Ubisoft drops Uplay Passport from Assassin’s Creed: Black Flag & future games


Black Flag modified as company changes online DRM policies.

Assassin’s Creed publisher Ubisoft is to drop the Uplay Passport from all future game titles.

The Uplay Passport was designed to lock away online and multiplayer features behind a single-use code, and offered points to users as a reward system for completing in-game challenges. Codes came included with a new copy of a game, but second hand players would be required to buy a Uplay Passport code for an additional fee.

“Uplay Passport will not be a part of any future Ubisoft games,” said the company on its blog.

“The Uplay Passport program was initiated as a means of giving customers full access and support for online multiplayer and features, along with exclusive content, bonuses and rewards.

“However, games today are blurring the line between offline and online, between what is single player and what is multiplayer. Based on that and on the feedback we received from you, we recognized that Passport is no longer the best approach for ensuring that all our customers have the best possible experience with all facets of our games.”

The Uplay Passport has also been dropped from Assassin’s Creed: Black Flag, due for release today, which controversially locked some single player content behind the code.

Opinion: I’m quite sure they did not like the backlash from the community and realized a reversal was needed. As gamers and consumers, more and more we are seeing the power we have to stand up and let our voices be known through social media etc…when it comes to publishers “pushing” their way into our pockets and telling us how we should play. Sounds alot like politics. All in all, at least it looks like we won this battle…for now.

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Assassin’s Creed 4 single-player content locked behind Uplay Passport


Assassin’s Creed 4: Black Flag players are required to own a Uplay passport for the game if they want to manage ships in their fleet and send them out on missions.

They may not like it, but gamers are at least familiar with the idea of an online pass gating off multiplayer content. However, in Assassin’s Creed IV: Black Flag, a noteworthy element of the single-player campaign is unavailable without the Ubisoft’s Uplay Passport.

When protagonist Edward Kenway boards a ship, he has the option to add the ship to his fleet. This fleet functions similarly to your assassin recruits in previous titles; you can send them on missions, and after a varying number of real-time minutes, the ships return with money and spoils. However, we’ve confirmed that your access to this whole loop is gated by the Uplay Passport. In other words, if you borrow the game from a friend who has already redeemed the code (or buy the game used), you don’t get the fleet and the benefits that come with it in your single-player game.

Note that the Uplay Passport is different from simply being a registered Uplay user. Being a part of Uplay is free, but the Passport is a game-specific code included with new copies. According to Ubisoft’s site, the Uplay Passport “will come with a unique code that, when redeemed, grants you access to online multiplayer play, bonus content, and more. In instances where your game’s Uplay Passport has already been redeemed (such as if you’ve bought a used copy of a game) you will be able to purchase a new Uplay Passport code online.”

On one hand, the fleet does include online elements. You are able to have your friends assist you to make missions go faster, for instance. On the other hand, there’s nothing about it that demands this assistance; once you can use your fleet, you can do the missions solo. Previous installments in the series, like Assassin’s Creed: Brotherhood, included similar offline versions of this mechanic.

GameInformer Reaction: We’ve seen online passes for multiplayer modes, but seeing them invade a single-player experience is infuriating. Adding a ship to your fleet is one of only three things you can do after conquering an enemy vessel, so your options are cut down considerably without access to the fleet. After all, as soon as you walk into the captain’s cabin on your ship, the first thing you see is your fleet map on a table directly in front of you. If Ubisoft wants to add a bunch of connected social elements to the single-player, that’s great – but walling off this system because of these minor additions seems unnecessary and underhanded. This also means that your access to your fleet is cut off if you aren’t connected to the Internet while playing Assassin’s Creed IV.You can play through the whole game and enjoy it without the fleet, but the experience will definitely seem incomplete.

 

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Assassin’s Creed takes to the sea and comes adrift


Black Flag’s seafaring impresses the critics, but the series is in danger of losing its identity.

