7 Reasons Why Assassin’s Creed 3 Is Actually Disappointing

Getting off the hype train, we take a look back at Assassin’s Creed 3 and what all it didn’t do well.

The following article contains SPOILERS for Assassin’s Creed 3. Proceed at your own risk. You have been warned. You have no right to shoot us with your shotguns now. Or any gun, for that matter. But crossbows would be fine.

A few weeks ago, I was really excited. Assassin’s Creed 3, the biggest game in one of my favourite franchises was but days, nay hours away from release. I had heard so many good things about it- the trailers looked great, the previews said it was amazing, the information revealed by Ubisoft had me excited. Hell, I even wrote an article on how AC3 could be the best game in the series.

When I played Assassin’s Creed 3, I wasn’t disappointed. I was expecting a great, exciting game, and that is what I got. Assassin’s Creed 3 is a game worth buying. But now that I look back at it, I realize that it’s actually pretty disappointing. Is it because of my unrealistically high expectations? I don’t know. Probably. Assassin’s Creed 2 and Brotherhood rank amongst my all time favourite games, and I’m a big fan of the first one and Revelations too. So obviously, there was a part of me that wanted so much more from Assassin’s Creed 3.

Now, before someone misconstrues my words and goes on a curse-spree, let me make something very clear- I think Assassin’s Creed 3 is a great game. I think it’s worth buying and playing through, regardless of your history with the franchise, or even if you don’t have a history with the franchise. When I say Assassin’s Creed 3 is disappointing, I don’t mean it’s a bad game. I just mean it isn’t half as good as I thought it would be, and it has plenty of issues. But it still is, and always will be, a great game. Hell, GamingBolt’s own review gave it a 9/10.

So what exactly was it that makes Assassin’s Creed 3 disappointing? Let’s break it down, point-by-point.

1. The characters aren’t very interesting

Take a moment and think back to the Ezio trilogy. Think about Leonardo Da Vinci. Think about Machiavelli. Think about Bartolomeo. Think about Mario Auditore. Or even think about Revelations’ Yusuf Tazim. Those were characters that were interesting to watch, that had an emotional attachment with the player, characters that we all cared about. But somehow, I couldn’t bring myself to care about anyone from the Assassin’s Creed 3 cast.

Achilles was a criminally underused character. He was really interesting to watch during the little screentime he had. His father-son relationship with Connor had glimpses of brillance, and there was some real potential there. But the game left him and his relationship with Connor underdeveloped. We needed to see way more of Achilles. We needed to see just how his relationship with Connor developed. Those time jumps just didn’t work for me- I wanted to see him training Connor, I wanted to see the foundations of their relationship, because I just wasn’t buying his fatherly attitude towards him. Sure, it was interesting to see at times, but it rang hollow.

There were others too- Connor’s friend Zio was largely a nonentity. The game had a real shot at creating and showing a meaningful relationship of their friendship here and developing a bond between the players and at least one of the characters, but Zio appeared briefly for only a few scenes, and always as nothing more than a messenger who triggered an angry, impulsive reaction from Connor.

Even other characters like George Washington were underutilized. The game often hinted as his shortcomings as a leader and as a human being, and yet never cared enough to explore those and delve deeper into his character. Maybe it was because of a fear of backash by the American community, but whatever the reason was, it resulted in something that frustrated me, at the very least.

Even the negative characters of the game weren’t as well developed as those in the Ezio trilogy. Thomas Hickey and Charles Lee were forgettable antagonists. They were practically mannequins, robotically carrying out so-called evil tasks. They will never reach the evil heights of Lucrezia Borgia or Cesare Borgia.

But I have to say, Haytham was absolutely excellent. He was the standout point in the entire game, and one of the best developed characters in the entire franchise. I wish to see him more in future games, maybe in a game showing how and why he became a Templar.

But Charles Lee just wasn’t convincing enough, he wasn’t formidable as an enemy. We rarely saw him all throughout the game, and we didn’t know what drove him to do what he did do. He was a mechanical, forgettable villain, and we all know Assassin’s Creed can do way better than that.

2. Connor isn’t very interesting

Assassin’s Creed games have always had strong protagonists. Excluding Desmond- who, ironically, is the main protagonist of the franchise (or was, till now)- we have been treated to some really interesting characters so far. Altair wasn’t exactly well developed- he didn’t have much of a backstory or emotional depth to himself. He was just sort of… there. But he fascinated us, because of how coolly efficient and badass he was.

