Assassin's Creed: Brotherhood Multiplayer Impressions

We dash through the streets of Rome in the new multiplayer mode and chat with the game's creative director about what to expect from single-player.

The next Assassin's Creed game will be the first to introduce multiplayer to the series. If that sounds like a far-flung idea to you, it certainly doesn't to creative director Patrice Desilets. He says that after the release of Assassin's Creed II, the inclusion of multiplayer was the most popular suggestion from fans of the game-- more than the inclusion of brutal new weapons or exotic new cities. And so here we are, the following year, with Assassin's Creed: Brotherhood set to ship this holiday season. Brotherhood will include a suite of multiplayer modes that let players sneak through 15th-century Rome in a quest to silently kill one another, as well as a single-player story that's a direct continuation of Assassin's Creed II.

Separate from the storyline of the single-player campaign, the multiplayer narrative in Brotherhood is described by Desilets as a sort of "Meanwhile at Abstergo Industries" scenario. Multiple test subjects are hooked up to the animus in a place far removed from Desmond Miles, the present-day bartender with the unfortunate luck of having been related to two of history's most infamous assassins. Instead, it's a number of new recruits who have been plugged into Abstergo's magical memory machine in order to play out the great battle between Templars and Assassins.

The one mode we played, Wanted, is like deathmatch with a twist: each player is assigned a specific target from among the other players in the match, so there's always someone after you and someone for you to go after. With a Roman neighborhood full of non-player characters going about their daily lives, you need to blend in with the crowd for maximum effect. Silent kills--those where nobody sees your handiwork--net you the most XP, while visibly running after your target tips him or her off to your presence, giving that player a chance to scurry off and hide. Additional points can also be earned in multiplayer games for kills that are acrobatic, and your pursuer gets close you can earn points either by escaping and hiding or, if you're feeling especially confident, by humiliating him with an ear clap. If your target remains undetected for a set period of time, you lose your contract and have to start over with a new target.

Adding a personal touch to all of this clandestine killing is a system of unlockables that let you earn custom abilities and character skins. The skin we played as was a Roman noble with a metal claw on his left hand, which is just one of many skins with unique weapons and kill animations specific to those devices. You can also assign active and passive abilities, like an ultrafast dash for a brief period or a quick change of costume for a handful of seconds. Both of these abilities have a cooldown period, so there's a good bit of strategy in figuring out the best way to use them. The skins and the abilities are just a couple of examples of the XP-based carrot-on-a-stick system that Brotherhood uses to dole out unlockables over the course of 50 experience levels to keep the game fresh for committed players.

In addition to playing some multiplayer, we also had the opportunity to speak with Desilets about what to expect from the single-player campaign. The game picks up with Ezio building up the brotherhood of assassins in Rome, a city we were shown only a brief sliver of in Assassin's Creed II. In Brotherhood, Rome is more or less the entire game, taking up three times the geography of Florence in the last game. There's less focus on rolling countryside linking a multitude of cities, and more on fleshing out a single bustling metropolis as the game's primary setting.

The story itself will keep Ezio at the forefront and bring a few of his Florentine friends (such as Leonardo da Vinci) along for the ride. You can now recruit able-bodied civilians into the ranks of the brotherhood of assassins and send them off to distant cities like Paris to prove their worth as silent killers. If they survive these trial-by-fire killings, you can take the best recruits along with you on your own story-critical missions.

Replacing Ezio's custom-renovated villa from Assassin's Creed II is the ability to renovate the whole of Rome. You can now take the money you earn and use it to spruce up various parts of town, build new buildings, and just generally "bring the Renaissance to Rome," according to Desilets. We asked him about the issue in ACII where players eventually (and quite easily) achieved unlimited money that they couldn't possibly spend, and he was quick to point out that it was a concern for a lot of people and that they're working on a way to make sure that managing funds takes more skill this time around.

Another big area of refinement is combat. The series has earned a reputation for having a stylish but super-forgiving combat system, and that isn't going to change. Desilets brought up a statistic that said Assassin's Creed II was finished by 40 percent of all players, a remarkable total for a 20-hour action adventure game. He attributed that to the game's relative ease and lack of frustrating, throw-your-controller moments. So instead of making things harder, he wants to instead keep the barrier for entry low and layer on optional difficulty by rewarding skilled players. An example is adding more potential chains and combinations to the flow of combat. Instead of counterattacking one person with a single button, for example, you'll now be able to attack three, four, or five nearby foes with a string of directional attacks all linked together with a fluid motion. We didn't get to see this sort of thing in action, so we're not ready to make any grand proclamations about a completely overhauled fighting system, but the idea of more depth to the combat for those who choose to pursue it is definitely an intriguing notion.

Assassin's Creed II looks, on the surface, like the high-production-value experience that we've come to expect from the folks at Ubisoft Montreal. Now we'll just have to see if the one-year turnaround time since the last game is enough for them to craft a game that improves on Assassin's Creed II in a meaningful way. Keep an eye out for more coverage as we approach the game's holiday 2010 release date.

