Most Hated Game of 2014

For gamers, 2014 will become infamous for the number of unfinished, unpolished, and overall broken video games. “AAA” titles such as Halo: The Master Chief Collection, DriveClub, and Call of Duty: Advanced Warfare all faced major launch issues, with the former still having a number of issues at the time of writing this article.

But among all of the controversies, all of the patches, all of the broken features, one game stood out as my most hated game of 2014: Assassin’s Creed Unity.

Previous Assassin’s Creed games have always been an enjoyable part of my holiday gaming experience. Sure, not every iteration was worthy of Game of The Year nomination, but nonetheless they were consistently fun to play. I’ve always despised the moniker “AssCreed” as I felt it was mainly used by people who either A: didn’t play the games or B: Played the games and used the term anyways. In both situations I didn’t see it as fair. But 2014 changed my outlook. Unity was AssCreed.

Assassin's Creed Unity Face Glitch
I want to detail the major aspects of Unity that made me despise the game to give you a further understanding of where I’m coming from.
Combat
The best thing that happened to the Assassin’s Creed franchise was the release of Batman Arkham Asylum. Batman launched in the fall of 2009 with arguably the smoothest combat system of all time. That same year saw the release of Assassin’s Creed 2 (on of my favorites of the series). It was only one short year after that until Assassin’s Creed Brotherhood released which imitated the combat style of Batman. That style would persist over the next three years with each major sequel. One of the most rewarding aspects was without a question the chain kill mechanic. For those that haven’t played an Assassin’s Creed game in the last five years, chain kills allowed you to swiftly move from one enemy to the next, killing them with a finishing move. A very simple feature, possibly considered over-powered by some, allowed you to take on hordes of enemies with a good chance of success. This brought a sense of power to your character. You really felt like a BADASS!
Sadly that feature was removed for Assassin’s Creed Unity to make way for a more “challenging combat system”. I’m all for getting rid of casual features in games as some of my favorite series are being completely altered by their presence, but this change was not for the better. In Unity, four or five strong enemies will spell certain death for your assassin. Not to mention the ridiculously powerful rifleman that will deplete nearly all of your health in one shot.The idea behind this change was to push for a more tactical and stealthy approach. Which makes sense considering you’re an assassin. The only problem? Assassin’s Creed is an awful stealth game.

“Stealth”

Unity was supposed to be the game that changed everything. In a series based on stealth gameplay, with over seven console releases, we were finally able to crouch! Yes, our dreams were going to come true. We could finally sneak instead of awkwardly pacing through a military camp.
Assassin's Creed Unity Crouch
But it was too good to be true. I guess one major feature of Batman was all Assassin’s Creed could handle. There are two main aspects of Unity that ruined the stealth gameplay for me: the number of enemies and stealth-kill detection. In Unity, enemies are everywhere. They are blocking the doors to your target location, they are patrolling the graveyard out back, they are talking in the alley on the side, they are mingling with the crowd out front, they are perched on the rooftop, they are pacing along the first floor, and they are surrounding that suspicious hole in the ground that leads to your destination. The enemies are fucking EVERYWHERE. In any good stealth game the number of enemies aren’t a problem as long as you have the means to either avoid or eliminate them, or both. The ability to crouch in Unity usually isn’t enough to avoid the large number of enemies. To make things worse a lot of areas require you to get through “while avoiding combat”. Of course you can always ignore that, but I enjoy trying to get 100% sync in the AC games (it’s also an achievement).To assist in the crouch mechanic Unity also equips you with dart guns and the ability to stealth-kill. The Poison and Berserk darts allow you to dispatch large number of enemies from a safe distance. When it works correctly they can be a very useful tool. But too often was I immediately detected when a dart hit an enemy. No matter how far away I was, a nearby guard could somehow trace the trajectory of the dart back to my location. The stealth-kills had a similar issue. In previous AC games the stealth-kill ability allowed you to do exactly that, kill stealthily. I had far too many instances in Unity where a second guard would hear the death of a stealth-killed enemy. This effectively made the mechanic useless in certain instances.

Microtransactions

As with most modern AAA games, Unity has deployed a number of options ripe for microtransactions. Helix Credits, the microtransaction currency, can be purchased as an alternative currency for buying weapons and armor. The weapons and armor in Unity are ranked from 1 to 5 stars. In theory this would allow a player to purchase Helix Credits near the beginning of the game and acquire the best weapons and armor available. While players who don’t want to spend any extra money will have to continue with normal progression to achieve the same equipment. The cheapest Helix Credit option is $6 while the most expensive will run players close to $100.
Assassin's Creed Unity Upgrades
But the microtransactions themselves aren’t even my issue. I’ve grown to accept that they will continue to exist no matter how much I don’t want them to. What annoyed me was how the equipment was implemented. The armor is broken down into 5 sections: Hood, Chest, Wrist, Waist, and Legs. The weapons are also broken down into categories but I wont go into those. My issue is with the armor. Each piece of armor has attributes: Melee, Health, Stealth, and Range. Every piece of armor has it’s strengths and weaknesses in each attribute. So Armor 1 for example might have maxed Melee and Health but be very low in Stealth and Range. While Armor 2 will be the exact opposite. My issue arises with these differences combined with the various looks of each piece. Say for example I want Hood 3 that looks really cool. The only problem is that the attributes are focused on Range which I don’t care about. The opposite can also be true. Chest 7 has good Melee and Health stats, but it looks awful. This is what happens when you introduce a system that is created to entice players to spend real money. I admit Ubisoft could have made this terrible system without the microtransactions, but I can’t shake the feeling that they are the root of the issue.Conclusion

The changes to the combat system, stealth, and microtransaction were undoubtedly the key issues I had with Unity, but they aren’t solely to blame. A boring and repetitive city, slow free “running”, millions of collectibles, launch glitches, and a run down button for climbing over obstacles are just a few more of the myriad of issues I had with Unity. I would be lying if I said I had any confidence in Victory, the rumored sequel to Unity, when Ubisoft is known for not making a true sequel until 2-3 years later. To any prospective Unity players reading this I have one recommendation, run. Run far away and never look back. If I was forced to say one good thing about the game I would say the graphics look…. good. I guess that makes up for everything else. Let me know what you thought about Unity in the comments and thanks for reading!
Assassin's Creed Unity Decapitation
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