Hoist the mainsail! Scuttle the jib! Other water-based activities! Stop doing them all, because a new Assassin's Creed 4: Black Flag trailer has sailed into view, carrying a cargo of nautical narration on a sea of stabbing, shooting and shark attacks. Because in trailers, just as on the romanticised high-seas, it's customary to punctuate even the most solemn of speeches with random acts of violence.
X-COM creator Julian Gollop on "brute force" blockbuster game development and the lost promise of intelligent AI
In a genial interview, strategy-game elder statesman and creator of the original X-COM: UFO Defense Julian Gollop talked to us about his imagined alternate history of gaming, his preference for procedural systems, and how he feels modern games have abandoned the promise of advanced AI in favour of shinier visuals and reward mechanics designed to massage players' egos.
Gollop first came to GDC in 1995, to discuss AI, when turn-based strategy games like UFO / X-COM were the cutting edge, just as RTS was taking over. “In those days, I believed firmly that the future of computer games was all about AI. That in twenty years time we'd be interacting with NPC characters in computer games that actually had real intelligence and could respond to you in really intelligent ways. Boy, I was wrong. So wrong!”
Assassin's Creed 4: Black Flag sailing in from the salty mists so soon after Assassin's Creed 3 signifies Ubisoft's drive to annualize the series on a regular holiday release track. Some fans worry the saturation of Creeds will dull the appeal of sticking sharp metal objects into bad men as a hooded killer. For Ubisoft Montreal head Yannis Mallat (via Eurogamer), however, it's full sails for the yearly cycle unless players say otherwise.
...And pillaging, jumping, leaping, dramatic pose striking, sailing, shooting. Judging from this first game footage of Assassin's Creed IV: Black Flag, pirate assassin Kenway isn't going to be short of diversions on his 1715 tour of the Caribbean. Exciting stuff, but players of previous Assassin's Creed games will no doubt be wide-eyed in fear of the endless tutorials Ubisoft will take to painstakingly teach all of these activities.
As revealed earlier this week, Assassin's Creed 4: Black Flag is a very real thing. Hot on the sails of the popular naval battles from Assassin's Creed 3, Black Flag charts the high-seas adventures of Connor's grand-sire Edward Kenway and his time moonlighting as a member of the assassin order while leading a pirate crew. Ubisoft's latest trove of screenshots shows more glimpses at plunder-prone tropical locales (including a couple concept art sketches), Kenway's totally non-compensating arsenal, and a frozen moment from a full broadside. We've also got more info and shots for all you landlubbers in our preview.
The first three Assassin's Creed games are about Desmond Miles. Oh, you don't remember? That's fine. It's easy to forget such a bubbling font of personality, even though we wouldn't have controlled his way cooler ancestors and their Templar-slaying skills if they hadn't sprung from the mind of the world's most vegetative assassin. He's no longer the center of attention in the upcoming Assassin's Creed 4: Black Flag, but Ubisoft isn't entirely ignoring Mr. Miles in the context of the franchise's meta-arc. In a self-published Q&A (via All Games Beta), Creative Director Jean Guesdon says the character remains "a very important legacy" for Black Flag and beyond.
After revealing the sequel's gun-strapped hero on the box art of Assassin's Creed 4: Black Flag, Ubisoft wasted no time in preparing a debut trailer to leap from its towering marketing mast. A countdown ticks away the trailer's launch in three days, but DarkZero switched on its Eagle Vision and found a now-deleted hidden URL displaying a banner proclaiming an October 29 release date for the radically piratical fourth-quel.
What if Altair's knight-punching and eagle-diving across the ancient Middle East wasn't a solitary affair? As Assassin's Creed III Mission Director Phillippe Bergeron tells OXM, a "huge" drop-in co-op mode was planned for the first entry in the stalk-and-drop franchise, but the creation of modern-day Animus-warmer Desmond Miles sunk a spring-loaded blade into the idea.
I am pursuing a man in a tricorner hat through the streets of colonial New York. In the top-left of the screen, Assassin’s Creed III instructs me to chase him. In smaller text just below it, there is a secondary objective: ‘do not shove or tackle anyone’. I turn sharply into an alleyway and barge past a woman, earning myself a red X on the mission log and losing my ‘full synchronisation’ bonus. I’m not sure why I want to be fully synchronised, but the completionist in me insists that I try again.
