Assassin's Creed™: Director's Cut Edition - contact@rockpapershotgun.com (Brendan Caldwell)

"Oh no he isn't!" - "Oh yes he is!"

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The Assassin s Creed series has abandoned its mutliplayer modes and that makes me sad. The multiplayer, introduced in Brotherhood, was one of the most playground-like games you could find. It s basically the game of Assassin, popular among university students, but played on cool-looking streets from the past. You re hunting somebody, but somebody else is hunting you. And oh no you re all disguised as computer-controlled characters. You need to find a Jester among dozens of Jesters, while also hiding your own Courtesan among dozens of Courtesans. (more…)

Assassin's Creed 2 Deluxe Edition


Editor's note: Rob Dwiar is a garden designer, landscape architect, horticulturist and writer who regular Eurogamer readers may remember for his analysis of The Witcher 3, Mass Effect and Dishonored, his essay on the genius of Rapture and his thoughts on the close quarters of Dead Space, Metro, The Last of Us and Oblivion. Now, to coincide with the 10-year anniversary of Assassin's Creed, Dwiar takes a closer look at Ubisoft's remarkable recreation of Renaissance Italy, and finds there's more than meets the eye.

Since it began 10 years ago, Assassin's Creed has captured imaginations with secret organisations, myths and mysteries, but also made great swathes of history accessible. Being able to explore and interact with places and people of the past has promoted an appreciation of history, down to the features, elements and facets of life of that time, such as historical politics and power struggles, mythologies, social structures and people, and architecture and design. These elements of historical presentation give Assassin's Creed games and their environments great depth and sense of place and act as environmental guides and markers. Arguably, none were better than Ezio Auditore's Renaissance Italy, which had places that went beyond 'great recreations'. While spaces such as town squares, gardens and designed landscapes were fun elements of the landscape fabric to explore and parkour across, they often demonstrated distinct design trends and techniques of the time, while maintaining their in-game ability to act as narrative exaggerators, theme reflectors and design-centred, geographic markers and navigators, all of which served to enhance our experience.

Florence is oft cited as the birthplace of the Renaissance, and one particular family embraced this through design. The infamous Medici family was one of the most powerful and important in the region (clearly highlighted in the games), and were not shy about ostentatiously displaying their wealth, power or influence and made sure to show it through their homes, grounds and gardens. At first glance, the Palazzo Medici in Florence is not overtly enormous or magnificent - at least from beyond its walls - but it is, and it is one of the few urban residences with a garden. What looks like a simple design actually has powerful themes running through it and is built for more than aesthetic pleasure.

Read more…

Assassin's Creed™: Director's Cut Edition

Over the course of the Assassin's Creed series we've played as a huge variety of hooded killers, from pirates to revolutionaries. And although some are memorable, likeable characters, others might as well be mannequins stuffed into elaborate costumes. So to coincide with the recent release of the excellent Assassin's Creed Origins, here's every main series protagonist (minus the DLC characters, because we'd be here all day) ranked from worst to best.

Ratonhnhaké:ton

Game Assassin's Creed IIIPlayed by Noah Watts

This guy could have been one of the most interesting Assassin's Creed protagonists. He's the son of a Native American woman and an English man—born during a time of great tension between those two cultures—and played an active role in the American Revolution. But the writers forgot to give him one important thing: a personality. Connor (to use his easier to spell alias) is an extraordinarily boring, earnest man, who sulks, pouts, and complains his way through what is also the worst Assassin's Creed game.

Arno Victor Dorian

Game Assassin's Creed UnityPlayed by Dan Jeannotte

Another revolutionary, this time of the French variety. Arno is born into a wealthy family in Versailles, but becomes an assassin after a stint in the Bastille, a famously brutal Parisian prison. Again, like Connor, he has an interesting backstory. And I like how different he is from most Assassin's Creed protagonists: namely being a bit more loose with the whole Creed thing. He starts out cocky and kinda likeable, but then he slips on the hood and all that personality steadily drains away over the course of the game.