Ezio was that and more. There’s just too much to be said about him- he is possibly the best character of this generation. Sure, he came across as a whiny idiot during the first half of Assassin’s Creed 2, but once you’ve played all three of his games, you see what a memorable, charming and exciting character he is. Saying goodbye to him was the hardest thing you will do in years as a gamer, and playing as someone else in AC3 other than the Italian ladies-man just felt off.

Connor- well, he’s a good character. He’s brutal and very efficient, like Altair, and he has depth to himself like Ezio, but somehow, he never achieves the heights those two did. His efficiency is never really shown properly, and you never feel like the badass Assassin you usually feel like while playing AC games. And you just never feel as attached to him as you did to Ezio. He really isn’t that much of a character- there’s very little intimate moments to give you insight into who he is, and very little development of his bitterness towards everything that has happened to him, so much so that sometimes, his motivation feels amiss.

He just isn’t as interesting as Ezio was, or even Altair. Hell, I thought Haytham was by far the best character of the game. I was actually rooting for him at some points, and the parts where him and Connor teamed up were easily the highlights of the game. I just know that if Ubisoft were to make a new game in this Assassin’s Creed sub-universe, I’d want it to focus on Haytham, not Connor.

3. Free-running in cities is no fun

Remember why we all fell in love with Assassin’s Creed in the first place, back in 2007? Well, there were lots of reasons. But one of them was how much fun it was to scale the buildings of the perfectly recreated cities. Jumping from rooftop to rooftop and climbing up tall skyscrapers without even once touching the ground was a thrill and a joy in the original AssCreed, and has since become a hallmark of Assassin’s Creed’s gameplay.

And sure, Assassin’s Creed 3 sports that as well. Free-running in the Frontier is an absolute joy- running from tree to tree, springing from branches and looking for footholes in the surrounding foliage is still a thrilling ordeal, but what Assassin’s Creed III lacks in is the verticality of cities that impressed us all so much as AC1, 2, Brotherhood and Revelations.

The cities are still immaculately created, perfectly giving off a late 17th century rural America vibe, dripping with atmosphere- we expect no less of Assassin’s Creed. But you just can’t string together impressive, gravity defying jumps in Boston or New York the way you could in Venice or Constantinople or Damascus. Free-running feels a bit off in the cities- there’s not enough height to them. They’re huge and sprawling, I’ll grant them that, but the buildings are shorter than the shortest building you would come across in Rome proper in Brotherhood.

Sure, it’s historically accurate, but one of the most core aspects of Assassin’s Creed has been taken away from us. I know, you can still run around like crazy and pull of impossible, death-challenging parkour stuff in the huge, expansive forest regions on the east coast of Colonial America, but the joy and rush of jumping across narrow, tight streets is no more something Assassin’s Creed can boast of- not with AssCreed 3.

4. For a game that’s based around the concept of being discrete, there’s not enough stealth

Assassin’s Creed- the original one from ’07- has to be one of the best stealth games ever. It was probably the only true stealth game in the entire franchise. It focused solely on stealth and punished you if you were detected- yes, it sounds a little restrictive and linear, but it was actually very true to the game and what it stood for. It stood for the assassins- an order that is centered around the idea of getting in, doing your thing and getting out (in bed *immature giggle*). One of the most important tenets of the Creed that assassins lived by was to always be quiet and discrete. 

This feeling of being a quiet, discrete badass who does his job efficiently and never lets anyone even notice his presence gave a real edge to AC1, and made Altair feel like the awesome character most of us think he was. While Connor was modeled a bit like Altair, what with his righteous and stoic nature, he wasn’t as quiet or deadly efficient. While Altair was all “Hi. You’re dead. Okay, see ya,” and Ezio was “You’re evil and you deserve to die, I’m going to stab you in the throat,” Connor was more like “Motherfucker, take this, axe in your face, canon in your butthole, boom boom, die motherfuckers!”

We wanted a Jason Bourne in the 1700s, instead we got a Marcus Fenix in the Revolutionary War. It’s a good thing the combat in Assassin’s Creed 3 was excellent, because that’s all it was centered around. There was practically no stealth, and the little there was was poorly implemented, and completely unneeded. The game encouraged going all out and slicing Templars’ faces with your tomahawk.

Seriously, Ubisoft should have called the game Badass Soldier’s Creed instead of Assassin’s Creed. If you were always punching dudes in the face and kicking them in their groins instead of attacking them from the shadows like a real ninja, Batman: Arkham Asylum would be called The Incredible Hulk: Arkham Asylum. I want stealth with my stealth games. You’re giving me a game about assassins? Make me feel like an assassin!

5. The ending sucks ass

You knew this was coming.

