If there’s one thing games nowadays seem to lack, it’s animals. Why aren’t there any stray dogs in Grand Theft Auto; any wild animals in Assassin’s Creed or any, er, womp rats in Star Wars games?
While we’ll have to wait for Grand Theft Auto V and Star Wars 1313 for a solution to the former and latter, Assassin’s Creed III will seek to rectify the middle problem with hares, foxes, deer and more for protagonist Connor to hunt. It’s an oft-forgotten element of open-world games, and one that would have been a rather glaring omission from the woody forests and desert plains of the American Revolution.
The ability to hunt animals isn’t just tacked on, either: it’s a core addition to the game that can offer economic benefits, as well as encouraging players to think a little harder about how they’re playing. The animals pictured above are the easiest to find roaming the countryside, but they’re also incredibly skittish – so if you go in all hidden blades blazing, your prey will scarper. Stealth is the name of the game here, then.
Before the anti-hunting brigade marches down on us, calling up the RSPCA and demanding the poor virtual animals remain unharmed, at least hear this: Connor’s close relationship with nature means Assassin’s Creed III will punish wasted game. If you go around slaughtering every animal in the forest for shits and giggles, don’t be surprised when Connor gets desynchronized. If you hunt game, you must harvest all its riches to honor its sacrifice.
That Connor is one with nature also benefits his ability to hunt. Using Eagle Sense will allow him to detect nearby clues – such as broken branches, freshly nibbled leaves or matted grass – which will then lead him to his prey. Collecting pelts has a financial incentive, of course, boosting the economic system first introduced in Assassin’s Creed II – traders in cities will pay handsomely for resources harvested from game, giving Connor plenty of cash to upgrade armour, purchase buildings or throw at buskers.
Assassin’s Creed III is released October 30 on PS3 and Xbox 360, with a PC version following on November 20.