View Full Version : Assassin's Creed Revelations: Masterclass in Assassin gameplay

10-21-2015, 07:40 PM

I'm sharing a video of ACR gameplay (Some of you may have seen it) to breakdown what I feel made ACR a model for Assassin gameplay...and elements I'd like the franchise to pick up again as it moves forward. Most of ACR's elements were in the previous Ezio games, but I'm using ACR because it was the most comprehensive one of the trilogy

Manipulation, Diversion and Player expression:
The bombs in ACR - which many consider redundant - offered a different way to manipulate AI. It also was an excellent way to let players express themselves. The bombs not only allowed for different tactics, but also offered a unique style. It went beyond the functionality of basic tools to something thats just sheer badass. The player in the video stylishly uses blood bombs before an attack to terrorize and scare away the survivors. This is the kind of deeper interaction with the AI that keeps ACR fresh in my mind. It adds an interesting wrinkle to the gameplay.

The bombs were also conducive to emergent gameplay. In the video the player lures a guard up onto a wooden scaffold - a series regular since 1, but non-existant in the later entries - with a decoy bomb and then brings it down (along with the guard) with a frag bomb. This is an instance of two gameplay elements "speaking" to each other and is a sign of robust gameplay.

Urban Gameplay:
The design of Constantinople allowed for multiple levels and IMO was an extremely interesting urban playground. The relatively narrow streets and the multi-level buildings on a hilly topography made rooftop navigation a lot of fun and offered a ridiculously large freerunning sandbox which was very seamless.

The narrow streets and claustrophobic layout also helped in the perception of the crowd density, where it looked like the City had a dense and bustling population.

Assassins. Romanis, Thieves, Mercs, Templars and the City Guards - the various factions working for, with and against you added a lot of dynamism to the gameplay. It can be argued that many of the functions were largely redundant...but IMO its all about player expression.

I, like to roleplay as a Master Assassin and minimize my involvement...I like to get things done indirectly...getting the guards and the templars to fight against each other, luring guards away with thieves, blending in and moving about the restricted with the Romanis...and silently signalling my Assassins to liquidate the rooftop guards.
The factions grant a lot of tactical flexibility as well as allow me to play as my version of an Assassin.

While the current games retain aspects of factions in some way or the other, I've yet to see a system as comprehensive as ACR.

Covert Tool Deployment:
In ACR (All Ezio games IIRC) tool deployment - bombs, knives, pistol etc. - doesn't break the player's cover...and this seems like a trivial issue but has major impact on the gameplay.

Deploying tools while incognito is super important to social stealth gameplay..where you're part of the scenery and trying to set up a scenario without going overt. Of course the animations should support such deployment and blatant pointing of weapons and not being noticed is not something I condone...but the fact is that certain tools should be usable without breaking cover.

ACR acknowledges this and allows for multiple tools to be used without jerking the player out of an incognito state. This allows for more a measured and accessible social stealth experience.

Some actions that are supported by sneaky animations - Poisoning your target with the hidden blade, dropping a bomb at your feet. These really feel cool to pull off and are a large part of my social stealth experience. They fortify the "Blade in the crowd" experience.

Assassin's Creed Unity sabotages it's social stealth gameplay with its massive crowds by breaking the player's covert state everytime Arno deploys a weapon. Perhaps the animations look off, but the tradeoff would've been worth it IMO

I recently arrived at the edge of a restricted area with a string of guards standing sentry. A huge crowd had gathered there. I blended in and tried to use the crowd cover to stick one of the guards with a berserk dart. The moment I fired, guards - a good distance away - spotted me instantly...inside a MASSIVE crowd. The rules are inconsistent and annoying.

Mission Design and Crowds:
The Templar Dens are IMO one of the best stealth sandboxes in the franchise because of one little thing:

They take place in urban, civilian areas.

This not only positively impacts gameplay but also immerses me into the game.

From a gameplay perspective, I have NPCs to manipulate and blend in with. I can use money bombs/money to create a quick crowd cover...blend in with a mobile group to survey the area, or blend in with a static group to ambush enemies. Furthermore, a civilian area allows the presence of allied factions without it seeming contrived or forced. I can bring in a pack of Romanies/Mercs/Thieves and it wouldn't seem outlandish.

It also feels natural to be there in that restricted area and being spotted by the AI...and evading them as opposed to being spotted in the middle of a military camp and being forgotten by the guards the moment I turn a corner. The AI and gameplay of the franchise is geared towards an urban setting - enemy sightlines and hearing make sense in a crowded city area...and the mechanics aren't really suited to Sam Fisher like gameplay.

Assassin's Creed's strength is in its urban assassin gameplay....Not in providing a Splinter Cell lite experience.

Moving Forward:

I'd like to see a return of ACR's Assassin gameplay - if not in letter than in spirit - to the franchise. The current games have all added some really interesting aspects to the core gameplay - AC4's refinement of the formula and robust stealth rules, ACU's crowds and urban navigation - I still haven't played a comprehensive Assassin game yet.

The biggest issue I see right now is the AI - enemy and crowd.

Its been a weak point of the franchise since day 1 and IMO its ballooned into a grotesque cyst.

The AI groups need to talk to each. The crowd's reactions MUST have a ripple effect on the enemy AI and vice versa. It is IMO critical to the health of the franchise's gameplay that the AI systems be sorted out, deepened and made consistent.

Every single time the crowd behaves erratically or responds to a player's actions and the guards are oblivious to the crowd's reactions...I see a huge missed oppurtunity. Greater interactions with NPCs, factions that you can use for different gains, a robust Police (3rd faction) system that is deeper than GTAV's amnesiac cops would IMO elevate the current gameplay.

Take a leaf out of Hitman's playbook...and invest in your crowd and enemy AI Ubisoft.

Smart AI, tools to play with them and a comprehensive Urban sandbox....is all I need from an AC game. "Crouching next to chest high walls" as the franchise's core "Stealth" gameplay can go **** itself