Okay, so we’ve had some pretty bad endings this year. Well, there’s been only one, but it was enough to make everyone go nuts, and not in a good way- Mass Effect 3. An excellent game all throughout with a horrible ending. That’s basically what it’s like with Assassin’s Creed 3, except for the fact that the game itself isn’t “excellent”. It’s really good, but not good enough to be called “excellent”.

The ending really sucked in Assassin’s Creed III. Because it didn’t end. It just stopped. Assassin’s Creed 3 is like a bullet train, running at a solid 300 miles per hour, going at an excellent speed- well, after the lengthy prologue which I have no qualms about- when suddenly, the driver pulls the breaks. It doesn’t take a few minutes for the train to come to a dead stop, not even a few seconds. It suddenly just stops moving. And there’s not even any recoil or jerks or anything. One moment, it’s moving like crazy, the other moment, it just stops moving- it’s just standing there, motionless, and the people inside are confused and angry.

Halo 2 fans know how frustrating that is.

Let’s not even talk about Connor’s ending. Let’s leave it be, because it isn’t all that important or memorable anyway. It is a little sad, though, but whatever. Connor’s a little sad.

The worst part of the ending was Desmond doing what he did- when the game showed Desmond facing a dilemma at the end- should he let the world be ravaged, or should he hand over all control?- I got excited. I thought would get to make this choice, that everything I’ve done would come to a conclusion spectacularly. And what does Desmond do? He decides what he wants to do all by himself, ignoring me like that girl in High School. The worst part? He picks the worst fucking option available. He decides to override the free-will engines and gives all control.

Anyway, that basically just blows the entire philosophy of the Assassin order to pieces. Free will is what they fight for, it’s what we’ve all been fighting for for five games now. And Desmond decides to make everyone meat puppets. So have we been idiots this entire time? Were the Templars right? Did we just waste five games doing what we did for no reason at all? We probably did.

But let’s forget about that too, because I’m in a weirdly forgiving mood toda- NO, I’M FUCKING NOT. Why was there no aftermath at all? Fine, Desmond is an idiot who doesn’t care about free will. But still- don’t we deserve to see what happens after that? No scenes showing the somewhat partial destruction of Earth, no scenes showing what became of Rebecca, Shaun and William, no scenes showing what Abstergo is up to next. I mean, for a game that was supposed to end this story arc, it left a bucketload of threads to tie off.

In before “endings don’t make a game bad”- I know that. Hell, I say that fiercely when someone bashes Mass Effect 3. I don’t want to come across as a hypocrite. I think Assassin’s Creed 3 is a great game, despite the finale, or the lack of it. I just think the last 5 minutes of the game suck more than a New York City prostitute.

6. Loads of technical issues

This isn’t really a huge issue, but it’s enough to take away from the immersion. We all knew Assassin’s Creed 3 would have glitches, and even before it was released, we were forewarned that it has many of them. So we all knew what we were getting into. And seriously, being as huge as it is, you can’t blame AssCreed 3 for being a glitchy game. It’s an occupational hazard, shall we say, of being an open world title with tons of stuff to do.

But I don’t like it when my horse gets stuck in a haystack and starts having a seizure. I mean, what the hell? It’s either a maniacal horse, or a guy who can fly and fall without hurting a single bone, or swords that are invisible, or people who bump into walls repeatedly, or dogs that appear in front of you out of nowehere and start barking to scare the shit out of you. Once, I threw my tomahawk in a guy’s face, and when I went to get it back, it was buried beneath bodies that the game wouldn’t let me pick up. Needless to say, I played the rest of the game without my favourite weapon. Thankfully, I was on the second last sequence when that happened.

It’s not just that- the facial animations are a bit dodgy. Especially the lip syncing. Sometimes, characters speak with each other telepathically. Their lips don’t move at all. And sometimes, their lips move so much, it looks like they’re having a passionate make out session with some invisible person. And sometimes, the characters don’t say their lines at all. Their mouths just move and no sound comes out. The first time George Washington did that, I freaked out and thought Thomas Hickey had succeeded in his plan to kill Washington, who I thought was having a stroke. I’m not kidding. Then I read the subtitles for the dialogue that hadn’t been spoken and realized it was a glitch.

The visuals themselves aren’t too impressive either. There’s rough edges everywhere, and sometimes you wonder if that fog is there for a visual effect or to cover up the not so impressive draw distances. I mean, sure, the game looks great when you look at it as a whole, from a macro point of view. But up close, it’s full of issues. A bit like Skyrim, but not as extreme.

