Assassin's Creed 3 is freshly in stores, introducing a new American Revolutionary War time period for the series and a whole new set of features and content tweaks to go along with it. New period protagonist Connor Kenway is a half-British, half-Native American nimble, Templar-silencing badass. His fight against the ancient order is a personal one, and it's what drives him to rebuild the assassin's brotherhood in colonial America.
For all of Connor's skills, Assassin's Creed 3 is still a huge game with lots to explore and any number of things vying for your attention. This feature is meant to help you get accustomed to the new face of the series, running through some of the more noteworthy system changes and improvements that you'll be adjusting to. You won't find any spoilers below, so read on for some tips for getting the most out of your Assassin's Creed 3 experience.
A Note About the Introduction
I'm sticking to the no-spoiler policy, but you should know that the first 5-6 hours of the game follow a very specific path. My recommendation is that you stick to the path as closely as possible, ignoring the lure of exploration and resource gathering until the main story arc really kicks into gear. Just hit your mission checkpoints, get your valuable story exposition, and move on to the next bit. If you are still curious, you can check out the first 15 minutes of the game right here. You've been warned.
It's hard to go into any more detail without offering up story spoilers, but suffice to say that it's clear enough why you should stick to the script in the early hours and when it's okay to start veering off. There's just no value in looting every corpse for cash and hunting down all of the synchronization points. When you see it, you'll understand why.
Movement and Travel
Connor zips around colonial America just as easily as his predecessors Altaïr and Ezio did in their respective time periods, but there are a few mechanical changes to how it all works. It is no longer necessary to hold down the right trigger plus the A button (on an Xbox 360 controller) to pull off your assorted parkour stunts.
The trigger alone handles all of that now, with the A button working as a modifier for those occasions when you want to leap off the edge of something or switch to traversing an upward course (when applicable). This also means that you won't need to worry about changing your run speed as you try to avoid pedestrians in the streets; Connor will dynamically work his way around any passer-by whom he comes into contact with.
You'll also notice that Connor is much lighter on his feet than his predecessors when it comes to dodging foot traffic. If you suddenly move the left analog stick to the left or right while running forward, Connor will sidestep in the desired direction rather than fully turning. A number of chase missions in the game include a secondary objective that requires you to avoid shoving any pedestrians. Mastering Connor's sidestepping skills is necessary for this.
There have also been some changes to the way long-distance travel is handled. In previous Assassin's Creed games, you would have to go to a specific location nearby if you wanted to access any fast-travel features. That is no longer the case.
Connor can move to any unlocked fast travel location at any time, even if that means he's jumping from one city to another. Simply open up the map, select the desired destination, and follow the button prompts to go there. Note however that you can't travel to any location; it has to be a designated fast travel locations. Harbormasters, points of entry/exit between different maps, and underground access points (which you'll unlock more of by physically exploring the underground) are all fair game.
For those who would prefer to skip fast travel and soak in the world on their own terms, there's yet another new feature in AC3. Early on in the story, Connor receives the ability to call for his horse at any time. The horse whistle is added as one of your secondary items, so you'll have to either map it to the D-pad or open up the weapons/gear radial to "arm" it. Very useful when you find yourself surrounded by snowdrifts in the middle of the Frontier.
Building a Brotherhood
Once again in Assassin's Creed 3, much emphasis is placed on building up a crack team of Templar-hunting Assassins. The process has been changed a bit in the new game. You'll have to work a bit harder to recruit what amounts to a smaller group of people, but each one brings a unique personality and skillset to the table, which in turn means a wider range of brotherhood skills to call on.
Each of AC3's cities is divided into districts and, at a certain point in the story, you'll start seeing Liberation mission marker pop up through each district. These quick-hit missions are completed quickly, with goals like protecting a shopkeeper from Redcoat harassment or preventing a public execution. Complete all of the Liberation missions within a given district and a more elaborate mission will unlock with your "district contact." Complete that and you'll earn yourself a new recruit, and a new brotherhood skill along with it.
You'll still need to train up your assassins, of course, and the same basic meta-game from the previous AC games is back. The big difference in AC3 is that you can send your people out on assignments from any location. Simply open up the brotherhood skills radial menu and hit X (on an Xbox 360 controller) to access the mission screen.
The missions themselves work the same as they did before, with a percentage rating telling you what the chances of success are and a time limit telling you how long the assassin will be out of commission for. The only real difference is how XP is portioned out. Each mission carries a set XP reward, regardless of how many assassins you send. So be sure to send as many as you can while you're training your people, since they all stand to earn the same reward.
There's also another component to establishing your presence in the American frontier. Early on in Connor's tale, he'll come to settle in a location known as the Homestead. Much like Monteriggioni from the Ezio trilogy, this discrete map location is your domain, and yours to improve. The big difference this time around is that you can't simply throw money at it.
Improving the lands around your Homestead is a lengthier process now that involves taking on Homestead missions. Each one of these improves your lands in some way, either by bringing a new artisan in to settle there or by improving the capabilities of one of your previously settled artisans.
Building a robust Homestead community in turn improves your ability to craft items, from weapons that you can equip to consumables to tradable supplies to the actual convoys that ferry those supplies you wish to trade. Crafting is all handled from your accounting book menu, which can be accessed in the study of your Homestead manor and in various general stores scattered around the world.