Ubisoft has decided to forgo multiplayer in the upcoming Assassin’s Creed: Syndicate, which will be released on October 23 for Xbox One and PlayStation 4 with a PC release to follow later in the year.
Since Ubisoft’s Assassin’s Creed (AC) series is well-known for its historical fiction story mode, the multiplayer is often shunted from the limelight. Notwithstanding co-op in Assassin’s Creed: Unity, AC multiplayer is traditionally competitive. Each player is assigned a target that they must assassinate; each player also has one or more pursuers who are after them.
AC multiplayer in past titles have offered a host of modes. Gamers can compete independently in Deathmatch, Wanted, Assassinate, Steal the Artifact, and Corruption, or in teams via Manhunt, Artifact Assault, Chest Capture, Escort, and Domination.
Popular events organized by the community include the Master Templar Mayhem (MTM) Assassin’s Creed: Revelations Manhunt tournament and the Aztec Venom Kings’ Assassin’s Creed 4: Black Flag Artifact Assault tournament. Self-proclaimed “fourth best commentator on YouTube” WingspanTT has even made a couple of rap songs set to multiplayer footage.
Patience and timing are key to AC multiplayer. Players must manage their kills with an approach meter, which rewards stealth with higher points; the longer your target is in your line of sight, the more points your kill will be worth. Utilizing the environment to the player’s advantage is also crucial. Pouncing from rooftops, striking from a crowd, and kicking or shooting slain rivals’ corpses are all worth extra points.
These mechanics pander to a different set of skills than the in-the-moment precision that is required for first-person-shooters like Call of Duty or the chess-like strategizing needed to master League of Legends. AC multiplayer competitors must strike silently and carefully before returning to cover. While trolling other players with firearms is fun, it is not worth many points. Ubisoft rewards getting in close to kill with knives or, even more profitably, poison.
But AC multiplayer has had its detriments. Its 2014 iteration, Unity, had “major problems with frame rate, random crashes… bizarre graphical and collision glitches” and “major connectivity issues.” In-game, players are often concerned about “pull-back lag,” during which the character executes a move, only to get dragged out of the animation and into another, often costing players a kill, stun, or artifact score.
Addressing Syndicate, the upcoming AC release, Ubisoft CEO Yves Guillemot said “you don’t have a multiplayer mode on this iteration because we want to spend all our time on making sure the single-player is excellent.”
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