We talked to lead game designer Jean-Sebastien Decant right around the time of the current-gen launch of Assassin's Creed IV: Black Flag, but naturally the conversation also gravitated towards next-gen. Decant said this of Black Flag on next-gen:
"When you start and you don't even know the specs or what they are going to do you don't think about that [next-gen consoles] or you're going to be sick," said Decant. "We thought about next-gen graphics and in order to explore that we used the high-end PCs on the side, and then we continued just what we started with the previous games and build upon that. I think next next-gen is going to be for the next games. The next games are going to be much more on the next-gen side. This one is really on the edge."
Naturally that made us ask about what Decant felt would make the presumed next Assassin's Creed more of a next-gen product:
"I think we're going toward a gaming place where the open world will be shared with other players. More and more. Socially speaking, but also maybe multiplayer stuff. And we will have to consider the open world much more like a platform that we could sustain for years."
We interjected that it sounded a little bit like what's being done with Watch Dogs.
"Absolutely, Watch Dogs is kind of showing us the path for the future. Absolutely. But we have to create a... We have to respect our brands. So if we have to go that way with Assassin's Creed we have to think about how it could fit into Assassin's Creed."
Speaking of the core concepts of Assassin's Creed and whether they feel the need to reinvent systems for movement, stealth, assassinations and more, Decant offered the following:
"The core pillars are still social stealth being able to blend into the crowd and finding a way to reach your target without being seen. There is this idea of having the parkour - you can jump around - and then the notion of freedom that combines everything. These are the roots of Assassin's Creed. We will try and work and build upon them. We cannot tell you that we're happy and this is how we want the game to be and we're going to do ten more games with exactly that same gameplay. No, we are unhappy. We want to do more. There are lots of things we want to refine on the combat side, on the parkour, on the stealth. Of course. We managed I think to bring back the stealth in Assassin's Creed, which was something that was a bit put on the side in the previous episodes. So on that we're very happy and I also think we kind of totally exploded the limits of the game by bringing the naval and the ship customisation and the ship battles. So we made progress, thanks actually to the thematics that we chose. Next time we will have to find thematics that will help us also to expand the game once again."