Assassin's Creed Revelations hands-on multiplayer preview

New modes, new maps and revamped everything should make stabbing friends in the back even more fun

Assassin%26rsquo;s Creed Revelations multiplayer blowout:Interview with multiplayer director Damien Kieken|
How to kill a games journalist in Assassin%26rsquo;s Creed Revelations|The multiplayer's story revealed

When Assassin%26rsquo;s Creed finally dipped its toes into multiplayer with last year%26rsquo;s release of Brotherhood, the unique new mode %26ndash; created by Ubisoft%26rsquo;s studio in Annecy, France, best known for their work on Splinter Cell%26rsquo;s spies-vs-mercenaries multiplayer %26ndash; quickly distinguished itself as one of Brotherhood%26rsquo;s standout features. Favoring a stealth-based approach in which everyone was not-so-secretly hunting everyone else, it was a tense, intimate experience that put crowds, hidden abilities and plenty of climbable Renaissance architecture at players%26rsquo; disposal.

With Assassin%26rsquo;s Creed Revelations drawing closer to its November release, Ubisoft Annecy isn%26rsquo;t dramatically reinventing AC%26rsquo;s approach to multiplayer, but it has been adding a bunch of new features aimed at making the game even more accessible to new players %26ndash; and at keeping them hooked once they start. And after experimenting with them firsthand at the Annecy studio, we%26rsquo;re already eager for another round.

Some of the changes are obvious; for starters, there%26rsquo;s actually a complete storyline to follow now, as your Templar operative moves up through the ranks of Abstergo. There%26rsquo;s also been a big push toward customization and implementing more robust community features. And while at first blush Revelations%26rsquo; multiplayer might look like the same climby, stabby, six-to-eight-player hunt-while-being hunted game we%26rsquo;ve been playing since last year, there have been a lot of significant changes to the gameplay %26ndash; as well as a new Middle Eastern motif to match the single-player story%26rsquo;s move to Constantinople.

To that end, we saw three new maps %26ndash; Antioch, Constantinople and Knight Hospital %26ndash; and played through them as nine new characters, including the Assassin-looking Deacon and Sentinel; the burly, turbaned Bombardier; the masked Renegade; and the toga-wearing Thespian, among others. Of the three maps, two of them %26ndash; Antioch and Knight Hospital (apparently part of a larger Rhodes map) %26ndash; were small and intimate, with a few large, open areas that made them perfect for Deathmatch, one of the two new match types we played.

We know, we know %26ndash; modes called %26ldquo;deathmatch%26rdquo; are usually the antithesis of new. However, Revelations has found ways to make it interesting, positioning it as a faster, more accessible version of Brotherhood%26rsquo;s Wanted match type (which is still in Revelations). Here, some of the more %26ldquo;complex%26rdquo; aspects of Wanted, like the onscreen radar, the chase/escape rules and your opponents%26rsquo; character models being repeated in the crowd, have been removed. Success, then, comes down to tracking your (unique-looking) prey with an onscreen proximity meter that lights up when they%26rsquo;re in your line of sight.

Once you%26rsquo;re on to your quarry, however, things are a little more complex than they were in Brotherhood. Your approach matters, and depending on how creatively and/or quietly you kill them, you%26rsquo;ll rack up a lot more experience points than you would if you simply ran up and bashed them to death in front of everyone. In fact, if you do that, you%26rsquo;ll likely be at a serious disadvantage; responding to community demands to make the game more balanced for the prey, the developers at Annecy have implemented what%26rsquo;s known as the Contested Kill/Honorable Death system. This means that your prey hits the %26ldquo;stun%26rdquo; button at the same time you hit %26ldquo;kill,%26rdquo; they%26rsquo;ll fight back a bit before you deliver the final blow.

If you%26rsquo;re the hunter, there are several drawbacks to this. First, your opponent will get points for stunning you, even though he/she is dead. Second, it%26rsquo;ll create a slightly more drawn-out scene likely to draw the attention of your hunter. Third, you%26rsquo;ll stagger around in a helpless, %26ldquo;wounded%26rdquo; state for a few seconds afterward, making you obvious, vulnerable and a prime target for assassination. You%26rsquo;ll still get the kill, of course, but the risk-reward ratio makes it far more worthwhile to kill quietly %26ndash; maybe from a crowd, with the Poison ability, if you feel like netting a ton of points. However we chose to tackle them, though, the deathmatches were quick, challenging and enormously fun.

Deathmatch wasn%26rsquo;t all we played, of course %26ndash; we also tried out Artifact Assault, an Assassin-flavored twist on Capture the Flag. The huge, sprawling Constantinople map, with its tight alleyways and huge buildings, proved ideal for this. Here%26rsquo;s how it breaks down: two teams (each sharing the same character type) square off to steal each other%26rsquo;s artifact, located deep in enemy territory. As long as you%26rsquo;re on your team%26rsquo;s side of the map, you%26rsquo;re a hunter, with the task of weeding out enemies (who, of course, are repeated in the crowds) before they can grab your treasure %26ndash; and, once they do, of chasing them down and killing them before they can make it back to their own base.

Once you%26rsquo;re on their side of the map, however, the game takes on a different dynamic. Here, you%26rsquo;re prey, and you%26rsquo;ll need to make your way to the enemy%26rsquo;s base, steal their (possibly defended) artifact and bring it back to your safe zone. You can take a stealthy approach, hiding in wandering groups of people and using a temporary disguise. You can even be a jerk and wait for a teammate to grab it, then hide nearby while the guards are occupied, wait for the artifact to be returned and then slip out to grab it while nobody%26rsquo;s looking.

Simply tearing ass across the rooftops, grabbing it and making a run for the nearest chase breakers (things like lifts and gates that slam shut behind you) works great, too. In any case, you%26rsquo;re going to have to run once you%26rsquo;ve got the thing, because everyone %26ndash; friend or foe %26ndash; will immediately see your location onscreen.

ABOUT THE AUTHOR

After graduating from college in 2000 with a BA in journalism, I worked for five years as a copy editor, page designer and videogame-review columnist at a couple of mid-sized newspapers you've never heard of. My column eventually got me a freelancing gig with GMR magazine, which folded a few months later. I was hired on full-time by GamesRadar in late 2005, and have since been paid actual money to write silly articles about lovable blobs.
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