Spurred by last week’s announcement of an Assassin’s Creed 3 remaster, the game’s director Alex Hutchinson has reflected on what he would change – and keep the same – if he made the game now. One of the biggest changes? That six-hour opening prologue.
Assassin’s Creed 3 opens with a big surprise – that you do not initially play as Connor, the character on the front of the game’s box, but his father Haytham. You’re not even initially in America, either. What follows is a slightly overlong but genuinely surprising opening – but one some feel holds the rest of the game up. It’s something Hutchinson now agrees with:
“We should have broken up Haytham’s intro into chunks and interspersed them throughout the game to get to Connor faster,” he wrote in a lengthy thread on Twitter. “The shock reveal of another playable character was great, but the start was too slow.”
I remember playing AC3 for the first time and being impressed by the length and detail of Haytham’s chapters – you really got to know the guy, which made what happened next all the more impactful. I also remember hearing later from staff at Ubisoft that this prologue was so secret that many in the company were not told about it.
In a tweet, Hutchinson told me this was, of course, done on purpose:
I kept that secret on lock down… we didn’t tell anyone because if we’d let it out, then marketing would have been all over it like a frog on a rock and probably ruined the surprise.
— Alex Hutchinson (@BangBangClick) September 14, 2018
Lots of Hutchinson’s changes revolve around the game’s pacing – such as forcing the completion of modern day missions throughout the story so they don’t stack up to the end, pushing the naval missions more, and laying out a path through the charming Homestead missions so people see more of the human side of Connor.
Aside from the edits, Hutchinson reflected on how much in AC3 there was to be proud of – for example, the culturally appropriate casting of Connor and extensive use of Native American language, the fact the tomahawk weapon worked well, and the fact the game has the most assassination types of any in the series.
“We allowed people to draw rude things in the snow in a game well before it was fashionable or technically advisable,” Hutchinson recalled.
“[And can we] finally admit that today, years after it was released, it was okay to change the colour of Connor’s sash from the crimson red of Ezio and Altair to a nice royal blue, and that it really wasn’t worth having seven two hour meetings about.”