Is Arno Dorian the charismatic Only Sane Man calling for peace, or a self-pitying, whining Butt-Monkey who never owns up to his irresponsibility? Despite being a young novice for only two years, he independently conducts major missions without direct orders from the Assassin Council and moreover fails to achieve the one major objective they give him, recover compromising documents concerning their Mentor and later complains about his, rather justified, expulsion, which he uses as an excuse to be an alcoholic and general miscreant in Versailles. The fact that he ends up becoming an Unwitting Pawn to Napoleon, who unbeknownst to him, stole an Apple under his nose, further underlines the consequences of his ignorance.
Likewise many feel that Arno calling for peace and preaching against Pierre Bellec and Germain for believing that they can change the world by killing people is hypocritical, since that is what all Assassins believe and have practised before him. Though, to be fair, Assassins are very specifically targeted killers. The Assassins are an organization which does not kill the innocent and by violating this part of the creed, the Assassins have lost their way. The Templars, of course, have never had that view.
Pierre Bellec sees himself as a Rebellious Rebel anti-hero who is taking a pro-active stance opposing the Not-So-Omniscient Council of Bickering that is the French Assassins. Arno and Elise see him as a fanatic who justifies his betrayal of his mentor. Fans however see him as a Tragic Hero whose frustration was genuine and however wrong his actions are, the fact that he was at least willing to take a stand and get his hands dirty gives him Villainous Valor as compared to the thoroughly ineffectual Arno. Further adding to this is the fact that he was a friend of Charles Dorian and he truly loved Arno as a Replacement Goldfish and believed he was being a father figure to him. As Shaun states in the database, later generations of Assassin historians also feel the same way, to the point where stating you felt he was either wrong or right to do what he did will almost always get Assassins to fight each other.
Angst? What Angst?: Arno does not care his father was murdered by the Templars. When he finds out his father was an Assassin and his stepfather was a Templar it doesn't set off any thoughts of revenge, or even any questions about why his father was murdered.
Anti-Climax Boss: Yet another staple for the Series, with Francois-Thomas Germain. For all his skill with the Sword of Eden he acquired, he is easily taken out with three Air Assassinations. The final boss fight is less a battle and more a practice in stealth and maneuvering.
After Unity's disastrous launch, Ubisoft have made the Dead Kings expansion free for all players, and people who had previously purchased the now-defunct Season Pass, will get a new Ubisoft game for free.
Players responded negatively to the use of Initiates and a tie-in app to unlock certain chests. Later patches removed those requirements, allowing any player to access them.
This game is either a worthy addition to the series or the worst game in the series for its various bugs, disrespectful handling of the source material, and cliche ending.
Elise's death is either a realistic fitting end to her character and within precedence to other video games, or an overdone cliche and trend that has repeated time and time again in Ubisoft games. Especially in the same year that saw widespread criticism of the overused Stuffed in the Fridge trope in action videogames.
The new combat system. Some prefer the more fluid kill streak system that has been a staple of the series since Brotherhood while others like that the combat is more challenging and focuses more on positioning.
The game's handling of history is either a strong message against revolutionary extremism or extreme falsification of events, with certain historical figures like Robespierre especially, being for some far beyond Historical Villain Upgrade and close to Malicious Slander. This eventually became so important that Jean-Luc Mélenchon, the leader of the Front de Gauche (French far left-wing party) declared that he was disgusted by what he called "propaganda". He said the portrayal of Robespierre was one of a beast, and the revolutionaries are all seen as dangerous madmen.
Contested Sequel: Opinions over this game are divided. While some fans claim that this is the best entry since Assassin's Creed II, others think this entry reeks of Sequelitis due to the plethora of bugs, anti-revolutionary message, mixed views on Arno, and the cliche ending. The fact that this game followed the highly praised Black Flag, and accompanied by the surprisingly good Rogue, did not help matters one bit.
Axe-Man from the E3 trailer stole the hearts of most of the fanbase, as of the four Assassins, he had a significant lead on the other three Assassins in fan art for a significant chunk of time.
