Ever had one of those dreams where everything is familiar but not quite right? Maybe a dream within a dream? (Isn't that trademarked? - Ed.)
That’s the situation Connor finds himself in with the upcoming DLC for Assassin’s Creed III. In an Inception like manner, he wakes to an alternative reality where faces are all familiar but people’s actions are out of place with his memories from the main storyline.
As the title suggests, Washington has become a tyrant -- a mad one at that -- and has opted for a monarchy setup over a democratic political system for the United States. Being in possession of a sceptre that grants phenomenal powers hasn’t helped his sanity either. With the onslaught of attempts to steal the sceptre, Washington sets out to enslave all those deemed responsible or connected in any way, and those remaining given the only option to bend their knee to the monarchy.
Connor is woken by his mum, a confusing event in itself, needing our assistance to defend the frontier and town of Lexington from one of Washington’s attacks . Connor looks very different this time round, shedding the traditional Assassin’s Creed cloak for a wolf’s fur hood and no jacket. This distinctively more Native American appearance ties in much more with the overall journey Connor will take.
This first mission resembles those from the main story with timed objectives, a cannon defense segment and additional objectives in each for full synchronisation. Once this is done all that is left is to take out the remaining Blue Coats with Connor’s mum, a very impressive fighter herself.
On regrouping with Connor’s tribe, an argument breaks out between Connor’s mum and the clan mother about the best way to handle the overall situation. The tribe’s opinion is to use the tea brewed from the sacred Red Willow tree, proven to give the consumer powers from different animal spirits, which can then be used to battle Washington. Connor’s mum warns that it robs people of their peace of mind and is not worth the risk.
This is where it gets interesting and breaks away from traditional Assassin’s Creed even more. Another attack by Washington follows, this time directly on the tribe’s compound, with an outcome that pushes Connor towards the powerful Red Willow tea.
Reaching this willow tree to obtain the tea cues the point the world opens up for side-missions and exploration but getting the tea and drinking some takes players on a completely new and unique journey. A dream state involving spirit wolves commences for Connor to run with as one of the pack, eventually hunting an elk and requiring Conner to kill it for the pack to feed on.
Connor wakes (yet again) to find the dead elk at his side and his tomahawk missing, which sparks a mission to get it back and a tutorial for the newly gained powers. The first and easily the most exciting and useful -- more so when he’s using the trees
-- is the wolf cloak. This is essentially an invisibility cloak that is triggered but will drain health while in use. Combining this with the shrubs, trees and hay carts opens up stealth possibilities tenfold for assassinations, eavesdropping or just getting around undetected. The rub in this episode is that the Blue Coats are using more guard dogs that can sniff Connor out. So while it’s easier to avoid the line-of-sight of the AI, it still involves a combination of Connor’s skills and resources to get around some parts undetected.
The wolf pack spirits don’t just stay in the dream world where these supernatural powers came from though. A secondary power is also available to Connor now which calls back three of the wolf spirits to attack nearby hostiles. Definitely useful for speeding up the elimination of a group of Blue Coats.
What follows is a series of investigations to piece together involving flashbacks, freeing captives and an overall end assassination, which I won’t give away, but upon completion reveals another power Washington gains from the sceptre, one of mind control.
The Tyranny of King Washington: The Infamy is an interesting spin on the original narrative and takes Ubisoft’s “what if” portion of the series that much further. The powers and supernatural element are welcome additions to stealth and play options -- not to mention more of Connor’s heritage -- in the game, especially in the already picturesque setting of the frontier. This side of Connor would have been awesome to see implemented earlier in the main story though. Having these powers would have really changed the way many would play the overall game and add numerous, exciting options to stealth and combat.
The decision to release this DLC as three separate episodes at approximately two hours each is a curious choice, especially as the added powers come across as a bit of a hindsight reaction to other recent assassin games. It would be great to see these powers reverse compatible making them available throughout the whole main game. Considering the separate storylines the only way I could see this happening is by tapping into the heavily dream-based component of this DLC and inserting it strategically into the main narrative.
This episode is the beginning of this all-fictional spin on the main antagonist’s actions, and if it keeps up the pace is sure to offer a lot of diverse, exciting gameplay never before seen in the series.