At Comic-Con 2012, Ubisoft has lifted the lid on the brand-new co-op mode to be introduced in Assassin’s Creed III. Titled “Wolfpack,” the mode will send teams of up to four players to find and assassinate NPC targets under a time limit.
As the mode progresses, killing targets becomes more difficult. Uninvolved NPCs will not interfere with the slaughterfest, but lookouts, decoys, and other targets may become spooked by high-profile kills. Stylish and synchronized kills will net players more XP, but reckless behavior will result in players being thrown to the ground and made to wait for assistance from a fellow assassin. Each defeated wave adds time to the clock, and the mode has 25 available waves which scale in difficulty.
For single-player, Ubisoft has unveiled some new stealth mechanics and dynamic side quests which improve upon the somewhat stale pattern of previous Assassin’s Creed titles. Also, a tour of in-game Boston. Wicked good stuff after the break.
Overall, it’s brilliant news that Ubisoft has approached Assassin’s Creed III with, as Creative Director Alex Hutchinson described it, a rule against “re-treads.” Assassin’s Creed II, Brotherhood, and Revelations all suffered from agonizing feature creep which tended to bog down gameplay. Focusing on the stealth, assassination, and elegant city movement which draws players to Assassin’s Creed will go much further towards increasing the quality of the game, rather than working in some new crafting tool or Monopoly-style investment mini-game.
To me, the best part of the gameplay demo is the moment when Connor calls in a team of assassins to pretend to handcuff and hold him prisoner so he can bypass the guards. Previously, the ability to summon trainees always felt pointless, as though Ezio were just calling them in to watch them do in two minutes what he could do in thirty seconds. As a game mechanic, it was basically the button which allowed the player to not play the game. Giving the trainees a specific and strategic role in gameplay forces the player to think about when and how they are best used.
As for the Wolfpack mode, it looks like a good start. Assassin’s Creed as a series provides a lot of room for more strategic gameplay than simple hunt and kill, but Wolfpack can lay the foundations for that kind of intense co-op experience.