Home Editorial Balance Assassin’s Creed 4: Black Flag multiplayer gameplay wishlist

While my worst fears about Assassin’s Creed 4 multiplayer will probably never manifest, Ubisoft has confirmed the return of (most likely) traditional Assassin’s Creed multiplayer. The unique and compelling gameplay we’ve seen since Brotherhood is all but assured to return – if for no other reason than the fact that it’s so easy to port over into the next title.

Fans of the cat-and-mouse style hunting are certainly sopping with anticipation, but even with how well AC3 multiplayer fared, it wouldn’t be okay to grant Ubisoft a completely free pass. So here are my own must-haves for AC4: Black Flag PvP.

#1 Enhanced private match settings

Casual and competitive players can agree that, as it stands, private match options in Assassin’s Creed multiplayer are terrible. There are basically no options whatsoever, continuing between sessions is painful, and the entire lobby system itself is fundamentally broken. So even when you can play with friends, doing so on your terms in a fun and productive way isn’t always easy.

Why not add tons of private match options? Doing so would give players of every skill level a fun way to enjoy AC4 with friends, as well as test their skills with a host of gameplay variations. Here are just a few examples:

  • Play with restricted abilities, perks, and streaks, or none at all
  • Launch a predetermined playlist of maps and modes
  • Strengthen or weaken indicators like radar or whispers
  • Change time limit, or play to a set score or kill limit
  • Silly toggles like “players drain approach while on roofs”

The list goes on and on… I’m sure you can imagine some hilarious and/or skill-strengthening trials yourself. A simple addition like this could greatly prolong the lifespan of Assassin’s Creed multiplayer… and it could even uncover some as-of-yet unknown competitive mode.

Speaking of which…

#2 Competitive/e-sport support

I hope AC4 multiplayer isn’t like AC3’s, where the setup for competitive play is suboptimal. Limited lobby sizes, skittish party dynamics, and a complete lack of spectating tools means running in-game events is exceedingly difficult. Hell, every time Top Tier Tactics has run a tournament, we’ve been forced to bracket everyone into groups of seven just so I could join in and record. For a game that’s so close to being a real e-sport, that’s not acceptable.

What I’d like to see is replay functionality added to Black Flag. With simple replays enabled, matches can be recorded more easily for posterity (and anti-cheat measures), not to mention more in-depth post-game analysis. Commentators like yours truly will be able to ghost through the map and capture key assassinations and the planning that led up to them. Yes, other settings would be nice, like full-on spectating, etc… but if private matches get an upgrade and other features are implemented on top of replay capture, the rest should take care of itself.

Hand-in-hand with the video recording/uploading power of the Playstation 4 (and undoubtedly, the Xbox 720), AC4 multiplayer will reach new levels of online proliferation (as will all console games).

#3 Minor balance adjustments

I’ve said it before, and I’ll say it again: Assassin’s Creed 3 is very well balanced, especially in comparison to the easy-mode skill options in Revelations. That said, there’s always room for improvement. Sure, I don’t know exactly what skills will be carried over into Assassin’s Creed 4: Black Flag, but assuming most AC3 abilities make the jump, here’s what I’d change:

  • Closure: Delete this skill; nothing can save it
  • Disruption: Make more disruptive, possibly mess with directional input
  • Glimmer: Increase duration to match that of Disguise
  • Money Bomb: Do this ability a favor… trash it
  • Pistol: Double normal aiming time… but instant aiming vs high profile players
  • Poison Dart: Apply approach meter bonus (Silent, Incognito) to these kills
  • Smoke Bomb: Remove the ability to throw Smoke Bomb or halve its duration
  • Throwing Knives: Increase cooldown to make other ranged skills more viable
  • Wipe: Exchange range crafting for number of targets affected crafting (capped at 1, 2, 3)

Other changes:

  • Animus Hack: Decrease the points per kill again to a 75-point multiplier
  • Mass Morph: Change this effect so it does not reset on death
  • Sentry: In addition to more lock time, approach doesn’t drain out of LOS
  • Loss Bonuses: For the love of Juno, buff everything other than Score x2
  • Chains: Somehow make chain stun baiting in Assassinate less profitable
  • Alliance: Bring this back Ubisoft! This game mode is ingenius!

