While the single-player mode of Assassin's Creed IV: Black Flag will feature a huge open-world joined by ship travel, the multiplayer will be skipping that one aspect. In an interview with VG247, multiplayer developer Ubisoft Annecy explained why the series' biggest new addition isn't great for killing your friends.
"You have to take into consideration that it took a very big dedicated team in Singapore about two-and-a-half years to do it for the solo [play]," lead multiplayer game designer Tim Browne told VG247. "In Black Flag it's even better, but for solo. We've looked at it and we've considered it. We seriously considered it. We think it would be cool, but at the same time we tried it, and for technical reasons it's impossible."
"One of the big added values of the naval battles in single-player is how they simulate the ocean. The ocean is really a toy. You have big waves, waves that stop your cannon balls: you have to play with the ocean. If you want that to be good in multiplayer, it means we have to perfectly replicate the ocean," said director Damien Kieken. "It was one of the big hurdles. We didn't want to go into that. It definitely wasn't feasible in the time [we had]."
In the end, the team at Ubisoft Annecy decided it was best to stick to what works. A number of other franchises have added multiplayer that didn't quite mesh with the single-player game, while Assassin's Creed multiplayer not only plays well, but fits into the story of the world.
"We looked at the DNA of multiplayer, and we thought that ship battles aren't really being the cool assassin," said Browne. "With multiplayer it's all about you working either as a team of four players or in free-for-all, where you want to be the best player. It's not so much about piloting a ship and using cannons to destroy the opponent's ship."
This year, Assassin's Creed IV's multiplayer will also include Gamelab, a mode that let's player customize their matches. Pistol-only matches? Good to go. Hidden blade only? Bring it. Player-created Gamelab modes can be shared with the community and the best will be promoted by Ubisoft in-game.
"We really wanted to give more power to our community this year," Kieken told VG247. "This is the fourth multiplayer installment, and we really asked ourselves, 'What can we do this year to please the community, to make them happy? Where can we go?' One of the answers was just to give them the content, to let them do what they want."