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Everything You Need to Know About ‘Assassin’s Creed III’

And we’re back! Took some time off to work on a site redesign (that’s on the way), and with all the news pouring out almost daily about the absolutely legendary-looking Assassin’s Creed III, I thought it might be a good idea to sort of assemble a compendium of what we know so far, to get everyone on the same page. Obviously there will be minor spoilers for anyone wanting to go into the game fresh, but the rest of you hit the jump to check out all the details.

Before we get started, here’s that awesome debut trailer for anyone that hasn’t seen it:

Epic, no? Don’t worry, we have plenty more footage to show off at the end, for now let’s start breaking down some of the tidbits floating around out there.

First off, we have our new protagonist. It was fairly obvious that the next numbered installment would bring us a brand new hero and not be another Ezio-centric title (after all, it was getting a bit stale).  His name is Connor Ratohnhaké:ton, a Native American of the Mohawk tribe who evidently voluntarily joins the Assassins; he isn’t born into it as Altair and Desmond were. Over at Kotaku, they have an interview with creative director Alex Hutchinson that offers some nice details about just who this guy really is:

“The story of getting to know this guy is the game,” Assassin’s Creed III creative director Alex Hutchinson said to me. “Ezio is this character who is over the top. He’s the Errol Flynn. He’s a womanizer and a braggart. We wanted a character [in the new game] who is more earnest.”

Connor is Native American. He’s a member of the Mohawk tribe. He sees his tribe’s village destroyed and wants to take action, according to some basic bulletpoints the game’s team shared, though the fact that ACIII is still in development means things could change. Something drives Connor to the Assassins, this ancient order dedicated to combatting the equally-ancient Templars and to help people be free.

“We knew early on that we wanted a Native American assassin, because it’s someone outside the conflict [of the American Revolution],” Hutchinson said. “We didn’t want you to be a Patriot. We didn’t want you to be a Redcoat.

“It’s been a big challenge to get the right guy,” Hutchinson continued. “It’s not like creating an Italian who is part of a robust country. We’re sort of picking a character who is part of an oppressed people. We had to be very very careful with it. We wanted to be both historically accurate and earnest in how we treated it. So we wanted to get an actor who is Native American. He is half-Blackfoot, and we wanted to get the events that happen in the game that are historically accurate as possible.”

I find it interesting they went with a Native American as a hero for the Revolutionary War setting as opposed to the expected choice, but I think it’ll actually work out really nicely.

Speaking of the setting, the game is moving on from Renaissance Italy to a locale that I was personally pulling for as soon as it was rumored, Revolutionary-era America between 1753 and 1783.  The main cities will be Boston and New York, but more interestingly is the addition of the frontier lands as a locale, reportedly “1 1/2 the size of Brotherhood’s Rome.” It’ll definitely be an interesting change to the gameplay to forgo the massive stone cities with their enormous towers for a frontier. The developers confirmed that Connor, unlike Altair or Ezio (to much deridement from fans), will be able to climb trees and that this new ability will function importantly into gameplay.

Another change that’s clearly evident from the trailer are the weapons in Connor’s arsenal. It’s been confirmed that many new weapons such as that awesome looking tomahawk will be in the game, along with some old favorites. Curious as to what instruments-o’-death you’ll get to play with this time around? Well, lucky for you, a trailer focusing on Connor’s weapons has been released!

Glad to see the old hidden blade make a comeback, but what I’m most looking forward to is the addition of a classic bow and arrow for some long term stealth action. Combine that with the frontier setting and the fact that you can hunt animals as well as humans? It could be an extremely refreshing change to the game.

Now, breaking down a trailer and little snippets of news is all well and good, but we can do better than that. Earlier this week Kotaku put out a list of “50 Things About Assassin’s Creed III That You Should Know,” and it has some awesome stuff to it. Check out a few choice excerpts below:

  • “Desmond is going to be a bigger part of this game than ever before,” says Hutchinson, but otherwise we’re getting no details any time soon about what’s going on in AC III‘s progression of the portion of the game presumably set in the year 2012 on the precipice—if the previous games’ narratives are to be believed—of an apparently apocalyptic event.
  • The game’s main section, featuring Connor, takes place from around 1753-1783. “You are not winning the Revolution,” creative director Alex Hutchinson says. “The Revolution is in the game’s background.” Some of the game’s themes: liberty or death, power and slavery, control vs. freedom. Its player fantasies: be a nation’s pioneer, help found a country, inspire the world to fight for freedom.
  • Animals are a big part of AC III, though they won’t appear as easily as they did in Red Dead Redemption, the Rockstar Games open-world frontier epic that the AC III team deeply admires. “We want to make it more of a time investment and strategic investment to find animals,” Hutchinson said, distinguishing the two games’ approach to wildlife. “We also don’t just want people shooting them. .. If you go out and shoot a bear with buckshot, it’s not a good rug. .. You should be assassinating animals. You should be hunting them, trapping them or killing them carefully. And then you get different results, which leads to different systems. We didn’t want a character who laid waste to animals ‘I laid waste to 180 bears,100 deer,’ and all that sort of stuff.”
  • There is weather. Fog will set in, compelling players to use a revamped version of the series’ Eagle Vision. It will rain, though Connor won’t slip and slide. And there will be snow. A lot of it.
  • Winter will matter. Every region of the game will have a winter and summer version. The winter versions, covered in snow, will evoke the treachery of 18th century cold, where fighting men died more from the elements than from each other. Connor won’t have to be a survivalist in the winter. He will still seem capable, but heavy snow will slow everyone. “We wanted to get away from winter [and snow] being a texture swap on the ground, like a white rock, basically.” Hutchinson said. “We wanted to get away from the notion that it didn’t matter, that it had no gameplay that it was just kind of pretty and only happened at the top of tall mountains.”

That’s just a few, head over to Kotaku to check out the full list.

Personally, I cannot wait. I need to give Ubisoft props as well, they kept development on this thing hidden for two years without anyone knowing how far along it was. They did what I think more companies need to do: they waited to evenannouncethe title until they had something to show for it, and waited until the year it was actually coming out to announce it. So many studios these days like to announce a game two to three years before it’s even being released. I cannot stand that, at all. Thankfully, we don’t have to wait that long, because Ubisoft did it right.

Assassin’s Creed III hits stores on October 30th, 2012.

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