Ubisoft’s Assassin’s Creed franchise is no stranger to critical praise, though it has a tendency to deceive. Of the five console games released in the series so to date, three have undergone a degree of post-launch revisionism: the first game was bold but ultimately disjointed, Revelations asked the player to revisit settings and characters one too many times, and Assassin’s Creed 3 was a jumble of ideas that lacked the charm to compensate for the flaws in its execution. That’s the tone of the general discussion today, but it was far rosier in the past.

Assassin’s Creed 4: Black Flag is the sixth game in the main series – the fifth in little more than four years – and has once again been greeted by the sort of critical reception that makes one forget that digits below 7 even exist. Much has changed since Altair first stalked Jerusalem’s narrow streets, and Black Flag pushes even further into uncharted territory, swapping out the density and detail of the city to pursue Assassin’s Creed 3’s fondness for the great outdoors – specifically, the open sea.

“From a graphical standpoint, Black Flag’s world is built to amaze regardless of which console generation you’re playing it on”

Edge

And Edge can barely contain its enthusiasm for that change, proclaiming Black Flag as a new benchmark, “not only for Ubisoft’s series but for open-world gaming.” Partly, this is down to the novelty of being allowed to play at being a pirate in the first place – a rare setting for a game, if not entirely unheard of – but the sheer breadth and beauty of the world that Ubisoft Montreal calls to mind the huge landscapes associated with games like Oblivion and Skyrim. Black Flag is a visual feast, whatever your console.

“From a graphical standpoint, Black Flag’s world is built to amaze regardless of which console generation you’re playing it on,” Edge’s 9 out of 10 review states. “The tropical foliage in jungle environs has a more dynamic lilt and sway. Watching a cutscene of Edward [Kenway, the protagonist[ speaking to his quartermaster Adéwalé at the stern, the current-gen version assumes your eyes are focused on the conversing men and soft-focuses the background details such as water and passing land, while the PS4 version maintains distinct water surface detail and crisper wood textures on the boat. It’s noticeable, but feels more like the step up we’ve become accustomed to between existing console and PC games.”

And Black Flag’s world provides more than enough excuses to explore its extremities. Assassin’s Creed games are famed/reviled for the surfeit of activities/busywork they contain, but Edge notes a greater effort to make that content fit the lovingly rendered context. The series retains its sense of history and place, fully embracing the pirates life – with its attendant grizzled captains and salty seadogs – and allowing that to inform the gameplay systems and the ways they link together.

“There are echoes of Bethesda’s open-world RPGs, gradually taking you from straw-chewing peasant to legendary badass, so much is there to upgrade. Use your plunder to expand Kenway’s arsenal. Outfit your ship, the Jackdaw, with stronger cannons, or a fetching red-striped sail. Build taverns, brothels and beach-party bonfires in your very own hideout on the Inagua islands. Craft inventory and health upgrades out of animal pelts.

“We never felt like we had enough gold to buy everything we wanted, which seems engineered to push you out to sea to do what pirates do best: raid other ships.”

“Where Edward can feel slow on land, the Jackdaw is lithe and responsive, from the simplest act of sailing to the most pitched of sea battles”

Eurogamer

One thing is certain, a point of praise in just about every review out there: Black Flag does ships very, very well. What many saw as the single greatest feature of Assassin’s Creed 3 is now the core of the entire game, allowing Ubisoft to base its world around a sprawling Caribbean archipelago and add depth to mechanics that did not even exist in the series until a year ago. For Eurogamer, this is most welcome, as it allows Black Flag to transcend those systems that have began to degrade due to age and overuse.

“If successive Assassin’s Creed games have worn you down with the same ageing systems…you should know that these things are still prominent components of Assassin’s Creed 4: Black Flag,” Eurogamer’s 9 out of 10 review states. “You should also know, however, that while they may bog you down occasionally, they are pushed comprehensively into the background by the many other things that you spend your time doing in this open-world sequel.”

And the most successful of these “many other things” are the naval combat and navigation. Indeed, the focus on seafaring completely alters the nature of the experience: the cities are no show-stopping, living museums, as Rome and Constantinople were; Black Flag’s Kingston and Havana are admirable destinations in their own right, but they really exist as venues for moving the story along and earning gold. For Ubisoft Montreal, this time the destination is actually the journey.

