Assassin's Creed has always been pretty good about exploration and giving players plenty of room to roam, but the landscape in Assassin's Creed III is a stark contrast from the culturally rich urban environments we're used to seeing in AC. Rather, being set in the New World (pre-America America), the new AC throws a lot more wilderness into the mix.
Now in the previous AC games, the green landscapes between towns tended to lack the same liveliness and activities cities had. Ubisoft aims to change this in Assassin's Creed III, especially since the New World is mostly wilderness, and most towns were little more than settlements. In the new game, the "Frontier" will be treated as a "third city" and boast roughly 30 percent of the game's story missions.
Creative director Alex Hutchinson, the very same man who is pushing for a return to AC basics, notes, "The map of the Frontier is 1.5 times bigger than the entire map of Brotherhood. It has this sense of exploration about it, which I don’t think we’ve had before. That notion of you versus the wilderness.”
Over time -- before, during, and after the American Revolution -- small towns and key historical locations will continue to change, shaped by the war. Houses might be replaced by tents, and civilian populations substituted with injured troops.
With all this new land to explore, it's no surprise horses have returned after a leave of absence from Revelations. While it would have been cool of Ubisoft to actually motion capture a horse like Rockstar did, they've done the next best thing: improve the AI. In AC3, horses will act more independently, like refusing to jump off a steep cliff or veer around obstacles without any guidance. Horses can also travel across tough terrain, but extreme areas will still deter the animals.
Other creatures like rabbits, deer, and wolves can also be found around the Frontier, and hunting them offers a distraction for new Assassin "Connor." Some animals are obviously more challenging to hunt and kill than others, and Hutchinson likens the activity to assassination missions.
Hunting will be just one of many activities in the game. If Conner excels at a certain activity, he might be asked to join certain clubs, which can unlock access to new locations and missions. No further details on these "clubs" were provided, but we'll no doubt learn more in the months to come, so stay tuned.