Similar to the last game we looked at, Lords of the Fallen, Assassin's Creed: Unity has had a bit of a rocky start with bugs and other issues needing to be ironed out. It also happens to be a very demanding game to run – at maximum quality, it will basically chew up any GPU you throw at it and spit out crispy bits of silicon. And it's not just GPUs that get eaten, as CPU power can have a substantial impact as well. Finally, and this is not necessarily correlated with the other items in this list, Assassin's Creed: Unity (ACU) is an NVIDIA "The Way It's Meant To Be Played" title, and it's also one of the notable games for NVIDIA's GameWorks toolset – ACU includes support for HBAO+, TXAA, PCSS, Tessellation (coming in a future patch), and now MFAA (which we looked at yesterday).

There's an interesting corollary to the above items that's worth getting out of the way: reviews of Assassin's Creed: Unity have so far been rather lackluster, with an overall average Metacritic score currently sitting at 70%. That's not particularly good for a series that has otherwise had good reviews – e.g. the last game, Black Flag, has an average score of 84%. Perhaps more telling is that the current average user review at Metacritic is an abysmal 2.1. Looking at the comments and reviews makes it abundantly clear that ACU tends to run like a slug on a lot of systems.

I think part of the problem is the mistaken idea that many gamers have that they should be able to max out most settings on games. Assassin's Creed has never been a particularly light series in terms of requirements, though at lower detail settings it was usually playable on a wide selection of hardware. With ACU, the requirements have basically shot up, especially for higher quality settings; at the same time, the rendering quality even at Low is still quite good, and Medium is enough that most users should be content with the way it looks. But if you want to run at High, Very High, or Ultra quality, you'd better be packing some serious GPU heat. The other part of the problem is that the game was likely pushed out the door for the Christmas shopping season before it was fully baked, but that happens every year it seems.

There's another element to the Assassin's Creed: Unity launch worth pointing out; this is a multi-platform release, coming out simultaneously on PC, PS4, and Xbox One. By dropping support for the PS3 and Xbox 360, Ubisoft has opened the doors to much higher quality settings, but the requirements may also be too high for a lot of PCs. With the new generation of consoles now sporting 8GB RAM, we've seen a large jump in resource requirements for textures in particular. I mentioned in the Lords of the Fallen article that GPUs with less than 4GB VRAM may need to opt for lower quality settings; with ACU (at least in the current state of patch 1.2), you can drop the "may" from that statement and just go in knowing full well that GPUs with 2GB RAM are going to struggle at times.

Test System and Benchmarks


View All Comments

  • WithoutWeakness - Thursday, November 20, 2014 - link

    I spent a good 10 seconds admiring the detail they put into every strand of hair on the girl in the first pic before I realized the poor fellow on the right didn't have a face. Reply
  • kron123456789 - Thursday, November 20, 2014 - link

    Here's another screenshot with maxed out Ultra graphics))
  • JarredWalton - Thursday, November 20, 2014 - link

    And as I specifically mentioned in the text: the missing faces/textures was apparently patched on Day 0; I personally never saw the problem. I wonder if all the hubbub over the faceless people might have something to do with a bad crack -- wouldn't that be fun? Anyway, it's 2014 and the game uses UPlay so unless I'm missing something, you have to be connected to the Internet to play and the only people not updating with the patch... well, you fill in the blank. Reply
  • chizow - Thursday, November 20, 2014 - link

    Yeah probably, Pirates get half a game and wonder why its broken. Would've been funny if Ubi tweeted something like:

    "Hey PC players, those of you who are getting scenes from Dark Man pirated the game!" like they did with FC4 POV setting.
  • r3loaded - Thursday, November 20, 2014 - link

    I'm seeing these benchmark results and all I'm thinking of is "shitty optimization". Reply
  • MooseMuffin - Thursday, November 20, 2014 - link

    Yup. Poor performance on PC is a good indicator of a rushed PC port, but poor performance on consoles (also true for this game) sounds like the whole project was a mess. Those are fixed hardware configurations that they've known about for a long time. Reply
  • agent_x007 - Thursday, November 20, 2014 - link

    When MSAA/TXAA/MFAA (the latter two are based on former) is dropped -
    U R good to go on, for example, Ultra settings with 3GB VRAM card up to 1920:1200 (with FXAA).
    In this settings I get around 50FPS on GTX 780 Ti OC, here's my video :
    But this game sure can kill any card out there.
  • kron123456789 - Thursday, November 20, 2014 - link

    This game can kill not only any card, but your mind as well with bugs like this
  • Lucian2244 - Thursday, November 20, 2014 - link

    That bug was fixed in day one patch and it was only on a few specific GPUs. I know the hate towards Ubi is great but get your facts right. Reply
  • dirtyferret - Thursday, November 20, 2014 - link

    I love idiots who think any game under 60FPS is not playable. I imagine they have Fraps running in the corner of their screen and have a total hissy fit if any game dares to dip below 60FPS on their ego trip of a PC. I know Nvidia/AMD stock holders love them dearly. Reply

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