Assassin's Creed: Brotherhood Pt. 1
15th Jun 2010 | 01:30
The Assassin's Creed franchise returns sooner than expected this year with a direct sequel for AC2, Brotherhood.
As Ezio's story continues he is now a legendary Master Assassin in the city of Rome. That's all very well and good but it's the never before seen multiplayer that we're interested in.
Read part one of our interview with Ubisoft Montreal designer, Patrick Plourde to find out exactly how this new layer to the epic tale will work.
Assassin's Creed 2 came out last year, Brotherhood is coming out only a year later. Do you worry this is going to dilute the brand?
Honestly, I think Rainbow Six: Vegas 2 was actually appreciated. I think if this was a completely new setting with a new hero one year after, we would probably surprise the player and maybe reactions would be 'this is probably rushed'.
For us, since it's a direct sequel to AC2, it's a continuation of the Ezio story we know and we'll be able to convince people that actually it's not rushed. It's like a new season of a TV show. We have established characters, we have an established setting, we can move on to just telling a brand new storyline, introducing new skills, new features within a known frame that we actually spent more time polishing and figuring out how we're going to introduce new characters.
The thing is it's going to be proven with the game, we have the script written down and it's as big as AC2. We promise when players play it they will realise the scope. On our side, we know it's ambitious, it's interesting and there's a lot of content we're going to provide to players.
I don't think they're going to see or feel anything different. The technology is ready, we know what we are doing and we know our character. We're building on top of AC2. It's going to be pretty big.
As you've explained you've done lots of stuff but would it be fair to say this is Assassin's Creed 3?
In terms of scope, yes it is Assassin's Creed 3, in terms of a brand we want to keep the numbers for when there is a new protagonist and a new era. It's more consistent. So you have Assassin's Creed in the crusades, Assassin's Creed 2 which is in the renaissance... let's say that we go onto the moon for Assassin's Creed Astronaut; that is going to be Assassin's Creed 3 - I don't want to spoil anything.
The historical setting is so important in the franchise.
I'm sure some people will say 'it's the same character and setting, you could have done this as DLC'...
For me it's like Uncharted 1 and 2, it's Nathan Drake, it's the same time period and it's the sequel. It's the same angle, we have Ezio and I think in terms of narrative what is interesting is, for AC2 it was all about the growth of Ezio from a young Florentine nobleman to a master assassin who was more rugged in his early 40's.
With the end of AC2 you had that guy as a master assassin; he'd been on a mission all his life and then he learns that he's a prophet, but a prophet that is just a vessel for a message and that message has been delivered. You learn that in the vault at the end of AC2 so what's the goal of your life next?
I think, also, to start with a guy that is middle-aged, you're in a period of your life where you're changing your focus, you're more retrospective; 'what am I going to do with my life next? What is my next step?'. It's a new step, a new beginning generally for people and I think it was a huge opportunity for us to work with that. We wanted to explore what going to happen to him next. And that is what players are going to see.
At the end of the second game, (SPOILER) you kill, or take down The Pope. Where do you go from there? Sure that is the biggest figure in renaissance history, who else is left?
That is actually his son, Cesare Borgia, who was at that time leading the Pope army, the most powerful military force, and he is actually the inspiration for The Prince, written by Machiavelli. Rodrigo Borgia, the actual Pope at the time didn't die until a couple of years after. If you read the storybooks you're going to see how twisted the Borgia Family was, they are the perfect villains for Brotherhood.
There's a lot of room to play with the story here, even in how Rodrigo died, it's not clear who is involved in it. It's their story so it's already written. We're just putting Ezio in the middle of it. I think people are passionate about the renaissance even today. It's not going to be just one game that dries up the well.
There are two types of players: single-player guys and multiplayer guys and they are generally found clashing in forums. We have that in the storyline. We thought we'd play with the idea of Assassins who clash with the Templars. In the same disc we're going to have two experiences that are going to talk about and expose the conspiracy.
The multiplayer is going to be focused around the Templars quest to build the ultimate army, and why. This fits their motivation. It's competitive, aggressive, and there are a lot of people included. It fits the Templar mentality, the storyline and vibe, so that is why we're experimenting on that side.
In the single-player it is still the assassin, the unique guy who wants to build a community but, I think it's the oil and water thing we wanted to express.
You said the multiplayer is a very different setting. That's a big step to make, particularly on Xbox Live where everyone is playing Halo and Call of Duty. What do you think your multiplayer brings that will put it up there with those games?
It's a different experience. The emotion doesn't come from the same place. If you play Halo or Call of Duty it's not going to be comparable. Our pillars are different. It's about blending, moving freely; it's all going to be there - that sense of freedom.
But you're also an Assassin. You're killing AIs and at the same time being tracked. I think that little love triangle - following a guy that is following a guy who is following me, is bringing something to the table. I think with what we've planned in terms of progression, skills and abilities is going to provide new experiences with a lot of depth. After that it's up to the player's to decide what to do with their playing time.
The core experience is fresh and unique but everything around it, progression and online features like leaderboards and making friends, will be on par with similar titles.
We're trying to design something unique and put the Assassin's Creed stamp on it and make it fit into our universe. That is real important for us.
You're changing the combat in the game because you said players didn't seem all that happy with the way it worked in Assassin's Creed 2. Is it just a case of changing the counter moves? Are you tweaking them a bit or are you not doing it all?
I think that a lot of players liked the system but it was too defence-centric. For some players it was hard to exploit the potential or be really good at it. Instead of saying 'let's water down the counters' we're keeping them as they were, interesting and powerful. Instead whenever the player takes the initiative he's going to get better counters and kill faster.
We're going to approach this in two ways. First we accelerated the pace of the fight. We looked at the code and saw how we can get rid of the situations where guards are standing there waiting for their turn. So, what we did is to allow guards to enter a queue when you're doing an action, but let the player react to it. So you could be countering a guard but there is another guy waiting so I can either finish him and receive damage or counter-kill the second guy instead. So the system is more fluid, more reactive.
The second angle is that as soon as the combo is started, every other guy, until you get interrupted, will be killed in one shot. You have to look at who is going to attack next and if you get into the right rhythm you can actually dispatch a bunch of guards extremely fast. It's visceral and addictive; right now we already have competition on how many kills per minute and stuff like that. We're going to add a little more to that at E3.
You talked a lot about how Ezio has developed, how are Desmond and Lucy going to develop in this game?
The game is a direct sequel to AC2 so, yes, we're going to have them feature. The story will continue and there is going to be new twists and turns. They finished, escaped in a van and the players will find out what is going to happen next.
We've just learned some new skills from the bleeding effect from using the Animus and there are some things we hinted at in AC2 that we're going to explore more in depth, but at this point that's all we can say.
How are you going to add to the world given its familiar settings and characters?
The city of Rome lends itself well to presenting new characters who are very present in that location, more so than in Venice or in Firenze. Of course we're going to have Machiavelli play a huge role in this storyline. We'll see a little bit more of Leonardo Da Vinci and of course the Borgia family who is going to play a huge role.
If you look at history books you'll see there are a couple of interesting characters linked to that family who played a role in some sort of conspiracy or at least the corruption of all Rome's political power at that time. We're going to try and explore all that but keep the most interesting part of history that fits with Ezio's mandate in Rome.