Assassin's Creed Identity is the name of a surprise new game Ubisoft just dropped. Available for iOS, it's only available in Australia and New Zealand at the time of this writing, but the game is expected to arrive internationally in 2015. The current release is basically a beta test (though it's not being called that) before the company puts it out there for the whole world to play.
Ubisoft has released other touchscreen games in the series before, like Assassin's Creed Pirates, a mobile riff on AC IV: Black Flag's seafaring adventures, and Assassin's Creed Memories, a card-based battle game. But Identity appears to be the first full-fledged game to come to iOS that resembles the third-person RPG gameplay of the console titles.
Oh, and this may be the best part: It's free. Or more properly, free-to-play, which is the gaming industry's way of saying it's a free game that offers optional microtransactions.
Since Ubisoft has yet to post a trailer online or even formally announce its existence, YouTube channel TouchGameplay posted the following stream of the game's first 22 minutes.
If you don't have time to watch it or don't want to be spoiled, the trailer shows that the game centers around giving players the opportunity to choose their own assassin, and then upgrade and customize him as they wish. Upon starting the game, you pick from four classes of assassins. They include the Berserker, the Shadowblade, the Trickster and the Thief.
Identity takes many of its cues from the Ezio Auditore trilogy, sending gamers to locales in Renaissance Italy such as Rome and Florence. (One screenshot hints that more locations and eras are coming, possibly including present-day Montreal.) Here's something remarkable: Assassin's Creed Identity employs content that's semi-procedurally generated. It creates new missions for you at random based on 16 objective types, ensuring that each new mission is unique. Missions are intentionally short to make it more convenient for mobile users.
Since Identity was made with touchscreen devices in mind, the controls are based on taps and swipes instead of the despised virtual buttons. In typical Assassin's Creed style, gameplay involves fighting, chasing, free-running and of course, assassinating targets. Complete an assignment and you get points to spend on upgrades. You can even phone a friend to drop-in and help you out during a mission.
Ubisoft's description says that the game features "a new milestone in mobile graphics," and based on the video, it's easy to see why they're making such a lofty claim. The graphics look nearly as good as the last-gen console games in the series. Identity uses the Unity game engine, allowing it to render real-time 3D with real-time lighting, dynamic crowds and time and weather presets. It's most likely employing Apple's new "Metal" technology that squeezes considerably more computing power out of existing processors. You'll need at least iOS version 7 to install it, and nothing older than a 3rd-generation iPad or iPhone 5 to play.
Add all of this up, and you've got one of the biggest releases in the series for any mobile device, ever. It may not be Assassin's Creed Unity big, but it's certainly the most authentic and extensive AC experience you'll have on your phone or tablet.