Spending some time with the Assassin’s Creed Brotherhood beta has admittedly left me a little paranoid. I can’t spend two seconds outside without spinning round in fear of something stabbing me through the neck from above. That’s mainly because Ubisoft has managed to take the worlds it creates with the Creed games and put them online with impressive results. Convincing crowds of people hustle round the town going about their business, only now you know there are other vicious assassins dotted amongst them, and they want your blood.
Brotherhood is a first for the Creed series, bringing multiplayer into the mix with a host of modes, maps, and characters. I’ve been scouring round the streets of Rome (in the beta) for the past few days and I’m happy to report that Brotherhood looks to match last year’s Assassin’s Creed II if not leap right up over it.
I spent most of our time with the beta playing the Wanted mode, where eight players take up the role of an assassin and go after another player. Everyone is given one person at a time to kill, creating a cat and mouse aesthetic. If you kill the wrong target or suffer the wrath of another player you’ll lose points, while running will alert your target to your presence. It’s a lot of stuff to keep in mind, but it leads to a surprisingly deep and well thought-out game, carrying over much of what made the single-player so great.
It takes some getting used to; it’s nearly been a year now since we last played with Creed’s unique setup and there are always the other players that seem miraculously good this early on. Soon enough I’m scrambling over rooftops and diving into hay stacks with ease though and feel ready to give this mode a proper chance.
Each class in Brotherhood features has the same set of basic skills and then a few signature weapons. For the beta I stuck with The Priest class because I thought that would make me a little less suspicious in the crowds of people. Turns out I was wrong but he still looks cool.
Every game follows a similar setup of tracking down the target while avoiding one’s own assassins, but the unpredictability of online means that no two matches are the same. A lot of the time I’d make my way to our unsuspecting target but then break into a run a little too early, leading to a chase sequence where – more often than not – those fleeing slipped through my fingers. To top it off I was usually stabbed in the back a few seconds later because it’s pretty darn hard to pick out talented players from AI.
But that’s the beauty of Brotherhood; learning. You’ll come out from every game with something new to bear in mind, bet it a way to slip past the crowds and grab your foe quickly, or give the person after you a nasty surprise. It’s seemingly a game that has a never ending learning curve, always giving you another reason to head back in and try out something new. Call of Duty might make you the fastest shooter, but Brotherhood’s set to make you use your brain, something we rarely see in multiplayer these days.
I might voice a bit of a concern about controls though; Creed‘s free-running as always been silky smooth and super easy, but it’s pretty punishing too. Free-running normally sees the player belting ahead, which can often lead to mistakes like jumping off a very, very high building. Sure, more often than not this is the player’s fault but that doesn’t stop the fact it’s frustrating to ruin the perfect plan by holding L1 and X a second too long.
Overall though we’re excited to get further into Brotherhood’s multiplayer when it launches. The beta has offered but a glimpse; when we get a full set of maps and modes we’ll really know what it’s capable of. The single-player will get the job done as usual but online is where Creed can truly innovate.