A list of handy tips to help players navigate the awesome (but often confusing) mechanics & world of the first Assassin’s Creed game.
I play on PC using an Xbox controller, so I reference keybinds using that control scheme. The tips will apply exactly the same to players using a PS4 controller or keyboard & mouse; just be sure to look up the equivalent keybinds first.
- When the witness indicator is red, it is difficult to tell what exactly will trigger enemies to attack you. Your best bet is either to keep your distance from enemies, or use your blend ability. The blend ability works best, but it slows your movement speed down to a crawl, so in my experience it is better to simply give enemies a wide berth or, in the case of enemies that have a particular death wish (archer towers, I’m looking at you) enter combat and cleanse the local population of its nosiest morons.
- When you see guards standing together seemingly blocking a doorway or city gate, these are guard posts. The guards will shove Altaïr away if he attempts to enter, and repeated attempts will turn them hostile. You can either slaughter the guards and cross anyway, or use a nearby group of scholars to pass through unseen.
- If you need to cross a checkpoint but you cannot find a group of scholars, look for a nearby citizen in distress. Completing these ‘save citizen’ objectives will result in a group of scholars or vigilantes being spawned nearby, after a short dialogue about the citizen telling their son/father/brothers/dog about your aid.
- It is worth saving all citizens in an area. As well as contributing to full sync completion, the vigilantes and scholars they spawn are also hugely useful. Vigilantes will tackle and hold soldiers in place allowing you to either kill them easier or get away cleaner, and importantly will also do so to assassination targets. If you have a particularly troublesome target who flees from you, vigilantes will fix them in place allowing you to catch up and bring them to swift and bloody justice.
- Your horse should follow you, and does to a degree. Sod’s law says, however, that when you need it the most it will have conveniently disappeared. Horses are scattered around everywhere in the Kingdom, and if you sprint for a few minutes in pretty much any direction you will come across a fresh mount sooner or later.
- When you enter cities, you leave your horse behind, and in most cases it will not be waiting for you when you eventually leave. In this case, don’t panic, simply sprint to the area exit and pick up a new mount from the Kingdom.
- Water will kill you instantly. Don’t ask me why. I have no idea how Altaïr takes a bath.
- Combat becomes trivial after Memory Block 2 when Altaïr learns how to counter. Counters cannot be blocked, and you cannot take damage while performing them. Enemies will only attack Altaïr one at a time and using this method, scores of enemies can be killed systematically without taking any damage at all.
- To successfully counter enemies, position your camera so you can clearly see all of the enemies surrounding Altaïr. It does not matter if they are behind or to the side of him, as long as you can see them. It also does not matter which enemy you are locked on to, as long as you are locked on to at least one (LT).
- Hold RT to put yourself in a defensive stance. This will unlock the counter ability, and ensure you do not take damage (Altaïr will deflect attacks as they come in while in this stance).
- As you see an enemy wind up to attack you, press X while holding RT. Altaïr will perform an unblockable counter. Take note that if an enemy is winding up for a heavy attack, they will take considerably longer to actually attack you, so be sure to wait until their weapon has almost hit you for the counter to register properly. You will learn to identify light versus heavy attacks with a little experience; don’t worry if you don’t get it perfect straight away.
- A successful counter will kill weaker enemies immediately. Stronger enemies will be damaged and knocked to the ground; successive counters on the same stronger enemy will eventually cause them to be killed immediately.
- Alternatively, once the weaker enemies are cleared, you may stunlock stronger enemies with the counter. Countering initially will knock them to the ground; simply perform light attacks on them while on the ground and they will be unable to block, counter, or get up.
- The hidden blade is your friend. While the sword is much better for open combat after you have been discovered, the hidden blade can instantly kill enemies that would otherwise take several hits to die.
- While anonymous, press D-Pad Up to select your hidden blade. Lock on to your intended target with LT, walk up to them, and press the attack button. They will be killed instantly.
- Be aware, if Altaïr is being observed and the witness indicator is yellow, nearby guards will aggro you after you assassinate someone. If your witness indicator is yellow but your intended target is the only one who can see you, you don’t need to worry as the indicator will disappear once your target is dead.
- If your witness indicator is red and nearby guards are alert or suspicious, your assassination attempt will likely fail and the hidden blade will not work. Leave the area and approach stealthily from a different direction, or if you are short on time, simply pull out your sword and start a bloodbath.
- Assassin’s Creed is divided into nine sections rendered as ‘memory blocks’ in the Animus screen. Eight of these sections represent the main story, while the ninth represents collectibles. Each memory block (with the exception of the eighth) is further divided into coloured ‘spokes’ representing the player’s progress in each block. Full sync completion refers to a player having completed all spokes in all nine blocks.
- Each memory block (apart from Memory Block 8 & the tutorial sections in Memory Blocks 1 and 2) is divided into eight white spokes and two blue spokes. The white spokes represent main objectives, while the blue spokes represent optional objectives. The main objectives are six investigation missions, one mission to deliver the intelligence to the area’s rafiq, and the assassination memory itself. The optional objectives are to synchronise from all of the area’s viewpoints, and to save all of the citizens in the area.
- Viewpoints are your friend! Not only will they contribute to full sync completion, but they also reveal all map markers in an area, including citizens that need saving and available investigation objectives. Although you can begin and complete the assassination memory after two investigations, they are amongst the most enjoyable objectives in the game, and completing all six in an area will give you much more information to work with when planning your final assassination.
- Memory block 9, composed of only blue spokes, represents all of the optional secrets & collectibles in the game. Seven of them are for collecting hidden flags: three in Acre, one in Damascus, one in Jerusalem, one in the Kingdom, and one in Masyaf. One is for discovering all viewpoints in the Kingdom, and the final spoke is for killing sixty Templar NPCs scattered across the cities & Kingdom.