The lights are on
I haven’t yet played Assassin’s Creed IV: Black Flag, other than some brief time with multiplayer at E3 earlier this year. Nonetheless, I’m a big fan of the franchise, and I’m always excited to hear about what Ubisoft is going to do next. With that in mind, here are five things I’d like to see in future games. Read my opinions, and then hop into the comments below to offer your own suggestions.
A Meaningful Present Day Story
It’s fair to say that the modern-day storyline of Desmond and friends hasn’t been the most popular feature of Assassin’s Creed, but that doesn’t mean it should be scrapped. While the modern day story has experienced its ups and downs, it offers a grounding for the fiction and a meaning for the various visits into the past that players engage with throughout the series. Even if some of those main characters in the present aren’t part of the story after Assassin’s Creed III, I’d hate to lose the thread of what happens in the present, or have it relegated to unimportant background without characters or substance. Make the present day stuff meaningful, engaging, and filled with gameplay, and players should recognize its value.
Deeply Crafted Central Story Missions
Assassin’s Creed has always excelled at offering extensive side content, but the central flow of story missions sometimes suffers. While every game in the series has some amazing and exciting set-piece missions, too many quests fall back on tired mechanics that have been shoehorned into new story set-ups. Moving forward, I’d love to see Ubisoft reevaluate its approach to story missions, and spend extra time making sure that the core storytelling and gameplay activities are rock solid before trying to move on to side missions and collectibles.
New Multiplayer Options
I was a big fan of the addition of the cooperative Wolfpack mode that was a part of Assassin’s Creed III, and I’ve always enjoyed the wider cat-and-mouse gameplay at the heart of AC multiplayer. However, we need to have more robust social options in Assassin’s Creed to match with next-gen expectations. Ubisoft has already invested big in social and integrated multiplayer elements for games like Watch Dogs and The Division, so there’s good reason to believe that the same effort will eventually go into Assassin’s Creed. At the same time, I hope whatever new multiplayer shows up in future installments doesn’t infringe on the opportunity for fun single-player content.
When the original Assassin’s Creed released in 2007, the free-moving crowds and ambient NPC noise was a revelation, creating a sense of a living city that was incredibly exciting. Six years later, that crowd hasn’t changed much. As we move into the next generation of gaming, it’s essential that Assassin’s Creed keep up with its competitors by revisiting its ambient population and making them feel more realistic. Players should be able to interact in meaningful ways with all the surrounding people, and in more ways than just knocking them over or pick-pocketing them. We should also have a deeper sense of the ongoing life of these AI characters happening as a background to major story events as they occur. The resulting immersion could pay dividends in making players feel like they’re a part of history.
A Willingness To Let The Series Breathe
Ubisoft has openly touted its plans to keep releasing annual installments of Assassin’s Creed, but with each passing year, I think it’s a worse plan for the series. While I continue to be confident in the Ubisoft development studios and their ability to pump these games out, it’s not good for the health of the franchise. Gamers thrive on anticipation, but too many AC players are getting left behind and becoming numb to the excitement of a new installment. The recent financial and critical success of Grand Theft Auto V is a testament to the value of leaving some space between major entries in a franchise, and I’d love for Ubisoft to reevaluate its cycle of iteration.
Email the author Matt Miller, or follow on Game Informer.