Platforms PlayStation 4, Xbox One, PC
Publisher Ubisoft Developer Ubisoft Montreal
Genre Action-Adventure Platform Played PlayStation 4
Assassin’s Creed Dead Kings is the latest DLC story expansion for Assassin’s Creed Unity, which follows the events of the main campaign. Players will once again control Arno, who after the events of Unity is on a mission to leave Paris at any cost. His goal leads him to Franciade, a new location that is darker, grittier and greyer than The French Revolution. Meeting with his old acquaintance Marquis de Sade, Arno is asked to find a manuscript that is said to be located under the city within the ancient catacombs in order to receive passage to Egypt and leave France behind.
The plot setup of Dead Kings is as story heavy as this DLC gets, with the 6 main missions throughout the 2-3 hour story barely explaining why this manuscript is of any importance. In my original Unity review I was disappointed we didn’t get to see how Arno evolved as a character following the narrative conclusion, as he seemed to be redeeming his negative qualities. One of the few side characters throughout Dead Kings is a young boy named Leon. Although Arno does help him in the end, it doesn’t stop Arno from laying a verbal smackdown on the young boy and simply coming off as a selfish, unlikeable character – more so than before.
The villain in Dead Kings is also unexplored, despite the fact we are told directly that this man is “undoubtedly” bad and we see him shoot one of his own soldiers, he is never given enough screen time to truly leave a memorable mark. I’d also suggest playing Dead Kings before finishing Unity, since my 60% overall completion character was overpowered throughout the expansion. Though you can have some fun simply mowing down your enemies, if you’re looking for more of a challenge, tackle this one early.
As previously mentioned the Dead Kings DLC takes place over 6 main missions, providing an Assassin’s Creed sampler. Over the 6 missions I experienced a sample of almost every mission formula available in Unity, but because of the short length of the DLC I never found any of these archetypes to be overused. There is just enough variety to allow you to taste everything Unity has to offer, without experiencing too much that you become bored. In this aspect Dead Kings provides a short, but entertaining variety of missions.
Dead Kings allows Arno to explore the vast catacombs located under Franciade, though we did get to explore small underground segments in Paris, the caverns on offer here expand on those brief glimpses. I enjoyed these new sections I experienced throughout the main missions, as they offered something a little different that takes the aspect of parkouring over buildings and makes it obsolete. The catacombs can be a little hard to follow at times, with the expansive nature of tunnels and dead ends, but the area also offers its own set of collectables, puzzles and new enemy types.
The new puzzles don’t offer mind bending solutions, but they are challenging enough to require some thought in order to progress. Most of the new puzzle elements incorporate the new lantern item, which is used to light fires, help see hidden writing and as weird as it sounds, move bugs that are in your way. I found the fact a small army of bugs can halt a former Assassin’s progress to be a little on the nose, but the mechanic is only used a handful of times. Aside from the small amount of puzzles the lantern is pretty useless, since the catacombs are never dark enough to require extra light. Dead Kings ultimate payoff for completing all 6 main missions also ends up being a lantern with unlimited power, which was disappointing to say the least, since I barely used the item in the first place.
Raiders are also found throughout the catacombs and are the new enemy type in this DLC. The Raiders themselves can be dealt with very easily, possessing small health bars and very little defense, but when a large group attack at once it can become a lot tougher. Each set of Raiders has their own leader, taking out the leader will see his group of Raiders run away in fear, leaving you on your own. This is an interesting new addition which made me assess each situation from afar before tackling each group, finding the leader and doing my best to take him down, saved myself time, items and created a clear path.
Dealing damage to The Raiders is made more satisfying with the new Guillotine Gun, which as ridiculous as it sounds, is simply a portable mortar cannon strapped to a large axe. The sound and animations when using this new weapon against foes is ridiculously satisfying, producing large amounts of damage up close and dealing large mortar fire from a far. The weapon can also be taken back and used in Paris, if you see fit to deal insane damage within the main game area. Which you will.
Dead Kings also contains a bevy of typical Assassin’s Creed Unity side content to keep you playing, which will take around 7-8 hours to 100%. These include new murder mysteries, new Paris Stories (now named Franciade Stories), new collectables, new Nostradamus Enigma-esque riddles and more. Outposts are also included, which are a new mission type that tasks Arno to take down a number of key targets within an area. Those who have played Assassin’s Creed Rogue will notice the similarities to Assassin’s Dens right away, but they do provide a new challenge for Unity players.
Those wanting more multiplayer options will also find 1 new cooperative mission and 1 more heist to experience. The problem here is that public matchmaking has been thrown to the side, meaning these can only be played privately, or with people you know who also own Unity and Dead Kings. This is disappointing since Unity has been released for a few months now and many have moved on, but the fact Dead Kings is a free download for Unity owners would mean many have returned to play. Sadly if nobody on your friends list is hanging out in Unity anymore, this new content has been made a lot more difficult to experience.
I am also happy to say Dead Kings doesn’t suffer from a majority of the issues I experienced in my initial Assassin’s Creed Unity review, though there were some problems experienced. At times audio would drop out completely, the frame rate would stutter to a slow crawl, guards would be found walking horizontally instead of vertically (it’s as weird as it sounds) and there were instances where I found myself stuck inside pieces of the environment. Of course this barely scratches the number of problems I experienced in Unity, but it is worth noting this DLC excursion isn’t without a few wrinkles.
Assassin’s Creed Dead Kings is a fine DLC expansion for those looking to experience more Unity. There are a range of new additions including the Guillotine Gun, expansive catacombs and a variety of new side missions that will keep you entertained for a handful of hours after the credits roll. Dead Kings doesn’t provide an entertaining narrative, or even a memorable villain, and not every addition is positive, but as a free download there is more than enough to justify the download.
If you didn’t enjoy Assassin’s Creed Unity or found Arno to be an unsatisfactory hero, Dead Kings won’t sway your opinion on either. But Dead Kings does provide a satisfactory sample of Unity gameplay without a hefty amount of busy work, and with most problematic glitches ironed out.
- Guillotine Gun
- Entertaining variety in main missions.
- Catacombs offer a fresh gameplay experience.
- Uninspired story, villain.
- Lantern is mostly useless.
- No public match making.