Assassin’s Creed III wasn’t a game I was looking to jump back into right away. While I liked the game more the other critics, it’s not a game from 2012 that I keep saying to myself, “I really need to play more of that.”
But, with me having gotten most of the top February titles out of the way by now, I had a bit of time this week and decided to try some of the new DLC content. Over the next three months, publisher Ubisoft will release three episodes in a separate campaign called The Tyranny of King Washington.
(If you have yet to finish Assassin’s Creed 3, you may want to turn back now for fear of mild spoilers. You also shouldn’t play the DLC until you finish the game either.)
In “The Infamy,” the first episode of The Tyranny of King Washington, protagonist Ratonhnhaké:ton awakens from a dream to find his mother surprisingly alive and that a new King has been crowned: George Washington. Ratonhnhaké:ton knows something is wrong though—he knows his mother shouldn’t be alive and he could swear Washington was in retirement. But Washington is now in control of an Apple of Eden and Ratonhnhaké:ton isn’t even known as Connor in this episode.
It’s because of those plotline departures that the episode actually exists outside of the main game. You access it from within the main menu, in a separately marked section.
There are also gameplay mechanics so new and so markedly different than existing franchise features, that the episode has to be considered separate. Via hallucinatory tea, Ratonhnhaké:ton gains the ability to not only call wolves to attack his enemies, but to camouflage himself. You’ll only be seen if you touch an enemy (not if you assassinate them, however) or if you run out of health—the stealth mechanic slowly drains your health until it runs nearly empty.
Mostly, that stealth mechanic is for moving from cover to cover—one particular mission, it’s incredibly obvious which cover spots the game wants you to move through. However, it’s incredibly fun to use it with your furry companions when killing guards in a convoy you may encounter during a number of side quests.
“The Infamy” takes place entirely in the frontier in the dead of winter. Corpses litter the woods and the episode starts fast and furious with you in a massive battle within minutes. It’s a strong start to the episode that then unfortunately meanders until a strong ending. Next month’s second episode will take place in a new area as the episodes’ cliffhanger shows Ratonhnhaké:ton heading towards that location. (I won’t spoil it for you here.)
It’s hard to judge “The Infamy” on the story since we clearly have so many new questions about this plotline. Ratonhnhaké:ton recognizes something is wrong meaning this isn’t as simple as a dream and we’ve been told by publisher Ubisoft that these episodes will be fit in the real canon associated with the series’ overall mythology.
As far as the new gameplay mechanics go, they’re enjoyable, though they feel awfully unusual existing within this franchise. It’s a short episode and you’ll probably be able to complete it in about two hours if you skip most of the non-plot impacting side quests as I did. It’s an encouraging start and I’m curious to see where it goes from here.
Assassin’s Creed III The Tyranny of King Washington will continue in “The Betrayal,” releasing March 19, and “The Redemption,” releasing April 23. Each episode can be purchased for $9.99 or via the Season Pass for $29.99, which also includes the previously released Hidden Secrets and Battled Hardened packs.
* Disclosure: Ubisoft provided a downloadable code for The Infamy to the reviewers for the puposes of this review. *