Friday, 24 May 2024

Assassin’s Creed III: The Evolution of Anvil Engine

For every popular franchise, finding the right balance between innovation and familiarity can be a challenge. Ubisoft Montreal faced this dilemma when developing the third installment of the Assassin’s Creed series. To create a game that stands out while honoring its predecessors, the team decided to revamp the technology behind the game. The result was the creation of the AnvilNext engine, which brought significant advancements to the franchise.

Redesigning the Foundation

Knowing that an annual release can lead to franchise fatigue, Ubisoft Montreal set out to differentiate Assassin’s Creed III from its predecessors. The development of the game began immediately after Assassin’s Creed II was completed, with the core engineering team focusing on reimagining the Anvil engine. While other teams worked on Brotherhood and Revelations, this group of engineers worked tirelessly to push the boundaries of animation, character navigation, and technology.

AnvilNext: A Technological Leap

AnvilNext, the new engine powering Assassin’s Creed III, introduced several groundbreaking features to enhance the game designers’ capabilities. The engine incorporated deferred lighting, ambient occlusion, improved crowd AI, and a new camera mode. However, the most impressive advancements were made in the animation department.

Scaling Up the Experience

To capture the historical essence of colonial Boston and New York, Ubisoft Montreal aimed to increase the number of characters on screen significantly. With the AnvilNext engine, the team achieved a remarkable feat – allowing for thousands of characters, compared to the previous cap of around 100. The massive presence of troops in the game world contributes to a sense of scale and immersion that sets Assassin’s Creed III apart from its predecessors.

A Fresh Approach to Animation

With the goal of creating a unique protagonist in Connor, the development team set out to reinvent the animation system. The animators leveraged the engine’s rapid animation prototyping tools to bring Connor to life with entirely new animations. Connor’s movements, fighting style, and climbing abilities were carefully crafted to differentiate him from previous Assassin’s Creed protagonists. The team even studied real-life climbers to ensure the authenticity of Connor’s traversal abilities.

Navigating New Terrain

The introduction of the Frontier, an open expanse of varying landscapes, presented new challenges for level design and animation. Ubisoft Montreal’s engineers faced the daunting task of enabling players to climb not only cliffs but also any tree in the forest, shimmy around trunks, and traverse branches. Overcoming the technical hurdles, they successfully integrated seamless navigation on uneven surfaces, ensuring that every step feels grounded and realistic.

A Cinematic Experience

Recognizing that storytelling is a crucial element of the franchise, Ubisoft Montreal invested in a robust performance capture system to enhance cutscenes. The AnvilNext engine allowed for a significant increase in the number of bones in the face, resulting in more realistic facial animations. Improvements to cloth physics and other physical objects also contributed to the cinematic fidelity. The team adopted a movie-like approach, employing a process similar to filmmaking, to capture lifelike performances from the actors.


Q: How many characters can be on screen at the same time in Assassin’s Creed III?
A: Thanks to the AnvilNext engine, Ubisoft Montreal achieved a significant increase in the number of characters on screen, allowing for a couple of thousand characters simultaneously.

Q: How did Ubisoft Montreal improve the animation system in Assassin’s Creed III?
A: The team set out to create unique animations for the protagonist, Connor, ensuring he had a distinct feel compared to previous Assassin’s Creed leads. They achieved this by studying real-life climbers and incorporating situational animations for added realism.

Q: How did Ubisoft Montreal enhance the cinematics in Assassin’s Creed III?
A: The team implemented a performance capture system that doubled the number of bones in the face for more lifelike facial expressions. They also focused on improving cloth physics and physical objects to enhance cinematic closeups.


Ubisoft Montreal’s dedication to pushing the boundaries of technology and animation resulted in Assassin’s Creed III, a game that stands out in the franchise. The AnvilNext engine introduced significant advancements, from increased character counts to improved animation fidelity and cinematic experiences. With its captivating gameplay and attention to detail, Assassin’s Creed III is a testament to the team’s expertise and commitment. To learn more about Assassin’s Creed III, visit the official Wqaindia website.