What We Want From ‘Assassin’s Creed III’


So a new Assassin’s Creed game has been announced.

And it looks pretty awesome.

This is not, of course, news since it contains all the predictability of the sun rising. There has been a new games released into the series every year like clockwork and as ground breaking as it was when we were entering the new generation of consoles and as much fun as it is there’s no denying that the spark has started to fade. With the fourth copy/pasted game already on the shelves it’s beginning to feel like a chore to keep following the story.

Now that we’re moving into the game number five, a new time period and the third numbered game it’s time to fan those flames and make things interesting again. This is what we want to see…

Speed

Seeing Altair scale walls and leap from roof to roof for the first time was mind blowing. I’m pretty sure it was what convinced me to shell out for a Playstation 3 before they started getting competitive about the price. It was epic and totally unlike anything we’d seen before. If you haven’t played an Assassin’s Creed game lately, give it another go. The first thing you notice? Altair and Ezio are slow. Even at full pelt they feel like they’re plodding along. Now that parkour has become commonplace in gaming pretty much every game using it has gone for speed – Mirror’s Edge, Arkham City, Prototype, Infamous…they’ve all changed our expectation of how quickly we should be free-running. If Assassin’s Creed wants to stay current it’s time to strap on the trainers and get a bloody move on.

Snore.

Controls

With every game in the series there’s been new features added and every one of these has required a controller command. The default layout for the game has gotten cluttered, convoluted and clumsy. The reaction time has started to feel a bit off as well. As clever as the Low Profile/High Profile shoulder buttons once were the entire control scheme needs to simplified.

Scrap the Weapons

Here’s the current range of weapons I am packing in Assassin’s Creed: Revelations: Wrist blade, double wrist blade, hook blade, gun, throwing knives, poison blade, poison dart, a bunch of swords, a bunch of short swords, crossbow, maces, spears, axes and dozens of variations on bombs. How many do I routinely use? One – the hidden blade. When I don’t just send the apprentices in to do the job, that is. With only a couple allowed on hand at a time these all feel pointless. It’s time to strip the range down to a couple of basics. If you really want you can make them upgradable, but in a way that replaces the original.

Economy

Let’s keep this simple – if you can’t balance the games economy, get right of it.

Move Desmond’s Story Out of Footnote Status

If there’s one part of the game that is starting to feel arduous it’s the over-arching story featuring Desmond. To begin with it functioned as a framing device, but as each game has gone by the developers have brought it more and more to the forefront with endless questions and no answers. It’s starting to feel like the fourth season of Lost and it’s beginning difficult to care. Desmond needs to be reduced back to a framing device (or even do away with it entirely) or made the primary focus in order to deliver some actual answers.

Keep the Map Sensible

It’s been a while since the size of a map has impressed gamers. With Fallout 3 and Just Cause 2 causing plenty of chatter with their epic landscapes, the cities of the AC series seem pretty titchy when held alongside them. Every game is marketed as having a bigger play map than before, but to the gamer this means more travel time along samey looking rooftops. Adding in fast travel points and flying foxes only highlights what a problem this has become – the designers are having to invent solutions to their own problem. If you have a big map, make sure you have lots of variation and the missions aren’t spaced bloody miles apart. Quantity doesn’t equal quality.

Or crank up the running speed so it doesn't feel like we're doing the work commute.

Rebuild the Engine

Throw everything out and start again. With every new game they’ve added new features but haven’t spend nearly as much time ironing out the wrinkles. There are tweaks here and there that improve the game but nothing that addresses the core problems that are becoming more obvious the more we play it. New features wind up feeling like glittery gimmicks stuck on with glue that does little to make it feel like a completely new game. It’s increasingly feeling as though Ubisoft are churning out carbon copies simply for the sake of their retirement funds. If you want to show us that you really care about this series, start over.

The Multiplayer

Yeah, keep that. Love it.