“The real game is out at sea,” Eurogamer notes. “Standing at the helm of the Jackdaw, the whole map is open from the start – although the southern seas are more treacherous than the north – and almost every island, peninsula and slip of land has its own combination of viewpoints to scale, treasure to dig up and secrets to reveal. What’s more, the transition from ship to shore is non-existent – you just pull up wherever you like, dive overboard and walk up the nearest beach.

“There’s a great balance and zip to the way you pinwheel around the game’s vast oceans, stripping treasure maps from corpses and sailing to their coordinates, eyeing up schooners and frigates through your spyglass and weighing the value of their cargo against the difficulty of the fight they’ll put up, diving to shipwrecks and underwater cave networks, harpooning sharks and whales to fashion new pouches and armour, and just ramming and broadsiding anyone who gets in your way. Where Edward can feel slow on land, the Jackdaw is lithe and responsive, from the simplest act of sailing to the most pitched of sea battles.”

However, while Black Flag is often very entertaining, some critics have pointed out that it doesn’t feel very much like Assassin’s Creed. Of course, that could be argued as a good thing – originality and innovation are two of the most prized qualities in any game – but there is a growing sense that the series has strayed too far from its core ideas, and the whole construction is starting to look unstable. For Polygon, which awards Black Flag a measured 7.5, the, “the narrative and character strength that held previous Assassin’s Creed titles together…are weaker than they’ve ever been.”

“The moments that best defined the game for me existed separately from the series that came to define Ubisoft this console generation”

Polygon

“Previous Assassin’s Creed games – particularly the main, numbered games – have revolved around the war between Assassin and Templar, the turning points, the meaningful moments. Assassin’s Creed 4 is content to sit on the edges of that greater conflict. Edward isn’t the series’ traditional lead, and his absence of allegiance hangs throughout the game. The inclusion of Assassin’s Creed’s fiction feels haphazard and often cursory; even assassination feels perfunctory. Assassin’s Creed 4 is more comfortable wandering the ocean in search of one big score.”

For clarity’s sake, it’s worth pointing out that Polygon had just as much fun on the high seas as those that scored the game a point or two higher, but the main focus of its criticism is more esoteric than the sort in which the games press generally trafficks. Indeed, the source of fun and satisfaction in Black Flag feels so distinct from previous games in the series, it is only in its niggles and blemishes that the Assassin’s Creed DNA really shows,

“Aside from the brief moments outside the Animus VR construct in which Assassin’s Creed 4 takes place, the moments that best defined the game for me existed separately from the series that came to define Ubisoft this console generation.

“This was my biggest problem with Assassin’s Creed 4. For all of its mechanical improvements, for the wonder I felt as I sailed the ocean, orca, dolphins, even great whites breaking the surface to my port side as I outran a royal trade armada, for the excellent performances and character moments throughout … it felt disjointed. Directionless.”

And Polygon isn’t alone on its introspective island. This curious sense of dislocation surfaces in a number of Black Flag’s reviews, regardless of the score at the end, but none explore it in quite the same detail as Kotaku. Despite giving the game a “Yes” rating, and declaring it, “the most mechanically assured, sturdily designed game in the series,” the bulk of its verbose review is dedicated to where Black Flag fits into the complicated web of mythos and mechanics Ubisoft Montreal has created – and, more pointedly, the ways in which it fails.

“Where lies the heart of this series? After six years and seven games, are we any closer to something resembling a destination? And is that destination-and the volumes of ongoing lore and backstory supporting it-even necessary, or could this game have simply been about pirates?”

Certainly, Black Flag’s many distractions have a greater sense of purpose than, say, Assassin’s Creed 3, and Ubisoft has used some of the knowledge accrued from Far Cry 3 to build them into a framework of mutual dependence, but the sheer volume of content remains overwhelming, and ultimately feels like a distraction. The screen is awash with information: ratings, scores, percentage tallies, information on the next meta-challenge, all in ignorance of the events in the narrative and the inner lives of its characters.

