bill-swift - September 25, 2012
The key to multiplayer success in Assassin's Creed III is embracing the cooperative aspects of the two game types: Wolfpack and Domination. Of the two, Wolpack places the greatest emphasis on cooperation and get along with your fellow online players. Domination, however, quickly teaches you that simply going in for the kill and overwhelming the opposing human-controlled team is not going to be good for you. As a pair, Wolfpack and Domination multiplayer modes add considerable value to an already outstanding amount of content.
Domination has you picking a team of up to four assassin's going up against another team of assassins to take possession of and maintain one of three territories on a map. From there the rules get very…"unique." A territory can only be possessed when somebody stands in that territory's cylindrical capture zone. The twist is there are a ton of non-playable characters milling about throughout the game area and each team of assassins can blend in and use those NPCs to hide and deceive the opposing team. Standing next to a crowd of NPCs that kind of look like your team will cause your assassin to mimic their behavior and look like just another NPC. This is important because you have to be stealthy while you're in an opponent's territory. So once you're able to stay hidden in enemy territory (by blending in) and identify an enemy (seeing a guy who isn't blending in and behaving like an NPC) on his territory, you can move in and hit him with a stun attack. You can only stun in enemy territory but enemies can straight up kill your assassin when you're in that enemy's territory. This makes special moves like throwing coins on the ground to see which NPCs go for the money (human players won't) or wearing a disguise so enemies won't be able to recognize your team's assassin type very precious.
This stun-kill imbalance depending on territory makes for a very interesting dynamic. Simply getting to the enemy capture zone can be treacherous because simply running to or climbing over buildings to get there quickly will make your assassin stand out like a sore thumb. So even if you're skilled enough to make it all the way to the enemy capture zone, you have to show restraint when you see an enemy assassin lurking about trying to guard his territory. You can't run up and gut him thinking you'll be free to then capture the zone. No, you can only stun him and that guy will recover from your stun before you can finish capturing the zone. Instead of taking out the threat you're supposed to get stealthy and stay stealthy within the enemy capture zone so you can begin the capture process. Then, only when you've started the capture process should you go after any enemies that have surely shown themselves to investigate who's been messing with their territory. It's strange to have to show such control and patience in a competitive team-based multiplayer mode like this.
In Wolfpack there's a similar focus on control and patience over aggression and hostility but it's not as pronounced as what we see in Domination. In Wolfpack you and your assassin teammates need to attack NPC targets at the same time to get the most points and bonuses out of a kill. That is, you will do okay if you simply go lone wolf, so to speak, and snuff out a target with a quickness. However, you'll do way better by doing right by your team when you wait until the target enemies are surrounded by your mates and you all go in for the kill with perfect timing. The payoff there is a cool mini-scene that looks really cool when you get it going just right.
We've run Wolfpack on the Boston map and this one seems very well suited for this kind of gameplay. Coming around corners, hopping across rooftops and swooping down on an assassination target with a bunch of swarming teammates just looks really cool. The Boston-themed maps in Domination is built slightly differently than in other modes and setup to allow for awkward shaped territories. This makes the whole stun-kill thing very trick as you may not always realize when you've crossed from an enemy territory to your own or vice versa.
We'll have more on Assassin's Creed III in the coming weeks because October 30 is just around the corner and we can't wait. For now, watch the video above to get some perspective on what we're talking about.
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