A few attempts later, I’ve figured out a system. Stop sprinting when the alleyways give out onto open streets, edge carefully around pedestrians, and continue. It’s ludicrous - why on Earth would I not shove someone, if the fate of a nation was at stake - but I’ve not incurred the red X, I’ve not lost my bonus. I chase the man and, as is tradition, wait for the cutscene where I catch him. It doesn’t come. We pass through the same fishmarket for the second time and I realise that we’ve done a lap of central New York. The game is waiting for me. Oh! I think. This is an assassination. I do those.
Ubisoft have perched themselves on the top of a tall building, hoping to scan for clues as to the direction to take the inevitable next entry in the Assassin's Creed series. TGL have posted a series of screenshots of a survey sent out by the company, hinting at possible features that may be introduced.
Console players will get their paws on Assassin's Creed 3 next week. We'll have to wait until November 20 in the US and November 23 in Europe, sadly, but you can absorb a 90 second montage of the action courtesy of the launch trailer, which features fighting on the high seas, some great big battle scenes, a bit of tragic back story and one particularly cruel groin kick.
An analysis of the Windows 8 app certification requirements by programmer and tech blogger Casey Muratori suggests that games with a rating over PEGI 16 or ESRB Mature will not be allowed on the Windows 8 storefront.
This means we won't be seeing many of the current crop of games on the store, or, given the proliferation of rating-baiting neck-stabbing seen at E3, many of next year's either - not unless publisher's are willing to heavily sanitise their content.
In interview with Rock Paper Shotgun, Stephanie Perotti, Ubisoft’s worldwide director for online games, has said that the company has decided to remove the need for a permanent connection to play its PC titles.
Assassin's Creed 3 isn't all about the new setting and locations, it also contains many new ways to hit people. Hatchets, bayonets and rope darts are a few of the more brutal tools at Connor's disposal. Capturing those kill moves takes a lot of time, effort, and serious stuntmen men in ball suits. The latest Assassin's Creed 3 gives us a look at the processes that go into realising all that on-screen violence, and contains a few tips for British troops from historians.
'Don't walk down open roads in bright red suits' being the soundest pearl of wisdom of the lot. Watch Connor break people in ways you couldn't imagine in the trailer below.
The latest Assassin's Creed 3 trailer is framed as an Animus advert created by the ever-friendly but obviously evil Templar front, Abstergo Industries. Here they show off a few new Assassin's Creed 3 multiplayer modes, including "Domination," a team-based, four vs. four point capture contest, and "Wolfpack," which sadly isn't about a gang of wolves hunting lone assassins through the snowy wastes of early America. It's a co-op mode that has you hunting AI targets against the clock. Every successful kill lets you kill again. See? Abstergo: evil.
Live action trailers are all the rage now aren't they? Yesterday there was the Rome 2 announcement trailer and now CVG have spotted this one for Assassin's Creed 3. The two are so similar it's almost like the cast of the Rome trailer ran behind the scenes and changed outfits in between the two.
Ubisoft have released a new trailer for Assassin's Creed for US Independence Day. You might think it features a curious lack of assassins, as protagonist Connor Kenway appears only at the very end, but you'd be wrong. In reality, Connor actually appears in every frame, you just can't see him, because he's so damn stealthy. If you look carefully at 0.10 you can see he disguises himself as a rank and file soldier, while at 0.30 he impersonates a dead body and at 0.26 you can just about make him out hiding in a man's hat.
Ubisoft are having a sale on Steam this weekend, with 33% off the vast majority of games in their catalogue. There are also daily deals - until 6pm GMT tonight you can get the Ghost Recon Complete Pack, including every game up to GRAW 2, for £6.24/$7.49.
See below for other highlights and links to our reviews.
As reported on Eurogamer, an author is suing Ubisoft for copyright infringement relating to the Assassin's Creed franchise. John Beiswenger claims that Ubisoft have lifted various aspects of the series' plot from his 2003 novel, Link.