There are few gaming memories I have that invoke genuine feelings of joy and excitement, but the moment I deployed my hidden blade with a quick trigger tap and a wrist flick during my Assassin’s Creed Nexus preview is one I’ll never forget.
PCGamesN was recently invited to Ubisoft’s Leamington offices to take a closer look at Assassin’s Creed Nexus, with around an hour of gameplay to explore. Coming off the back of our Meta Quest 3 review, it was a great opportunity to see how a AAA experience will look on the latest VR headset.
The preview kicked off by introducing me to the basics of life as an assassin. Stealth, combat, and parkour – a holy trinity that Nexus needs to get right if it’s to sit alongside its non-VR predecessors. I’m happy to report that not only do those core mechanics exist here, but they soar in VR.
Parkour is as simple and intuitive as holding a button and running. In some cases, you will need to interact with ledges and grab points to maintain your momentum, but this was never an issue for me, and the more I played around with it, the better it felt.
I played the entire tutorial with free motion and was delighted throughout. There were no instances of sickness or dizziness. You can alter comfort options to suit your preference, but free controls felt very smooth, meaning I’d recommend them to anyone.
Combat could have been left as simple as the swing and block mechanics that so many VR games opt for, but this is Assasin’s Creed, so it needed a bit of extra depth. Timing your blocks is key to opening up attack windows, but you also have a shoulder charge move that can break your opponent’s defenses, leaving them vulnerable to a hidden blade finisher. I also had access to smoke bombs, which were crucial for when I was outnumbered in combat.
Stealth, however, is where Assassin’s Creed Nexus truly shines. Outside of the tutorial, I was placed into a sequence somewhere in the middle of the game, in Venice, as Assassin’s Creed 2’s Ezio Auditore da Firenze. The primary mission within this sequence involved tailing a guard, navigating an indoor market, finding my way into a restricted area, and then stealing a carnival mask.
Sounds pretty straightforward, right? Wrong. Not only are you tailing someone through the market, but you can’t let them spot you. When I reached the restricted area, I still needed to find my way in without raising an alarm. Finally, to obtain the mask, I had the choice of pickpocketing the main guard or lockpicking the chest containing the mask. Each option had its risks, but I chose to attempt the lockpicking minigame. I had to move and rotate both controllers to hit all of the tension points in the lock, and the time pressure I was under made it all the more exhilarating. The point here is that there is depth to every element of Nexus. I went into this preview cautiously, concerned about the scale of the game, but it quickly became apparent that this is nothing less than a new Assassin’s Creed title in size and scope.
The open map environment presented me with collectibles to find, activities to complete, and main missions to progress the story. No corners have been cut to make Nexus a reality, and that’s what is most impressive.
Within just a small slice of Assassin’s Creed Nexus, I was able to experience so many breathtaking details. I’ve already mentioned the moment I first activated the hidden blade, but the action is so natural that it was hard not to crack a smile. Activating Eagle Dives in VR is also something any fan would want to try, and it’s now possible in Nexus.
I had a smile on my face for the entire hour I spent with Assassin’s Creed Nexus, and I left the Ubisoft offices wanting to play more. If this small sample is representative of the final release, we may have easily one of the best VR games ever on our hands.
Assassin’s Creed fans will find plenty to enjoy here, and doing so from this whole new perspective is something I could have only dreamed of back in 2007. Once the Assassin’s Creed Nexus release date rolls around, the game has the chance to prove to a skeptical audience that AAA on VR not only works, it thrives.