Assassin's Creed: Unity

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VideoVideo: Games with awful product tie-ins

And liberty and Red Bull for all.

Assassin's Creed Unity: Dead Kings review

Is Ubisoft's DLC peace offering a crowning achievement?

Key events

Assassin's Creed is a series all about history - well, that and stabbing people in the neck. So, for the release of Origins, we thought we'd celebrate by delving into the history of the series. It's a lot less messy than doing the stabbing in the neck thing ourselves.

FeatureAssassin's Creed: the story so far

Everything is permitted.

There will likely never be a better entry point to Assassin's Creed than Origins, released today. A prequel set a thousand years before the events of Assassin's Creed 1, Origins can be enjoyed as your first experience of the series.

VideoVideo: Games with awful product tie-ins

And liberty and Red Bull for all.

I think it's fair to say that Bungie has had an interesting time of late. First, there came the controversy over the Taken King Collector's Edition making certain content unavailable to existing players without purchasing the game a second time. Then came a cross-promotion with Red Bull, asking players to purchase special promotional cans of the energy drink to access an extra mission in The Taken King expansion.

There's something about playing a character whose face consists of nothing more than floating eyes and teeth that will pull you right out of your immersion. If you played Assassin's Creed Unity at launch, you'll probably know what I'm talking about, just as you'll know about highly-trained killers who like to run on the spot for no good reason and Nobles of the Robe who are apt to collapse on the floor in rubbery puddles mid-conversation, like discarded Halloween costumes. Ubisoft's swing at revolutionary Paris felt half-finished on release, less Les Miserables and more just plain miserable. I suspect a lot of Unity disks ended up as coasters as a result.

Assassin's Creed Unity patch removes need to play companion app

Ubisoft has released a new Assassin's Creed Unity patch that unlocks the rewards previously tied to the game's companion app and Initiates web service.

The patch is available now on PlayStation 4 and Xbox One, and later today on PC.

Previously, players were required to download and play Unity's mobile/tablet app to unlock the blue chests that cover the main game's map.

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Parkour always looks pretty cool when you watch clips of real-life people with a camera strapped to their forehead make an attempt at it on YouTube. Unfortunately - discounting perhaps one exception - it never seems all that empowering or intuitive when developers try to recreate those moves in-game. Third-person games like Assassin's Creed seem to get it right, so what are first-person parkour titles doing wrong? Our new senior video producer Johnny Chiodini investigates, hopefully while managing to not look down.

Assassin's Creed Unity: Dead Kings review

Assassin's Creed Unity: Dead Kings review

Is Ubisoft's DLC peace offering a crowning achievement?

They say time heals all wounds, but Assassin's Creed Unity: Dead Kings opens with Parisian Assassin Arno still nursing his injuries and laying low, having left the French capital firmly behind him. Ubisoft's add-on acts as a coda to Unity's main campaign and - without wishing to spoil that - it's fair to say our hero is in a bit of a slump.

His mood is fitting of the Assassin's Creed series as it stands today. Unity, last year's major release and the first built specifically for PlayStation 4 and Xbox One, was a technical embarrassment for Ubisoft, whose executives were forced to publicly apologise to fans, cancel the game's Season Pass and instead offer Dead Kings for free. But even if it had launched without bugs, it was still unlikely to have found a place in fans' hearts alongside the seafaring fun of Black Flag or the high points of Ezio's Renaissance trilogy.

Poor Arno. His mood is reflected in the DLC's deliberately dour, downtrodden surroundings: the muddy, provincial town of Franciade where he plans to bargain his passage overseas. It's a dark place, its mists seen through an Instagram filter, and like Arno it has suffered through the destruction of the recent Revolution. Its foggy, muck-filled streets are a marked change from the bright, blood-soaked cobbles of Paris and while much of the architecture is familiar, a couple of environments stand out.

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Latest Assassin's Creed Unity patch boosts performance

Digital FoundryLatest Assassin's Creed Unity patch boosts performance

Biggest gains on PS4 - but Xbox One benefits too.

