Assassin’s Creed Unity Trailer Shows Off New Engine

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Narrated by the game's creative director Alex Amancio, the latest trailer for Assassin's Creed Unity promises new experiences with their upgraded engine.

Assassin’s Creed Unity is the first game of the Assassin’s Creed franchise to fully commit to new gen consoles, and developer Ubisoft refined their AnvilNext engine to take advantage of the more powerful machines. Set during the French Revolution in Paris, Unity brings the series back to solid ground after Black Flag mixed things up with a pirate ship and the Caribbean seas.

Much of the five minute trailer is dedicated to Unity‘s breathtaking graphics, and even considering the AC franchise’s reputation for gorgeous vistas and top notch visuals, this is a noticeably prettier game than much of what we’ve seen on the Xbox One and PS4 to date. Lighting, fog and shadows all get a nice boost here, and the Assassin’s team was clearly able to put their incredible love of history to use – Paris’s most iconic landmarks have been painstakingly reproduced in one to one scale, including Notre Dame, which the video boasts took an entire year to design. But probably most ambitious is the game’s handling of NPC characters, for which a supposedly unprecedented amount of facial capture has been recorded. Assassin’s Creed games have always pushed systems to render large crowds and mix up the models of non-player townsfolk, but they claim Unity will expand on this considerably. From what we’ve seen in previous trailers, they don’t appear to be lying.

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Yet while the video highlights a few gameplay refinements for Assassin’s Creed Unity, including the much needed ability to descend from a vertical position while free running, the meat and potatoes of the game is just as much the same as it ever has been, which may hamper Unity since it’s losing a slew of gameplay elements that Black Flag introduced with its focus on naval warfare. If there’s one thing that has plagued the Assassin’s Creed franchise over the course of its impressive seven year run, it’s a lack of depth. As the series has progressed, the games have introduced a mind boggling amount of activities and gameplay elements, yet all of them have been shallow as a consequence. Based on the trailer above, Unity will be no different. A number of new counters and kill animations won’t change the fact that combat in Assassin’s Creed is generally a tedious affair.

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Unity‘s biggest innovation is the implementation of four player co-op, and while it’s not shown at length here, we know that the game will be playable alone or with friends. While planning and taking out multiple targets at once with the help of a buddy sounds appealing, it does feel like it can undermine the typical thrust of an Assassin’s Creed story: These games are usually singularly focused on the assassin of the era; Altair, Ezio and Connor are just as much (If not more) important to their respective games than the periods in which they lived. Sacrificing this element of the game for the inclusion of online play could be a critical error in Ubisoft’s design. We’ve seen it before in Dead Space 3, which ruined a claustrophobic horror game by adding drop-in/drop-out co-op. It was a misstep by EA that sucked out any tension the game tried to throw at the player in what was meant to be a lonely and helpless undertaking. Assassin’s Creed is certainly a different animal than a horror game, but it’s up in the air how including more players will help or hinder Unity‘s story.

Assassin’s Creed Unity launches October 28, 2014 for Xbox One, PS4 and PC.

Images: Ubisoft

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