Altaïr Ibn-La'Ahad

Game Assassin's CreedPlayed by Philip Shahbaz

The original assassin. The beginning of the legend. And, unfortunately, one of the dullest heroes in the series. Altaïr looks cool, but there isn't much going on under the hood. Reviews talked about how boring he was, which inspired Ubisoft to introduce a very different character in the second game. But more on him later. There's no denying Altaïr's importance in the series' mythology, but would it have killed him to crack a joke now and again?

Aya of Alexandria

Game Assassin's Creed OriginsPlayed by Alix Wilton Regan

Skip this one if you're avoiding a few minor spoilers for Assassin's Creed Origins.

Aya is the the second playable character in Origins, although husband Bayek gets more screen time. She's strong and spirited, with an endearing belief in Cleopatra's ability to do right by Egypt. But, and this could be because we don't spend much time with her, her personality never really shines through. I like how her allegiance to Cleopatra drives a wedge between her and Bayek, but her driven single-mindedness also makes her a bit one-note.

Shay Patrick Cormac

Game Assassin's Creed RoguePlayed by Steven Piovesan

Shay is an interesting addition to the pantheon of Creed heroes because he isn't an Assassin at all, but a Templar. However, even though he's working for 'the bad guys' (I personally prefer the Templars to the preachy Assassins), his former life as an Assassin himself still haunts him. He's tough and ruthless, but refuses to prey on the weak and occasionally shows mercy. He's nuanced and flawed and we need more lead characters like him in the series.

Evie Frye

Game Assassin's Creed SyndicatePlayed by Victoria Atkin

Evie is more professional and straight-laced than her wild brother Jacob, but she doesn't fall into the trap of Altaïr and Connor by letting her devotion to the Creed define her. There are glimmers of humour and humanity beneath Evie's hard exterior, and she genuinely cares for her brother despite spending most of the game scolding his recklessness. Capable, smart, and passionate, she's one of the most admirably committed leads in the series.

Aveline de Grandpré

Game Assassin's Creed III: LiberationPlayed by Amber Goldfarb

Growing up surrounded by wealth and privilege in New Orleans, Aveline witnessed the hypocrisy and injustice of slavery first-hand, shaping her attitude to life and eventually leading to her joining the Assassins. Relegated to an Assassin's Creed III spin-off—yet infinitely more interesting than boring old Connor—her guilt over being freed and brought into wealth while her friends suffered in slavery gives her personality a sharp edge.

Jacob Frye

Game Assassin's Creed SyndicatePlayed by Paul Amos

Jacob is cocky, rebellious, witty, and a bit of a prick. And that's why he's one of the better Assassin's Creed heroes, because he seems to actually be having fun. He's never happier than when he's brawling on the cobbled streets of London with his brass knuckles. But he's also a fierce defender of the downtrodden, which leads to him following his father and embracing the Creed, even though early in the game it's the last thing on his mind.

Bayek of Siwa

Game Assassin's Creed OriginsPlayed by Abubakar Salim

The newest Creed hero and one of the best. Origins is set in the twilight years of Ancient Egypt as Greek and Roman culture sweeps in, but Bayek is a man of the old world. He deeply respects tradition and religion, but can be charming and funny too. His weakness for children in trouble, caused by the death of his son, makes his dark side particularly shadowy. But his innate good nature and natural instinct to help the weak always shines brighter.

Edward James Kenway

Game Assassin's Creed IV: Black FlagPlayed by Matt Ryan

This charismatic Welsh pirate is, at least in the early stages of the game, more concerned with fame, gold, and glory than following the Creed. And it's this attitude, along with his bawdy sense of humour, that makes his personality so infectious. He deepens and grows as a person throughout his Caribbean adventure, eventually renouncing his old life to become an Assassin, but he never loses his love of swashbuckling on the high seas.

Haytham Kenway (Assassin’s Creed III)

Game Assassin's Creed IIIPlayed by Adrian Hough

Arguably the worst Assassin's Creed features one of the very best lead characters. You begin the third game as Haytham, and he immediately proves to be a complex, conflicted character; more than the villain his allegiance to the Templars suggests he might be. There's good in him—although it's often fogged by the work he does—and his Bond-like charm and ruthlessness make him a joy to play as. Then Connor shows up and spoils all the fun.

