Have you played… Assassin’s Creed multiplayer?

"Oh no he isn't!" - "Oh yes he is!"

Have You Played? is an endless stream of game retrospectives. One a day, every day, perhaps for all time.

The Assassin’s Creed series has abandoned its mutliplayer modes and that makes me sad. The multiplayer, introduced in Brotherhood, was one of the most playground-like games you could find. It’s basically the game of Assassin, popular among university students, but played on cool-looking streets from the past. You’re hunting somebody, but somebody else is hunting you. And – oh no – you’re all disguised as computer-controlled characters. You need to find a Jester among dozens of Jesters, while also hiding your own Courtesan among dozens of Courtesans.

It was a great idea and lots of fun, but admittedly it only half worked. Ubisoft insisted on adding power-ups and special abilities, which you could use to either reveal other players among the throng, or blind them, or stun them. The hide and seek was the best part, but it was marred by these smoke bombs and x-ray vision, all of which only seemed to be there to fuel a progression system designed to keep people playing – not for the thrill of the chase when somebody broke cover, but for the XP they’d get. At a certain level of play, everyone just ran everywhere and barely bothered to conceal themselves at all. The beauty of the idea was lost.

It would be difficult to teach Ubisoft, a company that has released 18 Assassin’s Creed games in one decade, that “less is more”, but if they had just removed some abilities and let people enjoy hide and seek, maybe we’d still be hunting each other through the crowds of an Egyptian marketplace today.

9 Comments

  1. Giaddon says:

    Mmmm, yes. Assassin’s Creed multiplayer was soooooo good. Ditto the Splinter Cell multiplayer, which at least was in the most recent game, Blacklist. Ubisoft has some really cool ideas for multiplayer modes, too bad they never gain critical mass.

    • Stinkfinger75 says:

      Is the multiplayer in Blacklist anything like the older games? Chaos Theory is one of my favorite games, largely due to the adversarial multiplayer.

  2. Zorgulon says:

    I completely agree – it was a great idea in its basic simplicity, but all the power-ups really rather spoiled it. The core mechanics rewarded cleverness in blending in, and the power-ups just got in the way. All the idiots in stupid costumes careening around the maps with their smoke bombs really sucked.

    Some of the games had a basic mode (I forget the name) which got rid of the power-ups, and it was brilliant, but the player numbers were always pretty low, and it could be hard to find matches. Still remember it fondly though.

  3. and its man says:

    I only played the first one, from Assassin’s Creed: Brotherhood. Can’t tell how the multiplayer mode evolved in the other titles in the series. I didn’t even know they abandoned it along the way.
    But yes, PvP was grand fun. There was something really tense about it. Intense focusing moments, while taking mob-like, right angle turns, that could break out into dramatic roof-jumping chases at any time.

  4. malkav11 says:

    Nope. Never. I mean, frankly I’ve basically never enjoyed PvP multiplayer in any game anyway, but to do AC multiplayer I’d probably need to be waaaay more caught up with the series than I’ve been in years. I doubt anyone is still playing Black Flag multiplayer, for example, and that’s the one I’m on in singleplayer.

    • EwokThisWay says:

      ON PS4 the multiplayer community is still pretty active for Black Flag (and i guess Unity and Syndicate), the fact that it requires you to play multiplayer if you want to get all the trophies (and Abstergo Challenges in game) surely helps keeping it alive. I know that’s what pushed me to try it.

    • RobinOttens says:

      ACBlaFla (as no one ever calls it) is the last one to have multiplayer so you’re good to go.

      Unity dabbled in cooperative missions but that didn’t really catch on I think.

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    Ninja Dodo says:

    If you’re talking about the versus thing, not much. I found it more interesting in concept than in practice as you ended up paying more attention to the HUD than the characters, plus getting instantly destroyed by players who had unlocked special abilities you had no way to counter as other have mentioned.

    Unity co-op though was surprisingly good. The setting (Paris) is stunning of course and the game much better than people give it credit for, but taking out targets as a team, coordinating air pounces and assorted stabbings, is pretty grand… plus the co-op missions feature some interiors (like the Pantheon) that are not accessible in the main story afaik. It’s a shame they never brought that back.

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