“Where lies the heart of this series? After six years and seven games, are we any closer to something resembling a destination?”

Kotaku

“Here I sit, playing a game until three in the morning, all because I need to get enough money to purchase a stronger rowboat. I need the stronger rowboat so that I can harpoon enough great white sharks to upgrade my armor, and I need to upgrade my armor so that I can take more damage when I try to board that Man of War. I need to board the Man of War so that I can get more metal, which I can use to reinforce my ship’s hull, so I can take on a fort…

“Every time I untangle myself from Black Flag’s disconcertingly absorbing scaffold of rewards and challenges, I can’t help but question my motivations. Why on earth have I been doing this stuff? Was it intrinsically enjoyable, or was I simply hooked on the small rush of regularly accomplishing small goals? Why does the armor upgrade require shark bones? Didn’t I just make something similar with deer hide?

“Black Flag often feels like two games: One, a pirate game in which you can ram your ship into an enemy brig before leaping onto their decks. The other, a bog-standard Assassin’s Creed game, in which you follow guys on the street, decipher a novel’s worth of lore and backstory, and leap off of buildings into piles of hay.

“The first game feels exciting, fresh and at times sensationally fun. The second game feels increasingly tired.”

 

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Will a New Vita Assassin’s Creed be Announced at Gamescom?


Assasins Creed:Rising Phoenix
Hints, retailer listings, character inclusions in next AC… all point to one thing: The next big game for the Vita. More inside:

Assassin’s Creed III: Liberation for the Vita came out last October. It was met with fairly warm reception in reviews, and helped sell Vitas around the holidays with its bundle and crystal white model.

Assassin's Creed III: Liberation
Purchasing Assassin’s Creed III for the PlayStation 3 gave the player the ability to connect Liberation and receive an exclusive mission to play in Liberation as Connor or Aveline, a Multiplayer Skin and an Ammunition Pouch. Nice little touches.
As of February, the title sold around 600,000 units.
No real word from Ubisoft about a Vita sequel, but there are some hints out there, and with Gamescom coming up, there may be some hope that it will be announced there.
Sometimes foreign retailers catch wind of a title and post it on their sites. Recently two such sites have posted the game. One with an October 10th release
A leaked image also came along with one of the postings:
Aveline (the heroine in AC3 Liberation) is also going to be included as Playstation exclusive content in the upcoming AC4: Black Flag. She is older, wiser, and has 3 extra missions with her apparently taking place after Liberation.
Sony promised Vita users some big announcements in the future, more specifically at Gamescom this month. Could this be the next big title for the Vita? We’ll keep our eyes open for any news.

Two New Glimpses of Assassin’s Creed‘s Heroine in Black Flag


Two New Glimpses of Assassin's Creed‘s Heroine in Black Flag

We found out last month that Aveline, the star of Assassin’s Creed III: Liberation, would return in Assassin’s Creed IV: Black Flag, but only on PlayStation. Ubisoft has now shared a couple of screens of her in action and explains how exploring her memories fits with the game’s larger narrative.

For starters, Aveline will age. Her missions in Black Flag are “not directly related to the end of her story,” said Darby McDevitt, the game’s lead writer. Her appearance will provide about one more hour of content, the game’s director says.

 Assassin's Creed‘s Heroine in Black Flag

Again, there won’t be an anchor character accessing her memories (like Desmond Miles). There wasn’t one in Liberation, either. The metastory will approach Aveline as an Abstergo fishing expedition among the genetic memories of a bunch of different people. “The present-day is set in Abstergo Entertainment – which is this fun, hip company to work for… at first,” McDevitt said. This folds in with earlier revelations that Black Flag would do away with anchor characters and the exploration of the past would be done from the perspective of a researcher.

Assassin’s Creed’s Only Heroine is Playable in Assassin’s Creed IV

Assassin’s Creed IV: Black Flag will release on Oct. 29. The Aveline missions will be available only on PlayStation 3 and PlayStation 4, once that console arrives.

Assassin’s Creed IV: Black Flag—Aveline Returns [Ubisoft]

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