Column: A look back at Assassin’s Creed Unity

Assassin’s Creed Unity, a historic game from Ubisoft for several reasons.

The game is the first Assassin’s Creed game to be released exclusively on the previous generation of consoles (PlayStation 4 and Xbox One). There was a lot of hype surrounding Assassin’s Creed Unity, but when it was released on November 11, 2014, it certainly had an impact on the Assassin’s Creed series and Ubisoft as a company. The game was full of glitches and bugs that are still known within the gaming community to this day. I was therefore wondering what the state of the game is after seven years. Join me in this throwback to Assassin’s Creed Unity.

A look behind the scenes

Ubisoft was very ambitious when they were developing Assassin’s Creed Unity. Especially because it is the first real next-gen game in the series. Before that, Assassin’s Creed IV Black Flag came out, but that was a cross-gen title. The goal of Ubisoft is to give the player a seemless singleplayer and co-op/multiplayer experience in the open world. The co-op and multiplayer is not PVP, but rather missions that you can do together with your friends. Some of these missions you can also do alone.

Ubisoft talked about three systems they were working on, those systems were the parkour, combat and stealth system. The parkour system has been modified to give players more control. In this way, players can travel through the world easier and faster as they get better at it. The combat has been made more difficult according to Ubisoft and they have done that to support the stealth system. NPCs are more aggressive and attack you faster at the same time. Some also stand at a distance and will shoot at you or throw a flash grenade to blind you. The stealth system would help you by defeating some enemies before you start the combat, to make it easier for you.

Assassin’s Creed Unity would look very different graphically than the previous games and that is certainly noticeable. Ubisoft went for realism with their own flair. They wanted to use the new hardware they had in their possession at the time. They also wanted to have a dynamic lighting system that would make the world look more alive. A dynamic open world, innovative gameplay and great ambition for the game is fun, but it’s nothing without an interesting story.

A Assassin in the French Revolution

The best way to describe the story of Assassin’s Creed Unity is a murder mystery. You follow Arno Dorian who sets out to solve his adoptive father’s murder after he is accused and thrown into the Bastille. There is an element of love in the game as Arno also has a lot of feelings for his adoptive sister Élise. She is also looking for her father’s killer and asks Arno for help, even though she also suspected him of the murder.

Arno is not an assassin yet at the beginning of the story. He only becomes that after the Bastille is stormed. You follow Arno’s start as an assassin, so he still has a few things to learn. The story is pretty simple when you think about it. You follow various clues to get closer and closer to solving the murder of Arno’s adoptive father. During the story you will encounter new characters, but also a plot twist that you do not immediately see coming. The conflict between Assassins and Templars is very strong, because Élise is a Templar. Arno is very much in love with her and wants to protect her through the story. That brings an interesting dynamic between Arno, Élise and the Assassin Order in Paris. It does help to bring some variation to the game. The story is very entertaining, it’s different from most Assassin’s Creed games and that is mainly due to the era of the game. You just don’t notice much development with Arno until the end of the game. He makes many of the same choices and is quite rebellious. It kind of makes sense, because the story doesn’t spread over a long time, but I was hoping to see a little more development with Arno. The story does give players the opportunity to develop their assassin skills.

Revolutionary gameplay or is it much of the same?

The story allows the player to learn various gameplay elements and upgrade Arno to become the ultimate assassin in Paris. After each main mission and a number of co-op missions, players receive upgrade points to give Arno new skills. You can choose melee combat, ranged combat, stealth and health. There aren’t many options to choose from, but enough to see an actual difference between the beginning and the end of the game. You can also upgrade Arno by buying new pieces of armor and weapons that can help you through the game. Sometimes armor pieces affect your inventory, for example by providing more health potions or ammunition for your weapons. In addition, I feel that it is more cosmetic than effective.