Napoleon won fans for his badass cynical wit, as well as being seen as the Only Sane Man between a corrupt aristocracy and bloodthirsty zealots. Many fans couldn't wait to start Rooting for the Empire.
Elise for being a interesting character along with her interactions and dynamics with Arno. Many were not pleased that you can't play as her and that she dies in the final mission, with many preferring her to either have still died, but at Arno's hands or actually live on, become Templar Grandmaster and/or live Happily Ever After with Arno instead (or kill him). Her last two letters hurt things further.
Pierre Bellec is often seen as the kind of Assassin who should be the hero for a game set in the French Revolution, in that he makes ambiguous choices out of enthusiasm and desperation and is a kind of Rebellious Rebel anti-hero that better fits the landscape of the Revolution than the more Knight In Shining Armour type Arno. This is also shared by critics who note that Bellec's boss fight serving as the half-way climax made the rest of the game feel empty since he had the most compelling characterization of the supporting cast and villains, and they felt that either Bellec should have been the Player Character or the actual Big Bad.
Theroigne de Mericourt in the Brotherhood and Side Missions has won fans for being more of an Assassin than the actual Assassins, for actually caring and doing something for the people and cottoning on to the Templar shenanigans without fancy powers. The fact that she is a Historical-Domain Character lends her more credit.
Good Bad Bugs: The infamous slew of graphical glitches is extremely hilarious for those who don't consider them to be pure Nightmare Fuel. One example is one where NPCs gatecrash into cutscenes and trash talk in French, the conversations between Arno and Napoleon. These people feel that Ubisoft should Throw It In!.
Harsher in Hindsight: If you play Unity first, you can see that one of the optional outfits you can put Arno in is that of Shay's Templar greatcoat from the latter part of Rogue. It's not until you finish Rogue that you realize that you can have Arno wear the coat of the guy who murdered his father.
The reason why it and Liberation don't have French as their spoken languages even though more of them contain various languages? Word of God wrote in a tweet that was later deleted that they believed that foreign audiences wouldn't understand the different French dialects and what class they were for. In other words they believed foreign audiences to be too stupid to understand them. Way to insult your fans, Ubisoft.
Interface Screw: Sometimes the UI overlaps itself, especially apparent during the murder mysteries whenever the description of a clue is blocked by the notification that a new clue has been discovered.
Internet Backdraft: After E3 2014 the Internet went up in arms about how the four-player co-op only let players use the same character, rather than a more diverse roster (specifically, a female player model). Ubisoft's original excuse, that it would have bloated the budget to unfeasible levels, didn't hold any traction with the fanbase, and became a source of Snark Bait in the development blogs of much smaller, less well-funded games. When light was shed on the actual reason for the lack of female player modelsnote the player characters are literal Palette Swap clones of Arno, as opposed to Arno's fellow assassins it was far too late to help Ubisoft's reputation.
The criticism of Arno is that his character model looks and acts like a Suspiciously Similar Substitute of Ezio, even appearing initially in the white-shirt/black-vest combo that Ezio sported in AC-II. Many fans feel that he doesn't stand out as particularly original in personality and motivation, with even critics of Connor admitting We Want Our Jerk Back in that, the previously most-divisive character in the Franchise, at least had a unique personality. The fact that Arno is essentially a Satellite Character to Elise's tale of revenge and that, unlike his predecessors, hasn't Been There, Shaped History also makes viewers feel frustrated.
Speaking of Elise, the reaction towards her death has been this, with players feeling Ubisoft has killed off too many supporting characters in the Assassins Creed Universe in this manner.
Francoise Germaine successfully orchestrated a coup within the Templar Order to become Grandmaster himself, and then manipulated Arno to get rid of his remaining enemies whilst playing every faction of the French Revolution against each other to make the entire nation tear itself apart so that he could sweep in and take control in one way or another, all while still managing to stay one step ahead of the Assassins and rival Templars.