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Discussion

74 comments
mhsdrake
mhsdrake

So is there going to be any offline MP?? How many players on the one system will this support?

AlbViking
AlbViking

The Assassin's Creed games are the best I've ever played. The're just plain fun. The only games that I finished 90%. So, I'm really looking forward to the Brotherhood now...

ss4matador
ss4matador

I cant say anything because they say nothing in this preview, only superficial

deathnight_2000
deathnight_2000

im looking forward to it but I too would like to see information other other multiplayer types other than just 'wanted'

Jman4444
Jman4444

I dont no what to expect with brotherhood. I thought the first assassin's creed was good.. but assassin's creed II kinda sucked.

Strife037
Strife037

@Kappassah so you dont like any type of challenge? lol seems like your complaining cause it will take a little effort... game looks good, but more multiplayer modes would be nice... capture the flag would be interesting!

kvan33
kvan33

"... Assassin's Creed II was finished by 40 percent of all players, a remarkable total for a 20-hour action adventure game..." Seriously? So because we have a bunch of kids with ADHD, the game needs to be made easier? At least have multiple difficulty options then.

Efrafa
Efrafa

I'm sure the game will be great, but i really wish they would have added a Coop Mode also, for some reason killing Templars with some friends sound a little more fun than doing it with AI.

soundwave123
soundwave123

AWESOME..................................................JUST INCREDIBLE

mohsenezio
mohsenezio

i Cant say ANYTHING . i Just Wish There Was A Coop Mode

Skudd78
Skudd78

@ Kou-Nurasaka: You do know that MGS 4 is a action stealth game, right? I'm not saying Assassins Creed is bad, It is one of mty favorite games to play, I'm just saying that don't count Metal Gear out because Assassins creed really isn't that much better than it.

adtn64
adtn64

The multiplayer will obviously be insane it looks great and will definitely have more modes but im hoping for a better roster of characters,, i dont like the way any of them look except for the courtesan.

plalk
plalk

i think the multi player is a great idea if it was a special one . not just kill one another i think it will be great if i cant see the other player that i have to assassin him before doing some research about who he is and he would be blended with the people in the game that i cant identify him . imagine that an assassin coming after you and u running from him on the roof tops in a wild chase or u hiding and watch him searching for u then in split second u take him down . that would be great

Assemblent
Assemblent

It might be fun, yes, but I loved the feeling of isolation from the real world that this game brought to me as a player. It was like when I connected to the game, was like being in the animus, living your acestor memories disconnected from the outside world, now it's "lost" in this version of AC. I know that this might sound ambiguous as you are always surrounded by people in the game, but I guess some of you know what I mean. Anyhow, this might spice things a bit when the single player is all done for and provide great fun experiecing our true identity as an assassin! Still, I'll be aiming and already cravin' for the single player mode.

Kou-Nurasaka
Kou-Nurasaka

Its amazing that a previously no name title could start such a revolution. Assassin's Creed has comepletly changed the dynamic of the Action and Stealth genre. It really is the best in its category.

jokerman_28
jokerman_28

i'll start saving money for this one

akasha_ishtar
akasha_ishtar

The more info they bring out the more excited I am, I really can’t wait, it’s gonna be more then worth it. Multiplayer sounds wicked, really going to have to use you blending skills to take people down. It’s great to see that they are also rewarding the more skilled players who stick to the game and not just play for a short time and give up, damn I know I will be putting many hours into this one....lol!!!

Zartan3000
Zartan3000

Saw some gameplay of this game on G4...Looks SWEET!

Theprediction
Theprediction

I loved everygame in the series, cant wait for this one...

diddlesps3
diddlesps3

Unless they've already been working on it for a while Ubisoft won't have enough time to do this, but... they should include a free roam multiplayer mode like red dead redemption.

Faerillis
Faerillis

@ Fulcrum Multiplayer has never been considered Canon, see how Halo's 1 remaining Spartan becomes X Million Spartans? The idea is to let players, and stick with me here because it doesn't seem like you get it, have fun. Now you don't want to do the multiplayer... Then don't, hell if you don't want multiplayer and are convinced you won't get enough story don't buy the goddamn game.

Kappassah
Kappassah

Ezio again? Don't get me wrong, playing as Ezio was great, but I liked the concept of playing as a new character each game. And the idea of multiplayer turns me off, honestly. You just know there's gonna be loads of overpowered assassins running around killing the lower levels relentlessly....the thing about single player was that you always had the advantage, no matter what situation you were in, because of your flexibility and combat abilities. Whereas in multiplayer, everyone has the advantage, so it's basically going to be god vs. god warfare which is going to be a frustrating pain in the ass.

