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Unity's Parkour, and why many players seem embittered by what CAN be a great system

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Leo K's picture
Leo K
Toronto, Canada
Joined: 12/30/2009

Unity has one of the most fluid parkour systems in the series, and it was lifted from it, to Syndicate afterward. I think what people dislike about Unity is that they prioritized smooth animations over responsive animations. This is certainly the case for me, but I enjoyed Unity's parkour on an important level that I'll outline below, after my critiques of it.

Things looked prettier and more smooth/buttery than they ever have before, but the player's ability to cancel out of animations, or have more control, that was something that was lost, and that's also why Unity's parkour system is a bit simpler than the previous games'.


You can't Walljump anymore, neither backwards nor sideways, this is something that can only be done when sitting still on a ledge and doing the input then, never in motion. Side walljumps after a run-up have been replaced with Parkour Side (while on a building).

Parkour Side isn't the official name, but it's what I call Arno/Evie/Jacob/Lydia's new animation-set for traversing a structure's facade. I don't understand all of the intricacies of Parkour Side, I have to find a good wall in Unity to test them on.


We can't Catch Ledge anymore, not Manually like we could in AC1-Revelations (Hard) then from AC3 to ACIV/Rogue (Soft). In Unity and Syndicate we can only Catch Ledge by aiming in the right direction and hoping our Assassin will get it themselves. There is no manual input to do it, and the tactic to making it consistent is never truly revealed to the player; either by the game or by the community. (Either THB or the AC community at large.) One of the reasons for this is probably that, well, there's just not much to reveal. We probably already know the extent of the system. But there's always that "what if"? Anyway, that's for later.

Basically it's really easy to see what Unity's hiccups were in terms of parkour, there was simply no way to make animation cancels with this simpler parkour system, and that's why it tends to feel sluggish to the players who play it. They can fix this later, but not immediately.


I'll finish by examining what Unity's (and Syndicate's) parkour system did well though! It allowed a greater sense of peace-of-mind while doing parkour to a great number of players in a great number of situations. Parkour Down was honestly revolutionary. People downplay how good Parkour Down actually is for the series. It's not that the old games become unplayable because of it, because they still have deeper parkour (lots more little tricks the player can do if they have mastery over it). It's just that these newer games, allow a player to feel more balletic while they flow through an environment, they let a player twirl and feel the air under their fluid flight through a city (almost, anyway!). This is a huge thing that the series did right, even if it could have been executed much more respectfully to players who enjoyed having some subtle control over the system. (Catch Ledge, Manual Jumps, Redirections).

What Unity trades for fluidity and utility is depth. In the old games, we had control tricks, in Unity/Syndicate what you see is what you get. All surface.

BUT! Can you all imagine? What if that wasn't the case? If we still had those little control tricks from past games, but combined with the fluidity and surface-level simplicity of Unity's parkour? It would have been INCREDIBLE. It would be the definition of Easy To Learn, Hard to Master. Because to just execute parkour would be fluid and graceful, any player has access to this gameplay tool. As they SHOULD, because Parkour is currently the core gameplay of Assassin's Creed, and everything else should revolve around it until they retool the Stealth for REAL. But what I'm saying is, you would have the simplicity on a basic mastery level, and then you would have the depth and complexity on an advanced mastery level.

I think I can safely speak for everyone when I say we all want a parkour system like this.

See, people UNDERSTAND the benefits of Unity's parkour. They're just sore and bitter over the loss of the depth we once had. You know? We loved that depth. It made the games more interesting mechanically, and you could tell at a glance who was a beginner to AC, and who was a seasoned vet. There was never any elitism or vitriol, it was just a little nod, a little grin, a little wink. Look, she's doing Catch Ledge to save herself from falling when her auto-reach wouldn't have caught that edge. Look, he's doing a Sidejump off of a Vert Wallrun so he can get to a rooftop faster than by just raw climbing.

Imagine that feeling, but with the new games. I'd say that's one of the first steps to making them feel like masterpieces.