When it was announced late last month for iOS and Android, Assassin's Creed: Rebellion looked a bit like Ubisoft's answer to Fallout Shelter. It's actually a clever take on turn-based squad strategy, as well as one of the best mobile AC games yet.
The base threw me when I first saw the trailer for Assassin's Creed: Rebellion, now being tested on Filipino iTunes. One can't be blamed for looking at something like this...
... and coming to the conclusion that this game is something like Bethesda's base-building Fallout spin-off. It even shares the same developer, Canada's Behaviour Interactive. But where Fallout Shelter's action mostly takes place within the confines of a multi-roomed Vault, Assassin's Creed: Rebellion's base is more akin to an X-Com headquarters.
There are rooms for crafting armour and weapons, rooms for training assassin characters of all stripes, rooms for gathering intel and rooms for gathering coin. All of these rooms support the main focus of the game, which is assembling the cutest little band of assassins ever and taking them on a series of turn-based tests of their killing, free-running, stealth and trap-disarming prowess.
Missions are set up as a series of rooms, just like the headquarters. Each room contains obstacles to overcome — enemies to kill, walls to climb, chests to unlock. It's up to the player to decide which member of their three-character squad tackles each room, with obstacles and the means to overcome them shifting based on which character is selected.
For example, in the screenshot below I have Luis selected. He's less about vaulting and killing and more about sneaking and disarming traps. His chances of reaching the upper ledges in the top room are pretty low. He'd have a much better time going to the right room, disarming the trap there and then hiding while the room's guard walks by.
If I select Aguilar, the prompts and percentages change. Climbing ledges is easy, and once he's up there he's got a pretty good chance of assassinating the soldier there in a single shot. Should he go to the room on the right, the trap will likely be triggered, and he'll be forced to tackle the room guard on his own.
Tariq, the third character in my squad here, is an enforcer class character. He's all about head-on combat. He can't jump worth a damn, but his powerful sword makes him a good choice when battle can't be avoided.
There are story missions, which progress the game's loose narrative (something about forming a Brotherhood and taking on a powerful foe). Loot missions grant materials for crafting new weapons, armour and rooms in the player stronghold. Standard missions reward items to help level up characters, and legacy missions grant shards, which must be gathered to unlock more powerful allies.
The assassins are adorable. Have we covered that? They also come with different specialities and statistics. There's a gacha-style collectible element to the free-to-play game, but so far I've been fine with the squad I've been given.
Beatriz is a total badass.
What a pleasant surprise Assassin's Creed: Rebellion is. I wasn't expecting much based on the first look and development studio Behaviour Interactive's mobile pedigree (they made Fallout Shelter, but they also made the Pacific Rim mobile tie-in, among other licensed things), but this is really good. Its North American release can't come soon enough.
Now I hide!