Assassin's Creed: Unity Features

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.

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.

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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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.

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.

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?