I am an Assassin's Creed fan and have absolutely loved the way the series blends stealth and action. The Social Stealth in ACII and ACB is innovative and fun. But it is still lacking.
Playing AC:B I sorely felt that the stealth needs a bit more depth.
Social Stealth: The crowd blending mechanic is great and the ability to sift from cluster to cluster is intuitive and fun...like moving cover spots, but what it lacks is deeper Crowd Manipulation. The closest we have come is using money to draw a large crowd. This mechanics needs to be further developed. In a game where a large part of the Stealth is dependant on 'blending' in I'd assume that we would have a more interactive crowd. In terms of Blending I would like to see more ways of attracting a cluster of people and getting lost in them.
I was playing a mission in AC:B where you have to escort a wounded thief to a safe point without getting detected (Notoriety was 100%), the crowd mechanic seemed shallow and like a frogger game in this instance. I'd like to see more ways of manipulating crowds and in turn the guards. I tried to draw the guards away from a spot by making a disturbance in the crowd (threw money, poisoned a guy) in both AC2 and AC:B but none of the guards came to investigate. I'd assume if people were clamoring about at least one of them would come over. The mission felt a simple game of moving into a crowd and remaining there. The crowd movement felt repetitive and the whole experience destroyed immersion as the NPCs kept moving about in clusters like mindless automatons..no dialogue, no random paths...just the same crowd moving between two points.
Here are some ideas to increase the social stealth aspect
*Ability to initiate chaos and lure guards or vanish.
It could be like Picking someones's pocket and planting the purse on a nearby NPC or blaming it on him, to start a fight. This should create enough of a fuss to draw the nearby guards for you to Assassinate/Evade.
Using explosives to cause a rush and divert the guards. Plant a bomb ANYWHERE, the crowd panics and starts running and the guards come to the source of the explosion
*Disguise. This has oft been repeated on the forum but it seriously needs a mechanic which allows you to alter the character's appearance to hide the weaponry and armor. Less of a Hitman-esque disguise but enough variation to fool the city guards. It totally destroys the game when you are a wanted Assassin and simply walking with the crowd negates the fact that you're carrying a crossbow, a sword, a dagger and wearing pauldrons, greaves and heavy armor. The weapons, the color of your clothes on your last mission etc. should have an effect on 'stealthiness'. Clothing as a rich aristocrat, the guards will not bother you much unless your notoriety is high, you can ride a horse and generally go everywhere unmolested by the guards. Cloth as a common man you are better able to blend into the crowd and makes you disappear easier when your Notoriety is high, following people, losing guards, blending etc. becomes easier when you're just another peasant.
It should be applicable both ways...on the crowd as well as the Guards. The crowd seems oblivious to your wanted status and does not react accordingly. The higher your notoriety the lesser the crowd clusters to hide in. If you remain in a crowd cluster too long they disband and move away from you, recognising you as a wanted criminal. The aforementioned disguise system should also increase/decrease notoriety. The crowd currently feels like a bunch of mindless random NPCs.
The sight lines and field of views of the guards is ridiculous, not to mention that they all are deaf. I am 30 yard away standing on a rooftop during a bright afternoon, dressed like a shiny Peacock and the guard is completely OBLIVIOUS! This really undermines the whole experience and is immersion breaking. Kindly increase the sensitivity of the guards, it is understandable in the streets with crowds and the noise but up there in the rooftops....
*Crouching and a corner cover system
The game desperately needs a crouch-walking mechanic. The stealth aspects are incomplete without it. Playing the castello mission where you have to rescue Caterina Sforza, two things really killed the otherwise super fun mission:
1.Extremely idiotic AI- I shot a guard 20 feet from another..only to be ignored...INCREASE VISUAL SENSITIVITY. It makes the game more fun and challenging. Please Ubi, increase the AI FOV and sight range. Also giving them a pair of ears won't be such a bad idea.
The moment you kill a guard in plain sight of another and expect that guy to come rushing and he doesn't is a massive buzzkill.
2.INABILITY TO CROUCH- forget the other gripes....crouch walking is desperately needed in ANY game with remotely stealthy gameplay. Several times I have felt the need to duck beneath a low wall and creep along it. Countless times I have been spotted when a simple duck would have hidden me from sight and allowed me to ambush my prey.
I PRAY that the stealth is broadened and the said additions are made.