I only played a handful of rounds of Assassin’s Creed: Brotherhood’s multiplayer, all of them in the basic death-match mode. On the one hand, it was a tense, frantic experience, one filled with paranoia and intense concentration and bursts of excitement; quite unlike the typical multiplayer experience. On the other hand, I didn’t actually enjoy playing it very much.
To some extent, the problem is me. I’m just poorly suited for this type of experience. My preferred multiplayer games are casual, social affairs. Team Fortress 2 and Battlefield and the like, or anything co-operative. Brotherhood is stressful all the time. You’re constantly scanning the crowd for your target while at the same time trying to make sure you move in a way that doesn’t set you apart from the crowd while at the same time worrying that the character you’re passing is actually a player coming to kill you. It’s a deeply solitary in a way that sets it apart even from the death-match modes in other games.
It’s interesting just how different the feel of the multiplayer mode is compared to the single player, even though the mechanics are fairly similar. I’ve been playing a lot of Split/Second, which I’ll talk about soon, a racing game where beyond the increased intensity of racing against humans there’s not a lot of difference between the feel of the single and multiplayer. That’s very much not the case here. In Brotherhood’s single-player, there’s never a feeling of being hunted, and even searching for one’s target is much less intensive than in the multiplayer.
Not all of my difficulties with the multiplayer can be attributed to my personal tendencies, though. I blame the ranking and unlock system. I understand why it’s there. It obviously has all the benefits of player investment that the Modern Warfare system has. But it also means that players are less overwhelmed by the complexities of this unusual mode. At Level 1, players begin with just basic capabilities, and then their toolboxes gradually expand through an escalating sequence of offensive abilities and defensive countermeasures. So, ideally, players learn along the way, and the feeling of the mode keeps evolving as players progress, and so it doesn’t become stale.
The problem, and I assume to low server populations and not inherently flawed matchmaking, is that I kept getting matched up with maximum level players. Call of Duty, because of bad matchmaking, also mixes high- and low-level players, and this is obviously frustrating because the high-level players have access to more tools in addition to knowing the maps and how the game plays. It’s so much worse in Brotherhood, though, because the high level players have access to dramatically better, not just more varied, equipment and abilities. It’s unreasonable to expect me to keep up with these high level players, and what’s more, it’s not fun. Not at all.
With that out of the way, let’s move on to Revelations. What do I want out of the new game? I’m not sure there’s anything to be done to the multiplayer that would bring me in, beyond a robust team-based mode that I actually had friends playing. As for the single-player, number one on my list is a some sort of great set-piece in the Hagia Sophia, like the sequence in the Duomo in the second game. It’s not a building I’ve been in myself but I’ve been intrigued by it ever since reading Guy Gavriel Kay’s Sarantine Mosaic books.
I’d like some explanation and movement on the Desmond storyline. It’s been moving along at a glacial pace for three games, and then it got really confusing at the end there. If it’s going to actually conclude the Ezio story, the it should feature a relationship that leads to him fathering (or at least being in a position to father) a child at its end. That’s actually one of the odd weaknesses of the Animus as a framing device: Ezio is formally unkillable within the narrative.
I assume part of the reason to have Ezio instead of Desmond reliving Altair’s memories through a non-animus method is to give the narrative access to Altair’s life beyond the glimpse that was seen in AC2. I’m actually really looking forward to playing as Altair again. I’m wondering whether his sections will be retro, or whether he’ll be upgraded to have all of Ezio’s capabilities. I sort of hope that it’s the former – I think interesting gameplay could result from restricting the player’s tool-set. I also wonder about whether Altair will have a full open world, or whether it will be individual missions, analogous to the Leonardo missions in Brotherhood. I think I’d like the former. It’s been a while since I’ve played anything with Light/Dark world mechanics, and it would be interesting to see a smart, modern take on the device. But I suspect that Altair’s segments will be more limited. Having two full open worlds to keep track of would just be too much.
Regardless, I’m sure Revelations will be a good game, but I’m not feeling an urgent desire to play it. Assassin’s Creed is great, but I’ve played so much of it in the past couple of years and I’m feeling burnt out. So I’ll probably play it, but not right away.