Ezio Auditore da Firenze

Game Assassin's Creed II, Brotherhood, RevelationsPlayed by Roger Craig Smith

Well, obviously. Ezio has been a fan favourite since his very first appearance, and he had the luxury of another two full-size games to develop as a character. So maybe that's an unfair advantage, but even in Assassin's Creed II he was a breath of fresh air. Witty, charming, and mischievous, Ezio is a character who buzzes with life and personality, from his younger days brawling on the streets of Florence to Revelations' moving final scenes.

Assassin's Creed™: Director's Cut Edition

Assassin's Creed: Origins lands one month from today, bringing with it puzzle-filled pyramids, Witcher-like investigation, and Caesar and Cleopatra. Expect new words on that from our Tom over the next few days. If you're yet to sample what's come thus far, though, the Assassin's Creed series is on sale now through Friday on Steam. 

Despite their age, that means netting both Assassin's Creed and Assassin's Creed 2 for just £2.71/$3.39 with a 66 percent discount, and Assassin's Creed Revelations for £4.07/$6.79. 2014's Liberation and the standalone Freedom Cry are going for £5.43/$6.79 and £4.07/$5.09 respectively, while the Climax Studio-led China Chronicles spin-off is just £2.71/$3.39. 

Black Flag, Rogue, Unity and Syndicate are also subject to two thirds price drops, selling for £5.43/$6.79, £5.43/$6.79, £8.49/$10.19, and £13.99/$15.99 in turn. And, if you're feeling extra flush, the Assassin's Creed Bundle gathers those four games and costs £30.01/$35.78. 

On Black Flag, here's a snippet from Tom's 2013 review

Whatever Assassin's Creed was trying to be in 2007, it's now buried under generations of feature creep, but that's no bad thing. Black Flag is best regarded as a collage of the games and technologies Ubisoft have cultivated over the past decade. There are strong notes of Prince of Persia in the platforming challenges of the archipelago's Aztec ruins. You can put on hunters' rags and travel the world in search of rare prey. The sailing is a great element unto itself. Some of these aspects have been bettered in other games, but by brute force, Black Flag's varied components merge beautifully to create rich and constantly interesting world. 

Head this way for Steam's Assassin's Creed sale. 

Assassin's Creed™: Director's Cut Edition

Once upon a time, Ubisoft's library was simple: it made platformers starring terrifying mascots with no limbs, and roughly 17,000 Tom Clancy tie-ins. But over the last decade, Ubi has muscled in on the genre that GTA made famous, building huge worlds spanning radically different time periods. Regardless of whether you’re controlling a historical hitman or a coma-bound cop, though, Ubisoft’s sandboxes love to borrow mechanics from other Ubi games.

Join us as we look back at the history of the Ubisoft's open world games, to see just how these sprawling sandboxes have evolved (and grown more and more alike).

A stealthy start

Ubisoft first began to dabble in the sandbox space with 2007’s Assassin’s Creed. Skip back a decade, and you’d never guess the seismic scope the franchise would reach. Before the 2D spin-offs, books, and shitty Michael Fassbender films could wear us all down, there was just this ambitious (more than a bit broken) sandbox that spawned many of the features open world games still cling to in 2017. 

Chances are you don’t remember much about the original Assassin’s Creed. You probably recall moping around ancient Jerusalem stabbing folk as a dude in a hoodie. Perhaps you have a dim recollection of eavesdropping on NPCs chatting away on benches. Maybe you even remember that early kickass trailer with the horribly catchy Unkle song

Far Cry 3 s antenna towers undoubtedly cast the longest shadow on almost every Ubi open world that followed, but that's not where they started.

The one thing you’ll definitely recall is Ubisoft’s obsession with making players scale super lofty buildings. That all started in Altaïr’s adventure. To fully scope out all of the Holy Land’s side activities, you had to climb the tops of the tallest structures across Jerusalem, Acre, and Damascus. Doing so gives you a very literal eagle’s eye view of the sprawling mass of humanity hundreds of feet below; a bird of prey swooping around the building when you reach its summit. 

