20 things to keep in mind as you start playing
Assassin’s Creed: Unity is the biggest and best entry into Ubisoft’s open-world series, but the core gameplay has been tweaked somewhat since the last instalment. There's a new climbing mechanic and there are major differences in the handling of combat.
Now, although it's an exciting and jam-packed game, there's been a tonne of bugs that Ubisoft and gamers alike have had to wade through. Nearly all those bugs have been fixed now, thanks to myriad updates, but it has tarnished Unity somewhat with the industry and consumers alike.
But, you can't say that Unity isn't an ambitious title, with hundreds of hours of content to discover and explore So instead of letting go in blind to Assassin's Creed Unity, we've spent hours upon hours with the game and picked out our top tricks to help you get to grips with Ubisoft's open world title.
1. Open all of the Eagle Points
The city of Paris is huge, not just in terms of the amount of missions, side-quests and collectibles it contains, but in terms of its physical size too. Assassin’s Creed: Unity contains the biggest open world that Ubisoft has ever crafted for a game in this franchise and traversing across its rooftops can take ages – especially if you’re in a hurry to start the next quest.
This is why opening up the game’s Eagle View Points as soon as possible is highly recommended. Not only do they open up the map and show the player where all the activities and trinkets are, they provide a fast-travel option across the city, which cuts down on travelling time. The loading times in Assassin’s Creed: Unity may be a little long, but Fast Travelling will get you across the city a lot faster.
2. Remember your hay bales
That having been said, it’s worth taking note of the landmarks in Paris that happen to be situated near some convenient hay bales. The reason we mention this is because Fast Travelling to some landmarks will leave players perched on top of a spire at the top of a massive structure, with nothing safe at ground level to jump into. This means that you waste quite a bit of time clambering down the size of a massive building and depending on the distance between where you were and the mission you were heading to, it may have been quicker to simply run there. Bales of hay are your landing cushions. Remember where they are.
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3. Stealth is sometimes the only option
Assassin’s Creed: Unity harkens back to the roots of this series in that it puts a premium on moving stealthily through assassination missions. This isn’t true for every last mission in the game – early on players have the option of running into a killbox with a pistol in one hand and a sword in the other. If you feel that you’ve mastered the new – and more difficult – combat mechanics, try your luck (although you probably won’t be able to perfectly synch up with Arno’s memories for the in-mission bonus accomplishments).
However, the further players progress into the game, the more they’ll find themselves staring down the barrel of missions where a full frontal assault is basically suicide. It doesn’t matter how many weapons the player has or how upgraded they are; if they go loud before taking out their target, they’ll be cut to ribbons quickly. This is why we’d advise unlocking a couple of the stealth skills in the game’s talent trees. It might also be worth investing in armour that allows Arno a stealth boost too.
4. Open up the lockpicking skill early
Okay, so you’re not interested in stealth – at least, not until it becomes necessary – but allow us to offer some advice: become a locksmith early. This doesn’t necessarily dictate that you have to sneak everywhere, but it certainly gives you more options in your approach. Some missions are set in buildings that have both locked windows and locked doors and unless you’re prepared to hunt down the NPC harbouring the keys to them, you’ll find your entry and escape options are seriously cut down.
Furthermore, the city of Paris has quite a lot of locked houses and locked chests containing sizable amounts of cash. These are also off-limits to players who don’t choose the lockpicking skill. So if you want that rather large sword that dishes out a heap-ton more damage than the toothpick Arno is originally armed with, we suggest you hone your breaking and entering abilities.
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5. Use others to fight your battles
If you enter an area that’s jam-packed with enemies, you don’t have to fight them all yourself. Beserk Blades are poison tipped darts that Arno can fire from his wrist-mounted crossbow and they cause whomever they hit to attack the nearest NPC – even if Arno is in the vicinity. Pick your targets wisely and aim for the biggest or most skilled fighters – usually denoted by the clothes they are wearing. They’ll make short work of any pesky enemies you need to sneak past and they also contribute to the player’s overall XP every time they manage to take out one of their former comrades. No sense in dying when there are others who’ll do that for you…
6. Keep a good stock of smoke bombs
It doesn’t matter how good you are at the combat because eventually you’re going to be outnumbered and outmatched. In this instance, smoke bombs become the handiest item in your inventory. Make sure you have them – and not poison gas or cherry bombs – selected and they’ll provide the edge you need.
Dropping one of them creates a cloud of gas that makes any attacking enemies cough uncontrollably. In the crucial seconds before the smoke clears you can either run for your life – advisable in a lot of situations – or you can use the commotion to score a cheapshot on any of the more heavily armed and heavily armoured enemies in your vicinity.
