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One promise Ubisoft keeps making over and over about Assassin's Creed Unity is that it's going to give players a lot of freedom. In a new gameplay trailer, they show off the open-ended nature of the Black Box missions.
Black Box missions avoid sending player down a set path. Instead, they provide you with an objective (e.g. "go kill that noble") and let you figure out how you're going to do it. In the sample mission seen in this video, the target is in a church with multiple entrances.
There are also optional objectives ("mod missions") you can complete along the way to get an edge. For example, you may find out that your target is supposed to meet someone in a confessional. If you assassinate that other person, you can take their place and use the confessional booth to stage your ambush.
While observing the church, you may also notice a priest has been locked upstairs by thugs who stole his key. You can track down these thugs and get the key by killing them or stealth. This allows you to them open any locked doors or windows in the church, giving you new ways to approach your target.
The structure reminds me a little of the Hitman games. The mission is just a big playground for you to explore. This is a welcome change in my view. In a lot of other Assassin's Creed games, the assassinations end up feeling a little too simple. You'd pounce on a guy and then either kill the guards or run away. By introducing all these optional objectives and paths, the game allows players to be a little more deliberate in choosing their strategy.
Assassin's Creed Unity creative director Alex Amancio said in the video that this emphasis on freedom carries over to other parts of the game as well. For example, the co-op missions are designed to be just as open-ended. They're hoping to make the online content as replayable as possible. The co-op could be the most replayed content in Unity, considering the game's lack of competitive modes.
Competing the side content helps players advance Arno's abilities. While the story missions unlock new skill sets, the optional tasks give you the skill points needed to activate them. Side missions also allow Arno to acquire new equipment or gear.
"The actual structure of the game itself is different," Amancio told UbiBlog. "Arno is really the glue that gels the whole game together. Arno's progression from novice to master Assassin. Everything you do in the game contributes to that progression."
Assassin's Creed Unity will be launching alongside Assassin's Creed Rogue in the second week of November.