Philx3
Philx3

@bioghost Rome is going to be huge and not doubt more bits of the city will unlock as the game progesses. The plus side to this is no loading screen

SperryEthan
SperryEthan

oh boy, assassinating other players online, this is going to be great. i hope its not going to be like mw2, were theres assassins in corners with their tents and marshmellows waiting for people to walk by because that would kill it for me. either way buying this game because the story mode looks great and have loved assassins creed since the first editon released.

Cryce7
Cryce7

@ FulcrumBlurred Assassin's Creed Brotherhood's multiplayer is about Templars traing to kill, not Assassins, so what's the big deal if it's a social event? At least, see how it turns out before we make any complaints.

FulcrumBlurred
FulcrumBlurred

I don't know who Ubisoft is polling when they say, "the inclusion of multiplayer was the most popular suggestion from fans of the game-- more than the inclusion of brutal new weapons or exotic new cities." How old are these people they're asking? Seven? "The one mode we played, Wanted, is like deathmatch with a twist" No kidding? Like deathmatch? Wow. Another teeny bopper run and gun. This so idiotic. Being an assassin isn't a social event - I don't care how they are "evolving" the story. Ubisoft is hell bent on screwing up this franchise like they did Splinter Cell. In (Splinter Cell) Conviction you get a little bit of solo mission and a ton of multiplayer crap. If I want multiplayer I'd buy an MMORPG.

DrEvilKoala
DrEvilKoala

@Gelugon_baat I agree that limiting frustration is key to making games fun, but it's not synonymous with "making a game easy", which is something that has been plaguing video games for the past years now. And a game that is extremely easy can sometimes be equally frustrating as a game that has cheap difficulty (at least to me), because both just don't feel satisfying or rewarding. The art is in making games challenging without discouraging the player from coming back and trying again, again and again.

bioghost
bioghost

Rome only? Maybe they should add more.

Jachaos
Jachaos

I've been playing this multiplayer game mode on the multiplayer Assassin's Creed for iPhone game. It was really fun, and since it was on the iPod Touch, it was simply an overhead view, had few maps, only one game mode (The same exact mode they've described in this article) and only a few bonuses to collect on rooftops (like invisibility, the gun so you have a bigger range in assassination and all). Even though it wasn't really deep, I really liked it and must've logged at least 5 hours on that simple game mode on the iPhone. Now imagine with level ups, huge maps, nice graphics, third person view and everything that made AC 2 much better than the AC iPhone multiplayer game, I'm totally sold. Plus, nicer fights, continued storyline (the video I saw of the assault on your villa shows the game is really promising) and a new city ? This is TOTALLY worth the 60 bucks. I'll be logging more hours on this game than on AC 2 I believe. So there's no reason this shouldn't be worth it when AC 2 totally was. Btw I hope they have races and duels as game modes.

solidniko
solidniko

wow its not been that long since ac 2 and there making 2.5

XxXCrimsonXxX
XxXCrimsonXxX

Hopefully it doesn't end up sharing Halo ODST's fate, you know, "it should have been a DLC instead of a retail priced game. I'm pretty sure it won't be, though because it looks better than what AC2 should have been.

nicholiblair3
nicholiblair3

i cant believe im gonna have to buy this multiplayer crap. "the story is a direct continuation of ACII" so i guess i cant miss out. looking forward to ACIII

johnfoks
johnfoks

very cool. as it seems only single-player will be the winner,but i hope multi will be as good as others mmorpg...btw its not AC3

bob_toeback
bob_toeback

It is not AC3. Otherwise it would be called AC3. this is more of a multiplayer offshoot for what I gather

dentui
dentui

NICE!!!, AC1 and 2 were amazing. CAN'T WAIT!!!!

crazyleftykid
crazyleftykid

well. to start it off this game better have a solid 10 hours+ of storyline and good multiplayer for it to be worth 60 dollars. I'm all about my storyline, so they better produce something good otherwise it is a waste of money and time that they could have spent on AC3

9Dguy
9Dguy

this is so unbelievably awesome i could cry O.O

reeree746
reeree746

I hope it good. This is is just to tide us all over till 3. So we might as well play it.

snake7008
snake7008

Rockstar's games and Assassins Creed games have always been my favorite games, so I'm hoping this will have great success

GunGriffin
GunGriffin

Did I hear at E3 that the PS3 version will have exclusive MP skins, and game modes? PS3 is finally pouting that extra space to use on Blu-Ray! Nice job Sony!

JacksonsGames
JacksonsGames

Ha, I still have not played the second one :/

Squirrelatwar
Squirrelatwar

Interesting...hope the single player is long too, just want this game to be worth the money for its longevity.

INF1DEL
INF1DEL

I seem to remember playing a slayer variant in Halo:CE that was very similar to 'wanted'. Anyway some of my biggest complaints about AC2 were the shallow combat, and the (lack of) value of money. I'm looking forward to seeing a city 3 times the size of Florence but I'm worried that there will be a lot of 'copy & paste' buildings due to the short development time.

MGSsuperfan
MGSsuperfan

this will be awesome 1337 translator: 7|-||5 \/\/|11 b3 a\/\/35o/\/\3