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Assassin's Creed Unity is Amazing (on modern hardware)

decisions

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Jun 16, 2015
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Assassin's Creed Unity



Over the past few weeks or so I've been playing through Assassin's Creed Unity. It was a game that left an impression on me when it came out as having a pretty memorable intro sequence, and being graphically astounding for the time, but too similar to recent Assassin's Creed games I had played, so I dropped it. The controversy caused by its technical issues only made me write the game off further as a mediocre entry, and while I no longer believe that, boy am I glad I waited to play it.

Having done so allowed me to return to the game now, on PS5, and have a mostly fresh experience. With the PS4 disk version of ACU, you can play the game at a near-perfect 60 fps (I had about 20 seconds of sub-60 framerate during my entire play through during one particularly taxing set piece) on PS5. It cannot be overstated how much this drastically improves ACU. Yes, you are playing the game unpatched, but it seems that most of the technical issues the game had are solved by running it on stronger hardware - I only experienced one major bug, where I fell through the map, during my 40 hrs of playtime. Overall, the game becomes much more beautiful and the gameplay much more enjoyable. With its realistic, weighty parkour animations, and relatively small perfect parry windows, ACU is primed to benefit exceptionally from 60fps. Arno can feel a bit slow and weak when you are missing perfect parries and dodge windows at 30fps, but the framerate boost turns fights into wonderfully animated and flashy sequences. Seriously, I was forced to play the Dead Kings DLC in 30fps, and the game was significantly less enjoyable to play. In summary, the framerate boost finally unleashes the technical ambition of Unity that was never fully realized for most players (I imagine the only people who have experienced this are PC players who played the game after it was fully patched, since forum records show the launch PC version had a ton of problems as well). I'm really not exaggerating when I say that ACU has some of the best-looking environments and animations ever. With the game running at 60fps, it looks better than every AC title that followed it and feels like it could have come out many years after it actually did. While looking at the character's faces in cutscenes, crowded city streets, and startlingly detailed interiors, I was constantly reminded of RDR2. I still think RDR2 is the best looking open world game of all-time, but it is shocking how close ACU comes for a game that was released four years prior.

I am not hear to tell you that Unity is a perfect game or anything like that. It certainly has its problems, and enough has been said about them. The side content is not very good and replaying the same co-op mission by myself, three times, to get Arno's trademark Tailored gear felt incredibly tedious and dumb. In fact, in its story, gameplay, and world-building, the whole game feels like a sign or pointer to a true masterpiece of a game rather than actually being that game itself. With that said, considering the technical upgrade brought by modern hardware, in my mind Unity brings the overall best rendition of the fantasy of being an Assassin in a historically rich setting. If you just do the story and Cafe Theatre side missions (to raise your income so you can buy the gear you want and have full access to the stealth gameplay via consumables), I think you will have a great experience. ACU is actually a pretty strong stealth game with the addition of a cover system, crouch-walking, and the way your entire toolkit is always accessible and ripe for combination/experimentation. The implementations have their problems sure, but the series has never had better stealth mechanics than what's found here. It is very sad the game was rushed, as if the game launched in a better state and didn't cause Ubisoft to scale down many of Unity's technical systems in order to reboot the franchise into an ARPG series, I feel the series would be heading in a much more interesting direction.

Ultimately, I am interested in playing games for their strengths, not for their weaknesses. If a game does a few things wrong in the attempt to do something great, then I believe that is a much more worthy endeavor than simply striving to be a mediocre jack of all trades. In other words, the reason why Unity had notable technical issues is because the game was extremely ambitious in many respects, and unfortunately Ubisoft rushed it out on top of that. As I think back on my replay of Unity, I get nostalgic for some of the game's admittedly great story moments, and my general memories of parkouring around the beautiful streets and landmarks of 18th-century Paris. I wish things had turned out better for Arno - I get the sense that the story was written with a sequel in mind, as the game's ending feels like the darker second act of a plot that never gets resolved - but in the end I can only conclude that this is the last Assassin's Creed game to really try and do something great.

