Ubisoft insist that even with all the information we have at present on Assassin’s Creed III, it is only the tip of the iceberg. This certainly seems to be the case with the multiplayer part of the upcoming game. Both E3 2012 and San Diego Comic Con saw the release of much sought after multiplayer information, and Ubisoft’s recent Gamescom announcement suggests that fans can expect some more new tidbits from the show in Germany in a few weeks.
I recently got the chance to quiz Damien Kieken (Multiplayer Game Director at Ubisoft Annecy) on a few of the planned inclusions for Assassin’s Creed III multiplayer.
XGZ: How long has the multiplayer part of Assassin’s Creed III been in development? (seeing as the singleplayer has been in development for over 2 years now)
Damien: We’re in an iterative process, improving on each year’s game, and taking into account community feedback, internal ideas and also single player improvements and new settings. A part of the team has been working on AC3 since the end of Revelations’ development and the majority joined after the release of Revelations.
XGZ: Is Annecy the sole studio working on the multiplayer, or do you have support from other Ubisoft studios?
Damien: We have had growing support from Ubisoft Bucharest since Brotherhood and Ubisoft Shanghai since Revelations. Bucharest help us on some feature development and map building, while Shanghai aid us with some of the multiplayer characters.
XGZ: Hardcore fan response to Revelations multiplayer was (on the whole) not as favourable as that of Brotherhood’s offering. What are the major things you have worked on for Assassin’s Creed III?
Damien: We made some core gameplay changes in Revelations and usually when you make changes, some people will be unhappy, others will get used to the changes, and there will be a group who will be happy with them from the get-go. We still think some of the changes in Revelations improved the game. At the same time, we know that we still have some other areas to improve as well (as said before, it’s an iterative process). We are always looking to community feedback and are working hard to make this next multiplayer installment awesome. Here are a few notable changes/fixes:
- We’ve merged the assassination and stun action on to the same button thus getting rid of the stun prompt. The change leans towards not revealing a stealthy assassin anymore and favors player reactivity.
- The addition of the Ambush bonus for those players who preferred intercepting targets like in Brotherhood, as opposed to building up an approach in line of sight like in Revelations.
- We’ve revamped the matchmaking system to make it easier to play with friends in groups.
- We’ve also improved the map voting system to allow more map choices in rotation, rather than looping on a different variant of the same map at the next rematch.
- And we’ve built a player focused UI, which helps identify more easily the types of players you will face during a match, as well as progression, results and statistics.
XGZ: Can you talk a little bit about the inclusion of the 3rd ability slot, and how this will impact gameplay?
Damien: The third ability slot is dedicated to ranged abilities. We added it to give more choice to the player and help them to interact with personas running away or standing on the rooftops.
XGZ: Other than the Alliance mode (which was part of the multiplayer in Brotherhood), Assassin’s Creed hasn’t had a “coop” mode of any description before. What prompted the inclusion of the Wolfpack mode? Was it something fans requested?
Damien: We always want to improve our game as well as head in some new directions to innovate. Wolfpack serves this purpose, being our first Player VS AI mode (coop mode). It’s our first way of answering the community demand for a coop experience in an Assassin’s Creed game. It will also be a good entry point for the players who might be scared by the online adversarial modes, and it’s the perfect mode to enjoy with up to three of your friends.
XGZ: On the subject of modes, what can players expect in Assassin’s Creed III in terms of familiar, returning modes?
Damien: I can’t detail the list today, but on top of the new Domination and Wolfpack modes, you’ll be able to play the most popular modes from the previous games, like Manhunt and Wanted.
*Editor’s Note: Since we conducted this interview, a leaked GameTrailers video from Comic Con has shown the inclusion of other modes such as Assassinate, Artifact Assault, Capture the Flag and Steal the Artifact.
XGZ: Going forward, what are your plans for post launch support? Prior to Revelations launching, there was talk of tweaking via cloud updates, amongst other methods, which never quite materialised. Will Assassin’s Creed III be different?
Damien: Yes, this is one of the areas where we will be bigger this year. We will have a dedicated post-launch team on Assassin’s Creed 3 and we’ve already planned post-launch events for the community. You’ll be able to play in Event Playlists with defined content (modes, maps, available abilities, and so on) and community challenges that will unlock new content like story videos or other stuff that I can’t go into too much detail today. The experience you’ll have during those events will be quite different from the rest of the game, thanks to the fact that everybody will be playing with the same abilities.
XGZ: Finally, following on from the previous question, can you explain the decision to not hold a public multiplayer beta this time around?
Damien: Yes, to be honest, it’s something we want to do every year because we get community feedback that helps us tune the game. It is also a good reward for the community that has followed us from the beginning. But doing a beta takes a lot of time; we’d need to polish a version, submit it to the platform holders and support it when it’s out. And all the time put into the beta doesn’t go into the final game. Because we wanted to push so many things into the game, we took the hard decision to favor the final game content instead of doing a beta and we believe it will be favorable in the end.
Thank you for your time Damien.
XboxGameZone would like to thank Ubisoft Annecy for the interview and information. If you’d like to follow up on more AC3 multiplayer info, then be sure to check out the video below from friend of XGZ, Loomer979, who got to chat to Damien Kieken during San Diego Comic Con.
Assassin’s Creed III, is due to arrive on October 31st 2012 for Xbox 360 and PS3. The Windows PC release date is still to be announced.