Video game developers have a hard decision in front of them when they start making their next game. Should they focus on just their single player or include multiplayer as well. Some games are made for multiplayer (Halo, COD, L4D) while others are incredible with only single player (Bioshock, Fallout, Mass Effect). Multiplayer can be a temptation too big for developers to ignore and sometimes they try to jam multiplayer into games that don’t need it. Assassin’s Creed and Assassin’s Creed 2 were both successful without any multiplayer components. The next game in the series, Assassin’s Creed Brotherhood, is adding it to the mix. Many people wondered how it would work or if it would be any good. Luckily, Ubisoft is running a beta for the multiplayer so that gamers can get their hands on the mode for themselves.
Players first starting the beta will be able to play through a small tutorial level. This explains (almost) everything you need to get started. There is a compass on the screen letting you know in which direction your target is, if they are above or below you, and how close they are. There is also a picture of who your target is as well as how many people are trying to assassinate them. You can also see how many people are after you. It is a lot of information to absorb at once, but the tutorial does a good job of walking you through it. There is one problem I had with it though. There is a way to stun a player trying to kill you that I found absolutely essential but the only reason I knew about it was reading one of the tips after getting killed in a match. The tutorial should have that information, but for some reason it isn’t there.
The beta is a small slice of the multiplayer mode. There are 2 maps in the beta, Castle Gandolfo and Rome. Castle Gandolfo is a small map that is mostly inside while Rome is large and outdoors. The two maps play very differently from each other. Rome is big and open with plenty of rooftops to run on while Castle Gandolfo is much more enclosed. The two maps affect your gameplay a lot. In Rome there is more room to run and the rooftops add an extra place to hide, although rooftops are an excellent way to get spotted too. Castle Gandolfo has less room to maneuver so you have to pay more attention to your surroundings. The maps are well made and both are fun to play on. Hopefully each map in the game will have a distinct personality like these two do.
The mode I was able to play in the beta is called Wanted. In Wanted you are given a target (another player) to assassinate while another player gets you as their assassination target. If you start doing well then 2,3, or even 4 other players could be hunting for you. This means that while you want to go and find your target you also need to constantly be on the lookout for people that are trying to kill you. This tension is really what makes the Assassin’s Creed multiplayer shine. You need to catch up to your target but you don’t want to run right into your assassin’s arms. It is hard to get used to at first, but you will quickly get better at killing your target and spotting would be assassins. The game also encourages you to be discreet while getting to your targets. Silently finding your target, casually walking up the them then suddenly dispatching them not only feels cool but also gets you extra points.
The game lets you earn some tools to help you kill and survive. The points you get for assassinations not only determine the winner of each match but also go toward leveling up your character. Getting higher levels unlocks things to help you get an edge on your opponents. Smoke bombs, disguises, hidden guns, poison and more help make the game even more complex and fun as you learn to use and avoid them. It is good that players slowly start getting these weapons because access to everything at once might overwhelm gamers. Learning how to win without the tools helps you use them more affectively.
This is a beta so there are some bugs for Ubisoft to sort out. With so many people running around and so many ways to kill or be killed, kill animations are sometimes off or don’t happen at all. Worse still is when you think you’ve gotten away only to see that your killer got to you. Once I was never given a target to go kill, which meant that I could hardly score any points, forcing me to quit the match. These are small bugs that should get ironed out before the actual release.
The previous Assassin’s Creed games can make you feel like an elite assassin. Planning your attack then successfully doing it always feels good. This multiplayer does the same thing. Seeing your target, catching up to them, avoiding your would be assassin’s and making that kill without them knowing you were there feels awesome. Despite some of the flaws in the beta, that feeling will have you coming back for more. Ubisoft made multiplayer in Assassin’s Creed work. More than that, they made it extremely unique, engaging and fun. I can’t wait to see the fleshed out final product.
Pictures via Assassin’s Creed Brotherhood Facebook Page