These vertigo-bating landmarks birthed Ubi’s most infamous open world feature: gradually filling up a map with mission markers.

Crossover feature: Climbing towers

Assassin’s Creed may have introduced us to the idea of big-ass buildings that revealed points of interest when climbed, but it was 2012’s Far Cry 3 that really cemented the feature. Jason Brody’s leopard-punching, pirate-blasting, tattoo-inking tropical holiday had the sort of wide reaching influence on the open world genre its two predecessors could only have sweaty night terrors about… mainly because its predecessor literally gave you malaria

Surprisingly, Far Cry 2’s obsession with making you stuff pills down your throat to keep mosquito-borne diseases away never caught on—nor did its love of jamming weapons. Far Cry 3 ditched the annoying obstructions in favour of features that kept you itching to explore.

Far Cry 3’s antenna towers undoubtedly cast the longest shadow on almost every Ubi open world that followed. Scaling these rickety structures—which often feel like they’re being kept up by little more than prayers and a few loose screws—helps Brody fill his map up with all manner of side distractions. Haphazardly jumping, swinging and climbing your way between the crooked layers of the towers in Far Cry 3 isn’t just a hoot in and of itself, it also makes tracking the series of wildlife hunts, enemy encampments, treasure chests and races spread throughout the densely packed archipelago a lot easier.  

Crossover feature: Animals

Also, animals. An ark's worth of animals. Brief hunting escapades may have popped up a few months prior in Assassin’s Creed 3, but it was Far Cry 3 that really took the pelt-collecting ball and ran with it. Forget quietly ruminating on the unspoken majesty of the animal kingdom: Ubi’s critter-obsessed shooters just want to make you shoot endangered species in their furry faces. 

Not that the trend Far Cry 3 kicked off (which seemed heavily inspired by Rockstar’s Red Dead Redemption) entirely revolves around needless slaughter. Hunting down and skinning animals allows Brody to use pelts to craft ever larger ammo bags and other weapon-focused accessories. 

The creature carnage in Far Cry 4 takes things even further, with attacks coming from land, sea and air—lord are that game’s ultra aggressive eagles ever jerks. The Himalayan sandbox would also introduce rideable beasts in the form of rampaging elephants, which the prehistoric follow-up would go nuts with.

Last year’s Far Cry Primal makes the toothy, tusked inhabitants of its ancient world the stars of the show. Far Cry 3 may have let you punch sharks, but next to Primal’s wild encounters, that's positively tame. When you can train sabertooth tigers, command jaguars to stealth kill fellow cavemen, and use an owl as a sort of feathered, Mesolithic drone to tag enemies—a feature both Watch Dogs 2 and Ghost Recon: Wildlands would quickly reskin—bopping Jaws’ cousin on the nose ain’t no thang. 

Ubisoft has since pushed more animals into Assassin's Creed: Origins. Even Watch Dogs 2 depicts San Francisco's Pier 39 with a rookery of slovenly seals leisurely sunning themselves on gangplanks.

Crossover features: Sneaking, tagging, and stealth takedowns

Stealth has also played a large role in many of Ubi’s open world games, regardless of the setting, era or enemy type. It started with players blending into crowds with the ‘social stealth’ gameplay of the original Assassin’s Creed. It was an innovative feature for its time—after all, most stealth games up to that point forced their characters to either hide in the shadows or a cardboard box.

Sneaking mechanics were quickly shoved into most of its games following Assassin’s Creed's success. Who cares if these stalking scenarios were often absurd: they make for easy mission design, dammit!

Over the years Ubisoft has proven there s no open world setting it can t crowbar a stealth section into.

Diving underwater, then pulling pirates into the drink as you clear out enemy strongholds in Far Cry 3. Slipping between cover to slap a chokehold on Watch Dogs’ various shortsighted guards. Poking Edward Kenway’s head out of Assassin’s Creed 4’s suspiciously plentiful patches of long grass. Using a tiny, extra voyeuristic RC car to infiltrate the offices of a tech startup in Watch Dogs 2, then zapping any security personnel that get too curious. Solid Snake and Sam Fisher have a lot to answer for.  