7. Something just doesn’t click

You know that feeling you get when you play a really good game? When you play any Assassin’s Creed game? The feeling that makes you want to keep going back to the game, the feeling that makes you realize that this game is something special- that X factor. Assassin’s Creed 3 just doesn’t have that. It has some great ideas, but those ideas never come together properly to deliver a proper experience. It’s like the English football team. Full of great players, yet never gelling together all that well- but still a good team.

The fact that so many great features have been removed doesn’t help. For starters, no throwing blades. That flat out sucks. Throwing blades were the best weapon in the entire series, and AC3 just removed them. But that’s very minor. Other important stuff also didn’t make it into AC3- the entire RPG feel you get when you level up your armour, the ability to deeply customize your equipment and weapons, the focus on buying new equipment and weapons. There’s just so much missing here that we loved in the previous games.

I don’t know whether it’s because we’ve all gotten just too used to Ezio and his universe, or maybe if the game actually is all over the place, but Assassin’s Creed 3 isn’t the addictive game that its predecessors were. Something’s missing. That spark. It was that spark that made Assassin’s Creed games so special, and Assassin’s Creed 3 lacks that spark.

So is it even worth buying?

Of course it is! Assassin’s Creed 3 is, despite all its flaws, a great game. It’s not an amazing game, not an excellent game. But it’s really good. It’s just that it’s not on the same level as Assassin’s Creed 2 or Brotherhood- or in some areas, even AC1- were. It’s a great game that’s, in the end, disappointing for a hardcore Assassin’s Creed fan who has loved the series ever since he took his first step into Masyaf.


  • NothingTrueEverythingPermitted

    I liked the free-running, staying close to the ground and running under fences, BLENDING “hiding in plain sight” even learning how to be the most silent and lethal again. In response to the passage I can tell you haven’t tried 100% like I have done in the previous AC. I feel you played through it once completely missing side quests possibly not even noticing all the potential you had at the homestead and naval missions before you wrote this. The character development is there if you take the time to listen to the interactive conversations throughout the game and you have huge assassin potential if you choose to use it. Most likely the case seeing you think Haytham is the most in-depth character in the game. My only complaint with Ubisoft other than another really compelling story like Ezio’s and a real sense in a stealth is the skipping…. the part Connor gets laid :], but for real 60$ games shouldn’t do that I feel bad for the collector addition buyers, and badass killers need some poon maybe that’s why Connor was more gun-hoe than his ancestors. I commend your determination and say your an assassin for sure, but you’re no Desmond Miles. and three cheers for Capt’ Edward Haytham.

  • Zafferano

    Thing about the ending, if Desmond just let the world die, all the games would’ve been for nothing (kinda)

  • Connor

    Rename this article “Complete Bullshit” because Thats all it is

  • alalla

    1: i disagree, some of the characters may not be as interesting as the others but none of them were 0% interesting.
    2: i didnt like connor as much as the others but he was the most skilled at fighting
    3: Strongly disagree, go run around in new york
    4: to be honest connor is the first assassin ive seen who can literally become invisable, besides i do good at stealth on ac3
    5: ill give you that i hated that ending i just though “they better not leave it here”
    6: that i didnt like either, i once picked a lock on a chest and both picks were above the hole just turning on the wood (no comment…) but the reason for that is cause they started from scratch instead of using the stuff from the previous games
    7: i see your point but i only stop when ive beaten the main story and tyranny but i agree there

    ps: i like ac3 better than 1 or 2 but ive never played brotherhood or revelations
    pps: ill porb like ac4 better than all other games

  • Thomas

    change is life….conor si different,it´s true, but this difference give us a chance to be somebody new (not only Altair or Ezio), yes i know you like them,becuase Altair was perfect assassin (steel vs. blood), Ezio was a assassin,lover and friend….maybe if the Ac3 would be with the same character than you could be bored and than you would be expect more from the new game(new location-new character of course, taht is right right)….BUT! i can pick up one thing that is very tiresome: too much cinematics breaking…i felt that i play assassins miniseries, 2 minutes of cinematic, 2 minute for succesfull assassination…GAME IS FOR PLAYING,NOT FOR WATCHING :)

  • Tristen Magnoni

    i really dislike this game. i know every game has bugs and i know this cause i make and test them. but this game has more bugs that show up more often for me than any game except skyrim which has a lot of bugs but its not as annoying and bad. it just kills immersion. this game made it unplayable sometimes. and the mission design is terrible. my ship’s battering ram is too strong to reveal powder stores. so now i am stuck on one mission trying to get 100%. and anyone who disagrees with what i say should also note that ubisoft themselves said they messed up. i hope that black flag will revive everything. it looks good.

