Review – Assassin’s Creed Nexus

One could imagine that, given how Ubisoft blatantly refused to properly preview and promote Assassin’s Creed Nexus prior to its release, we weren’t supposed to look forward to it. When a big publisher can’t be bothered to promote a game before release, barely telling us a thing about its visuals, gameplay, or important features, it’s because they want you to forget it exists. Just look at how Microsoft refused to tell the world a single thing about CrossfireX. I really don’t understand why, because, against all odds, Assassin’s Creed Nexus isn’t a bad VR game. On the contrary, this is a truly magnificent VR title, one of the best available for the Quest 2.

Assassin's Creed Nexus graphics

Turns out the Quest 2 can indeed render some impressive locales.

Assassin’s Creed Nexus is basically a virtual reality “greatest hits” of the series, putting a random schmuck of a hacker in control of the memories of three distinct characters from the franchise: Ezio from Assassin’s Creed II, Connor from Assassin’s Creed III, and Kassandra from Assassin’s Creed: Odyssey. At the core of this nonsense, lies another plot revolving around Abstergo wanting to dominate the world with some otherworldly MacGuffin, which can only be activated with information scattered throughout these memories. You know, typical Assassin’s Creed stuff. To top it off, the game’s villain is portrayed (exceptionally well, may I add) by Morena Baccarin, known for her roles in Gotham, Deadpool, and Firefly.

Assassin's Creed Nexus Morena Baccarin

Ubisoft, why did you hire Morena Baccarin to your game and didn’t even bother properly announcing it before the game’s release?

Going against the norm for Assassin’s Creed, and Ubisoft in general, Assassin’s Creed Nexus is not exactly an open world game. For the vast majority of its runtime, it is a linear experience. Every now and then, however, you are given the opportunity to explore some enclosed areas containing additional parkour challenges; you can explore these places as much as you want before heading to a “point of no return”. Considering the nature of VR (almost no one is going to play an open world VR game for dozens of hours at a time), this design decision was quite smart. It gives you more freedom than most virtual reality titles, while still offering comfort settings to not bore you to death with a pursuit for crafting materials or some other useless crap.

Assassin's Creed Nexus Blade

I know you can’t probably see it properly in a 2D pic but unsheathing the hidden blade from your wrist with a motion command, sneaking behind a guard and slamming the thing onto his skull… delightful.

This wouldn’t work if the gameplay wasn’t equally as interesting, and this is probably where Assassin’s Creed Nexus impressed me the most. Ubisoft, somehow, perfectly managed to adapt the gameplay style of old-school Assassin’s Creed (the time before RPG elements and whatnot) to VR.

Want to jump dive into a pile of hay? You can. Do you want to blend in the crowd and stab some idiot with your hidden blade? It’s here, and the way Ubisoft programmed the motion function for you to unsheathe the blade from your wrist was awesome. Parkouring? Just like in the traditional games, you just need to hold down A and run towards the series of gaps you need to jump across. The main difference between this game and other Assassin’s Creeds lies on the combat, with it being more parrying-focused. It reminded me a lot of the Star Wars VR games, where enemies telegraph their attacks, you defend accordingly, they leave an opening, and you are then allowed to strike with decent motion-based combat controls. When playing as Kassandra, however, you are given a bow and arrow, and the controls are still decent.

Assassin's Creed Nexus accessibility

Accessibility options and hints galore.

It’s actually really inventive and responsive. I was also impressed with the various degrees of comfort available in the main menu. You can say a lot of things about Ubisoft (hell, I’ve said my fair share in the past), but they are one of the best companies in the business when it comes to player accessibility. Considering how this is a tricky subject when it comes to VR, they sure did their homework. Assassin’s Creed Nexus gives you a small survey before the game starts, asking you about your experience with VR, your level of tolerance with motion sickness, and even if you suffer from vertigo, or if you’re afraid of heights. The game then creates a comfort setting suited to your preferences, and I have to say, I was impressed with the results.

