Assassin's Creed Nexus VR Non-Spoiler Review
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I have always loved when a videogame that I like becomes much more than a simple matter of sitting in front of a TV and playing it. The universe in which the game itself is rooted in, that’s what appeals to me. I love exploring the deepest corners of such worlds and all their possible adaptations and literary works that would help me expand on those very worlds. This is exactly what Assassin’s Creed Nexus does, being a VR title and also a lover of virtual reality ever since it was a thing, having the opportunity to be in the world of my favourite video game franchise ever makes me feel so satisfied and it will most likely be a point of no return in terms of experience, as after several hours of gameplay this is without a doubt, the true Assassin’s Creed experience, in which YOU are the Assassin, and it all depends on you.
First and foremost I should say for the record that this is truly an amazing experience. The fact that you can climb and assassinate in first person is simply a dream come true. I know that this is nothing new and there are certainly mods that some adventurous souls dared to make for games like Boneworks or Blade and Sorcery, however this is of course executed much better, on top of the fact that it comes from Ubisoft’s hand itself.
Assassin’s Creed Nexus behaves itself mostly as any other VR action/adventure title available on the market, with the ability to choose between smooth movement or teleportation, which comes in handy to reduce motion sickness. When it comes down to movement and traversal, this is where the game really shines and allows you to freely interact with the world around you however you like.
You need to grab ledges and climbable surfaces with your controllers without losing grip, otherwise your character falsl flat on their face, which is pretty cool, adding an extra feel of immersion/stress, constantly reminding you that you are about to take a long fall if you somehow think it is ok to release the grab button for some reason. Of course, this comes with some cons that I find are a bit draining at times while playing the game for a long session.
However I would say this is somewhat compensated by the feel of actually being able to scour through the streets of Monteriggioni and revisit the iconic church of the village or the Auditore Crypt with a now 1:1 scale of how the statues really look, it is simply a constant rush of those sweet 2009 memories when you first ventured into the villa’s main hall, and where I felt at home, just as if I picked up right where I left it back in the day with a complete knowledge of the villa’s room distribution. But I digress.
Don't be afraid! In the game menu you can swap to the option of one press of the grab button to make the climbing easier, allowing you to forget the danger of falling down and focus on the next anchor point for your hands but honestly, I recommend for you to try and train yourself into actually manually climbing walls for extra immersion.
Even though you can customize your climbing experience, since the climbing system is a constant movement of your arms in real life, you will most likely end up tired the longer and more aggressively you play the game as there is no speed limit to how you can actually climb surfaces, which is a nice feature on its own but it may encourage players to take a more proactive approach while starting your game and ending up tired and walking in the streets rather than rooftops the longer you play.
While the grab and climb system is mostly accurate and effective, due to the clunky nature of the yet underdeveloped VR technology, you may have a hard time actually climbing on surfaces. As for the pull-up you need to pull yourself up as if you were climbing an imaginary ledge and the subsequent jump performed by the character in-game can sometimes eject you or simply not mantle over the spot you would like to land on, leading to a very frustrating experience and sometimes even more tiring for your arms. (It's as if this bug follows Assassin's Creed everywhere it gets ported to!).
You can manually jump but only in the vicinity of actual surfaces that require mantling or vaulting over them to perform the jump itself, which at times can be inconsistent and you might find yourself not reaching some specific ledges or roofs and having to start over and climb your way up again which is rather annoying. The fact that they made jumping only available when near objects that trigger the action often causes the game not to register the input properly and it can lead to the alternative of taking a ladder instead, which you can find conveniently placed around the map as if developers knew of this problem.
