will still receive the entire reward at the end.
The first thing I noticed while playing was the new stealth stance. Holding down LT on the controller made Arno enter sneak mode, where he makes less noise and can hide behind cover. On the way to the aformentioned sewer entrance, the sneak mode, combined with the new Eagle Vision pulse, proved very helpful at avoiding guards. Eagle Vision in Aassassin’s Creed Unity works a little differently than in previous games. As the name suggests, Eagle Vision pulse acts like a sonar, sending a sort of wave that starts with Arno and spreads outwards, highlighting nearby enemies and objects of interest for a short period of time. ACU finally uses Eagle Vision as it should be used – a tool to help you get a better understanding of your surroundings, but without taking away any of the challenge.
A failed attempted to sneak up on a guard proved just how useful co-op can be: the guard turned around and spotted me come up behind him, and just as he was pulling his sword and yell for help, my partner in crime jumped on him from the shadows and silenced him. At another instant, we coordinated a perfect air assassination of two guards, taking them both down together, without alerting the guard patrolling near by. These moments are exactly why Assassin’s Creed can be so much fun to play with a friend. However, I was reassured that any co-op mission can be attempted solo, so if you decide to shun other people and play by yourself – you can, though it will be really difficult.
As we exited the sewer a group of guards spotted us and combat ensued. Combat in ACU is a little bit more difficult since you can’t just block or counter every attack. Incoming blows now need to be parried in order to land a successful counter attack, heavy attacks need to be dodged, etc. It’s actually really fun, and brings some much needed challenge to the combat.
After the guards were defeated and the money stolen, we needed to make our gateaway. We quickly climbed out of the courtyard where the combat took place, and then I had a change to try the new “controlled descent” mechanic. Instead of looking for the nearest haystack, or shimming slowly down ledges, Arno can parkour his way to street level with both style and ease. Reaching the street and blending into the crowd ended the mission and my hands-on demo.
Assassin’s Creed Unity will start a revolution on October 28 on Xbox One, PS4 and PC.