My customized comfort settings basically gave me a fully functional first-person Assassin’s Creed experience. Free-forming camera controls, complete control of my running, some brain-demolishing drop sensations whenever I decided to to a leap of faith, and so on. The parkouring was the most impressive aspect. As previously mentioned, it’s just like old-school Assassin’s Creed games, just running towards gaps whilst holding down a button. It felt awesome; I was hopping over ledges and gaps with ease. Climbing ladders and vaulting over fences was also intuitive enough. The only true issue I’ve had with the gameplay, though a sizeable one, was dealing with some poles, which required too much precision for what the Quest’s controllers are capable of.

Assassin's Creed Nexus parkouring

They perfectly adapted the parkouring aspect from old AC games onto VR.

As for the presentation, this was also something I wasn’t expecting to be this good, especially since the game’s initial tutorial level, presented in a Metal Gear Solid codec-esque kind of way, felt cheap, both in terms of visuals and voice acting from everyone present not called Morena Baccarin. Upon becoming Ezio, however, as well as the other two characters in the package, everything changed. First of all, all previous voice actors reprise their roles, so if you miss listening to Roger Craig Smith deliver a faux Italian accent, this is the game for you.

The visuals were also impressive, considering the fact I’m still playing Assassin’s Creed Nexus on the Quest 2, and not one of its more powerful (and ludicrously more expensive) siblings. I did experience one or two framerate hiccups every now and then, but for the most part, it was smooth sailing all around. Unlike other more high-profile pseudo-AAA titles available on the Quest 2, however (looking at you, GRID Legends), the graphical fidelity didn’t take that much of a toll. Considering the hardware, was shocked with how detailed each environment looked, complete with good textures and tons of assets. Exploring the town of Montereggioni, complete with traditional Florentine architecture, lots of NPCs, and impressive textures, was a jaw-dropping experience, one I wasn’t even aware the Quest 2 was capable of rendering.

Assassin's Creed Nexus set pieces

Some impressive set pieces (for VR standards) in between chapters.

In short, Assassin’s Creed Nexus was one of the most impressive surprises of the year. I wasn’t expecting much from it due to Ubisoft’s lack of pre-release promotion, but what I ended up getting instead was a true testament of what the Quest 2 can do, and how to properly adapt a third-person action-adventure series into VR. It’s shorter than your average Assassin’s Creed, but still substantially meaty for a VR game, complete with occasional pseudo-open worlds with extra challenges to discover. Add in excellent visuals, great performances from returning voice actors, and a ton of fanservice, and what you get as a result is a mandatory title for Quest owners, as well as one of the best Assassin’s Creed games to be released in recent years.


Graphics: 9.0

Considering the limitations of the Quest 2, I was shocked with how detailed each environment looked, complete with good textures and tons of assets. To top it off, a stable framerate, with just very occasional framerate issues.

Gameplay: 8.5

Who would have thought. Assassin’s Creed actually works in first-person. The gameplay loop was expertly adapted into VR, with the main difference being a more parry-focused combat system and a climbing mechanic that requires some initial practice.

Sound: 9.5

The voice actors who had previously portrayed Ezio, Connor and Kassandra in their respective games return in Assassin’s Creed Nexus, still delivering great performances. Morena Baccarin shows up unexpectedly as a pretty good villain as well. The soundtrack is top notch.

Fun Factor: 9.5

It’s shorter than your average Assassin’s Creed, but still substantially meaty for a VR game, complete with occasional pseudo-open worlds with extra challenges to discover. Levels are fun and replayable. Not to the mention the amount of fanservice included in the overall package, and the perfect recreation of parkouring and assassinating in VR.

Final Verdict: 9.0

Assassin’s Creed Nexus is available now on Quest 2, Quest 3 and Quest Pro.

Reviewed on Quest 2.

A copy of Assassin’s Creed Nexus was provided by the publisher.