Previews

Assassin's Creed 3's Homestead - "you can watch a butcher take a pig apart"

Ubisoft takes us on a tour of the most elaborate hub town to date

Ever heard of "Generation Rent"? It's a face-grindingly patronising phrase coined by people who have houses to describe those who don't and, thanks to the woeful global economy, possibly never will. The joke's on you, though, home-owners! Because us Generation Renters are also, as a rule, feckless youngsters who play videogames, and no real-life house can rival the houses you get in videogames.

Just look at Assassin's Creed 3's Davenport Homestead, detailed at length in the latest issue of OXM. It's a genoo-wine old colonial estate which serves as the game's hub, boasting all manner of cottage industry and ambient idiosyncrasy. Providing you take the time to upgrade and outfit the place, anyway.

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"My favourite thing about the Homestead is that in a city, you're anonymous, you blend into the crowds. But at home, everyone knows your name," producer Alex Hutchinson observes in the new issue. "They don't know you're an assassin, obviously, but they live their lives, going to the tavern - assuming you've attracted the Innkeeper.

"It becomes a beautiful video game train set," he went on enthusiastically, before reining in the anorak attack a tad. "But we're aware that we're a trading game, and that's close to German board games." Dangerously close, Hutchinson. How long is your manual? Does it have a pull-out research tree?

Connor can recruit new tenants to the Homestead by completing rescue missions, vaguely after the example of the Assassin's Recruit missions in Brotherhood. You might be called upon to save a carpenter who's fallen into a river, leaping between boulders and low-hanging branches. Once gathered unto your bosom, said carpenter will busy himself converting wood produced by your lumberjacks into sellable commodities, like barrels. Don't worry, it doesn't stop at barrels. There are more exciting item "recipes" to uncover by completing additional side missions.

What's more, you can actually watch your townsfolk going about their honest, god-fearing business, thanks to what Hutchison styles the most elaborate set of animation routines yet seen in an Assassin's Creed. There's a mission, 'Encyclopaedia of the Common Man', which simply asks you to eavesdrop on village life.

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"The guys were saying there are 35 people in your Homestead, and each one has around eight activities, with some of the most complex animation we've ever built - and no-one will see it!" offers Hutchinson, explaining the decision to effectively pay players to keep an eye on things. "There's one animation where the butcher takes apart a pig, and you can watch it for two minutes. There's definitely some showing off going on."

Here's a round-up of Assassin's Creed 3 need-to-knows. For more on issue 91, head this way - we've also managed to sneak in features on Far Cry 3, Insomniac's Fuse, Bungie's mysterious Destiny project and Hitman: Absolution. For more on Generation Rent, check beneath the nearest flyover.

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