Assassin's Creed Unity has had a rocky time since its launch in late October. Despite a substantial day one patch on release and additional updates, the game continued to be plagued by performance issues, glitches and bugs. Our recent testing of the third patch - which promised frame-rate improvements - showed some very mild changes in the game's overall fluidity, but the results were largely inconclusive.

Last week, Ubisoft released a fourth patch designed specifically to tackle performance issues on consoles. Weighing in at a massive 6.5GB, the update includes what the developer refers to as a refurbishment of Paris, in addition to further bug fixes and frame-rate improvements. The good news is that performance is indeed a little better on both consoles, with PS4 particularly benefiting from the update. In particular, crowded scenes featuring hundreds of NPCs run a little more smoothly than before. While drops down to 20fps and the high teens still occur when the engine is heavily taxed, outside of these situations we see between a 2-5fps increase in performance in some scenes.

Overall, the results now more closely resemble the Xbox One game when the engine isn't fully taxed, and as such the controls feel more responsive, with less judder in the overall experiences. Running through the side streets of Paris, performance treads more closely to the target 30fps, though drops in frame-rate still appear on a regular basis. On the flipside, traversal across the beautifully rendered rooftops sees less pronounced increases in frame-rate, with performance remaining very similar to the game running with the last patch enabled. Ultimately, the latest update doesn't give us anything like the near-solid 30fps update that one would expect from a current-generation game, but definitely presents us with a welcome improvement - even though this is delivered rather inconsistently from scene to scene.

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Ubisoft delays Assassin's Creed: Unity's next major patch

Ubisoft delays Assassin's Creed: Unity's next major patch

UPDATE: Some Xbox One owners asked to download 40GB instead of 6.7GB.

UPDATE 17/12/2014 9am: Some Xbox One owners of Assassin's Creed: Unity are having to download a whopping 40GB instead of 6.7GB now the latest patch is out.

Ubisoft has confirmed reports that Xbox One owners who have previously applied patch three are seeing a 40GB download for patch four. This, the company said, has to do with an issue with the patch downloading process, which is replacing the entire game instead of just the parts affected by the patch.

In a statement on the Assassin's Creed: Unity live updates website, Ubisoft issued an apology.

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Assassin's Creed Unity patch analysed

This week, Ubisoft released a massive update to Assassin's Creed Unity, fixing an enormous range of bugs and promising higher frame-rates. Performance optimisations specifically noted were as follows:

Improved general frame-rate on PS4 by lowering the priority of the online services thread

Fixed FPS drops while Arno climbs on the RHP building of Palais de Justice

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Assassin's Creed Unity's Dead Kings DLC will now be free

Season Pass owners get a free Ubisoft game instead.

Assassin's Creed Unity didn't have the easiest of launches, with the game coming under fire from the community for the buggy state it shipped in, so publisher Ubisoft has decided to recompense players by making the upcoming Dead Kings DLC free.

Face-Off: Assassin's Creed Unity

Digital FoundryFace-Off: Assassin's Creed Unity

The Digital Foundry verdict.

A year after the launch of the new wave of consoles, the Assassin's Creed franchise has finally made its next-gen leap, leaving Xbox 360 and PS3 behind for good (though those consoles get their own game this year, Rogue). Developed using a radically upgraded version of the AnvilNext engine, the technology allows for hundreds of NPCs littered around the streets, while the exquisite building work across the cityscape is filled with incidental details and layered with realistic surface shaders. This is topped off with a global illumination system that mimics the way light bounces across environments in real life, bringing depth to locations throughout the game.

The scope is impressive, and the core visuals are stunning, but the journey into delivering a true next-generation Assassin's Creed title isn't completely successful. From a graphical perspective, pop-in is rife amongst near-field NPCs, with some characters appearing out of nowhere while others go through several jarring LOD transitions from just a few feet away. Performance is also flaky, feeling more in line with older Assassin's Creed titles as opposed to last year's Black Flag, which ran at a rock-solid 30fps.

