Assassin's Creed IV: Black Flag Multiplayer Hands On
Last weekend, I not only got the opportunity to go to New York Comic Con, but I was also able to compete against five other players in an Assassin’s Creed IV multiplayer tournament that spanned over two games. Unfortunately, I was about three kills from advancing to the finals.
Before I begin, let me say as an aside, that even though it was played on a PC, I was able to get my hands on with the PS4’s DualShock 4 controller, and it is an awesome piece of equipment. It feels great in the hands, and is super responsive. I could write a whole other article on that bad boy, so if you are planning on getting a PS4, then you are going to be pleased.
Anyway, the Assassin’s Creed IV Black Flag multiplayer is just as frantic as the previous entries. If you are unfamiliar with the multiplayer part of the series, you are constantly on the hunt for your assigned targets, but be aware, you are also being stalked by fellow players. You are the hunter, but you are also the hunted. You feel like someone is breathing down your neck, and they could come from any direction leaving you with unprecedented levels of paranoia as you weave through the crowds. You follow a small compass that points out your target player, and use it to track their movement.
The key to the game is deciding whether you want to be low-key in traditional assassin style, or go all out; giving away your position but putting some ground between you and your pursuers. Both styles have their own advantages and drawbacks, and you must find the middle ground in avoiding others, and catching your quarry.
But sometimes, you just cannot escape the players chasing after you. Thankfully, Ubisoft has given you have some tricks up your sleeves. You can either use a stun powder that hinders movement and messes with the enemies HUD, or you can use a disguise. This last one is interesting because it has offensive capabilities as well as defense, if you are smart.
This disguise will change your character to look like any of the other player models NPCs that litter the area. So for example, you can use it to hide next to other similar looking characters, buying you precious time if your pursuer accidentally kills the wrong person. Another neat trick is cutting visual sight with your pursuer and then quickly throwing on the disguise to lose them in a crowd. The offensive capabilities come in handy if your target has already spotted you. While they will be looking for your character in the crowd, you will be able to sneak up on them in another skin.
It’s a game of cat and mouse, and it is ridiculously chaotic. While you can insta-kill enemies, everyone has the ability to score points by countering an attack at the last second. If you press the counter button right before they strike, you might even be able to stop their attack, and force them to acquire a new target.
During my first round, I tried to take it safe and slow. Maybe too slow. Every time I approached a player, they saw me and managed to counter me. Although I was only killed a few times with my defensive tactics, I could only manage 3 kills. Next round I would have to do better.
I do a 180 and decide that I’m going big or going home. I sprint around the map, weaving through doors and hurdling over buildings to get my guys. The problem is in my haste, I repeatedly kill the NPCs instead of the player controlled characters. I keep fighting on, avoiding enemies by ducking through crowds and using those special abilities to lose them.
It is coming down to the last second, I am one kill behind 1st place, and it’s looking bleak. But there, in the distance, my map is pointing to a running character. I sprint full speed, ducking through other players, and at literally 0:01 left, I catch my quarry and snap their neck (with some satisfaction may I add) to win the game.
It was an awesome gameplay experience, and a definite improvement on previous iterations of the series. Most people play the Assassin’s’ Creed series for the single player story, but the multiplayer element is an often overlooked part of the game. I would suggest you not miss out on it. Assassin’s Creed IV Black Flag ships out on October 29, so you better get ready!