With the emphasis that the Assassin’s Creed franchise has on advanced technology and simulation, I was quite interested to see how it would fare in its first major VR installment. Assassin’s Creed Nexus VR dives deeper into the long-standing feud between Abstergo and the Brotherhood, with fascinating revelations about a few of the franchise’s best characters.
A tour through the eras
The protagonist of Assassin’s Creed Nexus VR is an adept hacker employed by the Brotherhood who is working undercover at Abstergo to learn more about a rare artifact that the company is after. To do so, you’ll delve into the Animus, a virtual reality meme that lets people step into the shoes of their ancestors in a sophisticated simulation.
Nexus VR wastes no time jumping into the fine details of Assassin’s Creed lore. We learn more about the feud between the Brotherhood and Abstergo, the rivalry between the Assassins and the Templars, and a few of the series’ most memorable protagonists. It’s a game that die-hard Assassin’s Creed fans and lore junkies will eat up.
Even as someone who never cared much for the modern-day antics and Animus shenanigans of the Assassin’s Creed franchise, Nexus VR is one of the most engaging swings yet. This is primarily thanks to how immersive the world feels as a result of the medium. Assassin’s Creed lends itself so well to virtual reality and Ubisoft does a great job at making you feel like a part of the story. Even when I was just standing there chatting with other characters in an office, taking calls, or solving 3D hacking puzzles, I was fully invested.
You play as three different Assassins throughout Nexus VR: Ezio (Assassin’s Creed 2), Connor (Assassin’s Creed 3), and Kassandra (Assassin’s Creed Odyssey). I was initially cautious about the decision to focus on three existing protagonists instead of creating a new one, but it works to the game’s benefit both narratively and gameplay-wise. The way each character crosses paths with the artifact adds a fascinating wrinkle to their individual stories, and the instant familiarity I had with them made things a bit easier as I learned how to be an assassin in VR.
Putting on the robes
Assassin’s Creed Nexus VR would have been nothing short of a failure if it didn't make me feel like a complete badass while being an Assassin. Luckily, that isn’t the case. It is unbelievably fun to physically climb walls and scale buildings, holding onto ledges and hoisting myself up as I maneuver environments. The first time that I climbed a building as Ezio (the first Assassin you play as), I turned around and looked down at the height I’d just covered and let out a dumbfounded laugh.
Assassin’s Creed Nexus VR does an excellent job at blending VR and traditional controls to create a seamless movement system that lives up to the series standard while skirting most of the natural VR clunkiness. The game features standard motion-based and teleportation-based locomotion options. What’s really neat is that you can press a button while running to pull off simple parkour moves, like quickly leaping onto narrow edges and running across tightropes.
Folks who struggle with any sort of VR sickness will likely be miserable if they play Assassins Creed Nexus VR on standard settings, but there are multiple options to fine-tune the experience to your comfort levels. This includes settings for players with a fear of heights and those who suffer from motion sickness.
There are a few different weapon options in combat, including swords, bows, and tomahawks. The weapon that stands above the rest, however, is the iconic hidden blade. Flicking my wrist to take out the blade for the first time was one of the coolest feelings I’ve had in a VR game. Standard sword-to-sword combat feels pretty generic, so I made sure to stick to the shadows and use the hidden blade as frequently as I could.
Stealth is also a core tenet of Assassin’s Creed and another mechanic that Ubisoft nails in Nexus VR. You can tap a button to drop into a crouch, hiding behind boxes and other structures. You can grab random items from your environment and toss them across a room to distract enemies, creating an opening for you to assassinate them or sneak past them.
One trait from the Assassin’s Creed games that doesn’t carry over to Nexus VR is its puzzle box-like level design. The best Assassin’s Creed levels are packed with enemies at the most inconvenient places, creating a genuine stealth and combat challenge for players to solve. While I enjoyed Nexus VR’s levels, I never came across a section that made me stop and think “How in the hell am I going to do this?”
Simulated sights and sounds
Not only is the combat in Assassin’s Creed Nexus VR inspired by its trio of protagonists, but so are its settings. Renaissance Italy, Colonial America, and Ancient Greece make for a diverse group of settings. Playing through them feels wholly unique thanks to their distinct architecture and enemy types.
The environments themselves are also just so gorgeous and alive. Playing on Meta Quest 3, I found Assassin’s Creed Nexus to be quite the beautiful game. I’d periodically stop and look up at the fireworks or birds flying by, or stop and observe random NPC behavior when outside of combat.
For the Brotherhood
If there was ever a AAA gaming franchise begging for a VR installment, it was Assassin’s Creed. What’s really special about Nexus VR is that it isn’t just a tech demo with an Assassin’s Creed flavoring—it’s a full fledged Assassin’s Creed game in VR. One that makes excellent use of the franchise’s unique sci-fi elements and properly translates the best gameplay elements.
This review is based on a Meta Quest Store code provided by the publisher. Assassin's Creed Nexus VR is available now for Meta Quest Pro, Meta Quest 2, and Meta Quest 3.
Assassin's Creed Nexus VR
- Story explores new aspects of the series' lore
- Locomotion honors Assassin's Creed's signature movement
- Unique environments
- Immersive stealth system
- The hidden blade is awesome
- Level design can feel basic at times
- Swordplay is generic