With Assassin's Creed Unity injecting four-player online co-op, and Assassin's Creed Rogue sticking to single-player sailing throughout, this year marks the first break in Ubisoft Annecy's multiplayer suite since 2010. (Check out "Designing the Considerate Kill" to learn how Ubisoft made it in the first place.)
Asssassin's Creed multiplayer is best known for its unique take on deathmatch, which saw players deceiving each other in densely populated markets and mansions. Appearing as computer-controlled citizens themselves, combatants could hide in plain site and perpetrate subtle assassinations – and if not, they'd earn considerably fewer points. Ubisoft also tossed in several objective-based modes over the years, like a team-vs-team hunt for treasure chests. In Assassin's Creed 3, Ubisoft introduced "Wolfpack," a mode in which four players worked together to off enemies before time ran out.
"With Assassin's Creed Unity, the pillars of the franchise have evolved thanks to the potential of new generation consoles," Ubisoft tells Joystiq. "With that evolution, we wanted to bring a new type of multiplayer experience, which was asked for by fans and which we wanted to explore for a long time: cooperative gameplay. Our aim was to have a seamless single-to-multi experience: This is why we are not opposing single player and co-op; we have ancestral missions dealing with Arno's story and Brotherhood missions dealing with Arno's duties towards the Brotherhood."
Assassin's Creed Rogue, meanwhile, is meant to fit within a trilogy formed by Assassin's Creed 3 and Assassin's Creed 4: Black Flag. Ubisoft says it "decided to focus on the core Assassin's Creed experience" for the game, which is being led by Ubisoft Sofia (Assassin's Creed Liberation).
Finally, Ubisoft says it has no standalone competitive multiplayer games to announce. Competitive online subterfuge as we knew it is officially on break.