VGU Co-Op Review: Assassin's Creed III's Wolf Pack mode

Ubisoft managed to give Assassin’s Creed fans a fun new spin on multiplayer when they first introduced it in Assassin’s Creed: Brotherhood. However, one thing the multiplayer in both Brotherhood and the later-released Revelations was lacking was a dedicated co-op mode. With the release of Assassin’s Creed III last year, Ubisoft finally gave co-op fans what they wanted with a new cooperative mode called Wolf Pack.

The Thrill Of The Hunt

Assassin’s Creed III’s Wolf Pack mode has a simple premise: either alone or with up to three teammates, players must track, stalk, and eliminate specific NPC targets while racing against the clock. A typical Wolf Pack game consists of twenty five “sequences” that progress as players kill their targets and increase their score. Higher sequences become progressively harder as the NPC’s become more and more cautious and employ various tricks to deter the players. Certain sequences also contain a “sync kill” opportunity in which players have a small window to trigger a beautifully choreographed multi-kill cinematic.

A player’s total progression for their multiplayer profile is shared between both Wolf Pack and the standard competitive modes and any perks and powers that are unlocked can be fully utilized in Wolf Pack, though some powers that are otherwise useful in competitive play might not be so handy in Wolf Pack (more on that later).

A Lone Wolf’s Playground

One of the main advantages of Wolf Pack, whether you’re a co-op fan or not, is that it’s the one mode that doesn’t require other players to play. Even if none of your friends happen to be online and you don’t feel like throwing yourself into the competitive arena you can still enjoy a casual game of Wolf Pack or two.

Playing by yourself does have its advantages and disadvantages. While you can’t trigger some of the more elaborate sync kill sequences, playing by yourself is an excellent way to learn the layouts of the game’s various maps and figure out how to counter the tricks some of Wolf Pack’s later targets will try to use against you.

Multi-kills are easier to pull off if you have a buddy or two backing you up, but unless you have a dedicated group of friends to play with, actually making it through all twenty-five sequences is much easier to do solo since the somewhat…aggressive tendencies of most random players don’t work well with Wolf Pack’s more coordinated and cautious pace.

Tricks Of The Trade

As I mentioned earlier, all the available powers and perks you can unlock can be used in Wolf Pack but with a few key differences. Since the players in Wolf Pack are always the pursuers and never the targets, any perks or powers that work best when a player is being pursued don’t have a lot of use in Wolf Pack. Same goes for any challenges or accolades that require a player to perform a defensive action against a pursuer.

In the long run this isn’t really much of an issue since even defensive powers like Firecrackers and Morph can help pick out an NPC target from his lookalikes but other powers like Disguise and Teleport have virtually zero worth in Wolf Pack and a majority of the game’s challenges are designed with competitive play in mind (any challenges that require performing an action against another PLAYER instead of a TARGET cannot be completed in Wolf Pack).

Rolling With The Pack

Like most co-op modes, Wolf Pack works best when you have a dedicated group of teammates to play with. While it isn’t really necessary to succeed, coordination is the key to racking up some truly impressive Wolf Pack scores and pulling off some of the mode’s more impressive sync kill sequences.

Certain actions such as being able to perform ground finishers and (naturally) revive teammates who get stunned by an NPC are not available if you’re playing solo so if you want to complete any challenges/accolades associated with those actions, get ready to make some friends or brave the online matchmaking scene. Wolf Pack also has three progressively harder difficulty settings so dedicated teams who master the standard Wolf Pack game will have plenty of new challenges to sink their teeth into.

Coming Up Short

In addition to the shortcomings I mentioned earlier, Wolf Pack does come with a few other caveats. Fortunately, these aren’t really problems aimed specifically at Wolf Pack alone but at the entirety of Assassin’s Creed III’s online multiplayer.

The small number of maps (about eight total if you purchased the recently released Battle Hardened DLC pack, five if you didn’t) means that lengthy play sessions can quickly get repetitive. Ubisoft tried to compensate for the small number of maps by including alternate “versions” (day/night, snowy, rainy, etc.) of each map but if you’re hoping to play multiple sessions of Wolf Pack in a row, get ready to stalk the same streets and buildings over and over and over again.

Progression isn’t as significant in Wolf Pack as it is in the competitive modes since really the only thing that changes up the standard formula of “find target, kill target, rinse, repeat” is the acquisition of certain powers like Poison or Animus Hack. Since the NPC targets do nothing to protect themselves other than stun the player and run away, Wolf Pack can start to feel stale once you play enough to reach the higher levels of progression.

Embracing The Wolf Pack Brotherhood

Despite its faults, I’d still recommend Wolf Pack to any dedicated Assassin’s Creed and/or co-op fans. While it can start to feel a bit repetitive, especially if you’re playing solo, it is still one of the most unique forms of co-op multiplayer to date; emphasizing coordination, patience, and timing above all else.

If capturing the feeling of being a badass team of stealthy and silent killers sounds like your idea of a good time, you wouldn’t do wrong by rounding up a group of friends and taking Assassin’s Creed III’s Wolf Pack mode for a spin.