This week marked the release of the third and final episode of the Tyranny of King Washington DLC expansion for Ubisoft’s Assassin’s Creed III. Titled ‘The Redemption’, the third episode takes place in Bluecoat-occupied New York and builds up to a climactic confrontation between protagonist Ratonhnhaké:ton and the evil King Washington. But does the epic finale of Tyranny deserve your time and money? Read on to find out.
Strong Start, Rough Landing
‘The Redemption’ actually kicks off rather nicely. Having been spotted by Washington’s navy as they sail into New York harbor, Ratonhnhaké:ton and the crew of the Aquila must engage in a few naval battles before they can venture into New York proper. Anyone who’s played Assassin’s Creed III’s base campaign knows that the naval segments were one of the game’s strongest elements and it’s nice to see Ubisoft giving Tyranny players more of what they love. Ubisoft was even kind enough to throw in a funny little nod to its upcoming pirate-themed adventure Assassin’s Creed IV: Black Flag during one of the naval sequence’s more peaceful moments.
Sadly, the opening of ‘The Redemption’ suffers from the same problem as the previous two episodes by throwing the player right into the action whilst giving virtually no refresher course on the game’s controls and systems. If, like me, you haven’t really touched Assassin’s Creed III’s single-player mode in a while, prepare for a grueling and frustrating trial by fire as you struggle to re-learn the game’s controls and combat mechanics.
Unleashing Your Inner Ursine
Shortly after landing on New York’s shores, Ratonhnhaké:ton awakens the third and final Animal Spirit power to aid him in his fight against Washington. The power of the Bear allows Ratonhnhaké:ton to slam the ground and emit a powerful shockwave that can send enemies flying and destroy certain barriers and structures.
The power is used in many of Redemption’s puzzle sequences and can help give Ratonhnhaké:ton some breathing room in a tough fight, but its staggering drain on Ratonhnhaké:ton’s health makes it virtually useless if he takes more than a few hits (which, again, can happen quite easily if you’re a bit rusty on the controls and are suddenly surrounded by foes). In my opinion, the Eagle power from episode two is still much more useful as it allows Ratonhnhaké:ton to traverse the environment and eliminate unsuspecting Bluecoats with ease.
A Worthy Attempt, A Faulty Execution
As I mentioned both here and in my impressions piece for Tyranny’s first episode ‘The Infamy’, the thing that hobbles Tyranny of King Washington most is the expectations it places on the player and their familiarity with the controls when balanced against the timeframe of the DLC’s release. I don’t know who’s idea it was to stagger the release of the DLC’s three episodes over roughly *three full months*, but it was not a good decision in the slightest. Each episode can be completed in roughly an hour and a half to two hours if you don’t bother with the side activities (completing the side activities has no impact on each episode’s ending) which means we’ve had to wait three whole months for roughly six or so hours worth of gameplay.
Tyranny certainly does have its high points; the new Animal Spirit powers are pretty cool (though the Eagle power is the only one you’ll likely use with any frequency), the entire “what if?” scenario that drives the story is immersive and engaging, and it’s neat seeing familiar characters from the base campaign cast into new roles. If you haven’t played any of the episodes up to this point and you’re itching for some more Assassin’s Creed III adventure, playing through all three episodes sequentially can be a fun (and much more preferable) experience.
I just hope this is the first and last time Ubisoft decides to turn a DLC expansion into a staggered monthly release. I’m sure it was Ubisoft’s intent to build the anticipation for each episode by distancing each release but all it really did was anger fans and frustrate players. If you’re one of the other brave souls who chose to play through each episode on its release day, I salute you for your resilience. If you haven’t played through any of the episodes and you’re a season pass holder or you just have some spare cash to burn, you could do a lot worse than Tyranny of King Washington.
Final Verdict: Play it if you were a fan of Assassin’s Creed III’s base campaign but make sure you reacquaint yourself with the controls first and try to play all three episodes sequentially.