“Assassin’s Creed” and Co.
Berlin (dpa / tmn) – From ancient Egypt to the Venice of the Renaissance and a Himalayan dwarf state in the civil war to Bolivia or San Francisco: the game developer Ubisoft is one of the most important providers of long-distance and time travel in video game form. With series like “Far Cry” or “Assassin’s Creed”, the French are style-defining for the large genre of open-world games.
Many fans love the titles above all for the possibilities they offer: If you want, you can spend 50 or 60 hours with just one of the games – and largely choose freely what you do and how. But the more of these games appear, the louder the criticism becomes: the tasks are too monotonous, the stories too woodcut-like, the scenarios too interchangeable.
Now there are three new big open world games from Ubisoft – and all three show that the developer has obviously taken the criticism to heart. Because all three titles do not reinvent the wheel completely, but a little bit new.
“Watch Dogs Legion”: Rebellion without heroes
London in the near future: The consequences of digitization are obvious – camera and delivery drones in the sky, oversized augmented reality panels on the walls and self-driving cars on the streets. But then the British capital is shaken by a terrorist attack. And all the harmlessly useful technology becomes the tool of an uninhibited surveillance state.
Only a small group of hackers oppose the new regime. And it is precisely this group that players in “Watch Dogs Legion” are allowed to control. This is to be taken literally – unlike in other games in the series, there are no ready-made heroes here. Instead, players decide for themselves which Londoners they want to recruit for their rebel group and then control them.
This definitely has consequences for the game: Whoever recruits a police officer does not have to break into the precinct first, but simply walks through the door. Construction workers can use robotic drones to help them, and spies bring their own sports cars – including rocket launchers. And rebels with chronic hiccups perhaps shouldn’t be taken on a stealth mission. That only alarms the opponents.
This variety and freedom initially ensure a varied gaming experience. Over time, however, the typical open-world routine will return. And in the long run the many characters cannot hide the fact that “Watch Dogs Legion” tells its rather promising story much too template-like.
“Immortals: Fenyx Rising”: Zelda-style myths
The word “fallible” is still rather friendly for the gods of Greek mythology. Because wherever Zeus, Hermes, Aphrodite and Co. appear, there is murder, cheating and avenging whatever it takes. It is precisely this fallibility of the gods that is the focus of “Immortals: Fenyx Rising”, a tongue-in-cheek cartoon-like retelling of well-known myths.
The actual story of a mortal heroine who has to stop the evil Typhon and free the lost gods from his captivity is not worth mentioning. More exciting is how it is presented – namely by Zeus and Prometheus as constantly arguing narrators in the style of a radio play.
And so players roam through a colorful Greek world of legends, solve some really tricky puzzles and fight against all kinds of monsters, while the two gentlemen comment on the event in a witty way. It’s not always funny, but it works well after a weak start. And also ensures a few actually surprising moments – for example when Zeus lets a few monsters appear out of nowhere, simply because he is bored.
In terms of play, “Immortals” is clearly inspired by the latest “Zelda” title, “Breath of the Wild”. On the one hand, it works well – the mix of puzzles and fighting is right, climbing, riding and even flying to get around is fun. However, the individual tasks clearly come from a kit, real surprises are rare. And so “Immortals” never arouses the same urge to explore as the obvious role model.
“Assassin’s Creed Valhalla”: Vikings and Explorers
The spirit of research is the central theme in the new “Assassin’s Creed”. Because in essence “Valhalla” continues the concept of its predecessors “Origins” and “Odyssey” – only now, not in ancient Egypt and ancient Greece, but in 9th century England, at the time of the Vikings.
However, the developers have changed the concept at one point: While the predecessors always clearly showed on their world map which tasks and experiences there are where, “Valhalla” only has vague hints ready. This is a seemingly small change, but one that has major consequences. Because every step is a little journey into the unknown: What may be there on the horizon – a treasure, a mystery, a funny encounter with a strange character?
This makes the game world appear much more dynamic, and also fits well with the story of the Viking hero (or heroine) Eivor, who has to flee Norway with his or her clan and is now looking for a new home in England. It goes without saying that this cannot be done without conflicts with the Anglo-Saxons who rule there.
And so an exciting medieval drama full of intrigues, skirmishes and wars relaxes. And of course the eternal conflict between Templars and Assassins should not be missing in an “Assassin’s Creed” game, which plays a subordinate role here.
Even the most adventurous hobby Vikings will probably run out of air in the course of the adventure – the story is simply too long for that, despite the quality, and the gameplay with its typical mixture of sneaking and fighting is a bit renewed, but too trite in the long run . On the other hand: what is the shining point there on the horizon? Have a quick look …