Movement aside, the combat however is really something that needs to be reworked completely. The game encourages you to act as a real swordsman but the hits and parries don’t register that well either. You will often find yourself leaving your hand held up with your sword to automatically block the enemy’s attacks. The game allows you to use multiple weapons from ranged weapons like Bows and Throwing Knives to close-quarter combat ones like Swords, a Tomahawk and the iconic Hidden Blade. Even though the combat might feel inconsistent at times, the blade feels very satisfying to use when you engage in combat and land successful finishers. This can be an instakill if the enemy is weakened before performing a Hidden Blade attack depending on the enemy type which range to basic, medium and professional (elite) NPC’s carrying a wide variety of weapons in the likes of ranged and close quarter weapons. (Bows, Spears, Heavy Swords etc..).
In some sections you are given the option to use Throwing Knives but there is no HUD or indicator as to where your knife will end up, resulting in a random throw with the hopes of actually hitting the target, which I missed on multiple occasions hitting the wall next to the enemies and of course since the game has a noise detection system if you miss you will attract uninvited NPCs.
For my first walkthrough I immediately decided to set the difficulty option to hard to see what the game has to offer and to add another level to that feel of immersion. To my surprise, the game is relatively easy. As for my first few hours of gameplay, the game doesn’t throw too many NPCs at you and their AI is somewhat dull, similar to that of the franchise’s main games showing once again Ubisoft’s lack of dedication to their NPC’s AI.
Most of the levels can be passed easily using stealth which is highly encouraged, distracting enemies by throwing objects or whistling behind cover, putting your fingers in a circle position at the height of your mouth which the game automatically recognizes as a whistle, which in itself is amazing, but again as many of the other features that are on-point and add an extreme level of immersion to the game, you will sometimes find yourself attempting to perform the whistle, and in the heat of the moment, were it adrenaline or simply excitement of getting past guards undetected while crouching, you will most likely hit your headset with your controller’s detection ring once or twice. Be careful with that. Also I should add that while in combat with your Hidden Blade deployed, if you get your hand close to your headset while in a defensive stance you might get distracted by a whistle sound that the headset mistakenly recognizes for some reason. Don’t do that either.
The levels are fairly open and nicely merged with linear sections for what the VR has to offer in terms of power and rendering capability, obviously not as good as the main open world titles but still visually impressive for the regular VR titles available out there. In the levels, you can take the time to perform various activities like free running challenges or looking for hidden objects scattered across the small open world as well as during the linear-levels pretty much like in Assassin’s Creed Brotherhood’s Romulus Lair missions where you had to look for hidden chests.
It isn’t something too rewarding as there isn’t anything substantial rewarded to you for obtaining them, but you still can access special historical database entries that you can find across the levels sharing some juicy historical facts supplied by Shaun Hastings, and let’s be honest, we all love Shaun.
They also included some puzzles in a good old fashioned AC II style, with parkour puzzles and secret rooms pretty much like what you would find in the original Resident Evil games. But I won't spoil them.
Overall Assassin’s Creed Nexus is a dream come true for long-time fans who craved to be in the shoes of their favourite Assassins. The Hidden Blade actually retracting and extending at will with a flick of the wrist is one of the most satisfying feels the game has to offer. From the soundtrack to the level of details on the maps I would say Assassin’s Creed Nexus surely deserves some praise, especially for the amazing soundtrack composed by Christ Tilton, who managed to capture the Modern Day-esque feel of the Animus in the VR headset, as well as the nostalgia of our most beloved adventures of Ezio back in the day blended with well known tracks refreshed with a modern touch.
This wraps it up for the spoiler-free review covering the core mechanics of Assassin’s Creed Nexus, stay tuned for the upcoming spoiler review that will be available soon in which I will cover the story and the memories of each Assassin, as well as the ties to the actual lore of the franchise.
Assassin’s Creed Nexus is now available for Meta Quest 2 and Quest 3 on the Meta store for $39.99
About the Author
UbiCypher (Joe) is an Assassin's Creed Transmedia expert who works as the Lead Admin for the Isu_Network social media team!
He provides consistent social media content in the form of Assassin's Creed lore trivia, puzzles and news coverage, spending countless hours researching the series and real history.
He has also been working on an AC events timeline to help fans of the franchise looking to learn more about the lore.