Ubisoft’s next-gen “Assassin’s Creed Unity” will launch October 28 for the Xbox One, PC and PlayStation 4, and we recently spoke to Alex Amancio, the game’s creative director, to discuss why the title won’t be coming to the previous generation of consoles and how “Unity” will introduce cooperative multiplayer missions to the franchise.
“Assassin’s Creed Unity” is the seventh main installment in the franchise and the successor to last year’s “Assassin’s Creed IV: Black Flag.” The game takes place in the city of Paris during the tumultuous French Revolution and follows main protagonist Arno Dorian’s quest to rise through the ranks of the assassin brotherhood.
“We started working on the game four years ago,” Amancio told IBTimes on Wednesday. “We knew this was going to be the first full next-generation ‘Assassin’s Creed.’ Just for next-gen. We also knew we wanted to add a co-op element. This is what we wanted for a long time, and what fans wanted.”
“We started experimenting. At first, we didn’t know what exactly co-op meant. Co-op could mean many things,” he explained. “We knew we wanted to have the actual ‘Assassin’s Creed’ experience in the game – play ‘AC’, but with other people. We eventually injected a lot of the stuff we were developing for co-op into our single player experience.”
Adding this feature in an effective way wasn’t easy, and the development team took some hints from Ubisoft’s open world action game “Watch Dogs”, which launched in May.
“If you’re playing co-op in a game, who are the other players? We looked to another Ubisoft game, ‘Watch Dogs’, I asked them, who do you play when you’re playing PvP (player versus player)? If you’re Aiden Pearce, they are just some random hacker. From their perspective, they’re Aiden Pearce and some random hacker is hacking into their world. So, I asked, could we do that with ‘Unity’?”
Amancio explained that while playing co-op, players will always see themselves as Arno. He also added that co-op missions would be separate from the game’s storyline.
“We took all the skills we wanted in co-op and put that on our main character, Arno. Co-op missions are brotherhood missions. They have nothing to do with Arno’s quest, they have to do with his duty to the assassins. It’s his 9 to 5,” he said. “When you’re playing as Arno in the co-op missions, all the other assassins are just assassins from the brotherhood. We keep the suit and gear of your friends – now customization has gameplay impact. We just replaced Arno’s face with generic faces from the brotherhood. From their perspective, they’re Arno, and they look at you, and the face is replaced with a generic.”
Though some players are disappointed that “Unity” won’t be available for the Xbox 360 and PlayStation 3, Amancio insists it’s not possible, partially due to the sheer size of the game. One out of every four buildings can be explored, and “Unity” even features French landmarks, like the Notre-Dame Cathedral.
“This is the biggest city we’ve ever created. If you were to take all of the land mass of ‘Black Flag’ and clump it together, it would still be smaller than the (in-game) city of Paris. One out of every four buildings has an interior, we have a crowd we can crank up to five thousands per screen,” he pointed out.
“The game we wanted to make was impossible to make on last-gen. Just the crowds – if the crowd was just aesthetic, you can have an old game with fewer people, but the crowd is a gameplay element,. If you remove that, you change the experience.”
During this explanation, Amancio showed us an especially brutal scene in which French officials are beheading citizens in front of a crowd of two thousand people. Each time someone is executed, one of the officials shows the head to the crowd. We’re told that if we simply observe this scene, up to 100 different people will be executed before the game begins to loop.
This is only one of the elements that will make “Unity” an especially different experience.
“Everything has been really re-done from the ground up, three core pillars – navigation, stealth and fighting. Mission structure – it’s much more your choice, how you want to tackle any given problem, much less about following a linear path, it’s all about your own path through the city. It’s Arno’s journey from novice to master assassin, which reflects your journey from novice to master assassin.”
Stay tuned for more "Assassin's Creed Unity" news!