TL;DR: Unity on modern hardware revealed a game I wrote off a long time ago to be one of the best Assassin's Creed titles.
 
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LectureMaster

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Old school format assassin is just superior, more focused on planing and utilizing environment and one shot assassination, more satisfaction. Level designs are also better.

The Paris is gorgeous and the crowds are impressive. Story is more consistent and has character development.

The map UI and padding side stuff are utterly trash. Movement is a bit clunky would prefer Syndicate's system.
 

Bragr

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Beautiful world, questionable combat (broken at launch), the worst story and characters in the series, a lot of problems with camera angles indoors, poorly designed underground areas, the worst clogged up map I have ever seen, cool setting but poor use of history, liked for visuals shamed for design. Alright game but one of the worst scam games of that era, they released a mess of a game, a massive amount of bugs, wasn't as bad as Cyberpunk at launch but it was the same kind of bullshit, unfinished game pushed for money.
 
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SirKicksalot

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It takes itself too seriously while having incredibly bad characters and writing (and so much of them that it becomes annoying). The stats are all fake. The draw distance is brutal. The interior level design is shit and the camera hates you. The city is beautiful but the Nvidia tessellation patch never came out.

 

PSlayer

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Yeah besides the launch bugs(which are common this days i guess), it always felt that the main problem with the game was that Ubisoft made a cpu intense game back at a time where the best we had was an intel quad-core. It kind of remind me of the original Crysis.
 

Phase

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I recently tried to get into this game as Ubisoft gave it away a while ago, but the combat just turned me off.
 

Zefah

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It really is quite good. Probably the best looking lighting of the generation. It's annoying that multiple save slots on PC are not allowed, though. I want to play it from scratch someday.
 
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alf717

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Played and completed this recently, I enjoyed the story but the detective missions those weren't that fun to me.

 
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Hugare

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The last great AC game, imo

Certainly the most beautiful. The atmosphere is unmatched.

Lighting is incredible, materials in general are incredible, hair and cloth, animations ...

Story is ok, enjoyable. But its lean and with almost no filler, so its easy to breeze through.

Yes there are a lot of meaningless sidequests, but they are sidequests. You dont need to do them.

Playing with no Hud is an amazing experience

Finished the game 3 times on the PS4. I would buy a remaster on launch day.
 

Guileless

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I got an Xbox code from cdkeys for like $5, still haven't installed yet. Goinf to play this summer while reading John Julius Norwich's History of France.
 
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decisions

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The last great AC game, imo

Certainly the most beautiful. The atmosphere is unmatched.

Lighting is incredible, materials in general are incredible, hair and cloth, animations ...

Story is ok, enjoyable. But its lean and with almost no filler, so its easy to breeze through.

Yes there are a lot of meaningless sidequests, but they are sidequests. You dont need to do them.

Playing with no Hud is an amazing experience

Finished the game 3 times on the PS4. I would buy a remaster on launch day.
You embody the greatness of the Assassin Order.

While I did get 60fps by playing ver. 1.0, you are of course dealing with what I think is 900p, playing offline, and having to skip some collectible chests because they are locked behind a phone app lol. So I was constantly reminded of how instantly I would purchase a remaster of this already wonderful game.
 
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TGO

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While I agree the performance is a big upgrade and it's a fantastic Assassin's Creed game.
That 900p muddy visuals is off putting
If they could just patch it to output 1080p I'd be willing to jump in again
 

Kuranghi

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I don't have the energy to go into every detail but I loved the game, one of my favourites of all time. I was going to replay it soon but on a GTX 1080 you can't do anywhere near 4K60, I'm going to try 30fps with everything whacked up but I think even that may be out of reach, if it is then I'll do 60fps at whatever res I can manage at max settings.