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7. Read The Codex Entries
We don’t know for certain, but we’re pretty sure that someone over at Ubisoft who was in charge of writing reams and reams of copy for the in-game information archive has become fed up with the fact that hardly anyone bothers to read it. To that end, Assassin’s Creed: Unit has given players a reason to delve into the archive in the form of Nostradamus Missions.
In the city of Paris, players will find weird sigils drawn on walls and if they look at them with Arno’s Eagle Vision, they’ll be asked to solve a riddle. In order to solve them, they’ll need to know their history – all presented in the archive – so if you want to scrub Unity for its achievements, make time to bone up on the information in the codex.
8. Use Eagle Vision while running
You can activate the Eagle Vision in the game at any time, and it allows players to see enemies through walls, ceilings and floors, which is great for planning an attack. However, it’s also worth tapping the Eagle Vision button while charging through the streets of Paris. It reveals chests, locked doors, points of interest and winches that the player can cut providing Arno a quick boost up to the rooftops – handy if you’re escaping from enemies. It also reveals the nature of NPCs in your environment – those most likely to attack Arno are in red, while those in yellow will attack if he does anything illicit or bumps into them.
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9. Stock up before each mission
The last thing you want to be is without the necessary items to progress through a mission. That’s not to say that if you’re caught flat-footed you won’t be able to finish any missions – some of them will just be a whole heap tougher. So with that in mind, it’s worth making sure that Arno is completely stocked up on all of his gadgets. In one instance, we found ourselves without any projectile weapons and surrounded by snipers that we had to kill before the story would progress. We managed it in the end but a decent stock of Phantom Blades would have made the whole experience far less painful.
10. Buy and renovate your properties
Early on in the game, players will open up their first property in the form of the Café Theatre. This gives Arno a steady income, which players are urged to collect often because once the money reaches a certain amount, they won’t earn anymore until they empty the Café’s coffers. However, players can raise the cap on Arno’s income by renovating the Café and buying up and renovating Social Clubs dotted around Paris. In the city of love, it pays to be a dedicated property developer. Believe.
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11. You can lone-wolf it, but co-op is easier
Assassin’s Creed: Unity doesn’t deviate too much from the core franchise experience, which in the past has been a purely solitary affair. However, with the introduction of co-op, certain missions in the game – particularly the Heist missions – have been designed with two-to-four players in mind. They can still be tackled solo, but don’t expect and easy ride. Lone wolves have to be far more creative and patient in some missions than they would have been in earlier iterations. It’s easier to make friends – trust us.
12. You’ll need a headset that has a mic
A lot of Assassin’s Creed: Unity’s missions are best tackled with a stealthy approach. To that end, players need to be in constant contact with each other. We know this for a fact as we tried to complete a Heist mission with a headset with no microphone and we frustrated the hell out of the developers who were trying to put us through our paces. One wrong step and you not only blow can you a secondary objective that earns your team that all-important XP – sometimes you can blow the entire mission. Buy a headset with a mic. It’s easer in the long term.
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13. The city of Paris is huge
The scale of the city environment in Assassin’s Creed: Unity is 1:1. It’s huge. It’ll take you around half an hour to traverse it from one end to the other. We know. We’ve timed it. In the past Eagle Points simply opened up missions and gave players a lovely panoramic shot of the city they were walking through. In Unity, they also open up fast-travel nodes and they give you XP. This is why they’re worth syncing with.
Otherwise Assassin’s Creed: Unity has the potential to turn into a grind of epic proportions.
14. Remember this is an RPG
Assassin’s Creed games have always been filled with unlockables and talent trees, but Unity really requires you to keep an eye on things. Every new skill players unlock has the potential of affecting the ease with which they tackle the next mission.
For example, unlocking lock-picking can open up myriad options in numerous missions just because players won’t need to hunt for missing or concealed items to help with their progression. Talent trees are a big factor in Unity. Tend to them.
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15. Choose a fighting style
Because Assassin’s Creed Unity is an RPG, you’ll need to work out what play style you want to use. When you start out Arno is only equipped with the Hidden Blade and the Dull Cavalry Sabre. But, there are myriad additional weapons to unlock and purchase with in-game currencies as you progress through the game (we won’t even mention the UPlay microtransactions because you don’t need them).
Weapons come in five classes: One-handed, Long, Heavy, Pistols and Rifles. We suggest you equip yourself with at least one bullet-powered weapon for taking out enemies from afar, although throwing knives are good for that too.
You’ll quickly realise that each weapon has their pros and cons, like the Heavy weapons taking longer to swing and attack, while the one-handed weapons won’t deal as much damage.
You can sink a lot of money into getting the best weapons, so it’s best to choose which ones you like early one so you can get the best in that category.
