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Assassin's Creed: Unity

Assassin's Creed: Unity - Dead Kings

Does the Unity experience improve with the free DLC chapter Dead Kings?

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It's pitch dark in the catacombs underneath Franciade. The only light source was the lonely flame in my lantern as it cast frightening shadows across the arched ceilings. The enemy patrols the gigantic network of tunnels, but the only thing they see before a blade is buried in them is a shadow and a whisper that Arno, the master assassin, has arrived in the networks of catacombs in Franciade - and that noone will make it out alive.

After the troublesome launch of Assassin's Creed: Unity, the first DLC pack Dead Kings (given away free to compensate said issues) has arrived. A fair number of patches and bug fixes later we return to Arno's adventures. But we don't return to Paris and the revolution, instead we're looking for an artifact that has been hidden in Franciade - a small town outside of Paris.

Assassin's Creed: Unity

First thing's first, while it is slightly disappointing not to return to Unity's beautiful rendition of revolutionary Paris it should be said that Franciade offers the same brand of French architecture, several huge crowds, and exciting side content. In fact the structure and the aesthetics are very similar to Paris, and thus you'll soon feel very much at home in the environments. Perhaps overly so. But thankfully there is more to Franciade than what first meets the eye as underneath the town there lies a massive labyrinth of catacombs and chambers that also acts as the hiding place for the rare artifact. You mission, naturally, is to find it before the bad guys, and this is just the start of a rather bland and overly complicated plot, that doesn't come close to the quality of the plot found in Unity.

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Friends turn enemies, and enemies turn friendly without explanation, motives and background to actions are left unknown or questionable. Arno is still a brilliant main character, so it's not a total loss, but for the most part Dead Kings fails to make use of the interesting environments with its story. The story itself is also on the short side considering the ambitious change of scenery, and while I rushed through it to completion it only took me a couple of hours to complete it. I'd estimate the side content for a completionist would make for just under ten hours worth of gameplay.

Assassin's Creed: Unity

Why play Dead Kings then? If you've already seen all the goes on above ground and isn't interested in the short main story that takes place in the catacombs? Well, these giant underground environments do more than just act as the backdrop for the plot. They also help improve the stealth gameplay of Unity.

The limited space forces you to constantly play tactically, and use the cover of darkness to your advantage. At the same time Dead Kings introduces a new challenge in the shape of a new enemy type. These enemies are weak on their own, but come in numbers. There is a leader and if you kill him off first, his troops will flee in horror at the sight of his death. It's a clever way to increase the difficulty and force more tactical play, and you will be forced to use every trick in the book.

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Ubisoft are good at employing new mechanics when they publish new games or expansions, but all aspects of the catacombs aren't well designed. A lantern introduces some simple light and darkness themed puzzles, that quickly become a frequent and annoying element. There's also a "Guillotine Gun" that appears laughable next to Arno's otherwise fairly realistic arsenal.

Assassin's Creed: Unity

My main problem with Dead Kings is still the technical side of things. It simply doesn't run as smooth as you'd expect. Even underground. The framerate still dips, and a bunch of rather annoying texture issues plague the seemingly simple underground environments. It's painful to see how Unity's engine still struggles to deliver a smooth experience, and unfortunately this is a major negative for Dead Kings.

This however does not change the fact that Dead Kings offers a great deal of content at no additional cost while offering some of the best stealth content the game has to offer. There are several murders to solve, Nostradamus images to decode and collectibles to collect, while the new enemies forces you to really learn the full array of gameplay mechanics on offer. These positives are weighed against the recognisable environments, an engine that still struggles, and a rather bland main storyline.

It's still decent entertainment at no additional cost and a nice break from the streets of Paris for those looking for more stealthy assassination gameplay.

Assassin's Creed: UnityAssassin's Creed: Unity
06 Gamereactor UK
6 / 10
Great new stealth sections, New enemy types fit in perfectly, Catacombs make for a nice change of scenery.
Lacking story, Boring puzzle bits, Franciade is very similar to Paris, Engine still struggles to deliver a solid experience.
overall score
is our network score. What's yours? The network score is the average of every country's score

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Assassin's Creed: UnityScore

Assassin's Creed: Unity

REVIEW. Written by Mika Sorvari

"You'll scream, swear and pound your head against the coffee table, and then you'll reload the game, because when it works, it really works."

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