In gameplay terms, effort has clearly been made to address issues that have plagued the series since the beginning: animations are smoother, traversal feels more fluid, and NPCs have a wider range of reactions depending on the player's actions. But at the same time these changes feel more like tweaks and enhancements to the tired existing mechanics, as opposed to the kind of radical overhaul expected from a next-gen début. Traversing the environment still isn't as smooth as it could be (characters still get stuck on scenery), and jarring transitions between animations still occur as players climb and leap their way across the beautifully rendered architecture.

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Ubisoft details third major Assassin's Creed Unity patch

Ubisoft details third major Assassin's Creed Unity patch

UPDATE: Due tomorrow on PS4, this week on Xbox One and PC.

UPDATE 25/11/2014 11.54pm: Assassin's Creed: Unity's third patch will be out tomorrow on PS4 and later this week on Xbox One and PC, Ubisoft revealed in its forum where it lists every enhancement this update adds.

"Patch 3 includes over three hundred fixes designed to improve your Assassin's Creed Unity experience," community manager UbiJohkr noted. "While you might notice some improvements to framerate as a result of Patch 3, we still have a future patch planned to further address framerate concerns."

"The rollout itself will be staggered across platforms and will come to PlayStation 4 tomorrow (Wednesday November 26th) and continue on to PC and Xbox One later in the week (though not necessarily releasing on a daily basis)."

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Assassin's Creed: Unity launch beats Black Flag's in UK chart

Assassin's Creed: Unity launch beats Black Flag's in UK chart

Halo: The Master Chief Collection in at three.

Ubisoft's Assassin's Creed: Unity has entered the UK sales chart in second place.

Activision's first-person shooter Call of Duty: Advanced Warfare held on to the top spot despite a 77 per cent fall in sales, according to official figures from Chart-Track. Unity missed out by 16,000 sales.

However, it seems Unity has done well. The PC, PlayStation 4 and Xbox One game outsold the launch of last year's game, Assassin's Creed: 4: Black Flag, which originally debuted on PlayStation 3 and Xbox 360 to a significantly higher install base.

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Assassin's Creed: Unity launch debacle sparks Ubisoft rethink

Assassin's Creed: Unity launch debacle sparks Ubisoft rethink

Will change the way it works with reviewers and gamers.

Embattled publisher Ubisoft has said it will provide early access to some of its future games following the controversial launch of Assassin's Creed: Unity.

Today the company took the unusual step of launching a live blog to chart its work fixing Assassin's Creed: Unity's plethora of launch bugs. Ubisoft's next patch will address a few common issues, such as main character Arno falling through the floor.

Ubisoft's online Uplay service has also suffered downtime, and the Assassin's Creed: Initiates service, which unlocks in-game content in Unity, is still currently broken for many fans.

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Ubisoft launches Assassin's Creed: Unity live blog as devs battle bugs

Ubisoft launches Assassin's Creed: Unity live blog as devs battle bugs

Next update to fix Arno falling through the floor.

Ubisoft has taken the unusual step of launching a live blog to chart its work fixing Assassin's Creed: Unity's plethora of launch bugs.

The site states that Ubisoft's next patch will address a few common issues, such as main character Arno falling through the floor.

Crashes when joining co-op sessions, delays in loading the main menu and a bug which sees Arno trapped inside hay carts are all set to be squashed.

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Ah, a new Assassin's Creed comes but once a year, so today's surely a day to savour if you're a fan of Ubisoft's series. Our review of Unity, the first Assassin's to be built with the new generation of consoles solely in mind, will be going live at 5pm GMT, and once you've finished devouring it you may as well head back here for our livestream of the game. Ian Higton will be playing the PS4 version, and because he loves all platforms equally he'll be giving away some Xbox One versions of the game throughout the course of his stream. Join him, why don't you.

VideoVideo: One of Assassin's Creed Unity's time rift levels

See Paris in another era. Warning: spoilers!

Warning: Although this video does not include specific story spoilers, it does occur around halfway through the game and is by its nature slightly spoilerific, so if you don't want to know anything about it then don't read the description or watch it below!

Assassin's Creed Unity review

Assassin's Creed Unity review

More of the Seine.