  • unifex

    ahhh man i was searching for assassin creed 3 sucked because I hate this game. I am so disappointed with this game. It turned into a chore to finish. Here are my reasons. 1. The climbing trees to synchronize really sucked. You climb up you get to a branch and you can see where you want to go but the game never lets you jump to the branch eventually you fall down and a stupid animal suddenly attacked. 2. This brings me to the second reason the game sucked, Freaking quick time events. Thats just lazy poor programming. 3. Stupid game lengthening strategies (eg walk run to opposite sides of the game map to do inane things that are irrelevant, suddenly not being allowed to assassinate someone when they walk past but having to follow then to a position to assassinate etc… 4. Glitches. Did you know that under the land there is a huge invisible ocean. I do. Ive explored the wonderful land of unable to get out of there for ages. 5. Did I say glitches. 6. The humping the wall has got a lot worse. 7. Stupid hunting that ads nothing to the game. 8. Too many lame characters that you don’t even connect to before they either disappear, you kill them or they are killed by someone else.

    I would say that before this game Assassins creed franchise was one of my favourites. I have had this since release day and can’t get myself to finish it. I have AC4 preordered but wondering whether i should get it or not because if its as bad as this game im not sure ill ever play it.

  • Artanis

    I loved AC3 but I too felt it lacked much, even in the economic point of view, it too a while to figure out how to use the accounting book, there was really no training or explaining. There was no real training in the usage of controls, as @sDp91 I wasn’t even aware you could throw an axe.

    Hope Black Flag makes up for AC3. I definitely loved Ezio’s trilogy.

  • Cosimo Alessandro

    The article is amazing. However, I generally have three concerns with it:
    1- I do not see why Ceasre is praised as the “perfect antagonist”. He is the worst and most cliched antagonist in the AC series. Seriously, if you read every dialogue of him, it’s all “I will take this, control this, eat this, kill this…!!!” and no depth to him at all. In addition, his role in AC Brotherhood was structured disgracefully (to Assassin’s Creed standards); he burned Monteriggioni, killed Ezio’s uncle with that Disney-like evil smile, and of course, you make your connections in Rome to eventually confront him in the most predictable and anti-climactic settings. Ezio of course, saves the day and throws him away. Honestly, Ezio’s ending in ACB is the worst ending in Assassin’s Creed.
    2- I can’t see how a series like Assassin’s Creed can offer you a choice in AC3′s ending. Assassin’s Creed was never known for choices, and it would also make the next game inconsistent.
    3- Most reviewers, for some reason, seem to completely ignore the glaring disappointments of previous ACs when it comes to reviewing AC3. I mean, you treated ACB and ACR like angles, when they clearly had the laziest and least innovative design. They were inundated with issues and never really reached the pinnacle of impressiveness as this article suggests. I really can’t comprehend how AC3 was somehow inferior to ACB and ACR. Never mind, at least ACR cannot possibly be considered superior. Moreover, AC3′s major flaws stem from Ubi’s outrageous ambitions, while ACB’s and ACR’s stem from laziness and rush.
    Sorry, I don’t mean to condemn your view. In fact, I agree with almost everything other than those 3 points I mentioned.

  • ehart28

    i liked AC3 but the free running was ruined. so many times i would screw up a chase because i would get too close to a wall and run right up it. in the other games, you had to hold the trigger and A to wall clime. now A is almost not needed at all and the dumbed down control actually makes the game harder. i liked the depth of free running in the other games. i like the combat but it felt dumbed down too. its way too easy. its a good game but it has way too many problems, like how is my clothing going right through a horse? how is my sword passing through my coat? its the lack of polish and the new controls that make this game so much worse than its predecessors. id give it a 7.5/10. actually, the AC games have just gone down hill since AC2. AC2 was the best one by far.

  • Sammy

    Well this is just my opinion but I just feel like, especially between AC2 and AC-Brotherhood, even though the graphics and feel were mostly the same, the story, atmosphere, beautiful buildings and memorable characters made it all worth it.

    I feel that Conner, even though he is amazing, just feels to rushed. I think they should have spent a lot more time developing AC3 in terms of its story, working on glitches and character progression rather than the current rushed call-of-duty style monstrosity it is. (referring to a new AC being released every year)

    Am I the only one who really rates game’s mostly on their story?

    I liked the fact they spend more than one year developing other games…. That’s what UniSoft was known for. Excellence and a constant strive for perfection.

    Now they’re releasing new AC’s every year, with less and less focus on story and more on profit margins.

    I miss the old UbiSoft. :(

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