God Help Me, I Love Assassin’s Creed III’s Lockpicking Minigame

God Help Me, I Love Assassin’s Creed III’s Lockpicking Minigame

I’ve picked so many locks in so many video games. In sewers beneath medieval castles, in cyberpunk prisons, in futuristic alleyways and warehouses, in banks and embassies and spaceships. I’ve seen so many video game lockpicking minigames I could spit.


I’ve balanced tumblers and teased open locks.


I’ve broken thousands of precious lockpicks, which are often difficult to replace.


I thought I’d seen every kind of lock the virtual world could throw at me. And so when I fired up Assassin’s Creed III and quickly found myself faced with yet another type of lockpicking minigame, I immediately blanched. Really? Yet another video game developer wants to take a shot at this?

And yet… I’ve found that I love picking locks in Assassin’s Creed III. Connor isn’t the most sophisticated lockpicker around, but that’s actually what makes it great. Check it out:

That’s me picking a lock in New York. (And of course, note the bizarre, looping audio in the background). Picking locks in ACIII works in three stages. First you turn your left thumbstick to find the tension angle until it clicks, then you twist the right thumbstick until the raking angle clicks. Crucially, you have to hold the left thumbstick in place while you turn the right one.

It takes me a little while to pick this one — some of the chests take a long time. That’s actually also an important part of why it’s fun. You have to hold your thumbs in weird positions while feeling out the angles of the lock.

Now here’s the most important part, the coup de grace: Once you’ve got your tension and raking angles in place, you hold both thumbsticks steady and jam the right trigger until Connor breaks the lock. It’s awesome.

I never knew how physically satisfying lockpicking could feel on a video game controller, but I love this. Compared to the average finicky lockpicking game, where you usually have to feather the thumbstick carefully and, say, press the A button at the exact right moment, Assassin’s Creed III‘s lockpicking is a terrific amalgamation of careful dexterity and brute force.

All this time, I guess I just wanted to have the opportunity to obliterate every video game lock I come across. Who knew?


  • I hated it. Just throwing it out there. I don’t know why, it just felt awful.

    That coupled with the fact that the animation NEVER matched up, despite me unlocking every single chest. My picking tools ALWAYS sat well above the keyhole. Really off putting.

    • I totally agree.
      What the hell is the author thinking!?
      AC3 is possibly the Worst lock picking mini game I have ever seen in a current gen machine!
      The developers might have spent hours finding out exactly what old timey locks were like and how to pick them; but nobody would care, because their stupid picking is just retarded.
      And even with their day one patch; the damn chests flash and glow when you pick at them.
      Connor has no class, he just sticks his thing in there and breaks it.
      This is a step backwards for everyone.
      Which could very well explain the whole game.

    • And the pc control was aweful… Sounds like console gamers had the advantage of using both thumbsticks. On pc it’s on the mouse, so you have to be careful not to dislodge the first tool when working with the second.

      There was also no distinguishable feedback, aside from the the notification when you actually had things in the right position.

      Fallout 3/Skyrim lockpicking FTW.

  • I also play the PC version and I can’t stand the lockpicking; I would say that it is the most annoying lockpicking mechanism that I have seen in a game…

  • Using a tension wrench and a rake pick to open a lever lock? Completely and utterly wrong. Oblivion was actually the closest to how it actually works. Black Ops 2 pick gun was super accurate but it wasn’t a mini game.

    AC3 is just a lesson in breaking your tools and rendering the lock forever closed.

  • Are you serious?! This looks abysmal, boring and so much time consuming! Hated it! I think I will always just love Oblivion’s one.

  • I like skyrims. I have found these ones really glitchy and sometimes extremely easy and sometimes infuriatingly difficult that it feels broken

  • I want a ban on lock picking minigames next gen… the same with ‘hacking’, and any kind of pipe routing.

  • I much prefer Bethesda’s lock picking systems in fallout 3 and new vegas and across the eldar scrolls

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