With Assassin's Creed III set to release in just three weeks time, excitement for Ubisoft's long-awaited sequel couldn't be any more frenetic. Pre-orders are stacking up, and players everywhere can't wait to see what Connor, the newest Assassin for the series, can do. But it's not just about the single player adventure, as Ubisoft Montreal is once again adding multiplayer. The company recently invited us down to go hands-on with two new mode, one cooperative and one competitive, and both a lot of fun.
First, let's talk about the co-op mode, known as Wolfpack. Here, you put together a team of assassins – four in all, each controlled by a separate player – and then make your way through a number of sequences. In each stage, you have to hunt down highlighted targets that are featured on a corner of the screen, ranging from military generals to spies that don't really stand out in a crowd. To track them down, you use a detection gauge of sorts, with small circular notifications pointing out where they are, growing in size as you get closer. Once you're within visible range of your target, the entire circle glows blue, meaning you'll have to act with a little bit of decorum, or else you'll give yourself away.
From there, you can work with your buddies on making the kills. Now, there are certain ways to do it, as, with each sequence, you actually have to meet a certain score in order to get to the next level, and only a limited amount of time to do it in. A simple kill, right in public, will net you 100 points easily (maybe 50 if it's quicker than usual), but if you go a bit more elaborate, like adding an acrobative move to the kill or perhaps even teaming up with friends to take out an entire group with a multi-kill, then you see the points really stack up. The more you do with your group, the better off you'll fare.
One other thing – sometimes your target won't entirely die if you stab them and leave them on the ground. You can hit your attack button and deliver one last swift kick to their skull, adding a cool little point bonus on top of what you already earned for the kill. This enables other players to help out if they see "finish your target" flashing over their prey, so it never hurts to stay put for a second before you go running off towards the next objective.
This mode is quite enjoyable. It's like a Horde Mode of sorts, but you work together as cooperative assassins rather than gunmen, even if the "get to the next level" tactic remains mostly intact. Our demo run-through got us all the way through sequence 22, and there's plenty more where that came from. Just remember to stay on your toes and work cohesively, and who knows, you might just rank amongst the best assassin teams.
The other mode, Domination, is also team-based, but works more competitively between players. You've got two teams of four that are trying to control highlighted objectives on several maps. To do this, you need to stand in the area to take it over, while not giving away your persona to enemies. It's a little difficult, because both team types are shown, but you can use things to your advantage. For instance, don't run up to an area, because you'll give yourself away, as you stand out from other NPC's on the map. Also, you have a disguise that you can use for ten seconds at a time, so if you are spotted, you can round the corner, don your disguise, and lose your tail.
Now, if you are discovered in an enemy's area, here's where it gets tricky. If you overtake the area, you flip-flop what can be done to you, as you can kill them while they only have the ability to stun you. Likewise, if you DON'T overtake their area, they can finish you off if you don't stun them quick enough. We learned this the hard way at the beginning of the match, dying multiple times against producers. But we soon got the hang of it.
Domination offers a thrilling take on the versus component of Assassin's Creed, and the characters we played as provided a healthy amount of variety, between Indians with traditional tomahawks and weirdly dressed doctors who pack hidden hand blades, as well as musket-carrying girls who aren't afraid to lock and load.
The single player campaign of Assassin's Creed III will keep you busy, but you shouldn't overlook the multiplayer. Whether you want to team up with friends or just plain kill 'em all, there's plenty of blood to spill.
Look for Assassin's Creed III on Xbox 360, PlayStation 3 and PC October 30th, followed by a Wii U release on November 18th.