Ubisoft went all out with its Assassin's Creed IV: Black Flag promotional push last week at Comic-Con. Along with presenting a terrific panel, the company converted the Star of India pirate ship into the Dackjaw for the event, inviting players on board to check out a new single-player mission – which we previewed in a previous article – as well as the refined Wolfpack multiplayer mode. We recently had a chance to go hands on with this and, yep, it's as glorious as you remember.
Though the game will also introduce competitive multiplayer, where teams go head-to-head while using stealth and weaponry to bring down their opponent, Wolfpack will be prominently featured. As it did in Assassin's Creed III, this mode focuses on cooperative efforts, where a team of up to four players have to work together to bring down targets within an allotted time frame. The more successful they are, the longer they get to go through the challenges.
Points are awarded for each kill, and you're actually given more if you collaborate your efforts with your teammates. That means killing targets at just about the exact same time so they all stumble to your feet at once. If you want to run off and be a loose cannon, you're more than welcome to, but adding up the points will provide the opportunity to extend to the next level of play. So, it certainly doesn't hurt to play nice with others.
Wolfpack has two modes that we've seen so far. The first is the more casual Discovery mode, where you take on mission-based objectives in an effort to extend your time by killing certain targets. Then there's a much more difficult Challenges mode, where things change up over the course of each level.
For instance, one stage has you hunting down targets, and the next has your team defending three treasure chests within about two minutes' time. It's much harder than you think, because you could have disguised bandits run up and knock you off guard, taking advantage of your lack of defense and breaking open the chest. It's important that you have men (or women – the game isn't biased with its selection of killers) standing post near each of the chests without looking too obviously like they're defending it.
Another interesting sub-mission is Infected, where you have to avoid certain targets that chase you over the corners of the map. If they catch you, you'll lose precious seconds, and could very well miss out on reaching the next tier. However, there's a Pac-Man-like power-up you can locate during this round, which turns the tide and allows you to hunt and kill these Infected targets. It's really quite cool, and a lot of fun to play.
Wolfpack's multiplayer setup is quite convenient. You can select lobby roaming and other options with ease, and the various characters available, from the vicious Lady White to other assassins of male and female variety, will keep you busy – even though they have the same general strengths when it comes to agility and killing skills. You'll easily become accustomed to your favorites.
The map selection was a bit sparse at the time of the demo – we only got to select the one, which takes place in an island-based selection of a nearby city – but it's vast, with plenty of room to run, above and below, and no shortage of targets to hunt down. The same detection system that was used in Assassin's Creed III returns, allowing you to pinpoint your prey with ease thanks to a circular-based system that lights up as you get closer.
We know that single-player will be a huge focus for Assassin's Creed IV: Black Flag, but it's nice to see Ubisoft put some emphasis into the multiplayer portion as well. We'll see how it all comes together when the game ships on October 29th for Xbox 360, PlayStation 3, PC and Wii U, and later on for Xbox One and PlayStation 4.