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Assassin’s Creed Nexus review - an exciting leap of faith into VR

Returning to the world of Assassin’s Creed has never felt this fresh or exciting, with Nexus setting a high bar for AAA games on VR.

Assassin's Creed Nexus review: three characters stand side by side wielding weapons

Our Verdict

Assassin’s Creed Nexus is an outstanding VR game that shows AAA developers how to bring their properties into a new platform the right way. Some minor buggy moments aside, Nexus is deserving of praise for the way it has stayed faithful and only added to the long-lasting legacy of the Assassin’s Creed franchise.

My time with Assassin’s Creed Nexus was full of gaming memories I won’t forget any time soon. As a fan of the Assassin’s Creed franchise, I had conflicting feelings of optimism for the game Nexus could be and doubt over whether it was a mistake to jump into the VR version of a world I already adored. Thankfully, my concerns were quickly rebuffed because Assassin’s Creed Nexus is such an incredible experience that I would go as far as recommending buying a Meta Quest 3 to try it out for yourself.

Assassin’s Creed Nexus brings an entirely original story to the Assassin’s Creed franchise, one that is canon to all other games in the series and focuses on life both in and out of the animus. I was blown away by the scale of the game during my Assassins Creed Nexus preview, and pleased to realize that the impressive scope is applied to the full version of the game.

Assassin's Creed Nexus review: two hands grab at a hologram of a cube

While not an open-world game, Assassin’s Creed Nexus presents a set of large, interactive maps that are a joy to explore, even if the objective-driven content doesn’t cover every inch. Stepping back into the boots of Ezio, Kassandra, and Connor felt natural. The story-driven reasoning behind why it’s these three assassins that feature, and how we’re able to experience their history despite not being part of their bloodline, is convincingly explained..

I won’t be going into specific story details, but I’m aware of the strong role the narrative plays in players’ interest in Nexus. Thankfully, the story is well put together in all aspects, with everything from the Abstergo master plan to each assassin’s situational storytelling being a joy to follow. My only gripe is with Connor’s story, which is the weakest of the three. However, this could boil down to my own lamentations over Assassin’s Creed 3.

You take on the role of a hacker, tasked with taking down Abstergo from within. You’ll have the help of returning characters Rebecca and Shaun, who will be your contacts within the Brotherhood and help you stay undetected as you explore the memories of Ezio, Kassandra, and Connor. Nexus also brings us a new character, Dominika Wilk, voiced and portrayed by Morena Baccarin. The cast as a whole sees a lot of familiar voices returning and it is just another string to Nexus’ bow that helps it slide seamlessly into the Assassin’s Creed mythology.

Many story missions are split into multiple objectives that can be completed in any order at your own discretion. This level of freedom encourages exploration and discovery but also does wonders for helping the story develop. You can eavesdrop on characters who may reveal crucial information to help you with your objectives or learn more about a character whom you have yet to come up against. This method of storytelling actively took so much pressure off my playthrough, that even at the 15-hour mark, nearing the end of the campaign, I never felt the need to rush to completion.

Assassin's Creed Nexus review: a throwing knife leaves the character's hands

Gameplay is the lifeblood of Assassin’s Creed Nexus, but it all starts with the comfort settings. I played with the full immersion settings, meaning there were no assists or restrictions in place. The settings are wonderfully detailed, allowing for either complete newcomers or VR veterans to tailor the gameplay to their needs, but I believe the best experience lies in the full immersion mode. This is because you are in full control of every aspect of your assassin’s movement and actions, and it helps the game flow so much better. Walking the streets of Venice, waving at civilians who will gladly wave back, is far more immersive than teleporting from spot to spot and clunkily rotating your view in 45-degree snaps.

The gameplay in Nexus relies on three pillars: combat, stealth, and navigation. Stealth is where you’re going to feel the exhilaration of Assassin’s Creed Nexus. Sneaking around, slowly tilting the odds in your favor as you lessen the strength of enemy forces is as satisfying as I hoped it would be. Whether you use your throwing knives, bow (or crossbow for Ezio), or the hidden blade, you’re going to have fun living out your Assassin’s Creed fantasies as a member of the Brotherhood.