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16. And the correct gear
Of course, this goes for the gear too. Each type of gear increases your stats, whether it’s a new piece from any of the categories: Hood, Chest, Forearms, Waist and Legs.
There’s not necessarily a best item for each category either. It’s about choosing which ones work best for your play style. Some have better stealth attributes, others more health. Some have offensive perks or allow you to vanish from guard sights more quickly.
Colours are just cosmetic though, so go for whichever colour floats your boat.
There are special outfits to unlock too. They are cosmetic too though, as you’ll keep the stats of whatever gear you had on before you donned that special one.
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17. You can backtrack
Any mission players have played through successfully – whether they achieved the optimum outcome or not – is replayable, either with friends or solo. So if you’ve been flummoxed by a mission, or if you didn’t manage to gain the most XP you could from a certain mission, you can revisit it when you’ve levelled up some more and armed with a ton of weapons and gadgets that’ll ensure you have a better chance of earning the most XP you can. Then again, by that stage, you may not need it….
18. Every story mission is an open-ended killbox
In the past, missions in Assassin’s Creed games have followed a strictly linear plotline. In Unity, every mission is open ended. This means that players have myriad options in how they tackle them.
They can opt for the stealthy approach – and given the new combat system, this is advisable – or they can take their chances by hitting their target directly. The missions are also replayable, once they’ve been successfully completed. This means that if players mission don’t manage to achieve the optimum ending – which usually involves a pretty gruesome cinematic – they can come back to it at a later date (with or without a mate in tow).
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19. Remember the difference between the ‘up’ and ‘down’ buttons
This might not be much of an issues for newbies – Unity is the best entry into the series for them – but veterans may have some teething problems with the game’s new climbing mechanics. Press the ‘B’ button and you climb in a downward direction. Press ‘A’ and you clamber up. However, this also affects jumping. If you hit ‘A’ you’ll leap for the highest next platform on the map and if it’s out of reach, this can send Arno hurtling to his death. Remember: ‘B’ is down and ‘A’ is up.
(On an Xbox One controller, in which case ‘circle’ is down and ‘X’ is up.)
Previously, you'd have to keep R2 held down and run at building to climb them and descending buildings wasn't the easiest to manoeuvre.
20. Wait until Arno becomes an Assassin before tackling side quests
Arno is just a regular (albeit rather privileged) chap as you start Assassin’s Creed Unity. While you can start completing the side quests, known collectively as Paris Stories, from the start, we suggest waiting until Arno is a fully fledged assassin.
They’ll be a lot harder without assassin Arno’s skills, weapons and abilities. Plus, once you become an assassin, you can start to earn experience and creed points as well as cash when you play them.
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21. You can’t spam defence in combat
In previous Assassin’s Creed games, players could simply hold down a defensive attack and cut through armies of enemies. Assassin’s Creed: Unity doesn’t allow this. In Unity, the AI takes note of the attacks and defensive moves the player uses too much and adapts accordingly. Players are going to have to learn how to parry, counter and mix up their attacks if they hope to survive. In a lot of combat situations – especially those in which they find themselves surrounded – the player’s best option is to leg it.
22. Don’t be too hasty to kill your target
The urge to wrap up a mission as quickly as possible is understandable. Since they provide the bridge between plot reveals, players want to complete missions as quickly as possible in order to progress. However, in Assassin’s Creed: Unity, patiently stalking your prey has some benefits.
First off, it puts players in a better position to execute a cinematic kill and that’s worth more experience (XP).
Second, NPCs are more likely to reveal more of the story through their dialogue and provide players with clues to not just the narrative, but also collectibles and items in the open world environment. Take your time on each kill. It’s worth it.
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23. Gadgets are an assassin’s best friend
Crafting is a big part of Assassin’s Creed: Unity and its worth stocking up on as many gizmos as possible. Smoke bombs, for example, can give players a necessary edge when they’re surrounded by multiple foes; drop one of these and your opponents will back off allowing you to finish a couple of the off or flee the scene entirely. Third-person open-world adventure games naturally lend themselves to the direct approach and you won’t get far with that in Unity. Craft well. Craft often.
24. Utilise the Assassin’s Creed Unity app
Not only will completionists need to use the Assassin’s Creed Unity companion app to unlock the green chests scattered over Paris, but you can also use the app highlight specific spots in the game.
You can also use the app to delve into the extensive database when you’re not at home to play the game. Hidden within the database is clues as to how to solve the Enigma side-quests and their riddles.
The app can also be used to earn you some additional in-game cash if you’re feeling a bit short, by completing Glyph puzzles, sending out your Assassins on Nomad missions and earning Awards.