Former Ubisoft technology director Julien Merceron reveals that the original Assassin’s Creed game was at one point set to include a multiplayer mode.
Today, it’s more than likely that most AAA releases will have a competitive component — in fact, gamers are more likely to see a title omit a single-player campaign than neglect to offer online multiplayer. At a recent conference in Paris, former Ubisoft technology director Julien Merceron revealed that the original Assassin’s Creed was meant to feature multiplayer support.
Given how well-known and popular the series has become, it’s easy to forget that the first Assassin’s Creed game was released just eight years ago. The first title received a meek response from critics, as it wasn’t really until its first sequel that the franchise began to find its feet.
That said, the first game is certainly a technical marvel. The representations of cities like Jerusalem, Acre, and Damascus were mind-blowing at the time, and certainly one of the more impressive early uses of the previous generation of console hardware.
We might have found the game even more impressive if Ubisoft had been able to include the multiplayer modes that were being experimented with. Based on a report from DualShockers, it seems that a co-op option was in the works, although it’s unclear whether it was integrated into the main campaign or completely separate.
Merceron also noted an interesting bug spotted before release but after the multiplayer content had been cut from the game. Apparently, inserting a second controller caused another player character to appear on screen — however, this was caught and removed before the game hit store shelves.
Online multiplayer would of course be introduced officially with the release of Assassin’s Creed: Brotherhood in 2010. Subsequent titles would make this content something of a focus, but the trend was bucked by this year’s Syndicate, which featured no multiplayer component of any kind.
It’s interesting that Ubisoft made the decision to cut multiplayer from Syndicate, especially in light of such a mode being considered for the very first Assassin’s Creed title. It may well be evidence that developers are taking note of fans who would rather see a solid base game, than a title that tries to do too much and suffers for it.
Regardless, it demonstrates how a major franchise can change drastically over a period of years. Clearly the original game’s developers felt that multiplayer was a good fit, as least in theory; since then, fan response seems to have suggested otherwise.