Most of these changes should be fairly self-explanatory, but feel free to include your own suggestions in the comments. Like I said, AC3’s multiplayer is surprisingly well balanced, so I’d shy away from drastic changes like “remove Smoke Bomb” or “make Glimmer totally invisible.”

#4 Nerf LOS & whispers, boost stealth

My final (and possibly least popular) request for Assassin’s Creed 4: Black Flag is a huge boost to stealth-based gameplay. Assassin’s Creed 3 made several gains in this direction, primarily by eliminating the obnoxious Revelations stun prompt and increasing the importance of the approach meter for score optimization. Unfortunately, these boons fall short at higher level play since experienced Templar can use Line of Sight (LOS) and “the whispers” to easily detect even the most well-hidden adversary.

The whispers, those ghastly sounds that grow as one’s killer approaches, can easily identify an assassin from a mile away, literally. There’s a set distance at which whispers start, ramping up in tiers as one’s killer closes in. I won’t advocate removing these mood-setting audio files, but why not eliminate the volume ramp on whispers instead? Keen players would still have warning when their enemies are approaching, but they won’t be able to rely on audio radar to pinpoint the exact distance of their would-be killer. Instead, they’ll have to rely on their skill at observation and/or their active abilities.

Of course, this wouldn’t be fair if pursuers still had so many of their own detection tools available, which is why I advocate eliminating all LOS meters. Line of sight cues, whether on the radar itself or in a character portrait, are basically cheating – they allow anyone to almost instantly “screen” a correct target from a small group of lookalikes. As such, its existence makes stealth pointless in many situations. The normal distance/detection based location system would still be there, just no automatic identification light!

By bringing both of these computer-assisted tools a few pegs down, both hunter and quarry would be greatly incentivized to stalk in low profile. Targets could more reliably count on Morph, Blender, and Disguise to protect them, and pursuers wouldn’t be instantly ID’d as soon as they got within a certain range. In FFA situations, players would also take more time to plan and execute their approach, knowing that playing it cool will more likely guarantee their safety from their own pursuers!

Shooting for the moon

What are the odds Ubisoft will make these additions to Assassin’s Creed 4: Black Flag multiplayer? Well, if you recall a year back, they actually addressed almost all of my proposed changes from Assassin’s Creed: Revelations to Assassin’s Creed 3.

If that doesn’t give you hope, I don’t know what will!


21 replies to this post
  1. I haven’t had the chance to test the abilities of AC3, I will get to that soon but from what I saw in your videos I do agree with all of that.

    I would really enjoy a more stealthy gameplay as well, really nothing more to say I think you’ve got it covered really well! ;)

  2. 1. Whispers should be less accurate when your pursuer is silent or incognito.

    2. Smoke needs a shorter basic duration, so it is harder to stun two pursuers with one smoke bomb or get addtional bonuses.
    Crafting (two points into duration) should give you time to stun two pursuers.

    3. More NPCs to slow down the overall pace of the game.

    4. I agree, that the LOS meter right now is too accurate. Players with some experience can not be fooled by morph, decoy etc.

    One solution (maybe for a new Wanted variation) could be, to replace the LOS meter with an area meter:

    The meter rises to silent as long as you are close to your target. When it reaches silent you get rewarded with a LOS indicator.

    5. New modes: I have so many ideas for new modes, I hope the MP gets announced officially soon, so the community gets the chance to bring in some ideas…

  3. Kill the whispers! They’re too goddamn annoying. Instead, put in dog/wolf barks (Or howls) if a pursuer is close, and make a cat start meowing if your close to your target. There. Everything simplified.

  4. Rather than destroy the ENTIRE WHISPER AND LOS HELPERS,
    why not just make a separate game mode for that instead?!
    maybe add a few tweaks here and there, such as different types of blend groups, all in order to make gameplay more enjoyable for those who want it more stealth orientated?
    (btw a moving the 10 minute limit to 15 minimum for stealth matches would be nice)

  5. I just want the game-mode ‘Corruption’ to come back – it was so awesome and it provided the game with more variety on the FFA front.

