With just over two months to go until its release, Assassin’s Creed IV: Black Flag is easily one of the most anticipated games in the series to date. Its single player campaign promises hours of gameplay excitement, whether you’re exploring the pirate seas or rubbing elbows with legendary characters while adding to your reputation.
However, there’s more to Black Flag than that, as Ubisoft recently showed us with the game’s Wolfpack multiplayer. As you might remember from last year’s edition, this mode allows you to team up with fellow cohorts to hunt down targets or protect objects, like treasure chests, from would-be thieves. Those same rules apply here, though a lot of content has been added to make it feel just as in-depth as the single player mode.
In Wolfpack, you have two different modes to choose from – Discovery and Unleashed. As you start out in Discovery, you and your team will try to rank up as much as possible completing missions over the course of the game. It’s set up more as a linear experience than the previous mode in Assassin’s Creed III, with slightly bigger maps and the ability to communicate better when it comes to killing targets.
As before, the better synchronized you are as a team, the more points you’ll get. Points make a big difference in Wolfpack, because you have to reach a certain amount in order to keep the clock running and reach the next level. So, if you’re coming upon a group of soldiers, don’t just selfishly try to take them all out by yourself. Instead, wait for your teammates, and then coordinate a simultaneous attack that takes them out. That increases your points, and continues your successful run.
Once you become experienced enough in Discovery, you can move up to Unleashed, a more challenging multiplayer mode where objectives change on the fly. One minute you’re hunting targets; the next, you have to protect chests. As you move further into the mode, objectives change rapidly.
In fact, one worth talking about is Infected, which turns the tables and makes you the hunted. In this mode, you have to avoid certain soldiers that are chasing after you, who are highlighted in red. If they catch you, you’ll lose time, so it’s best to stay a step ahead. However, there’s a Pac-Man-style twist to it. If you manage to collect a certain heirloom on the map, the targets become open game, and you score points by taking them out. It’s a neat variation on the “hunt your targets” rule, and pays a nod to Namco’s arcade classic in the process.
Just as you did with Discovery, you’ll want to make sure you keep consistent team communication in Unleashed. It works on the same leveling up system, with points earned for successfully defending chests from would-be subduers and saboteurs – sometimes they’ll send a distraction tool, like a beautiful woman, to throw you off. They also have the power to stun, so you may be able to stand your ground if you get bonked on the head. Just keep an eye out for irregular movement from characters – they run faster than others – and you should survive.
One final piece of the puzzle that Ubisoft has detailed on is Gamelab. With this, players are able to create their own multiplayer experience however they see fit, then invite others to join them. Though we didn’t see this in action over the course of our demo, it sounds quite promising, especially when you consider that there are over 200 customization elements to choose from, including characters and tools.
The gameplay works rather well in AC IV’s Wolfpack mode, just as it did in prior games. You have a similar target-tracking system, with a circular icon that fills up as you get closer to your prey, so you don’t go running in and startling them as a result. This mode also comes with a fine selection of quirky characters from which to choose, each of which is sufficient when it comes to getting a good kill.
These characters include the suave white make-up wearing killer The Dandy, the masked femme fatale The Puppeteer, the sexy pirate Lady Black, and numerous others. You’ll also be able to change bits and pieces of their appearance as well, should you prefer to go with something that suits your fighting style better.
Best of all, AC IV’s online lobby has been redone so it’s a lot more user friendly. We were able to look into options and start a match with ease.
Assassin’s Creed IV: Black Flag should be quite popular when it launches this October, and with its revamped multiplayer, there’s no question we’ll see a lot of growth in battle parties. You can find your crew when the game ships on October 29th for Xbox 360, PlayStation 3, Wii U and PC, and later in the year for Xbox One and PlayStation 4.