From a personal vantage point, the opening episode to Ubisoft’s DLC series was a little disappointing and didn’t amount to a much in comparison to the original game. The alternative take on reality was seemingly the key component that was drawing the attention of the fan base or purely because of their love for the franchise. But the main story of Episode One was surprisingly weak. There didn’t seem to be much in terms of story, there was little else to do around the Frontier and the new powers, though an interesting variation to the gameplay, didn’t amount to much change. But having played the next instalment of the Tyranny of King Washington, it’s clear that The Infamy was merely a tease of what’s to come.
The Betrayal picks up right where The Infamy left off. Connor finds himself in a prison cell at the mercy of King Washington and his entourage, Putnam and Benjamin Franklin. In respect to those who have not yet played the second episode, I will keep spoilers to a minimum though we wary that there may be minors.
Franklin plays a more central role in this storyline. His appearance in Assassin’s Creed III was brief and irrelevant in terms to the narrative, though it seems a nice addition to give him a chance in the spotlight. The episode has Connor interacting with Franklin more than he does with any other character, which has nothing particularly special about it; nothing like the Haythem-Connor relationship, but it’s nice to see Ubisoft fleshing out a character forgotten by the main narrative. There are also a few friends from Assassin’s Creed III that raise a smile when you come into contact with them. The story is a lot more engaging and dramatic than its predecessor. The stakes feel much higher as at every turn, the objectives of the resistance to King Washington seem to be constantly undermined and the situation more hopeless. The missions themselves are not as distinctive as I would have hoped, but they feel more fluent and seamless in regards to each other, as opposed to Episode One’s episodic do-this-do-that structure, with little avail.
In regards to the gameplay, Connor receives a second spirit power quite early on in the playthrough. After passing through another spirit journey, Connor gains the powers of the eagle, which you may have seen from the promotional trailer, allows the Assassin to physically become an eagle in order to scale high places with ease. Though it takes a bit of getting used to at the start, which is not helped by practicing in a small, confined warehouse, once you’re out in the open air of Boston, Connor can cover great distances in shorter times that feel powerful but also tactical. In fact the only criticism that I can think of for the power is the automated targeting system that can be a bit glitch and temperamental, taking you in an entirely different direction from what you intended, but it’s easily managed with consistency. Also, though many may not consider this a negative, the amount of health that is drained from Connor when using the power is tiny and regenerates within a second of using it, which is great for soaring through the skies of Boston, but it’s easy to overuse and feels unlimited, as opposed to the wolf power that kept you glancing at the health bar in case you were nearing game over.
For the open world action, The Betrayal fails to break away from the problems of The Infamy. Outside of the main narrative, there isn’t much to do. Side missions from Episode One repeat themselves in a Boston setting; feeding starving children and ambushing a convoy, but they remain to be pleasant distractions for those who don’t wish to rush through the main campaign. Aside from that, the move from the Frontier to Boston dramatically increases the number of foes that you will inevitably encounter. If the main game was criticised for focusing entirely on killing the British, the Tyranny of King Washington counters that by killing lots of Americans. Though this may not seem like a significant factor, Connor now has an irremovable notoriety above his head, due to the fact that he is now a known rebel (not disguised by his wolf cloak outfit). This means that every guard in Boston immediately becomes suspicious if they spot you, forcing players to move off the streets and onto the rooftops, which is where the eagle power comes in handy. The concept can be very annoying if you are trying to perform certain tasks, but in light of the story it fits in perfectly and makes a nice change from the idiotic AI who aren’t suspicious in the slightest of a man free running across the rooftops.
Overall, The Betrayal is certainly an improvement over its predecessor. It is not perfect. Far from it, but having already pre-established the situation in The Infamy, the story is given room to flesh out and breath creating a much more pleasant and enjoyable experience. There are some great moments involving friendly faces, civilians crying out that you are a demon when using your supernatural powers and a rather unusual moment when you walk into a room filled with friendly red coats. But what is most exciting is the finale of the episode that not only sees the return of a familiar asset, but sets up for what is expected to be a dramatic finale.
The Redemption, the third and final installment of the Tyranny of King Washington series, is set to be released 19th April.
Until then, “May the Father of understanding guide us.”
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