Also Napoleon Bonaparte since he hoodwinks an Apple of Eden under the very nose of a trained Assassin, and the latter doesn't even have the faintest idea (though admittedly he wouldn't have any idea what it was, not having encountered a Piece of Eden before).
"Women are too hard to animate" became a trending topic on Twitter after the controversy of female characters started up. Even moreso after the revelation that the team spent 5000 hours recreating Notre Dame.
Bellec's insult/nickname of "Pisspot" to Arno. While one can buy the British accents to an extent, this line continuously takes the player out of the experience. The fact that he nearly exclusively calls Arno and his father Charles that does not help.
The accents as a whole strike people as really out of place. Conan O'Brien on Clueless Gamer was especially mocking:
Conan: I live in France, but I 'ave a British accent
If you switch the language to French with English subtitles, it feels much more fitting, but this can sometimes result in all other audio stopping when a character is talking in a cutscene, ending up in revolutionary figures addressing completely silent crowds of hundreds.
Narm Charm: There's just something so ridiculous and goofy yet awesome about seeing an entire army of Assassins running around Paris in broad daylight during one of Unity's multiplayer trailers.
The "women are too hard to animate" gaffe still haunts internet forums months after Unity's release. The way the game handled its Ensemble Darkhorse Elise and other NPCs was Ubisoft Not Helping Your Case.
Never Trust a Trailer: After the initial trailer was released, many fans were excited at the possibility of playing or at least closely interacting with three other assassins, who appeared to either be friends or at least mission companions with protagonist Arno. But then it was revealed that all of these player characters are literal Palette Swap clones of Arno, as opposed to Arno's fellow assassins, and are a function of the Co-Op Multiplayer. Many fans were disappointed and felt that a new and intriguing storylineof characters had been wasted for Ubisoft's regular fare.
King Philip le Bel in the Prologue of Unity doesn't have a line of dialogue, but his model animations, his cold Gray Eyes, and the fact that he's responsible for the Templars most brutal and public loss leaves a memorable impression. Likewise, Jacques de Molay in the same prologue was seen by many as a far more impressive and interesting villain than the Revolutionary Templars of the game.
Thomas-Alexandre Dumas has a cameo in the Montage that opens the Brotherhood mission of "The Tournament" and briefly appears as a model in the mission. The montage and the voiceover ("Dumas was hardcore") make him out to be a bigger-than-life character out of his son's books that one regrets the sidelining of such a historical figure.
Despite being a critical part (and allegedly one of the major causes) of the French Revolution, Queen Marie Antoinette appears in one 5 second cutscene in "The Women's March" co-op mission asking for more cake, though weirdly she still gets an ingame model and a database entry.
Eagle Vision allowing for "visions" and "flashes-before-my-eyes" has been hinted and suggested before. Namely in Assassin's Creed III where the side-mission "The Mad Doctor's Castle" had Connor exploring a mansion and following up clues, each of which provided him a glimpse of a cutscene of something which happened. The same technique showed up in the Tyranny of King Washington DLC for the flashbacks in Part II showing Samuel Adams' death.
Likewise, the game's side-missions of Paris Side Stories which revolve on folk myths and other legends turning out to be Mun Danger or a myth, as well as the Murder Mysteries are retoolings of the Frontiersman Legends in Assassin's Creed III, which also had detective-like quests and moments.
Unity was credited by many for its more stealthy-missions. However, much of its features was introduced in Assassin's Creed IV: Black Flag. Namely the patrol pattern of guards and the sniper-on-height archetype which Black Flag had on many of its plantation missions, alongside the large Alarm bell that once rung brought in reinforcements, as well as the X-Ray Eagle Vision that allowed players to see through walls.
This is not the first time that Templars have roused the common folk into a rebellion which the Assassins then tried to curtail. One of the Assassin Recruit missions in Brotherhood featured this during the reign of King Henry VIII of England. Its text is as follows "while we have no interest in protecting Henry from his people, we cannot allow the Templars to lead the rebellion".
