As one of the many games straddling the current-gen/next-gen line, Assassin’s Creed IV: Black Flag sits in a unique spot; many players have already dove headlong into the campaign (read our review), but others are awaiting the boost in store for the game’s release on Xbox One and PlayStation 4.
But in all that fervor over graphics supremacy – and the allure of the game’s sprawling open world – the changes made to the multiplayer portion of Black Flag might be overlooked. To ensure that doesn’t happen, and to let players known just how seriously the game’s online multiplayer is being taken, Ubisoft has released a new trailer detailing the increased customization, new perks and abilities, and increased player control.
The Assassin’s Creed series first made waves when it shaped a multiplayer experience around stealth like few other games had: to blur the line between human and computer-controlled players, granting the ability to hide in plain sight. That idea was surrounded by standard Deathmatch and other team-based modes, but the formula has remained largely the same since.
For Black Flag, the developers have made plenty of changes that inch the experience closer to other forms of multiplayer, which they hope will help their online community thrive, and turn more power than ever over to their players.
First and foremost, that means allowing players to customize their own multiplayer characters like never before, from clothing, color, hairstyles, and more. Sure, those might not change the overall experience, but the addition is a welcome one that seemed increasingly odd not to allow. But those changes pale in comparison to the real improvements.
Previous trailers had implied that the Black Flag multiplayer experience would be extremely similar to that of Assassin’s Creed 3 – albeit with a more swashbuckling flavor. While that might be the case, the new Perks and Abilities players are able to choose from not only allow even greater customization for specific play styles, but from our hands-on time with them, are entertaining from the start. Ubisoft has shown a knack for introducing surprisingly inspired and elegant multiplayer tricks and strategies, and the latest seem to be no different.
The chance to slow time in a specific area of the map might be a problematic design for some studios, but nobody can claim that Ubisoft isn’t open to experimentation. But experimentation only works if the player community is similarly inclined; and with the introduction of Game Lab, the developers are giving Black Flag players the chance to create their own matches, with their own goals and restrictions.
Granted, being able to create custom matches with unique (or ridiculous) prerequisites has been around for some time in the world of online shooters. But the video makes a strong case for why the addition could be a worthwhile one for Creed‘s brand of multiplayer. Customizable matches have always proven that there is just no telling what some dedicated players will come up with next, so hopefully Ubisoft will give players enough tools to do something truly groundbreaking.
We’re all in favor of giving players more power over their own play style and experience, but whether that can attract more players to AC‘s online than are already playing remains to be seen.
Where do you stand? Are you a fan of Black Flag‘s multiplayer, or are you waiting to see if players can concoct a game mode that you simply have to play? Sound off in the comments.
Assassin’s Creed 4: Black Flag will be released on October 29, 2013 for the Xbox 360, PS3, and PC, and on next-gen consoles.
Follow Andrew on Twitter @andrew_dyce.