Ezio returns in Assassin's Creed Brotherhood, a brand new single-player adventure that continues the story of the Italian ancestor of Desmond Miles. The Borgias have now taken control of the land and the game begins with the targeting of Ezio and his hometown. The assassin's wrath leads him to Rome, where the heart of corruption lies.
You can't finish the job alone. As a master assassin, you need a band of fellow killers to tackle the rough tasks with you. That's where the new brotherhood strategy gameplay comes in, where you can recruit and raise pupil assassins like your very children.
Another big addition to the Assassin's Creed
franchise is the inclusion of multiplayer, which requires players to blend in with their surroundings as they fulfil contract killings of one another.
These improvements alone make Brotherhood more than a simple expansion of Ezio's storyline. SPOnG sat down with associate producer Jean-Francois Boivin to talk about the reasons behind sticking with Ezio, the challenges of introducing strategy, and how multiplayer modes correlate with oak trees.
SPOnG: Why did you decide to focus on Ezio's storyline once more for Assassin's Creed Brotherhood, rather than take on another time period?
There were a couple of reasons – first of all Ezio's story wasn't over. Back when we were working on Assassin's Creed 2
about three years ago, we did some location scouting. When we were looking around in Rome, it hit us quite early on that this city could be an entire game in and of itself. We ended up using other areas like Venice and Florence as well, but we felt there was more that we could do with Rome.
We also wanted to continue a line of history that we didn't get to explore in Assassin's Creed 2
. In that game the timeline started around about mid-to-late 15th Century, where the Borgias weren't in power but the Medici had influence. We wanted to give players the fantasy to grow into a master assassin, but the story ended in 1499. During that time the Borgias do get in power, and we wanted to continue that plot and close the loop on that.
Making a sequel to Ezio's adventure also made sense on a fanbase level, because lots of people wanted to continue his story. Finally, we did it because we can - technically and logistically, we could do it for the fun of closing the story and continuing the story of Desmond Miles.
SPOnG: Would you say that Ezio is more popular than Altair?
I think so – not so much 'more popular' though, but Ezio is certainly more charismatic than Altair was. Altair was a warrior monk, very stern and all about the business of killing. Whereas in AC2
, we grow with Ezio – we see him as a kid, watch everything that happens to him, there's a stronger connection there. Plus he's got a charm and sense of humour that Altair just doesn't have. That might be why people might prefer Ezio, but Altair still has his mass of hardcore fans too.
SPOnG: It must have been quite exciting to have this opportunity to expand on this particular time period, but were there any worries or challenges in focusing a sequel in this direction?
Well, that question sort of assumes that we didn't know what we were doing after AC2
, and that's not the case. We knew where we were going with this license – it would be disrespectful to the fanbase for us to just wing it for every opus. We have a plan, and know where we're going with this for sure.
This time around, we wanted to give the player the fantasy of not just being the assassin, but being a leader of an assassin order. Now, this was hinted at back in Assassin's Creed 1
, where Altair was faced with the leader of an assassin order. And the question's thrown up – what would it be like to be someone like that? This time around you have a chance to do it and to do it your own way.
SPOnG: There's some new parkour moves and other gameplay elements added to Brotherhood – could you explain a little about these for us?
Jean-Francois Boivin: Assassin's Creed
has a lot to do with mastering the environment, so we couldn't have done this without adding a few new free-running elements in there. One of them's the merchandise lift, that lets you go four stories high in a matter of seconds. That's pretty cool.
We wanted to add a lot of new core features to the game as well, because Assassin's Creed Brotherhood
is a full-fledged single player campaign. It's not a slap on, not a mission pack or a '2.5' or whatnot. So we had to make a game that reflects that, with new parkour, a lot more in the Rome upgrade system, improved horses and NPCs on horseback that you can fight against... The fight system has been revamped, which we'll talk more about later on... and there's the brotherhood itself, which is entirely new gameplay.