  6. What if the LOS cues were kept in, but as a temporary ability that lasts a couple of seconds with a relatively low cooldown? I still haven’t played this multiplayer at all, but it seems like it could be good to keep it around as an option where you have to give up some other useful move in order to assist your target hunting from time to time. Maybe increased whisper sound could be built into it too for defensive purposes. Might also be nice to have that around for newer players so they have some assistance on learning to identify their target/killers!

  7. Toss. Bloody. Assassinate.
    Am I alone on that opinion? Yes? Alright, fine.

    In all seriousness though, nerfing Smoke’s duration does sound like a fancy idea. It’d prevent instant bloody focus bonuses with no skill involved at all, as well as stunning a pursuer, building another approach bonus, signing the Declaration of Independence, and still killing your target before it wears off.

    Perhaps, perhaps then it could finally be frickin’ balanced. Maybe we could also remove its instant deploying and just add some decent server hardware, which would have the same effect on being killed through your Smoke, with less bullshit involved.

    Okay. Besides Smoke Bomb, I still can’t understand why they trashed all the good modes, but kept AA in, the toyiest of all. What’s next, is AC4, the sixth installment in the series that was originally a trilogy before Ubisoft discovered that the blood which comes out of a milked out money cow’s utter is still worth SOMETHING… as I was saying, is it going to feature Domination, but not Wanted?

    I’m giving Domination too little credit here, am I. Perhaps I just don’t like coordinating with other people, a reasonable thought when I could also be STABBING THEM!

    Oh, also, add a kickvote to Wolfpack. In literally every single public session I’ve tried to play, there was somebody running into the FIRST GROUP, oSBing, then getting three 150 point kills, and/or SHOOTING targets from a sync kill. Honestly, I can’t tell if they’re that retarded or retarded enough to think that that classifies as trolling and funny.

    How about this: Let the whispers kick in from a general range of about where they do now, with fixed volume regardless of distance, but the exact distance where they do is randomised a few meters back or forth?

    On that note, make LoS show you the group that your target is in, so that it lights up the moment any of that group’s NPCs comes into sight. Surely, you should be able to take it from there.

    And, hey, while we’re here, how about the following changes to Assassinate?

    – After a lock is taken, the time to receive a contract (or expose) is heavily increased up to a few seconds such as to punish pursuer fishing. Hell, maybe it’d even enforce stealthy gameplay in Assassinate! It could be the same time as today when the autolock mechanic is used due to the person being in high profile.

    – After you stun somebody, neither of you can interact with the other for a bit. You get a chance to escape and, once out of sight, plan hunting for them yourself. A stun meaning essentially that your next kill is free and worth much more is retarded and it should be that way.

  8. Great ideas, WiNGSPANNT.

    Here are a few of my suggestions, some of which I also posted on the UIbisoft forums:

    Factor in individual performance in team modes—after a game, award/deduct points for BOTH team win/loss and individual achievement. Otherwise, players will continue to back out of games they think their team has no chance of winning because currently you can’t win ANY points, no matter how well you do personally, if your team loses. I actually received an encouraging response from one of the forum managers about this.

    Ubisoft MUST figure out a way to distinguish players intentionally quitting a game from host disconnects—players should not lose points because of a networking problem. This issue alone caused me to stop playing AC4 multiplayer (the final straw: three disconnects in an hour undid days’ worth of painstaking work up the ladder). Host disconnects are a major issue in AC3, and I understand this lies at least in part with the P2P model Ubisoft uses. They really need dedicated servers.

    Have separate team modes for clan-affiliated players and independent players—that is, offer a matchmaking system for team games in which team assignments are entirely based on balancing all players’ ability levels. As an independent player, it is extremely difficult to find games in which I’m NOT matched against four prestige clan members who collectively are much stronger than the players on the team I’m assigned to. Why should I have to join a clan to realistically have a chance to advance in team games?

    Include more maps—if we can use characters from previous games, why not maps from previous games as well as the current one?

    Shrink the explanatory panel that for several seconds blocks out most of the screen at the beginning of games. I can’t tell you how many times I was dropped into a game just when an opponent rushed by to grab an artifact but I couldn’t do anything about it because I couldn’t see anything!