Whether you’re whacking religious zealots in the time of the Crusades or putting San Francisco office workers to sleep with a taser gun, over the years Ubisoft has proven there’s no open world setting it can’t crowbar a stealth section into. 

Tagging enemies is another prominent feature most Ubi games have turned to over the last few years. This actually predates Ubisoft's open worlds, in games like Ghost Recon Advanced Warfighter and Rainbow Six: Vegas, but it's since become a vital part of their sandboxes as well.

Placing markers down to keep track of your foes’ positions popped up in Far Cry 3, with Brody’s super useful set of pirate-tagging binoculars. Assassin’s Creed, Watch Dogs, and Ghost Recon have all subsequently borrowed this eagle-eyed feature, while even the likes of Metal Gear Solid V have benefited hugely from Jason’s peeping Tom bouts of recon making tagging an open world staple.

Oh, and almost every one of those games lets you perform stealth takedowns, too. Because of course any self respecting hipster hacker/out of his depth fratboy/neanderthal can neutralise foes with the quiet, deadly efficiency of a Navy SEAL team.

Yeah, that looks about right.

Crossover feature: The Ubisoft collectible

This is the big one. More than any of the above crossover features, one recurring element has helped prop up Ubi’s increasingly sophisticated sandboxes this past decade: collectibles. ALL the collectibles. 

Eagle feathers in Assassin’s Creed; lost letters and spirit totems in Far Cry; Watch Dogs’ key data caches; Kingslayer files in Ghost Recon: Wildlands; even crystalline shards in the otherwise wonderfully nonconformist Grow Home, and its sequel Grow Up. Grand Theft Auto 3 may have introduced the world to sandbox collectibles with its fiendishly placed hidden packages, but we doubt Rockstar envisioned game worlds rammed full of bird feathers, PC files and statue heads. 

Hell, Ubisoft has even managed to cram several garages full of collectibles into its vehicled-based sandboxes. 2011’s brilliantly offbeat Driver San Francisco has 130 movie tokens to hoover up as you bomb around the Golden City while you mind-jack cars in gaming’s most exciting coma. The Crew wouldn’t miss this OCD party for the world, either. The flawed 2014 racer scatters 20 Wreck Parts in each of the five sections that make up its vast North American sandbox of endless highways. 

Ubisoft's impulse to put collectibles in everything extended all the way to Driver: San Francisco.

It’s almost as if Ubisoft doesn’t trust you enough to leave you to your own devices for five minutes. A good thing, too. Why take your time admiring the painstakingly recreated canal networks of Renaissance era Venice in Assassin’s Creed 2, when your inner completionist could be making Ezio ruin his shins by scampering up rooftops for mangy bird feathers?

There’s no question Ubisoft’s open worlds have evolved drastically over the last ten years. Place the original Assassin’s Creed next to the upcoming Beyond Good & Evil 2 (Michel Ancel’s long awaited sequel lets you explore entire galaxies), and you may as well be comparing a kid’s crayon scribbles to the ceiling of the Sistine Chapel. Still, there’s no question Ubi’s plethora of internal studios love to crib concepts from each other’s games. 

So whether its a slightly out of place stealth mission, wads of XP to splurge on increasingly convoluted skill trees, or vaulting up towers to open up that fog covered map, you should probably expect Ubisoft open worlds to continue to share crossover features as they continue to evolve. Darwin would be delighted. Probably. 

Assassin's Creed™: Director's Cut Edition

Please send Adi Shankar this image. He'll know what to do.

In an announcement via his Facebook page, Adi Shankar revealed he’ll be working with Ubisoft to develop and Assassin’s Creed anime series. We saw this coming during a March Reddit AMA when head of content for Assassin’s Creed Aymar Azaizia confirmed a TV show project was in the works. Shankar’s a busy man it seems, having recently developed an anime show based on the Castlevania series for Netflix, which debuts July 7. The trailer is fairly promising, so if any of its style and self-serious melodrama makes its way into the Assassin’s Creed project, I’m on board. Shankar’s full statement follows:

It’ll be an original story set in the Assassin’s Creed universe, but we don’t know much more than that. What network it releases on, what brooding male protagonist looks like, what time period it’s set it, and exactly how anime it will be still up in the air—but, really, if it’s anime, what can go wrong? Seriously, if it's better than the movie (which should be the easiest thing in the world) I'll be happy.

