Assassin’s Creed Nexus VR review – historical reality

Assassin’s Creed Nexus VR review – historical reality

Assassin’s Creed Nexus VR review – historical reality

Assassin’s Creed Nexus VR screenshot
Assassin’s Creed Nexus VR – Ezio is back and this time in VR (Picture: Ubisoft)

Ubisoft’s new Meta Quest game features a VR tour of multiple Assassin’s Creedworlds, with the return of Ezio, Kassandra, and more.

The essence of the Assassin’s Creed franchise is that you play a character who lives in the modern era but can briefly (or not so briefly) inhabit the memories of long dead ancestors. They do that using the Animus, a digital dentist’s chair that makes them feel as though they’re participating in events from hundreds of years ago. It’s a set-up that lends itself almost perfectly to VR, a medium that does its best to transport you into another life, giving you the impression of actually being somewhere else rather than just watching it on a screen.


In that context Assassin’s Creed Nexus VR seems an inevitable progression for the series, giving you the opportunity to step into your own personal recreation of an Animus. While the present day scenes are traditionally an unwanted distraction, this outing uses them to more interesting effect, framing a story in which you play double agent by appearing to work for the Templars’ cover organisation Abstergo Industries, while actually doing favours for the Assassins.

Initiating your journey back in time involves a mixed reality mini-game, in which you pluck a cube from the air and insert it into the right space in front of you, before activating it by solving a 3D puzzle. These interactions are superimposed onto the room you’re in, and each element looks so sharp and perfectly drawn against the real world backdrop that you can’t help shake the sense of being Tom Cruise in Minority Report. It makes you feel cool in a way that would be impossible to recreate on a flat screen.

It’s also a demonstration of the strengths of Meta Quest 3, which is keen to push its vision of mixed, as opposed to just virtual, reality. When you arrive in the past things go back to more conventional VR, which is where the conveniently wireless but slightly under-powered headset shows some of its weaknesses, namely in occasionally erratic hand-tracking and relatively low resolution visuals.

Not that you’ll notice any of that to start with, because the game begins by putting you in the soft soled shoes of everyone’s favourite lethally armed Renaissance man, Ezio Auditore da Firenze. He was the star of a number of Assassin’s Creed games, peaking with Brotherhood, which many still regard as the series’ high point. In Nexus VR you begin in Venice, before moving on to his home town of Monteriggioni in the Tuscan countryside.


Teaching you the basics of parkour, you discover that the majority of it is as straightforward as holding down the ‘A’ button and pressing forward on the joystick. Even with all comfort settings turned off, it’s miraculously free of motion sickness, even if that comes at the cost of a slightly sedate pace, including everything from jumping to swan dives into conveniently positioned haystacks.

Other climbing actions, like using ladders, leaping up to higher handholds, and swinging from horizontal bars gets quite physical and players used to sitting down to play VR will find some of these processes tricky to pull off consistently. We eventually gave up on our preference for slumping on the sofa, in favour of playing standing up, which makes getting off the top of ladders and dodging out of the way of tougher enemies’ unblockable attacks a lot easier.

There is a residual clunkiness though, which is particularly evident in combat. Guards and henchmen attack as though mired in treacle, theatrically winding up each strike before lunging at you in what looks only just short of slow motion. You then defend with your sword by blocking horizontally or vertically, depending on the direction of the incoming strike, which you can also parry by hitting their weapon at just the right moment.

Assassin’s Creed Nexus VR screenshot
Assassin’s Creed Nexus VR – the mixed reality elements work very well (Picture: Ubisoft)

Do that successfully and you stun them, giving you a few moments to unleash a good thwacking with your blade, before they come to their senses and attack again. You’ve also got a guard-breaking combat dash with a brief cooldown, but battles against alerted guards are easily the least interesting or immersive parts of the game.

Far better are the times when you’re sneaking about using your hidden blade, bow, and throwing knives to take out bad guys, or bouncing about the roofs of ancient Athens as Kassandra, or British-ruled Boston as Connor. That’s because despite taking well under 20 hours to complete – a blink of an eye compared with most entries in the franchise – Nexus VR plays like an Assassin’s Creed greatest hits album, taking in everyone’s favourite people and places.

As usual, it’s got quite the eye for historical detail, which you can view by finding and grabbing glowing Animus constructs hidden around its levels. There’s a range of different constructs to collect, supplying a small extra incentive to work your way around every part of its neatly designed and surprisingly extensive cities. When you’re exploring, the motion provides a perfect distraction from the somewhat low-poly models and basic textures, or the blurry faces of other characters.

It’s great to get a bit more time with Ezio, and while the game’s slightly clumsy combat remains uninspiring throughout, the feeling of parkouring around familiar ancient scenery and, even better, solving its brief but fabulously convincing mixed reality puzzles is a cracking use of the Meta Quest 3. It’s also near-perfectly aligned with a franchise that’s about seeing life through the eyes of long dead hitmen and women.

Assassin’s Creed Nexus VR review summary

In Short: Essentially Assassin’s Creed’s greatest hits, you inhabit the worlds of Ezio, Kassandra and Connor in VR, experiencing their historical sites and clunky real time combat in true first person.

Pros: The parkour feels great, with no sense of motion sickness. Sneaking around, taking down guards is even more compelling in VR and it’s nice just looking around its immersive recreations of ancient cities.

Cons: Combat is slow and unwieldy. Textures and faces look low-res when you’re standing still and some actions are tricky to pull off, especially if you play sitting down.

Score: 7/10

Formats: Meta Quest 3 (reviewed), Meta Quest Pro, and Meta Quest 2
Price: £34.99
Publisher: Ubisoft
Developer: Red Storm Entertainment
Release Date: 16th November 2023
Age Rating: 18


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