Play the Game, Skip the Story: The general critical consensus is that Paris is one of the greatest, if not the greatest, maps of the series in terms of Scenery Porn and free-running, but the story is among the weakest yet. Likewise there's also much praise for the Assassination missions going back to the open-style of Assassin's Creed but they also state that the targets are largely unmemorable and the villains aren't entertaining or complex.
Much like the maligned port for Watch_Dogs, the PC port of Unity is also horribly optimized. The port has ludicrously high system requirements that are hardly justified by its glitchy lighting, frequent crashing, poor texture qualities and busted AI. Here is Totalbiscuit's report on the PC port.
The fact that the Assassins are on the side of the aristocratic elite decrying mob rule, covering up corruption of their leaders letting Napoleon steal an Apple under their noses as well as the game's narrative bias to place all the violence on a single faction and a bad apple, makes the Templar's radical approach all the more sympathetic, since they are playing an active role in history.
Many fans were rooting for Pierre Bellec since he's the Rebellious Rebel and angst-ridden Byronic Hero who represented what fans expected from an Assassin's Creed game in the Revolutionary setting. Many cite his Motive Rant as being far more logical and coherent than Arno's defenses and replies.
The Scrappy: Deacon/Shaun Hastings, who returns to write the Database entries. While Shaun's snark in the database made him an Ensemble Darkhorse during the Desmond games, in Unity, he doesn't shut up. Shaun usually kept to one or two quips in the Database entries, but here, he commonly drops upwards of half a dozen per page. Likewise, the earlier database entries were funny and informative, here it's full of unfunny quips and filled with blatant disregard for facts.
Putting Eagle Vision on a timer and adding a cool down.
The practically forced down your throat companion apps in the form of an iOS App and Assassin's Creed Initiates, which you need to unlock certain chests, hasn't gone down well. Thankfully, later patches removed these requirements.
The outfits- more specifically, the full costumes you get for completing objectives in game. The Thomas de Carnellion outfit is the worst example, as it's the token "Complete the puzzles to get the special outfit" reward. The problem is, because it's a purely visual design, there's no gameplay benefits for doing the riddles (which many players see as That One Sidequest), making going for the outfit entirely pointless.
The amount of missions that have performing cover kills as one of the optional challenges. It's bad enough that the cover system itself is very wonky, but whistling, the easiest way of drawing a guard to you, has been removed, and the closest thing it has to a replacement, the Cherry Bombs, don't always work.
Combat is at its most limited, with no melee or hidden blade attacks, one gun unless you opt for carrying a musket over a sword and a single heavy/light weapon with said single pistol. With the previous Assassins, the combat was at least diverse, but in Unity, the player feels more constrained than anything else.
Assassinations now must be performed with the hidden blade. Targets can have their health drained from sword fights, gunshots, and whatnot, but will simply writhe on the ground with the game saying that the targets are merely incapacitated and that the player has to deal the final blow. This can get frustrating for those who favor a more direct approach and still have to deal with a large swarm of mooks.
They Changed It, Now It Sucks!: The removal of memory corridors when you assassinate a target, and replaced with the ability to see into the memories of Arno's targets, did not suit well with the fanbase. With the exception of Bellec, le Peletier and Germain, Arno does not interact with his targets nor do they have their final words. The previous memory corridors go to many lengths to show the targets' motivations and personality, which humanises them and adds moral ambiguity of the killing of targets, something that is rubbed on to the previous protagonists. Unity consequently treats the targets as one-dimensional villains, and hinders Arno's character development. The most egregious example was with le Peletier, who could explain his motivations on why he would side with the Templars which would be seen as understandable, but it could only happen with you assassinate him in a specific way, which you could void entirely. Even if you did, Arno does not even say a single world as he strikes him down. This makes Arno seem more unsympathetic due to how he dehumanises his targets as people he could get information from, whereas the previous protagonists would show some sympathy for some of their targets.