The pure joy the hidden blade brought me was endless, and from start to finish I was never bored of flicking my wrist out to reveal it before pouncing on an enemy. You also have other techniques at your disposal, including whistling to distract enemies and using terrain to either air assassinate or pull enemies from rooftops. Stealth in Nexus is wonderfully implemented and mechanically sounder than some of the best PC games I’ve played in recent years.

Navigation plays a huge role in how Assassin’s Creed Nexus comes together, but this is the one area where I found some aspects buggy or difficult to deal with. Parkour in general is fantastic, and the mechanics implemented are surprisingly similar to what you get in the mainline Assassin’s Creed games. You run, hold A, and look to where you want to jump to next. There are quirks, of course, as you stick an arm out to swing on a pole or extend to grab a ledge, but it all works tremendously well.

Assassin's Creed Nexus review: a character approaches an enemy with an axe

Climbing, however, is where the weaknesses show. I often found that my Assassin’s grip would loosen even if the input on my controller hadn’t changed. I also struggled to get the launch mechanic to work, which helps you reach higher ledges and climbing points. It may seem like a minor inconvenience at first, but being stuck in the climbing tutorial for 20 minutes trying to get it to work dampened my experience.

Fortunately, these were the only issues I faced with the three core gameplay mechanics, so there were far more moments of magic than frustration. Mirroring the likes of Assassin’s Creed 2, Nexus has you relying on blocks, parries, and counters more than brute force. The sooner you realize this, the more effective your encounters will be. After progressing through a portion of the story, you also have access to smoke bombs to change the course of battle or make a quick escape if necessary.

AI enemies aren’t a challenge in one-on-one situations, but things can get tricky if you find yourself outnumbered. One instance of a bug I found in combat was during an early mission where I was being hunted. An enemy appeared and a survival countdown started, but the enemy didn’t make any attempt to move towards me and attack. I completed the mission by standing still for 30 seconds. Again, this is one sour moment that is massively outweighed by brilliant ones, and hopefully will be patched for the full release.

The world of Assassin’s Creed Nexus lives and breathes, and exploring Ancient Greece, Civil War America, and Renaissance Italy is truly breathtaking at times. The Meta Quest 3 manages to process these maps with relative ease, with a considerable draw distance really selling the scale of the world around you. Granted, you may want to find a battery solution for long sessions, as I typically drained a full battery in just under three hours of gameplay with a few breaks between missions.

Assassin's Creed Nexus review: the busy streets of Venice are shown from a VR perspective

What really helps Nexus shine is the side content you can engage with alongside the story. Parkour challenges, hidden coin collectibles, and shooting activities are available to help extend your time in Nexus. For the die-hard fans of the franchise desperate for the ultimate Assassin’s Creed VR experience, you can climb towers and perform a leap of faith. The love, care, and attention to detail in Nexus is worthy of commendation all by itself, let alone the fact it all comes together in a smooth and enjoyable experience.

Nexus isn’t perfect, and that’s okay. Between the issues noted above, and some moments of graphical glitches or tracking occasionally letting me down and requiring a restart, it never had a strong negative impact on my time with the game, and I also have to consider that these are issues that could be fixed when the full game is live.

Assassin’s Creed Nexus is a completely new game in the franchise, played in an entirely new format, that manages to establish itself as one of the best entries in the series. It’s very rare that a game series exists on PC for over 15 years, and makes the shift to virtual reality look seamless, helping Assassin’s Creed Nexus seem like it belonged there all along.

Nexus is a special game for me thanks to the nostalgic characters, immersive and recognizable world, and effective application of VR to familiar core mechanics, but newcomers might not find as much to cling to, leading to a more formulaic – if still impressive – experience. The story relies on returning to relationships you’ve built across the course of Assassin’s Creed 2, 3, and Odyssey, which was fine by me.

Assassin’s Creed Nexus is one of the best VR games you can play today. If you’re a fan of the series and need to know whether you should be looking to purchase a Meta Quest 3 headset just to play it, the answer is yes. Of course, there are plenty of other games to dive into, but if you’re toying with the idea, Nexus is reason enough to take that leap of faith.