This article is an excerpt from the upcoming Assassin’s Creed 4 Black Flag Multiplayer Strategy Guide.
When it comes to identifying your target, abilities are great and all… but you won’t always need to use them. In fact, you should refrain from using them too often since you may need them for emergencies and activating an ability will usually give your identity away to every player in the area (including your own killers).
Once you’ve closed in on your target and are attempting to differentiate her from the crowd, watch carefully for these telltale giveaways.
- NPCs take predictable, circuitous routes and rarely cut across open areas
- NPCs rarely walk through chase breakers and never appear on roofs
- NPCs do not fast walk and cannot appear in the fast walk animation
- NPCs in static blend groups tend to orient in cardinal directions (N/S/E/W)
- NPCs have automatic reaction animations to some player actions
- This is obvious, but NPCs don’t kill, stun, use abilities, taunt, or teabag
- Players will often wobble when moving and looking simultaneously
- Players are more prone to make sudden, 90 or 180 degree turns, especially on PC
- Players who are spamming the Assassinate button will perform a subtle hand motion
- Players in a moving blend group are highly unlikely to be at the head of the group
- Players in static blend groups sometimes stutter or shift if blended poorly
- You can blend with even one NPC, but you will not be able to blend with a player
- Hay bales do not typically emit smoke
Memorizing, recognizing, and mastering these tells is critical to overcoming basic mistakes every new player makes. Behavioral detection is the foundation of the multiplayer metagame, after all: smart opponents will be doing everything possible to blend into the crowd until the last second, and they’ll be scanning for any possible indication that you aren’t one of the digital sheeple milling around on a preset route. Think of it as a reverse Turing Test. And if you don’t know what a Turing Test is, now’s a good a time as any to ask your pal Google about it.
The meta aspect of behavioral blending also means you’ve got to be on the lookout for strange behavior. If your target is a prestige player and you’ve caught her running in circles in an open field, I’d bet you thirty-two million Abstergo credits she’s got a nasty trap set for a sucker like you. Most likely it’s Throwing Knives, Smoke Bomb, Tripwire Bomb, or Bodyguard. Use something like Wipe or Sabotage to shut down her plan, or simply shut down her central nervous system with a Pistol shot to the face.