Assassin’s Creed III has been one of this year’s most highly anticipated games, and it’s also been one of my most highly anticipated strategy guides. After how well Piggyback bounced from the Assassin’s Creed II strategy guide to the Assassin’s Creed: Brotherhood strategy guide, my expectations were high. The Assassin’s Creed III strategy guide better be on par with Brotherhood, or words would roll in anger. When I learned that the side questing world of AC3 was the largest it’s ever been in AC games, the bar rose even higher. I shouldn’t have worried; the Assassin’s Creed III strategy guide provided everything it needed to, and then went above and beyond what was called for. What’s more, I never could have gotten nearly as far as I did with the game thanks to all of its glorious bugs without the guide holding my hand and constantly letting me know it was going to be okay. Otherwise, the game would have suffered a terminal case of defenestration.
I rarely look in the beginning of strategy guides, where all of the information about how to play is held, as I fully expect the game to teach me as I go. Usually this is the case, but as I recently lamented, sometimes it is not. With AC3, the game did teach, but sometimes the tutorial prompts flashed too quickly, so I wasn’t able to see what buttons or combinations of buttons I needed to press. For example, early on, I missed what I needed to press to prompt Haytham to reload his rifle. Since I could only kill these enemies with a gun, I couldn’t drop my useless weapon and go stabbity-stabbity. I literally pressed every button before I paused the game and checked to see what the strategy guide said. I’ve never been so thankful before for the existence of this how-to-play section, as I quite literally couldn’t have completed this sequence without some reference. It was easy to find, which was perhaps the most important aspect next to having accurate information (which it did).
For someone who hates stealth as much as me, the walkthroughs greatly helped me maneuver all areas the first time and with little difficulty. As shown in the scan on the right, the screenshots are large and depict the recommended path for 100% synchronization clearly. Obtaining 100% synchronization (including the optional objectives) takes more skill than a strategy guide can provide, but each time I actually attempted to complete all of the optional objectives, I was able to with ease.
More often than not, the strategy guide’s walkthroughs showed me escape routes I never considered. For instance, using the page on the right, when Haytham has to escape the British fort without being seen and return to Kaniehti:io, the guide suggests that Haytham take a swim. I wouldn’t have thought of that initially for two reasons: 1) the last time I made Haytham take a dip, he died upon impact and 2) it seemed like it would cause an instant desynchronization. Also, it was so foggy, it was hard to see that there was water below instead of a rocky death.
Unlike previous Assassin’s Creed games, AC3’s main storyline is rather short. The quantity of side quests grossly makes up for the story’s brevity, however. In fact, I’d say that less than one quarter of the strategy guide is the main walkthrough. The side questing takes up at least one full quarter of the book. Most of the side quests are collectibles, whether it’s an actual collectible (Ben Franklin’s Almanac pages) or a collectible quest (Frontiersman Challenges). As a result, the side questing section is practically filled with maps marking locations for every possible extra quest Connor can complete while in an area.
The large maps with actual collectible markers include screenshots of where the wayward collectible is hiding. For all of the missions, such as the Liberation missions and Naval missions, each set is treated similarly to the main walkthrough. Each mission has its set of screenshots with marked pathways and strategies for completion. It even includes tips for where Connor should be equipment-wise and story-wise for easier navigation and higher success rate.
What really makes the Assassin’s Creed III strategy guide shine are the Reference & Analysis and the Extras sections, of which the AC guides in general have been stellar. The Reference & Analysis section contains detailed appendices (and an index!) of everything you can think of to find, collect, kill, etc. in the game, which is a must for those who want to skin every animal and earn every Achievement/Trophy. The strategy guide even includes tips for how to earn every Achievement/Trophy instead of simply listing them, which earns double brownie points.
The Extras section includes a detailed analysis of the story, speculation of what happened and what is to come from Piggyback, and a detailed comparison of history vs. game story. I love this last part the most, as I love breaking down fact from fiction in historical movies as it is.
The world of Assassin’s Creed III is massive, to say the least, and I can’t imagine tackling something this big without some guidance. As someone who gets easily overwhelmed with large worlds (hence why I have yet to really play Skyrim), the Assassin’s Creed III strategy guide was the perfect compass and anchor for me. Not to mention, it also kept me sane during the buggy gameplay I encountered. If you absolutely, positively want to do everything AC3 has to offer, the Assassin’s Creed III strategy guide is the best friend you’re going to have.