Assassin’s Creed Japan Needs Revamped Parkour Above All Else

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Ubisoft Absolutely Needs To Nail The Parkour!

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  • Assassin’s Creed Red is changing everything in this series, but I want to see a major step forward for parkour.
  • A remarkable traversal system could help the game rise above the inevitable Ghost of Tsushima comparisons.
  • It would also be a breath of fresh air after the clunky movement found in Assassin’s Creed Valhalla.

Assassin’s Creed Red, set in Japan, marks a major opportunity for Ubisoft. Effectively serving as a fresh start for this IP, this game presents the publisher with the opportunity to redeem the franchise among longtime fans.

The entry is said to be built from the ground up, offering a completely revamped take on the series in more than a few ways. An upgraded engine, a bigger open world, and a return to two playable protagonists are all welcome changes, yet these are secondary additions for me.

As a longtime fan of this series, I want nothing more from Assassin’s Creed Red than to see Ubisoft giving parkour the love and attention it deserves.

Why it matters: To truly realize the potential of this title, the studio must pay close attention to the traversal mechanics.

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A Key Advantage Over Ghost of Tsushima

Let’s set the record straight: Assassin’s Creed Red won’t be Ghost of Tsushima. The latter may have borrowed elements from Ubisoft’s open-world sandbox and core ideas, but its gameplay style is inherently different.

Yet, these games are bound to cross paths as fans clash, and opinions get thrown out to decide the superior action-adventure game set in Japan. In my opinion, Ubisoft needs to play to its strengths to ensure its offering stays relevant, and this is where parkour comes in.

Combat? Ghost of Tsushima will likely be better. Narrative? Assassin’s Creed games typically have too much filler to measure up to Sucker Punch’s work in this area. However, the traversal has always been Ubisoft’s forte.

On paper, Ghost of Tsushima has a decent traversal system. Jin Sakai can use a grappling hook to reach faraway objects; protruding rocks allow the character to scale grand structures like mountains, and levels are carefully designed with planks and branches connecting such areas.

Yet, for all its strengths, the parkour system felt too vanilla for me. As I made my way across the many forgotten shrines littered throughout Tsushima Island, I couldn’t help but feel like the game was never willing to let go of my hand.

As a result, parkour felt much more guided and scripted than I would have liked. Jin Sakai also carries a lot of weight in his movements and animations, making traversal sluggish and floaty.

I understand that parkour is only a small part of the Ghost of Tsushima experience. Most of the game is centered around vast open landscapes, but it’s also true that Assassin’s Creed Red needs all the advantages it can find against this behemoth of a franchise.

In my opinion, parkour is the perfect place to start.

Assassin's Creed Valhalla
Assassin’s Creed Valhalla Was More About Vikings Than Assassins

Disappointing Traversal In RPG Trilogy

As important as parkour is to the Assassin’s Creed experience, this element has been ignored time and again in recent entries.

The last time Ubisoft made significant changes to traversal was in Assassin’s Creed Origins, and even then, the developer took a step back from the buttery smooth movement attempted in Assassin’s Creed Unity. I say attempted because the implementation was far from perfect.

Parkour was at its worst in Assassin’s Creed Valhalla. Basic animations, clunky movement, and inconsistent implementations of mechanics like ledge grab and side ejects, you name it. This entry had nearly everything going against its traversal system.

However, Mirage was a step in the right direction, albeit small. While its movement was evidently built on Valhalla’s foundations, the level design, in particular, did a much better job of encouraging clever use of the environment for faster movement.

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A reliable system that allows for creative expression, just as many animations as Assassin’s Creed Unity, and complex level design that not only facilitates parkour but elevates it; I want all of this in Assassin’s Creed Red and more.

Why not bring back the incredibly satisfying directional flips from Assassin’s Creed Unity or reintroduce the first game’s vaulting mechanic that added additional momentum during descents? If you ask me, Assassin’s Creed Red could use a system that makes all the complex maneuvers from past games as natural as possible.

With the game offering two distinct playstyles through characters who fill in the shinobi and samurai archetype, parkour could be tied to the former’s identity, giving each character depth beyond the narrative.

Japan also has just enough architectural complexity to provide the best playground for parkour since Paris. Between densely populated streets, lush bamboo forests, and tall shrines that tower above everything else, this location holds immense potential.

Assassin's Creed 2
Assassin’s Creed 2 Arguably Struck The Best Balance Between Flair & Control In A Ubisoft Parkour System

Parkour Is The Backbone of Assassin’s Creed

As far as I’m concerned, parkour is inseparable from the series. Climbing towers, performing leaps of faith, and gracefully gliding through historical cities are elements critical to the quintessential Assassin’s Creed experience.

Amid the slew of open-world games out today, no franchise has been able to capture the sense of freedom, momentum, and elegance in a semi-realistic setting quite like this series.

You could argue that Ubisoft has already moved on from parkour, and it is no longer as vital to the series. However, the developer’s willingness to ignore such fundamental features is exactly why this franchise suffers from an identity crisis.

In fact, I would argue that Valhalla was barely an Assassin’s Creed game.

I look toward Assassin’s Creed Red with renewed hope, my expectations higher than they’ve ever been in the last decade.

Whether Ubisoft reaches the same heights with its parkour system as it once did remains a mystery, but I suspect much will be made clear once the game is officially unveiled at Ubisoft Forward next month.

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