It's not hard to identify the best thing about Assassin's Creed Unity: Revolutionary Paris is one of the most beautifully assembled settings in this long-running, well-travelled and temporally uninhibited series. One person you meet says he yearns for a time when Paris isn't so mired in filth, but these are not the concerns of protagonist Arno Dorian, who was born into nobility and literally climbs out of the gutter at every opportunity, scaling beatific monuments from Notre Dame and the Palais de Justice to Montmartre and the Sorbonne. When he stares down from peaks and spires, hundreds of people riot in the streets as Ubisoft Montreal taps into the extra power of PlayStation 4 and Xbox One. The old cliché was "living, breathing cities". Here we have a starving, writhing one, nevertheless resplendent.

Returning to Unity after completing the story, the map is absolutely blanketed in icons - there must be a thousand, covering side missions, treasure chests and other attractions - but the developers clearly understood that the city underneath was special. They have put more effort than usual into the ascent of landmarks like Notre Dame, forcing you to pause and contemplate the architecture to make progress, rather than just sprinting impossibly over each facade. And some of the best side missions in the game, the Nostradamus enigmas, focus on the city and its history. You're given a riddle like this: "Palace once divided, united by the fourth Henry. Stone Couples salute their doomed King." Then you have to go to wherever you think it's talking about. If you want the special armour set hidden behind these riddles, you will need to do more than just follow a waypoint marker.

Paris is terrific, then, but the fact the city itself is the game's best element also tells another story: Unity may be set against the backdrop of Revolution, but this is hardly a reinvention of Assassin's Creed itself, even though the early signs are encouraging. When you first take to the rooftops, Arno seems to move over buildings more freely thanks to new animations and a "free-run down" button that makes it easier to descend from great heights in speed and safety, while the rooftops of Paris seem more receptive to your gymnastics than other environments the series has visited. Combat has also been refreshed, doing away with counter-kills in favour of more actual swordplay, while the set-piece assassinations now encourage you to explore the environment looking for weaknesses.

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Performance Analysis: Assassin's Creed Unity

Digital FoundryPerformance Analysis: Assassin's Creed Unity

UPDATE: Ubisoft recommends running offline to 'potentially improve frame-rate' but does it actually change anything?

UPDATE 14/11/14 2:52pm: Ubisoft itself now suggests players turn off the internet connection while playing Assassin's Creed: Unity on all systems, saying doing so "it could potentially improve frame-rate". We decided to put it to the test, capturing a few problematic missions with our PS4 online, then comparing it to our existing offline captures.

UPDATE 13/11/14 2:48pm: An interesting thread has emerged on Reddit, suggesting that taking the PlayStation 4 version of Assassin's Creed Unity offline "fixes the frame-rate issue". We're going to look into whether being online or offline has any impact on performance, and we're also going to test co-op gameplay on both Xbox One and PS4 for the upcoming Face-Off, but in the here and now, we can confirm that both performance analysis tests on this page were carried out with the day one patch installed but with both consoles running offline.

Original story: As we approach the first anniversary of the new wave of consoles, it seems that the relative processing capabilities of the PlayStation 4 and Xbox One are a known quantity. The majority of multi-platform tests we've conducted so far point to a scenario where the Sony console matches Microsoft's offering point-for-point, with the added benefit of an extra-generous portion of additional GPU power, often allowing for higher resolutions. However, our tests with Assassin's Creed Unity reveal something very different from the multi-platform norm. Visually it appears identical on both consoles, but in the majority of scenarios that challenge the game's 30fps cap, our tests reveal that it is the Xbox One that takes the lead.

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Xbox One Assassin's Creed: Unity bundles announced

Xbox One Assassin's Creed: Unity bundles announced

With/without Kinect for £399/£349.

Microsoft has announced an official Assassin's Creed: Unity Xbox One bundle, available both with and without Kinect.

Due to go on sale in North America on Sunday, 2nd November, and Europe on 4th November, the bundle will include digital download codes for both Assassin's Creed: Unity and last year's AC4: Black Flag.

The Kinect-free bundle costs £349/$399.

