Assassin’s Creed III – Hostile Negotiations
Hey, guys. This is it. The last post in my Assassin’s Creed III Level Analysis series. Before I start, I would like to thank the people from UbiSoft forums for all their feedback, and especially a person by the nickname of Sushiglutton for taking on a task of challenging a lot of things that I say – I really appreciate that. This post is going to be about Hostile Negotiations. This is going to be a bit different in nature from my other posts, because for the most part I talk about what Assassin’s Creed III has done wrong in its mission design and how I think it would be better to improve it. In this post, I will talk about what the game has done right. As usual, spoilers bellow.
So, in this assassination mission, your target is William Johnson, who seeks to get the Native Americans’ lands for their Templar purposes. And, I would argue that this campaign level is the best mission in the game. It’s got all the elements of what an assassination mission should be about – approach, assassination, escape. And you get to choose how to tackle each of those steps. Fun tidbit, by the way, this level is the only assassination mission in the game that has got all those three elements. Let’s compare:
William Johnson’s assassination – Approach, Assassination, Escape.
John Pitcairn’s assassination – Approach, Assassination.
Thomas Hickey’s assassination – Assassination.
Benjamin Church’s assassination – Approach.
Nicholas Biddle’s assassination – Approach, Assassination (even though the last two assassinations are naval)
Not counting Haytham’s and Charles Lee’s deaths here, though, because I think they have a right to be different due to their higher importance as characters in the narrative. Anyway, I digress.
So, you have to get to the Johnson manor. How do you do that? Well, you can run through trees, jump into the water, swim to the cliffs, climb them up, get past a few guards and approach the manor that way. Which seems to be the way most players are doing this.
Or you could go down to the lake crossing, hide in the weed, shoot the gunpowder barrels to kill a few guards and attract attention of a few other ones, get past them, and go through the forest, hiding in bushes and stacks of leaves while you approach the manor.
Or you could go south and all the way around to approach the manor from the west side (you can’t go north to go around because there’s a slightly inconveniently placed Animus wall, probably to prevent from getting back to the homestead), which takes the longest time, but you can avoid pretty much all Johnson’s guards that way. There are a number of possibilities provided by area design and enemy placement, and you get to choose which ones to take.
The optional objective is to not get detected, and, honestly, I don’t mind this one. Even though it does nudge to a stealthier play style, and I said a few times that I don’t entirely agree with that kind of nudging, it is also is a part of the Creed, after all. So I’ll give it a pass.
When we approach the manor, we see a cutscene in which we get Johnson’s location, and also realize that things are about to go awry. The optional objective here is to not let the natives get harmed, and I think it’s also a nice one.
So, yeah. Assassinate Johnson. The stealthy way is to perform an air assassination from the manor’s roof. But, if you want, you could just go into the crowd and start fighting redcoats and mercenaries.
But if you don’t kill Johnson fast enough, he runs away, so you have to chase him down. This mission pretty much follows the design principles behind the original Assassin’s Creed’s assassination missions, i.e. – approach the situation the way you want it. And I think optional objectives are good enough to spice it up with additional challenge.
After you assassinate Johnson and get into the memory corridor dialogue sequence, the natives get into a fight with the redcoats and Templar mercenaries (unless you weren’t stealthy, in which case they’re in a fight already). Really, the goal here is to just leave the red zone and become undetected. And yes, the optional objective to perform a swan dive kinda nudges you into a certain direction, but, still. You can escape by diving into the water, that’s a valid option. Or you can escape through the forest. Up to you.
This is a very well designed mission. In fact, the whole Sequence 6 is really well designed. On Johnson’s Trail is a nice mission with a mix of exposition dialog, combat, and a venture into a restricted zone. Angry Chef is a nice escort mission. The Tea Party is a very cool combat-centric mission (with a bit of a stealth start). And this, Hostile Negotiations, is pretty much the best assassination mission in the game. They all have one very cool thing in common: they give you a clear goal and they allow you to choose how to approach that goal exactly (well, not taking optional objectives into consideration right now). And while this principle is not unique to Sequence 6, I think this sequence is the only one in which every mission has got it. No wonder it’s the sequence that has been showcased in previews the most.
And… yeah. This is it. The end of my Assassin’s Creed III Level Analysis blog posts.
Now, a closing statement. I love Assassin’s Creed. Like, the whole series. It is flawed. It has changed direction, the first game is very different in style and atmosphere from the third one. But I can’t help but enjoy it thoroughly. And even though I told myself that I’m not going to get excited for the next Assassin’s Creed game if it’s going to be released in 2013 (since I think that the yearly release schedule can lead to some inefficient practices)… I am. Black Flag is not a day-one purchase for me, but a pre-order (though I will pre-order it just shortly before release).
And I think Assassin’s Creed III is a great game. I’ve spent almost 60 hours on it during my first playthrough. It was a blast. I’ve mentioned a lot of things in this level analysis series, but I haven’t noticed or payed attention to it before I replayed any of the levels (even though I actually tend to notice this instantly, but so engrossed into the game I was). And, you know, for a lot of people – one time is enough. And I think they are going to have a blast too.
And I love Connor’s story. I really like him as a character, I can relate to him in a lot of ways, he’s very subtle, and I just really enjoy how the traditional Hero’s Journey paradigm was subverted in his case to a tragic degree.
There are rooms for improvement, I’m not saying there aren’t. And there have been disappointments. And as much as I critique the game here, I still love it. And I want to see what Black Flag brings to us. Thank you for your attention. Have a great day!
Posted on May 28, 2013, in Game Design and tagged Assassin's Creed, Level Design Analysis. Bookmark the permalink. Leave a comment.
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