PAX 2010: Hands-On with Assassin’s Creed: Brotherhood Multiplayer
I’ll tell you what; I played a loooootta games at PAX today. And I only got to sit down for two of them: F3AR and Assassin’s Creed: Brotherhood. Based on that alone, those two games are the frontrunners for Game of the Show. Assassin’s Creed gets the edge because the awesomely soft thing I sat on to play the game was more comfortable than the hard stool I sat on to play F3AR. Anyway, here’s what I got to do with my first-ever multiplayer session in the Assassin’s Creed franchise (Yeah, I’m late to this party.):
What we played, from what I could tell, was the Assassin’s Creed version of deathmatch. And what that’s like, in execution, is nothing like normal deathmatch. Here’s the setup: You’re in a city, and there are people loitering and walking around just like in the campaigns in the Assassin’s Creeds of the past. You get to choose your appearance, and all of your options are folks who look like they could just be regular old NPCs. You get to choose “skills,” like throwing knives or the ability to disguise yourself. And then you’re set loose in the city with seven other people.
You’re immediately given a target which is another player. You’re pointed toward your target by a compass-like circle in the corner of the screen, and the marker on the compass gets larger as you get closer to your target. Here’s the rub: you don’t know who your target is, and if you kill a random NPC instead of your target or some other player, your compass marker goes away. So you gotta be smart, and the best way I found of identifying another player is by watching to see who runs instead of walks. Of course, I was terrible at it, so maybe I’m not the one to be giving out advice on this thing.
Now, this entire concept is very different from what we’re used to from competitive multiplayer games, and after my brief session, I was taken aback by the novelty of it enough that I really didn’t know what to think about it. I knew it felt a bit unpolished, as one might expect from an incomplete build. I chose throwing knives as one of my skills, and I could never seem to target the person I wanted to target in order to be able to use them. And the close-up-violent-murder attacks we know and love so much were so touchy that I had a lot of trouble putting myself into position to kill other players, even though past experience with the franchise was telling me I was doing what I was supposed to be doing.
But I’m kind of in love with the idea, and I think there’s a real chance that I’ll spend a good amount of time playing online with the final build of Brotherhood in November. Here we have an actual unique twist on online multiplayer, and it absolutely works as a competitive version of the established Assassin’s Creed gameplay. This might just be more than a tacked-on feature on a single-player game.