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Do you remember the original Assassin's Creed? Masyaf in the summertime, Altair being a bit of a dick, the revelation you were actually a bartender schmuck named Desmond? Seven years on and countless games later it feels a good time to look back at Ubisoft's original take on the franchise - its first draft of the series' formula - because of the similarities in how Assassin's Creed: Unity is now shaping up to be.

Watch Assassin's Creed recreated with cats

They always land on their feet.

Back in July Ubisoft sponsored a live-action Assassin's Creed trailer starring a group of professional parkour enthusiasts. Now, some fans at YouTube channel Mr.TVCow have made their own impressive live-action Assassin's Creed short with one small change: its assassins are cats.

Watch 11 minutes of new Assassin's Creed: Unity gameplay

Watch 11 minutes of new Assassin's Creed: Unity gameplay

"No linear paths or narrow level design are forced upon you."

"Study your surroundings and devise your own plan. I'm not here to hold your hand," says a character at the start of a new Assassin's Creed: Unity gameplay video.

This is a cheeky reference to the sort of scripted assassination missions we saw in the series' previous entries that Unity aims to get away from.

Creative director Alex Amancio explained in the new Gamescom walkthrough that "no linear paths or narrow level design are forced upon you." Instead, missions transpire in what Amancio calls a "black box" where it's up to the player to sort out their own method of taking a target down.

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FeatureAssassin's Creed Unity is more than meets the Eagle's eye

How the first of a new generation of Assassin's Creed mixes things up.

As you rendezvous atop a roof in Paris, overlooking a painstakingly recreated French Revolution unfolding below, you feel as though you've been here before. Not in this period of history but in one of the many other Assassin's Creed games, awaiting your orders while keeping pigeons for company. But the message Ubisoft is pushing at Gamescom is that Assassin's Creed: Unity is different - this is Assassin's Creed built afresh for a new generation, constructed by 10 studios over the course of more than four years. And the game wastes no time cutting to the chase on that Parisian rooftop at the beginning of the game. "Devise your own plan," says your gruff contact, refusing to give you the orders you've come to rely on. "I'm not here to hold your hand." Think you know what you're getting in Unity? Think again.

Watch Rob Zombie's animated Assassin's Creed short film

Illustrated by The Walking Dead's Tony Moore.

In an effort to educate the public about the French Revolution leading up to the events in the upcoming Assassin's Creed: Unity, publisher Ubisoft decided there was one man who could tell this tale in a way that would be entertaining and informative: Rob Zombie.

In development over the last three years for PlayStation 4, Xbox One and PC, Assassin's Creed Unity discards support for last-gen consoles to establish new technical ground. Set against the backdrop of late 18th-century Paris in violent revolt, riots are brought to life by a new animation system, improved facial animation technology and a huge ramp up to 5000 concurrent NPCs to fill out the crowds. But with Assassin's Creed 4 already delivering a rock-solid 30fps experience, is there actually any headroom for these lavish extras to explore? And do they reflect the stated ambition?

Assassin's Creed: Unity release date set for October

Assassin's Creed: Unity release date set for October

New gameplay, Season Pass and Collector's Edition revealed.

Assassin's Creed: Unity will launch worldwide on 28th October, Ubisoft has announced.

A new slice of live gameplay shown off during the publisher's E3 conference revealed more of the game's redesigned open world, which allows you to pick up multiple quests at once, including side-missions.

Free-running seems more fluid, though combat appears much the same. The game is running on a noticeably more powerful engine however, designed for next-gen consoles and PC, which allows a huge number of on-screen NPCs to be shown at once.

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Assassin's Creed: Unity confirmed by Ubisoft with in-game footage

Assassin's Creed: Unity confirmed by Ubisoft with in-game footage

In development for "more than three years".

Ubisoft has confirmed the recently-leaked Assassin's Creed: Unity with a short teaser of stunning in-game footage.

As expected Unity will be released during "holiday 2014", just for PC, PlayStation 4 and Xbox One. It's been in development for "more than three years", Ubisoft said.

The trailer confirms the game's Parisian setting during the French revolution, and the black-cloaked Assassin spotted in leaked screenshots earlier this week.

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