Assassin’s Creed 4: 80 hrs long, new mechanics & how Abstergo nearly hired your friends
OPM: In terms of the balance between core missions and outside activities, what do you see in terms of how much content there is time-wise and also how much do you hope each player invests in these side-stories? Different players have different inclinations.
JSD: We have so much content it’s quite crazy to say it. The main story is at least 20 hours. In the open world you have stuff to do for at least 50 or 60 hours. You have super-ships at the corners of the map, which are ships you wouldn’t be able to destroy until you are maxed up, then you have to understand the Captains which are like in-game bosses. So 20 hours to finish the main story, 60 hours to kill the ships and we are really trying to sort of tie both in together. So for instance sometimes you need to upgrade your ship to survive in a mission, so then you’ll probably start to wonder outside the main game.
OPM: How do you feel about competing and standing out in the open-world genre? It’s a busy genre with GTA 5 obviously out, Watch Dogs from you guys…
JSD: The thing with GTA is obviously it’s going to be a crazy, crazy time-sink for everyone but it’s also going to create interest in those games for more people, they’ll crave something more exciting in a month or two. They’ll play it like crazy, as some do even for the past five years, that’s the only game they’ll play, but then they’ll be like “open-world games are so cool, what’s that?” Then they’ll be like “pirate game – woohoo!” And with Assassin’s Creed, we’re very different in our approach to the open-world. It’s two different fantasies: do you want to be a thug in the modern day or a pirate in the Caribbean? It’s also different [to GTA] because of the mechanics.
“Everyone’s excited about next-gen, so
we have to show the game on next-gen.
It’s gorgeous [on PS3]. I don’t think that
people will feel at a disadvantage”
OPM: Do think anyone who doesn’t upgrade to PS4 is going to feel short-changed if they get the PS3 version having seen trailers and footage of this version being so beautiful? Will they be disappointed?
JSD: I think, again, we’re going through a time of transition, so even for communication – everyone’s getting excited about next-gen, so we have to show the game in next-gen [form]. We’ve maybe seen less of the game in current-gen [so far]. But, seriously, it’s gorgeous, great [on PS3] and I don’t think that people will feel at a disadvantage. So yes, if you have the money for the new hardware, just go for it. It’s going to be even more beautiful. But if you want to continue with your machine and wait the experience will be exactly the same.
OPM: At the start of a new console cycle typically we see – as you’ve mentioned- better textures, graphics, draw-distances and then innovation tends to take a little while longer to take place. Where do you think next-gen hardware, and PS4 in particular, allows for more innovation than PS3 did?
JSD: I think it’s a question of connectivity and the capacity to have open-worlds that are spaces of opportunity with other players also. So I feel like we’re going to a place where the games are going to become platforms that will be used for years and also used as [social] spaces. Soon it’ll be a situation as with the app store, so it will be a very easy opportunity to release the game. Creating games that are around a few years [too], that are around for years, as platforms [themselves], not just a few weeks and then [it's onto the next game]. For the PS4 especially, there’s the Vita, which is really something we’ve loved to explore.
OPM: We’ve seen the Remote Play demonstrated, is it really as good as it looks?
JSD: Yes, yes, it’s super-cool. And we were talking with Sony about how we would allocate the buttons, because there were questions, sometimes you’d trigger something [by accident] so we worked with them on that.
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OPM: Multiplayer in Assassin’s Creed sort of came out of nowhere, people said “do we need this?” And then people really liked it. What are the big innovations this year? How do you see it moving forward?
JSD: For Black Flag there are two main innovations. One is the mode that allows you to cast your own modes, parameters and share them with friends, the community. And the other is they pushed way forward the Wolf Pack mode, taking down AIs with friends: now there’s a story with that and many more levels. More conditions to be played. That’s the biggest innovation this time. For the future we’ll see multiplayer and co-op having way more weight for many games, for many years to come.
OPM: We see a lot of things on the horizon – shared worlds where you’re playing your game, someone else is playing their game but you’re in the same place; it seems to me that’d work well in Assassin’s Creed. Do you think that sort of shared world experience could have a place in the series?
JSD: Actually, in terms of multiplayer and shared world, they are things we had to deal with, and even cut, on this game. First, the present day was supposed to be exactly what you’re talking about. So the Animus next to yours would have been your friend on PSN. And after that we had to make decisions to show that we could ship the game and make it the best possible and so it was dropped. We also wanted to have Naval battles and we’re still dreaming of that but… yeah. I think Assassin’s Creed is totally relevant for this kind of experience.