Assassin's Creed: Revelations Multiplayer Hands-On Preview - Eagle Eyed
Written Sunday, August 07, 2011 By Lee BradleyView author's profile
I was a master assassin. Set loose amongst a bustling Constantinople, I hunted my target. The narrow streets and wide squares teemed with suspiciously identical groups. Some wandered in gangs, others stood and chatted. Any one of them could be my prey.
The radar at the bottom of my screen indicated the direction in which I should travel. Knowing that a display of quick and nimble acrobatics would alert everyone in the vicinity, I chose instead to stroll casually behind a gaggle of Sinbad cosplayers. I followed their every move, as the arrow on my radar grew larger and larger.
I had a new trick up my sleeve. My smoke bombs had been upgraded. Where once I had to toss it at my feet like an overly-dramatic Batman, I was now capable of flinging it with some accuracy in a clean arc across the sky. I intended to hit my unsuspecting victim from distance.
I turned the corner, breaking away from the Sinbads. The beauty of Constantinople hit me. Jerusalem, Damascus, Rome; the cities I’ve traversed in the guise of Altair and Ezio have all left quite an impression, even if some of them lacked engaging activities. But Constantinople is a truly stunning playground. Once more, the architects in Montreal have outdone themselves.
I caught someone out of the corner of my eye, stumbling oddly in a crowd. Was that him? The radar arrow certainly suggested so. I readied my smoke bombs as the target headed for a narrow alleyway. My pulse quickened.
Lining up my shot, I anticipated the route of my prey. If I could time it just right, the smoke bomb would land in front of the group, explode, and give me enough time to sprint in and finish off my prey with a quick flash of steel. I allowed myself a little grin.
Then I pressed the wrong button. I pressed the wrong button and instead of chucking the smoke bomb in a graceful arc, it fell lifelessly on the floor, farting out its contents in my face.
Noticing my bumbling ineptitude, my target scrambled out of view. I fumbled for the free-run button and lost my bearings. Within seconds I was stunned from behind by an unknown assailant. I slumped; humiliated, embarrassed and beaten.
Maybe I’m not a master assassin after all.
There’s still nothing quite like Assassin’s Creed multiplayer. A new addition to last year’s Brotherhood, its announcement was initially met with cynicism and incredulity. But once people got their hands on it, it picked up quite a following. In a world of uninspired Team Deathmatch variants, Brotherhood stood out as something truly different.
For Assassin’s Creed: Revelations, Ubisoft is refining and building upon last year’s template. The game mode I played recently showed all the signs of a studio that are listening to their community by bringing both enhanced accessibility and depth. Manhunt remains great fun. Even if I am crap at it.
The basics are the same. Manhunt sees two teams facing-off against each other in a deadly game of hide and stab. Each match lasts for two rounds, with teams playing as either the Hunters or Hunted for a round, then swapping over. Hunters earn points by tracking down the Hunted and assassinating them, while the Hunted earn points by surviving. The team with the most points at the end of the two rounds wins.
Perhaps the biggest change in all this comes in the form of the Detection Meter. In Brotherhood, you started at Incognito, the meter’s highest point. Kill a rival team member and you would rack up big points. The only way for you to deplete it was to perform high-profile actions in the line of sight of your target. When you did so, the meter would trickle down towards Discreet, at which point you would earn just a few points for a kill.
Revelations flips this on its head. Now, when you enter your target’s line of sight your meter starts at Discreet. Manage to remain undetected and the meter will build up until it eventually hits Incognito. This adds a tantalising risk and reward dynamic where you’ll have to resist using your itchy stabbing finger while breathing down the neck of a victim, all while risking them realising and scarpering.
I wonder whether it will dissuade Brotherhood’s immersion spoilers, those players that treat the game like a run and knife fest, notching multiple sprinting executions with little regard for stealth or guile. The promise of bonuses for remaining stealthy for longer is a clear incentive, but the shorter kill animations that now accompany stealth kills may well be the clincher. We’ll see if it makes a difference.
One area in which clear concessions have been made to player feedback is the Stuns. Playing as the Hunted you earn points by hiding in groups, sitting on benches, cowering in haybales, or just simply blending in. Survival is key. But if you manage to spot your pursuer you can humiliate them with a quick tap of a button, earning yourself some bonus points in the process. None of this has changed. But now Manhunt is a little more fair.
In Brotherhood, if you attempted to Stun a Hunter at the same time as he attacked you, he would get priority. This was slightly frustrating as you would not be rewarded, despite your quick-thinking. Revelations’ Contested Kills hope to clear all of that up. Now both players receive points for the confrontation, and even if you lose, the Hunter will be left in a temporary weakened state, allowing your teammates to swoop in for some violent retribution. It’s an elegant solution. Hopefully it will go some way to addressing the concerns of new players who felt short-changed by Brotherhood’s approach.
Elsewhere, the projectiles I pathetically failed to execute in the heat of the moment feature quite prominently. In addition to the smoke bombs, which you can also attach to walls, you can now chuck Firecrackers and Tripmines. There’s taunts too, as well as the ability of revive stunned team mates. There was also a tantalising glimpse of features yet to be fully revealed.
During the downtime between games there are now a number of options to keep you occupied. Though greyed out in our demo, you will be able to access a Friends Hub. This features a “Friends Ladder,” as well as something called “Dares” and a “Find New Friends” option.
You can also access an Animus Database, something which speaks to Revelations’ increased focus on narrative progression. As in Brotherhood, Revelations’ multiplayer sees you take on the mantle of an Abstergo recruit, learning the tricks of the assassination trade inside the Animus. By earning XP, the levelling system sees you rise through the Abstergo ranks, unlocking information on the nefarious organisation as you go. These are narrative-based tidbits, with a story unfolding as you progress through the multiplayer’s 50 levels.
This is by far Revelations’ most profound change, an incentive to grind up through the levels, while also keeping everything shored to the world of Assassin’s Creed and its intriguing, labyrinthine narrative. Once more, multiplayer is no mere afterthought. It’s now at the very heart of the experience.
So maybe there is hope for me. In Manhunt at least, there’s evidence to suggest that Ubisoft has augmented and tinkered enough to make Assassin’s Creed: Revelations’ multiplayer a compelling place to be. Put enough hours in and I might just make a master assassin after all. If you’re online in a few months’ time and you see someone run into a wall before dropping a smoke bomb inelegantly at their feet, it’s probably me. Watch out, I’m coming to get you.
Assassin's Creed: Revelations will be stabbing its way into stores on November 15th in North America and November 18th.