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Assassin’s Creed Nexus director talks triple-A VR and hidden blades

In a recent chat with David Votypka, director of Assassin’s Creed Nexus, PCGN asked about the future of AAA gaming in VR and how Nexus can become a flagbearer.

A man wearing a gray hoodie and jeans with a VR headset jumps down on an unsuspecting soldier in a European town setting

Assassin’s Creed Nexus is a hugely notable VR game based on its name alone. Sure, we’ve seen Sony’s Horizon series dabble in the space with an original VR game on PlayStation, and Capcom’s VR ports of the recent Resident Evil releases have been mostly exceptional, but Nexus is Ubisoft bringing a brand-new, fully-fledged AC experience to VR that you simply can’t play elsewhere.

After recently going hands-on with the game at an in-person event, which you can read more about in my Assassin’s Creed Nexus preview, I was offered the chance to chat with game director David Votypka. We discussed Nexus’ impressive scale and how it may influence other VR games moving forward.

Our conversation began, however, with a discussion on the game’s hidden blade. In Assassin’s Creed Nexus, a quick trigger pull and a flick of the wrist activates the blade on either hand. It’s a simple maneuver, but it feels so natural and satisfying.

David tells me that the hidden blade mechanic was more complicated than we might have imagined, but it was the number-one priority to get right – after all, the game would feel amiss without it. He says that the reaction to the system shows the team got it right, and I’d argue you just can’t help but be impressed when you first see how it works in-game.

A man with a blade on his wrist stands in an ornate library room with globes and a view of the night sky

I was similarly impressed by the game’s scale but was keen to hear if the team ever felt limited by the hardware they were designing for. David points out that there are natural limitations with VR hardware, but the team didn’t want this to slow them down. David refers to the world of Nexus as “open-map,” pointing out that this isn’t quite an ever-shifting open world.

The portion of Venice that I explored in the preview was static, in many senses, but populated with NPCs to a level not seen on VR very often. This living feel is what makes Nexus so unique, and how the player chooses to interact with it is also key to the experience.

Noting that it seems like David and the team behind Nexus are happy with what they’ve accomplished here, I was keen to know if any features were left on the cutting-room floor, so to speak. Believe it or not, the scope of Assassin’s Creed Nexus was initially intended to be even bigger, bringing it closer to its open-world game predecessors.

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Assassin’s Creed Nexus sees the return of Ezio, Kassandra, and Connor: three of the series’ most well-liked characters. David talks about how Ubisoft was incredibly receptive to the idea of incorporating all three of these assassins into one game.

Naturally, it helps that Nexus is a brand-new tale and isn’t looking to mix up existing storylines. David says he was keen to ensure that Nexus would be respectful of the three, and this vision ultimately got the stamp of approval needed to move forward with the game.

A redcoat standing in a swamp-like area on a bridge has a hatchet thrown at him by a VR arm

Finally, I had to ask David whether or not he sees Assassin’s Creed Nexus as a major chance to show other developers that triple-A can not only work on VR but deserves to be treated as more than just a gimmick or port opportunity. Having hyped up his team throughout the interview, he again places emphasis on having the right people for the job and turning Nexus into a standard bearer for triple-A VR development going forward.

There are so many game series that would benefit from a serious attempt at VR, and if Nexus can help spark this realization for more creatives, as an ambitious experience built from the ground up for VR, then it’s mission accomplished.

While you wait to dive into our favorite assassin trio’s next adventure come the Assassin’s Creed Nexus release date, check out our list of the best stealth games, as well as our Assassin’s Creed Mirage review if you’re yet to take a trip to Baghdad.