Ever since Assassin’s Creed introduced multiplayer with Brotherhood, the franchise has prided itself on delivering a deep yet accessible way to slay together. Since then, the multiplayer has evolved quite a bit – but one thing has remained constant: the fact that for master assassins and initiates alike, it simply makes sense. After an extended session exploring Assassin’s Creed IV Black Flag’s many multiplayer modes, we cornered Lead Multiplayer Game Designer Tim Browne to discuss the secrets for a killer multiplayer experience.
Once again, the multiplayer is just so accessible in Black Flag. Is that intentional?
Absolutely. Every year we look at making it more accessible without losing the core gameplay and without, as the fans would say, dumbing it down. We don’t want to dumb down the game. We just want players to understand it better. This year is no exception.
Tell us a few specific things you’ve improved to make it even more accessible…
We have an improved tutorial, which has this nice story to it so it’s a bit more accessible. It draws you in a bit more than a dry, flat simulation. Then, with Wolfpack we’ve created a deliberate story wrapper around it. It’s sort of a revenge story – but I don’t want to give too much away and spoil it. The story helps introduce all the different sequences and what’s involved in Wolfpack, to make you a better player so you can work with up to three other players cooperatively in this specific mode.
We also made improvements on the menus, and we looked at the ergonomics of things. As a player, where would I expect a menu to go? How should it react? What happens when I press this button? That kind of thing. We’re always striving to improve that to make it feel comfortable so when I pick up the controller I don’t feel put off. I’m not overwhelmed by information. We gradually introduce different things like abilities. That’s key in our progression system, which we spend a lot of time on.
On the flipside, what improvements and additions can longtime core players look forward to enjoying?
We’re constantly looking at the abilities and balancing them to give the players a true balanced experience. This year we introduced full clan support, so within the game you can create a clan. You can invite people to a clan. You can promote people to be able to invite people to a clan. We’re also doing a specific ladder for clans so there will be clan vs. clan ladders and things like that.
In other words, better ways to compete?
Yes. We are looking at making the game more and more competitive. We know there is a key group within the community who are already very competitive. They run their own tournaments, which we absolutely love. We want to support that and encourage it even more. We’ve included all sorts of things. One of those things is the ability to jump into a private mode and then choose which team you’re going to start on. That sounds really basic, but it wasn’t in before and we knew the fans really wanted it.
We’re always looking at keeping the game going. This shows in our prestige loops as well. We’ve increased the level cap this year from 50 to 55. After you’ve gone through 55 levels, then you prestige and there are 99 prestige loops. There are hours and hours of gameplay in that. There’s progression. You unlock new things – titles and emblems and things for customization. It’s not exactly a showoff, but if you put in the effort to get to prestige 15, we want to give you something exclusive that you can only unlock at prestige 15. We love supporting the community like that. We want new players, but we want new players to make the community bigger, not to replace existing fans. We will always support existing fans.
Do you have any tips specifically for those new players?
We spent a lot of time working on the tutorial. There are two tutorials – one is the basics and one is a little more advanced and more focused on improving your score. At a base level Assassin’s Creed multiplayer is not about the amount of kills, it’s about the quality of the kills. The second tutorial focuses on that, so I recommend running through it. It will teach you how to get higher scores on kills.
A new thing we introduced this year is the ability videos. If you don’t know how to use an ability, these videos show you a good way to employ the abilities.
My personal recommendation is to play with a team first. I wouldn’t necessarily go free-for-all first. You’ll go up against some really good players and it’s going to be a bit tough. If you enter a game where you’re playing as part of a team and you’ve got a good player on your team and a good player on the other team, you’re going to learn from watching them play. Play all the different modes. Work out which one you feel comfortable with first and then focus playing on that one to begin with. Then, when you figure out the game and learn the little tactics and the maps, you can move onto the others and you’ll be a top-level Assassin in no time!
Uncover more secrets of Black Flag’s multiplayer here:
Assassin's Creed® IV Black Flag
ESRB Rating: MATURE with Blood, Sexual Themes, Violence, Strong Language, Use of Alcohol