    Players in team lobbies should only vote on the map, not the mode—either that, or players who don’t want to play a different mode should have the option of withdrawing before the game starts. In fact, players should be able to withdraw from games after team assignments—SO much time is wasted waiting for the game to load and then quitting (within the first minute to avoid a point loss) after the game has already started.

    It seems that points are awarded/deducted based on who starts a game, but not who finishes—while players who quit prematurely are penalized with a large point loss, their teammates who have remained are also indirectly penalized because they are far less likely to ultimately win the game, but the scoring system doesn’t consider this.

    Vary spawn points—players unlucky enough to be stunlocked by opponents in their spawn site can’t escape!

    Need a Ubisoft-specific reporting system for cheaters; going through the console (e.g., Xbox) is completely ineffective—Microsoft doesn’t seem to pay attention to these reports and isn’t intimately familiar with the game’s issues.

    I strongly echo your suggestion to provide an option to record games directly on the console.

  9. I like the idea of removing LOS. Keeping only the proximity meter and heartbeats would make it more interesting to track down your targets.

    With the pursuers, what I’d like is to have the whispers completely replaced by another proximity meter. Red light off, you’re on the clear. Red light on, panic! Nothing else. It would not only disable your target’s ability to sonar you out, but also diminish your tension as a target because, you gotta admit, the whispers are ANNOYING.

  10. I think the whispers s hold be like brotherhoods. They have one volume level, and they don’t get louder as your pursuer approaches. Ac3s whispers made good kills too difficult, and is why I no longer play ac3mp.the smoke bomb should not work if I presses the kill or stun button befor you tossed it. I find it annoying to be on someone’s back but they be saved cause of a late smoke bomb. And the LOS needs to be dealt with. It nc outrages random guessing and spares you waiting for your target to come out like you should be. Also, some new modes! Where is corruption?! I loved that mode!

  11. More character customization, people are still running around looking the same as each other, more costume options and more than three style options would be great

  12. Przęsła ogrodzeniowe są idealnym rozwiązaniem jeśli chodzi o zakup systemu grodzeń, jest idealny zarówno na
    terenie publicznych posesji, ale również przy najzwyklejszym ogrodzeniu sadów oraz terenów strzeżonych.

    Wybórprzęsł ogrodzeniowych zapewnia kuratele przez amatorami cudzej
    własności. Główną cechą chzakterystyczną jest
    duża funkcjonalność. Dużym plusem takiego rozwiąznia,
    jest też jego trwałość oraz łatwy montarz.

  13. This is probably the most intimately high-skill tiered forum online. Usually idea forums like this are riddled with as many bad ideas as good ones, and seldom have a high ratio of good ideas. But wow, you guys really got to work. I am an avid AC multiplayer, with a combined 50 prestiges over the past 2 titles, and I want to improve gameplay in every lobby I’m in, and you guys really hit the nail on the head. rg3fan1 and wingspan I applaud your realistic, reasonable, and doable approach to improving gameplay. I completely agreed with every syllable you uttered. bump assassinate mode, fix lobby joining and connections, fix te mode quits, adjust smoke bomb duration, adjust whispers and los. The games as they are now are geared towards stealth, but some small adjustments can cause them to require stealth. one idea I thought of a while back was multi team play, where 4 teams of 2 can compete, one decoy the other killing, and letting the players control the pace. I know, the idea doesn’t sound so great after you guys opened the eloquent floodgates of excellent ideas. I can see AC taking over competitive mp in the next few years, and with ideas like these it’s impossible not to. again, excellent, clear ideas, and if ibis off wanted to make a lot of money and build the worlds biggest online fanbase, they would listen to this forum alone.

  14. Well I think they need to put in a feature to customize your weapon like the handles of the swords and guns and even the blow dart and to make it os you can have your own skins on the guns and on the sword so if you wanted to the gold on to your sword you could and for instance same with a gun and to also be able to make your barrels longer or shorter and to make your sword longer or shorter or to forge your own sword to the way you want it to look this would have been a very good detail to put in that would probably make them and much more rated game and better gameplay to give the player all the control of the game and same goes for the daggers you customize those to your liking different color wrist launchers and to also make them different color blades to different color robes and to make your ship different colors if you choose

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