I recently played both sections of the demo, I ended up having to play the ship stuff first which was quite bewildering, despite it being somewhat familiar because it handled a little like those old horse and cart sections in past games, only this time with a primary and secondary weapon at hand. It felt cool, I think the wave modeling works to give it an authentic feel, and not just visually. You have to wait for some waves to drop, and you can use them mask your ships movement...I know this because I had to do this a lot, because I was pretty shit. it seems I was never the pirate I thought I was in previous life... The regular gameplay notably felt tighter, I think there's going to be less of those awkward moments where you mess up big time and feel like it's down to the ineptitude of your characters movement, rather than your skills with a control pad. Connor moves better, dare I say, looks more stylish than the Italian guy in full flight. I wonder though, is he really moving better, is there improved procedural morphing at work, or, is it simply the animation of his clothing accentuating his movements?. In my brief time with in the game, it was tricky to tell.
I think my only one criticism would have to be the same old nuances in the environment, these bloody obvious paths developers create, it's kinda dull, they should obscure them a little more, but it seems they're more concerned about putting off new players. There always needs to be this one easy route that's shown, which takes a little away from the realism I think. Seasoned AC players are well honed to this shit also though, it's totally locked within us, I remember the morning after I completed AC2 I was looking at buildings like I could scale them with ease, I remember thinking to myself, wtf is happening here, why can't my mind stop this!. My xbox live status that day was "I killed the f****** pope!"...
The combat felt better, you'll feel it, it doesn't merely look more seamless on screen, there's less of that little jerkiness you felt with the controller in previous games. The demo guy explained that the combat was something they really wanted to improve, in the light of recent other games. I suspect it's going to feel a little like Batman's combat, but I could be wrong, this section of gameplay didn't have bunches of NPC where I could really get a feel for that kind of combat, it was a more one on one.
I actually ended up getting quite pissed off at the very end of the demo, for some reason I couldn't double-kill the two guys standing at the table talking, no matter how much I tried. On two occasions I tried walking up to them both quietly and attempting to double kill them that way, but oh no, the games scripting wouldn't allow for that. That's kinda lame, you should be able to take them out any which way. The illusion is still apparent. I told the demo guy I wasn't putting the controller down until I was done, but the queue built up, and I felt obliged to move on...
Apparently this game will mix things a lot more in those in between areas... Hey, I know they've said this stuff before, but I can believe them a lot more now, because this obviously needs to be done, otherwise fans will miffed, it's way too obviously a flaw of past games in the series.
AusGamers interview with Ubisoft's Philippe Bergeron...
AusGamers: Getting back to gameplay, you’ve got this open-world and you can kind of go and do whatever you want, but everything’s kind of segmented. For you guys, from a structural point of view, and from a pacing point of view, how did you approach the space that the player can exist within?
The last few games were quite large, and a lot of the time you’re trekking for a lot of time, and not really doing anything. We talked a little bit about emergent gameplay before, but how have you guys handled the space that you had to deal with, and just tying it all together in a coherent way for the player to always be interested to go somewhere?
Philippe: That one we were actually playing both Skyrim... actually, we were playing Skyrim at the time, and it was a really good example, where you walk around Skyrim, and there’s always something in a given grid metre, where “Oh there’s something here”, then you move around “There’s another thing there”. There’s always something attracting you. So we always have, within the minimap, you always needed to have an icon drawing your attention.
So from the very beginning we had our different gameplay silos: be it the main mission path, be it the the Liberation gameplay events, the smaller low-level assassination contracts, or courier missions that... we developed a whole bunch of mission subsets or objective subsets, that we could then, once we had our main path tracked in the map, then we had our second palette, which was, I don’t want to say “the filler”, but the way to sort of complete this environment.
So we would analyse “Alright, what’s our map usage? What’s our heatmap, and where do we have more dead zones?”, and we have all these interesting gameplays that are not as environment-specific as the other ones, so these ones we can use to sort of fill in the space.
* those previous games had a whole lot of this.
I never really minded traversing the landscape in the previous games, I was a sucker for all that scenery, but it's undeniable that it was too baron in terms of gameplay. I think nothingness Is acceptable in games like Red Dead and SoTC, it fitted those games atmospheres very well, having those moments of quiet contemplation, it's not however good in a game of this type though, thankfully they seem realise that now.