Thanks, Gamespot.

Assassin's Creed™: Director's Cut Edition

The best sidequests in PC gaming have historically, for me at least, been few and far between. That is to say: while I've thoroughly enjoyed certain quests in certain games, far too many side ventures eschew narrative reward, often serve as filler, and are ultimately plain boring. This is particularly true in open world games—The Witcher 3 is perhaps the exception—however the Assassin's Creed series is looking to improve its side quest design into the future.   

Officially revealed at this year's E3, Origins will reduce its icon clutter by introducing a new "quest system". 

Speaking to our Samuel on the show floor, the game's creative director Jean Guesdon said: "That's one of the three main things that we reworked a lot. Traditionally in past Assassin's Creed [games], we had what was called a mission system. So, it was really about missions, but missions are really good to tell a little bit, a chapter, of a big story. So we had a main story and side activities, basically, which were not really supportive of narrative. 

"This time we're embracing a quest system, much more [like an] RPG, where you have dozens of them in the world, meeting different people, and each quest this time is a different story. We wanted that first to give a lot of meat to the world, to have the player really understand the world, and it's really allowing us to depict the setting well, because Ancient Egypt is incredible. It's a long lost world—we did a lot of research, and through the quests, we have a [chance] to help you experience that."

Assassin's Creed: Origins is due October 27, 2017. Here's its latest trailer:

Assassin's Creed™: Director's Cut Edition

If there's one dependable lesson to be learned from E3 every year, it's that consumerism is good. And that's no better demonstrated than by this ludicrous Assassin's Creed: Origins edition. Tidily dubbed the Dawn of the Creed Collector's Case – Legendary Edition, it'll set you back $800 (or $1,250 in Australia).

Rather amusingly, this pack doesn't get you absolutely everything offered in the bajillion (ie, five) other special editions of the game, but crucially, it does get you a 73cm figurine in resin (it's in resin, you see). The game is there of course, as is a season pass, a physical world map, and an eagle skull amulet, which is nice.

The full rundown of what's in it can be perused over here. Or you could watch this video. Scroll to the bottom for an image showing everything in the edition.

Assassin's Creed™: Director's Cut Edition

Ubisoft rolled out another Assassin's Creed: Origins trailer at its E3 press event today, this one showcasing animals, action, and the "Mysteries of Egypt" in glorious 4K.

With ten years of Assassin's Creed behind it, Ubisoft "wanted to go back—very far back—to show how it all began," game director Ashraf Ismail said. Egypt "challenged us to fundamentally reinvent what it means to be Assassin's Creed," he added. 

The trailer is pure teaser, but if you'd like to scope out some proper gameplay we can help with that too: A trio of new videos including a mission gameplay walkthrough were released yesterday at Microsoft's E3 presser.   

Assassin's Creed: Origins is set for release on October 27.   

Assassin's Creed™: Director's Cut Edition

At is pre-E3 press conference today, Microsoft unveiled the debut Assassin's Creed: Origins gameplay trailer, finally confirming that the new game will depict the origin of the Brotherhood in ancient Egypt. 

Origins depicts "the birthplace of the Assassins Brotherhood," creative director Jean Guesdon said, and is "also the story of one man, Bayek," the last Magi and the protector of his community—something of an "Egyptian sheriff," he explained. Naturally, stealth is central to the experience, but there's plenty of action as well, and Guesdon said Ubisoft has "added many RPG elements to a huge systemic world.

A second trailer, depicting a short mission in which Bayek returns to his hometown of Siwa to kill the fake oracle Nedunamum, was also shown at the event and can be seen below. We'll have more information about Assassin's Creed: Origins, as it becomes available.Update: Following the (finally) official announcement, Ubisoft posted another video taking a more behind-the-scenes look at the development of Assassin's Creed: Origins. 

Update: Following the (finally) official announcement, Ubisoft posted another video taking a more behind-the-scenes look at the development of Assassin's Creed: Origins. Enjoy!

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