In Assassin’s Creed III you play as an assassin named Ratohnhaké:ton. I’m not sure how you pronounce the colon, but thankfully he also goes by the name Connor. He is half British and half Native American and will apparently be killing templars on both sides of the conflict in the American Revolution.
The level we saw takes place during the Battle of Bunker Hill. Connor is attempting to assassinate the General of the British forces. The first thing that you notice is the “epic crowd” of British soldiers lined up on an opposing hillside. All of them firing muskets in your general direction. Previous games could only show around 200 characters on a screen at any giving time, but Assassin’s Creed III has bumped this number up to over 2,000.
Assassin’s Creed has always pitted your character against guards armed with simple weapons like swords and bows. In Assassin’s Creed III you will be taking on soldiers armed with muskets. At range the soldiers will attempt to form up into a firing line. There are multiple ways of dealing with this new strategy, but the one on display in our preview was using a human shield. Connor grabbed a nearby soldier, used him as a shield, and then closed on the group of soldiers before they could reload.
Connor is a great hunter, and some of the new weapons in AC3 reflect that. At one point in the demo Connor was perched on a tree branch as a group of soldiers walked underneath. He shot one of them with something called a “rope dart”. It attached to the soldier, and at that point Connor dropped down forming a pulley with the rope and branch. The result was the soldier flying up in the air in a very satisfying way.
A great deal of attention has been paid to how Connor moves through the environment. Revolutionary America is quite a bit different from the European cities of the earlier games. In the Battle of Bunker Hill, rooftops have been replaced by trees as the main mode of traversing the level. The dev team worked hard on making moving from limb to limb seem natural, and made sure to avoid having it look like you are Tarzan.
One of the most impressive sections had Connor scaling a very organic looking cliff. Gone are the unnaturally “gamey” ledges. Instead Connor can use things like vertical fissures between rocks to make his way up. Ubisoft has done a lot of research on real climbing, and the animations of Connor scaling the cliff looked more natural than anything I’ve seen in a video game before.
The final section of the demo had Connor working his way through a “stalking zone” to get to his assassination target. The stalking zone was basically an area of brush and bushes around the British camp. As long as you move slowly, Connor becomes nearly invisible in the foliage. Once he was close enough, Connor performed a “running assassination”. In one continuous set of fluid motions, he was able to take out two soldiers and take a running leap at the Templar General on his rearing horse. The scene was amazingly cinematic and has me counting the days until October 30.