It’s been three years since Ubisoft announced it was working on a VR instalment of Assassin’s Creed, and with the game – now officially titled Assassin’s Creed Nexus VR – nearing its release, the company has shared an extensive eight-minute gameplay breakdown to get players in the mood ahead of its November launch on Meta Quest 2, 3, and Pro.
Assassin’s Creed Nexus VR (which Ubisoft describes as an “all-new full-length Assassin’s Creed action-adventure game”) casts players as an elite hacker working undercover at Abstergo on behalf of the Brotherhood. From here, they’ll be able to shove their eyes into the heads of three returning series protagonists – Ezio Auditore, Connor, and Kassandra – in an attempt to locate a number of mysterious artefacts they encountered during their lives.
It’s a quest that, in classic series fashion, will see players scrambling, sneaking, stabbing, and clobbering their way around some big open maps, this time spanning Renaissance Italy, Colonial America, and Ancient Greece – including Venice, Boston, and even some new locations such as Newport (presumably the Rhode Island one and not the one in Wales).
All this gets a more thorough showing in Ubisoft’s new gameplay overview trailer, which begins with a look at that classic Assassin’s Creed staple, parkour – which creative director David Votypka calls “so fundamental to the brand I didn’t feel like we could compromise on it”. To that end, Nexus VR gives players 360 degrees of freedom so they can climb and parkour their way across pretty much anything they can see in first-person.
They’ll be able to use their hands to physically grasp onto virtual handholds and pull themselves up the sides of buildings; they can perform a fling to throw themselves upward or backward; then there are feet-to-feet jumps, feet-to-grab jumps enabling players to mantle onto ledges, plus bars to grip onto in order to swing across gaps – all using gestures intended to simulate real-life movements.
All this augments what Ubisoft is calling a “stealth-first” experience, requiring a sneaky approach – so, peeking around corners and over walls by grabbing onto masonry and leaning out, or picking up and throwing “dynamic objects”, such as vases, to cause distractions and slip around enemies. It’s even possible to make a ring shape with your fingers and bring it to your mouth – which Nexus VR recognises as a whistle gesture. Whistling makes guards approach your position to investigate, at which point you can pop out and give them a fatal poke.
Which brings us to combat, primarily built around the series’ iconic Hidden Blade (or dual Hidden Blades if you’re playing as Connor or Ezio). This is unsheathed by hitting a controller trigger and flicking your wrist – at which point you can jab it where you like to bring enemies down. Combat also includes sword fighting (or tomahawk battling in the case of Connor) which uses physical gestures like slashing, blocking, and dodging as players attempt to stagger opponents and create “opportunity windows” to do more damage.
Additionally, each assassin has a ranged weapon – a one-handed crossbow for Ezio and bows for Kassandra and Connor – as well as throwing knives and smoke bombs. So particularly fancy players could, for instance, launch an air assassination to finish an enemy off below then spin around to toss a knife at his pal’s head, swing back to fire off an arrow at someone else, whip out their sword, then finish dramatically with a Hidden Blade attack.
Between the rooftop running, wall scrambling, sword fighting, and general verticality of it all – which plays out using full locomotion – more delicate souls could easily loose their lunch upon the living room walls, so Ubisoft ends its gameplay breakdown by detailing some of the comfort features it’s adding to Nexus VR. These include a vignetting system, tunnel vision, a teleport locomotion system, auto-parkour (which simply requires players to look where they want to hop and the game’ll do the rest), and there’s even a “fear of heights” feature which places a permanent grid at your feet to remind you there’s a hard surface beneath you in the real world.
You can see all that in the video above, and if you’re sufficiently tickled, you’ll be able to play Assassin’s Creed Nexus VR when it launches for Meta Quest 2, 3, and Pro on 16th November.