I spent far too long getting all those outfits ha, walking around clad in leather, looking like I've just come from an S&M party. I really love the faces in the game and the animation in general, still amazing to look at now.

I feel like I'm the only one who liked the puzzles/riddles, I had a lot of fun solving them, but I never hear anyone talk about them fondly. The murder mysteries were a bit read-the-devs-mind-contrived, like parts of L.A. Noire (Maybe I'm just bad at reading faces, people always make fun of that clip of the old guy gurning as if that means its obvious he's lying but ime people put on crazy faces IRL that don't really bely what they are thinking, I should've just gone with the most obvious answer I suppose). I also liked the cafe and filling up the treasure room with all the bits & pieces and art I found.
 
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ClosBSAS

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Still a game that blows my mind. The amount of interiors in the game. The details. Its insane. I absolutely love the game in the graphics department.
 

SSfox

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This game could have been awesome if:

- It didn't have that crazy input lag
- Remove the Coop
- 900p? usually i can see why some games aren't 1080p on base ps4, but for this game nothing really justy it (unless maybe it was because of the coop features)

This game could never have reach AC2 or Brotherhood level, but it could been great AC game overall still, some characters were interesting, the map looked nice and the gameplay would have been fun without the input lag.
 
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namekuseijin

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the original AC was the game that really showed what the PS3 generation was about and can easily say the same for AC Unity, still early in PS4 generation. Not sure it can beat viking or Odyssey these days, but those crowds and delightful detailed palace interiors are sure to still impress.

there's AC being made for VR, but it's for Oculus and unlikely to play anywhere near the old flat titles. What I really wanted is to simply roam around those minutely detailed historical reconstructions in VR - I'm sure there's a market for that.
 

Derktron

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Unity is one the best AC games out there to date. It took me a while to love it. But as I kept playing it even unlocking all the achievements. It's one great game even with its flaws. Too bad new AC games can't be like Unity.
 

Umbasaborne

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It was far too ambitious for its time, and buggy, it with patches and time, it’s aged beautifully
Yeah that was definitely a case of ubisoft over shooting the new hardware when they were developing it. Now however the new consoles are primed to play this game at higher resolutions (maybe 4k?) at 60 fps if ubisoft ever decides to officially re-release it or give it a free next gen update. Its still one of the most beautifully detailed games of the last generation. Newer ac games dont look nearly as good
 
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the graphics on unity are insane and even with all the bugs, i really enjoyed the game. i miss that old AC style so much. imagine what they could do with that formula on PS5 and series X
 

dcx4610

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I'll never understand the Ubisoft hate. Granted Unity launched with a ton of bugs, they were quickly fixed and it ended up being a solid game.

Ubisoft always seems to push graphics and tech forward. In particular, their PC ports are rock solid and forward thinking. Even the original Assassin's Creed runs at 4k and 144hz and looks great to this day.
 
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CuriousNoah

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Gonna need some pics up in this thread. These are from the Steam community so they may or may not be touched up.











How were you people able to get the draw distance of the far away textures on the building in the second image, to look that detailed and high resolution cause mine looks super low res in those far away buildings. I assumed this is the result of Ubi downgrading the draw distance of distant textures for optimization reason with a patch, but now I am starting to think if its a setting that I haven't enabled on my PC.

Is there an ini tweak for the draw distance or is it cause of the game being run from an SSD or at 4k resolution ??

Also are you guys using TXAA or MSAA since they cause their own fair share of issues with weird dotted lights to glow from the interiors of the buildings.
the only decent Anti aliasing I think can get a good AA result is FXAA and using DSR to render the graphics in the game at an higher than the monitor's native resolution.
 
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JimmyRustler

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IIRC the last real hardware breaker. The game was ahead of it's time technically.

Was there ever a game where the devs actually had to significatly downgrade the graphics for the sequel? Because this is the only instance I remember.