The gameplay has also been tweaked on a number of other fronts, most notably the three systems Ubisoft talked about. The parkour was a pleasant surprise for me, because it actually felt different from the previous games. It is no longer as easy as before and you really notice that you have to master the system to travel quickly and effectively through the world. The combat is indeed more difficult, but it is certainly not impossible. Enemies do quite a bit of damage and you soon find out that you can’t take on everyone on your own. You need to have fairly quick reactions and observe the whole field to stand a good chance against a large group of enemies. I did notice that Ubisoft has put more emphasis on the stealth system and you have to be really sneaky in certain places. In general, stealth is preferred in the game. It is often more effective because it avoids combat. Getting into combat situations makes it a lot easier, because you’ve eliminated some of the enemies. It’s a pretty simple system. You can sneak whenever you want and take cover in different places. The standard elements such as air assassinations and kills when you are hidden are still there. You really shouldn’t expect Splinter Cell levels of stealth, because there just isn’t one.

It’s a shame that not all side missions offer upgrade points, because the game is full of them. The only reason you would do those missions is to earn extra money to buy new weapons and armor and for a bit of variety outside of the main missions. That variation is very important, because the main story is quite repetitive. You have a lot of missions where you have to follow someone, investigate an environment and of course kill someone.

Does that mean there is no variation at all in the game? No, Assassin’s Creed Unity certainly has variety. They come in the form of Helix Rift missions, in which you have to collect a certain amount of data and rescue an assassin from that rift. Side missions where you have to solve murders, steal an item from someone or kill someone. Does it offer variety? Yes. Is it enough to make a big difference overall? No, but that doesn’t make the game any less fun for me.

My look at Assassin’s Creed Unity in 2021

Assassin’s Creed Unity is a very ambitious game and you notice that right away. It showed in 2014 and it can still be seen in 2021. Despite being quite critical of the game, I still think it’s one of the best Assassin’s Creed experiences out there. It’s just that Ubisoft was too ambitious and didn’t develop the game long enough. No one will forget the launch of this game. It had many graphical glitches, performance and frame-rate bugs. I can say they are no more. I replayed the game on PC, my very first playthrough was on PS4 at the game’s launch. At the time, I only experienced a few crashes during the same mission, but nothing else at all. So I could speak of luck.

Despite the fact that the game didn’t offer a lot of variety, I really enjoyed the game. The gameplay is the strongest element that Assassin’s Creed Unity has to offer. The same goes for Assassin’s Creed Syndicate, which has expanded on it. I hardly ever used the fast travel function, because I loved running through the streets and rooftops of Paris. I found myself getting better at navigating my route to the goal I had in mind. The same goes for combat. I no longer went into it blindly, I actually had to think about how I wanted to approach it. By the way, I’m a big fan of stealth, so I’ve used that option a lot.

Arno is a great character, but I do feel that Ubisoft wanted to make him look too much like Ezio from Assassin’s Creed II. Arno is generally very charming, also resembles Ezio and can immediately climb buildings in a way that you tell Us. It may have been by accident, but when I saw it I couldn’t see it any other way. It’s not necessarily bad, but that makes it hard to give Arno his own identity. What sets him apart is that he has a relationship with a Templar, but not that much. Despite that, I think Arno is a cool character in the game and wouldn’t have minded seeing him again in a new part. That would have been a good opportunity to make him more of his own character. Unfortunately that didn’t happen.

The last sequence

In conclusion, what do I think of Assassin’s Creed Unity in 2021? Is it still the game I remember or was my memory better than reality?

I can say that Assassin’s Creed Unity is still the game I remember from 2014. Obviously without the bugs and glitches, but a game with tight gameplay that lets you explore the streets of Paris during the French Revolution. I recommend anyone who is a fan of the series to play the game if they haven’t already, even those who have. It’s definitely worth another playthrough. It also certainly helps that the game is often on sale for less than ten euros.

What do you think of Assassin’s Creed Unity and what is your favorite Assassin’s Creed game? I am very curious about that!