Assassin’s Creed Nexus VR Review

Assassin's Creed Nexus artwork header

When the central fiction of your series revolves around inserting yourself into a machine and experiencing someone else’s life, few franchises could lend themselves as seamlessly to VR as Assassin’s Creed. While the Meta Quest isn’t quite like an Animus, Ubisoft has drawn upon its VR tech – and enhanced it for the pumped-up Quest 3 – to get you closer than ever to experience the life of Ezio Auditore and his brethren. If you’re a fan of the series, you should be very excited.

You’re immediately dropped into the shadowy modern world setting of Assassin’s Creed, and tasked by Abstergo’s Dominika Wilks – played by the excellent Morena Baccarin – with seeking out a new MacGuffin for various reasons. It’s actually some kind of ancient computer, and because you can’t trust Abstergo to do the right thing, you also fall in with a couple of familiar faces in the shape of Shaun Hastings and Rebecca Crane who have you playing for both sides. While you’re manoeuvring through other people’s memories, this is still a story with you at the centre of it, both metaphorically and physically.

Assassin’s Creed Nexus VR puts you in the robes of some of the most well-known protagonists from the iconic series – hidden blades and all – and thus begins a heady mix of sneaking, fighting, climbing, leaping and, of course, assassinating. It’s hard to express quite what it feels like to be performing these tasks in first person after controlling them remotely for so long, but Ubisoft Dusseldorf has done an incredible job of capturing both the feel and the look of the franchise’s central action.

Assassin's Creed Nexus assassination

Your first stop is the series’ most iconic assassin, Ezio Auditore, as you travel to his hometown of Monteriggioni to meet with his sister. While you revel in exploring one of the central locations from Assassin’s Creed II, greeted joyfully by all the townsfolk, it soon becomes apparent that something sinister is going on, with your arrival putting the schemer’s plans in jeopardy. This is where you get a handle on the game’s combat, utilising Ezio’s sword and hidden blade to make sure that there are no usurpers left.

Combat is relatively straightforward at the outset, but you have to physically respond to each enemy’s attack, either blocking correctly or parrying their blows away so that you can find an opening to strike them down. You can also sneak up on them, creeping behind with your hidden blade or leaping off balconies to finish them off, and you feel as though you’re truly inhabiting Ezio rather than just playing with him. As you progress, more options open themselves up, including ranged weaponry and special abilities that mean you have a myriad ways to deal with your enemies.

Assassin's Creed Nexus combat

What I can’t believe is how comfortable Assassin’s Creed Nexus VR is to play. Even on the most immersive setting, with smooth traversal and no comfort settings on, I found myself bounding across rooftops, performing the iconic Leap of Faith into hay carts, and running from pursuers without any problems whatsoever. I’m not a great fan of heights in real life, but Nexus didn’t cause me any vertigo, despite the believability of the setting – it’s a truly remarkable feat. That said, there were a few times where I fell in-game and I did actually stumble.

Of course, your mileage will almost certainly vary. If you’re truly terrified of being high up, Ubisoft has included a setting to stop you swooning, as well as a further bank of options to make things as comfortable as possible, even if you’re a newcomer to VR.

Assassin's Creed Nexus climbing comfort

However you’re playing it, Assassin’s Creed Nexus looks phenomenal, and it shows off the leap in power between the Meta Quest 2 and the new Quest 3. It’s not going to challenge Horizon Call of the Mountain on the PSVR 2, or Half-Life Alyx on SteamVR, but as a piece of software on a standalone headset it’s a remarkable achievement. The only disappointment lies in the slightly simplistic-looking characters, but they’re not bad enough to throw you out of the fiction.

The one thing that did throw me out of the fiction was the behaviour of my character’s limbs and body. Your assassin’s arms often seem detached and flimsy, bending oddly at the wrist, while crouching down does something very odd to your legs. You won’t spend much time looking at yourself in-game, or at least you won’t once you’ve got over the fascination of having a hidden blade on your wrist, but when you catch sight of your digital body, it is a reminder that this is a game rather than a true Animus. Still, we’re heading in the right direction at least.

All of the graphical finery does seem to have pushed the Quest 3 to its limits and there are a couple of snags and stumbles in the frame rate at times. This would normally be disastrous in a VR title, but they’re few and far between, and can hopefully be ironed out in an update. The load times can also stretch on for what feels like a little too long as well, and even some internal areas have loading sections behind doors. These things don’t detract, but they still show the technical constraints that standalone headsets face, despite the improved hardware.

Summary
Assassin’s Creed Nexus VR is an outstanding interpretation of the series’ iconic action into virtual reality, bringing the franchise to life like never before.
Good
  • The parkour feels fantastic
  • Excellent visuals
  • Great sound design
Bad
  • A few technical hitches
  • Odd body behaviour
8
Written by
TSA's Reviews Editor - a hoarder of headsets who regularly argues that the Sega Saturn was the best console ever released.