The Infamy is the first of three episodes that will eventually make up Ubisoft’s latest DLC for Assassin’s Creed III, The Tyranny of King Washington. As the title implies, this singleplayer-only add-on is an alternate history to the already convoluted alternate history of Assassin’s Creed III.
The Infamy sees Ratonhnhaké:ton awakening from an apparent dream to find his mother alive, and an insane George Washington ravaging the frontier having proclaimed himself King. Connor remembers the events of ACIII, but now seems to exist in a world that does not. Those around him brush off his confused questions, preferring instead to unerringly rattle off background information regarding the current state of the frontier under Mad King Washington.
Washington has somehow procured an Apple, one of the mystical space-artefacts seen throughout the Assassin’s Creed series, and is using it to control the minds of his men, ordering them to raze the frontier in a search for Connor’s mother. Connor is effortlessly defeated in a confrontation with Washington and his Apple, leaving him no recourse but to find a new source of power with which to stand against the Mad King and his blue-coated thrall army.
Despite this bombastic departure from the vanilla ACIII narrative, The Infamy actually proves somewhat captivating. Washington’s frontier is a much darker place than of ACIII proper. Bodies of the fallen protrude from heavy snow drifts, crows eat their fill, and Connor himself treads a far less self-righteous path. Without going into specifics, the new abilities that Connor receives during The Infamy are devastatingly powerful. Common enemies now fall to Connor’s assortment of weaponry with little effort. This could easily be considered overpowered, but often overpowered abilities are exactly what is needed in post-game DLC to keep things fresh; a chance for players to stretch their virtual legs, free of the constraints of main game character progression.
Unfortunately, these new abilities are hamstrung by The Infamy’s heavy reliance on the type of forced-stealth missions that the Assassin’s Creed series is known to continually deliver, despite significant amounts of critical and anecdotal derision for the mechanic.
Insta-fail stealth areas, eavesdropping missions, and a reprised enemy type that effortlessly counters your new abilities in such missions, all add up to many mission failures and retries. Despite these repeated sections of play, The Infamy still only accounted for 1.5 hours of total playtime, which doesn’t leave a pleasant taste in the mouth after spending $11.99 on the episode. This only stung all the more for this reviewer, after spending 45 minutes—half of the total playtime again—wrestling with Uplay to get the DLC into a playable state. I had not played ACIII since release, and thus needed to patch the game up to its current version 1.03 before I could even install The Infamy. This required the download and manual execution of four separate updaters, each requiring a download approaching 1GB.
The download for The Infamy’s installer also forcibly signed me up for Ubisoft’s mailing list, despite explicitly opting-out during checkout. This is not acceptable.
The Tyranny of King Washington Episode 1: The Infamy is a mostly self-contained piece of content, with only tenuous ties to the main narrative. This has positive implications on the scope of the content, vastly reducing the amount of pap required of the player when compared to the main game, but also sheds an uncomfortable light on the anaemic gameplay mechanics present in the main missions. If the darker direction of the narrative piques your interest, it might be worth waiting until all three episodes have been released—and subsequently gone on sale—before committing to a purchase.