E3 2012: Assassin's Creed III Preview – The Deer Hunter
Written Friday, June 15, 2012 By Richard WalkerView author's profile
Connor. It might not sound like the name of a fierce and nimble assassin, but if his actions performed in the latest Assassin's Creed III demo showcased at E3 are any kind of an indication, he might just outdo Altair and Ezio in just about every conceivable aspect in the badass stakes. Just take a look at how lithe and agile he is leaping between trees, rocks and cliff faces, able to climb just about any surface he's presented with, like Spider-Man without the webs. He's a force to be reckoned with.
It's all thanks to Ubisoft's brand spanking new navigation system of course, which like our first look at Assassin's Creed III back in March, is once again pushed to the very front of our E3 presentation. Opening with Connor tracking deer as they sweep across the snow through a ravine, we see the half-British, half-Native American assassin swinging fluidly between branches, dealing with traversing through the high boughs with the same kind of proficiency as Altair and Ezio leaping across the rooftops of Jerusalem and Firenze.
Quietly hunting the deer, we find Connor entering one of the game's so-called 'stalking zones'. These are designated areas where Connor is able to keep a low profile while closing in on two-legged enemies or four-legged prey, and in the demo he uses his bow and arrow to bag himself a deer, which he then skins for its meat and pelt. You can trade or sell these items later on. There are more than two dozen different species of animal in the game according to Ubisoft, which should make for a pretty intricate ecosystem and offer plenty of opportunity for hunting and gathering.
Last time we saw ACIII, we got to watch Connor tangle with a bear, but this time he's surrounded by a pack of wolves. Connor is able to counter the wolves as they leap at him, before drawing his flintlock pistols to put them down permanently. Or you can just stab 'em up with your hidden blade. The choice is yours, but shooting animals with guns lowers the value of their pelts and meat, seeing as they'll be filled with holes and bits of lead. Makes sense.
Finding his way to a bluecoat encampment, having dealt with the lupine threat in the forest, we get to see more of the social aspects at work in ACIII, as a doctor pleads for help at the entrance unlocking a potential side quest option, and Connor returns the venison to a butcher to complete an earlier side quest. Walking through the camp, we soon cut to the chase as Connor gathers information about his target, a redcoat Templar named Silas.
Riding out on horseback, we see more of the world's life as a horse-drawn cart rides past and a small group of bluecoat soldiers trudge through the snow towards the fort that Connor is approaching in his mission to kill Silas. Launching his assault on Fort Mathieu, Connor pulls up his horse a few yards away from the fort before taking to the trees. From his high vantage point, he's able to get the jump on a company of redcoat troops outside the fort, launching a rope dart at one and hanging him from the tree limb, attracting the others' attention.
Forming a firing line, the enemy troops get down on one knee to fire their rifles at Connor, but some quick reactions mean he's able to grab a human shield to protect himself. What follows is a demonstration of Connor's incredible speed and combat prowess, as he dual-wields his tomahawk and dagger to execute the troops with a swift grace and brutality that's utterly hypnotic to watch. Connor falls afoul of a heavy trooper last of all, meaning a quick change of tactics to take him down.
In the commotion, Connor's spotted by a guard, which means having to chase him down across uneven terrain and through deep snow. With unparalleled agility, Connor's able to dash through the white stuff, run up a inclined tree trunk and execute the fleeing soldier with an aerial tomahawk assassination. Forging onward, Connor slides on his back down a steep slope, running seamlessly between a tree and cliff face, which he then scales effortlessly, even grabbing almost vertical ledges as he shimmies from the ground to the cliff's summit. He'll be able to traverse all sorts of natural shapes and configurations like this with catlike skill. Speaking of skills, the final section of this particular part of the demo sees Connor closing in on his target, creating a distraction by shooting explosive black powder barrels, while Silas cooly sips a cup of tea (of course). Nice.
Using the explosion to his advantage, Connor runs towards Silas while the camp is in disarray, spinning his tomahawk. Spotting Silas he keeps on sprinting, grabbing a musket rifle without stopping before leaping to run the escaping redcoat through with the weapon's bayonet. Awesome. Continuing our demo, Ubisoft takes us back to the Boston street we'd previously seen in our last demo, set amid the summer of 1773, showing us a familiar location but with a different twist.
Here we see how some NPCs will aid Connor, with a woman leading him down a back alley where she shouts to distract a redcoat guard enabling the assassin to leap out and silently throttle him, before rushing in to kill the rest of the soldiers, using his rope dart lynching trick to hang one from a tree. “Bill's been 'ung!” one shouts, as Connor executes his enemies one by one, freeing a captive man from the stocks. Taking to the rooftops, we see more of the flowing free-running and some of the social blending, as Connor leans against a market stall with a pair of chatting locals.
A redcoat gets slightly too close for comfort, so Connor bounds into action, impaling him on something pointy, running off and blending with a group of friendly fellow assassins disguised as British soldiers. Pretending to be their prisoner, Connor gets through customs without arousing suspicion, cutting a rope to zip up to the rooftops and out of trouble. Our presentation drawing to a close, we have time to quickly take a look at Assassin's Creed III's naval warfare, with a pre-assassin Connor behind the wheel of a gigantic galleon on the high seas.
Something of a departure for Assassin's Creed, naval warfare will no doubt prove an interesting change in gameplay for ACIII, pelting enemy ships with cannonballs, taking evasive manoeuvres to avoid being sunk, while braving rolling squalls and crashing waves. It looks like a suitably blustering slice of blockbuster action, with Connor and his men leaping to enemy galleons to presumably kill and pillage. Until we get our hands on the sailing action however, it's difficult to gauge exactly what it'll be like to play.
Ubisoft looks to be pulling out all the stops for Assassin's Creed III, and we're truly excited by what we've seen of the game thus far. Of course, the proof of the pudding will be in the eating (or rather the playing, in this case), but Assassin's Creed III looks poised to be every bit the full-fat AC sequel we're all hoping for, and a lot more besides. Bring it on.
Assassin's Creed III will be commencing its history lesson on October 30th, 2012.