Connor fans wish that the game was about him helping the French Revolution, or that he was one of the Assassins in the co-op missions. What makes it worse in their eyes is that 3 teased this very idea, with La Fayette telling Connor that he wished to show him Paris, and Juno telling him he was still important. Ubisoft's often dismissive comments about the star of their best-selling game don't help.
The revelation of Robespierre as a Templar has gotten some of this, particularly to those who are aware of said individual's Hidden Depths and would prefer a more ambiguousview of the Assassins vs. Templar conflict. There's also the fact that very few of the more colourful French Revolutionary-Era figures are included; many were hoping for the likes of Marat, Desmoullins, Corday, or Saint-Just to have major roles.
Some people felt that Elise shouldn't have died but should have become Grand Master instead, claiming the ending was cliche and predictable.
As mentioned above, the fact that, despite the reveal trailer and a great number of arts representing three other Assassins alongside Arno, they ended up just being Palette Swap.
The idea of a Templar-Assassin unity that was promised in the promotion gets shelved since it's entirely confined to a romance between Arno and Elise. With the exception of Bellec and the indecisiveness of the Assassin Council, the game is still Assassin Arno and Templar Elise versus even worse Templars, and there's no real attempt at unity.
The game's generally more distant relationship to the history it portrays has gotten this too; considering the earth-shaking ramifications of the French Revolution (seriously, a respected superpower being turned topsy-turvy and dragging the rest of the world into the Age of Revolution might qualify as a major set-piece) and the chaotic and colorful nature of the entire event, there's surprisingly little focus on it. The bulk of the game's plots and characters are original, and emphasis is placed on the "secret conspiracy" stereotypes. Some feel this was a massive waste of potential. One article stated that it was unrealistic for Arno to be so detached from the Revolution and concentrate solely on his personal story:
"A Parisian not feeling or thinking anything about the Revolution in 1791 would be like a New Yorker not having a reaction after the 9/11 attacks."
Many fans felt that the Time Anomalies while impressive should have been a full game or at least have story content rather than small scenic tours into new eras. This sentiment became even more strong when writer Jeffrey Yohalem revealed that the original concept for Unity was a game in Paris in multiple eras a la The Red Violin and they only settled on the French Revolution setting when they felt that the original idea was too complex to achieve in a limited time frame.
Unfortunate Implications: Robert Rath writing for The Escapist criticized the depiction of famous revolutionary women in the game, noting that despite the negative publicity Ubisoft are Not Helping Your Case. He points out how one major woman historical figure like Charlotte Corday is portrayed like a crazy stalker (rather than Well-Intentioned Extremist) as well as being treated in a throwaway half-baked side mission when she is one of the most legendary true-life assassins in history. Olympe de Gouges, a highly respected feminist author (regularly considered for placement in France's Pantheon building) does not get a database entry and appears as a collectible severed head for Madame Tussaud's collection which Arno has to rescue since it's a fetish object from a nutty soldier, noting how literally she's made into a sexual object.
What Do You Mean, It's Not Political?: It is really, really, hard for a game about the French Revolution to escape this. Especially for a Franchise that has formerly prized itself for historical research and an even handed look at the American Revolution.
The reaction and charges of "propaganda" and the great number of errors in representation has brought a great deal of criticism as well. Jean-Clement Martin, the historian who has served as a consultant for the game, and a respected member of the Society of Robespierre Studies, while noting that the script had a "royalist" bias feels that the game should be enjoyed as "fantasy" and perhaps if it stokes interest, it could lead players to read history books.
The author/historian David Andress who wrote "The Terror" also discussed the historical depiction and he noted that the game was largely counter-revolutionary. More generally, while admiring the largely accurate (if streamlined) reproduction of Paris, he dismisses its portrayal as largely cliche and noted that the Templar Conspiracy Theory instigating the Revolution was a famous right-wing myth that refuses to give credit to the popular movement and pay real attention to its Gray and Grey Morality.