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Assassin's Creed 3: The Wii U revolution

Everything Nintendo fans need to know about Ubisoft's action series...

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TIME BLENDERS

It is this opportunity for speed that Assassin's Creed is known so well for. With huge open worlds for the parkour-skilled Assassins to hurtle across between missions, the series has given players the ultimate freedom whether they're in 12th Century Damascus or Renaissance Florence - ACII had Ezio using Basilica San Marco in Venice as a mere climbing frame. Free-running across historical skylines has always been an exhilarating experience and one that has only improved here. The setting may have changed drastically from the Crusades and the Renaissance but 18th Century America still had cities and, as well as Boston and New York, ACIII brings a new location to the series in the shape of a wilderness map known as the Frontier.

"It's a huge environment," stresses Hutchinson. "This is not just a park or asmall area. It's a huge space. Within it we have historical locations like Valley Forge, small towns like Lexington and Concord, Connor's village and more: it's as dense a location as cities were in previous AC games, with many of our core story missions taking place in it." It is in this Frontier that Connor is in his element. Climbing rockfaces and running through the treetops as he hunts his prey, he's as at home in the natural world as previous Assassins were in cities.

"Our goal was to completely rebuild the climbing system from the ground up, with brand new functionality," explains Hutchinson, "Connor can move through complex branch and tree formations easily, and can pause at any time to assassinate targets from above." Our main man is a stealthy predator and one that delivers the ultimate level of freedom in this brand new location.

ANIMAL MAGIC

A condensed version of the American North East, the wilderness is made up of forests, lakes and mountain ranges and is, in another first for the series, packed with animals. Bears and wolves are among the beasts lurking here, and don't go thinking you're in Disney territory - these are dangerous creatures that can easily get feisty when agitated. Offering additional gameplay objectives, interaction with animals will involve hunting, tracking and killing across the wilderness.

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Choosing to hit Yogi Bear with a clean headshot could give you access to a shooting club with its own mission objectives. "We've allowed players to layer their own experience," enthuses Hutchinson. "You can now have more than one active mission at a time, and more than one task on your plate so people will be in more control of how they play their game."

So far, so PS3 and Xbox. But where does the Wii U fit into all of this? At last year's E3, the senior technical architect at Ubisoft, Marc Parenteau, was quizzed on how the just-announced Assassin's title would use the new features of the Wii U. At the time not even confirming whether the title would be a new addition to the series or a port of a current title, Parenteau managed to be suitably vague, but also suggested some rather interesting ways that the Wii U could (for which we now read: totally will) use the brand new interface.

"Assassin's Creed on Wii U will expandthe franchise and add some new features that can only happen on this console," he explained. "The multi-core architecture on the console is a natural fit for our in-house HD Anvil engine." We now know that Assassin's Creed III will run on the Anvil Next engine, a considerable step up from its original engine. Among other powerful new features, Anvil Next allows 2,000 NPCs to be on screen at the same time compared to a now paltry 100 in previous Assassin's titles. With battles playing a major part in the new game, it means that the first armies for the series are certainly not limited in size.

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The new engine has also allowed for a full weather system to be implemented. Much like walking along a street in the UK, rain, snow or fog will change the way that Connor interacts with the environment. "Weather is more than art for us," states Hutchinson. "Preparing for winter was a challenge for people in the 18th Century and wasn't something we could ignore in this setting. Each of our maps has both a winter and a summer version that will push the player to change their strategy, climbing trees to avoid being slowed by snow on the ground, or hunting enemies who are struggling to navigate through the frozen forest."

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