I myself was lucky enough to only play it on PC a year or two later when Ubisoft already fixed the bugs. It also ran very well on my 970 back then. Loved the shit out of it and explored every inch of Paris, if for nothing else but to wonder what feat Ubisoft's artists pulled off here.
 
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rodrigolfp

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IIRC the last real hardware breaker. The game was ahead of it's time technically.

Was there ever a game where the devs actually had to significatly downgrade the graphics for the sequel? Because this is the only instance I remember.

I myself was lucky enough to only play it on PC a year or two later when Ubisoft already fixed the bugs. It also ran very well on my 970 back then. Loved the shit out of it and explored every inch of Paris, if for nothing else but to wonder what feat Ubisoft's artists pulled off here.
No. It was the Jaguars that were bad for their time.
 

buenoblue

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Spoiler alert! Everything is better at 60fps.

Played this back in the day on my 780ti sli rig. 1080p 60fps game was stunning back then.

Wonder if my 2070 super can do 4k 60? Might have to check that out.

But yeah, I'll say again 60fps and above rules. I just started playing zoo tycoon at 4k 60 on games pass and that 8 year old game looks bonkers.
 
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Shodan09

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Absolutely amazing game. The last really good proper assassin's creed which made full use of the open world city.

If you have a disc copy and install it unpatched on series x you can get 60fps too.
 

Krappadizzle

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Honestly, it's probably my favorite AssCreed to play. Story is kinda meh, but damn is it fun, it looks stunning still to this day and runs super well at 3440x1440(native support too) with a 1080ti. Just played through it again last year and I REALLY wish Ubi would go back to it's parkour system, it's the best parkour system pretty much ever made and they nerfed it hard from every single title moving forward since then. You could do some awesome stuff in the game:

 

BlackM1st

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It was always amazing, I maxed it out on release day and played through most of it without HUD. The last truly next gen AC title we had, all thanks to whinny internet crowd and "funny" memes with NPC without faces. Those whinny fucks killed PC centric, boundries pushing AC. Fuck 'em all.
 
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Hoddi

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AC Unity is basically what I want from next-gen games. If any game deserves a 4k60 'remaster' then it's probably this one.

I still remember the fallout it caused but it runs amazingly well on modern PCs. It was by far the most advanced game of the last gen and even scales to modern 8 core CPUs.
 

Hoddi

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It was always amazing, I maxed it out on release day and played through most of it without HUD. The last truly next gen AC title we had, all thanks to whinny internet crowd and "funny" memes with NPC without faces. Those whinny fucks killed PC centric, boundries pushing AC. Fuck 'em all.

Ya, the PC version has always been fine as far as 'optimization' was concerned. But there were people with 2GB cards trying to run it at settings that needed 4GB at minimum and blaming the game for it.

The game clearly had performance issues on the consoles too but it was hardly the first game to do so. The PC version was otherwise fine as long as your GPU was up to snuff.
 
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GymWolf

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No it's not, the combat is still utter trash and you fight a shitload in these games.

It has great graphics, some good animation for the parkour and combat and an interesting crowd tech, but that's it, the core is still the mediocre ac gameplay that we all know with a mediocre story.

Bought for 2 euros, it was the right price.
 
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sobaka770

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- Great world
- Massive crowds
- Interesting time period
- Great graphics on modern PC

BUT:
- Story is boring (all recent AC suffer from this)
- Bland protagonist
- Map is a cluttered mess of chests and collectibles - peak Ubi garbage
- Multiplayer missions and community chests
- No fix for the terrible pop-in even on high-end rig

The game looks bonkers on a maxxed out rig today and is probably the best of city-based AC as the new ones became huge open-world endeavors. That being said I tried it a few months ago and some outdated mission design, slow menus, endless clutter and just a very boring story really didn't make me want to finish the replay. Good for you, OP though, I think it's a good AC game to play for the first time now.
 

Bramble

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How is the pop-in? I thought it's severe across all platforms. It's immersion breaking for me.