Yo, ho, yo, ho, it's a pirate's life for Assassin's Creed IV. The newest entry in the increasingly-crowded Assassin's Creed franchise focuses on those scurviest of dogs — pirates! At this year's San Diego Comic-Con we spent some time with its multiplayer mode to see whether it should walk the plank or fly its flag with pride.
Several characters are available for players to choose from. They're all standardized with the same abilities, with the only difference being each character's aesthetic appeal and personality. There were only a handful of avatars available in this multiplayer build, but the Ubisoft representative assured us there would be more on release day, and we wouldn't be surprised if they offered additional characters as downloadable content. Players have several levels to choose from; and, like most good multiplayer games, the choice of arena can significantly impact play experience by offering different hiding places and geography to parkour across.
The Assassin's Creed series is known for its free-running antics, and that's an option here too, though you may not want to make use of it too often in multiplayer. "Hunt and be hunted" seems to be the motto of the gameplay. Each player receives a contract on the life of another player and must hunt them down, all the while avoiding being killed by the player who has his/her contract. A navigation ring at the bottom of the screen gives a general indication of your target's location relative to you; this allows you to chase them down or, if you're feeling particularly clever, hide out until they wander naively by you and then striking them down like an achievement-hungry cobra.
To aid you in your mission to slay your target, you have the standard Assassin's Creed parkour skills (though running across rooftops is a good way to get yourself noticed by your would-be assassin), a pistol which requires a bit of charge-up to fire and has a lengthy cool down to discourage wild, blind-firing antics, a temporary shield ability to use when you notice your pursuer noticing you, and a disguise ability to throw others off of your scent. Hiding is a dominant element here; players who learn to make deft use of the surrounding objects, people, and their disguise ability will quickly rack up the kills and stay off the radar of opposing players.
If you're familiar with Assassin's Creed you'll catch on to the multiplayer quickly, and the smooth controls make it easy for players to do precisely what they want, when they want. All in all this unusual style of multiplayer made for a methodical game of cat-and-mouse, (with players each performing the role of both cat and mouse simultaneously). If you're familiar with the multiplayer found in previous titles you'll essentially know what to expect here. Outside of the more pirate-y aesthetics we didn't see anything here to differentiate the gameplay from the multiplayer modes of Assassin's Creeds past, but the core experience is still a hunting, stalking, assassinating good time.