Ubisoft emphasized the new Homestead mission types, an update to Ezio's city-building. Rather than purchase your way to a fully stocked private villa, building Connor's homestead takes a more active approach. Rescuing individual skilled (and fully voiced) laborers like farmers and trappers will convince them to set up shop at the homestead, functionally making Connor's home into a small town.
Similarly, I saw hints that building a crew of fellow assassins would be more character-focused. I only welcomed one fellow assassin into the fold, but he was a character with an arc, and I can hope that means the others will be as well.
Assassin's Creed games have each introduced new elements, and this game brings naval combat. I was skeptical about the notion, but I found it played better than it appeared. The videos don't quite do justice to the frenetic feel of multitasking as captain of a ship, determining speed, navigation, and aim all at once. It's just enough to be challenging without feeling overwhelming. I only took a taste of the naval combat, and I can't say if it will hold up throughout all of the optional missions, but I'm certain it won't inspire the backlash of Revelations' tower-defense game.
Assassin's Creed 3 has a lot to live up to. After two annualized games, Ubisoft has made it clear that a numbered sequel should mark a larger event. Placing the game in such familiar territory was a risky move, as any benefits of the setting are counter-balanced against reasonable concerns about accuracy and tone. From my time with the game, it seems to be navigating these areas with aplomb, and Connor already stands out as deserving of Ezio's mantle.
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