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'Assassin's Creed IV' Will Seek Real-Time User Feedback

If you've ever wanted to praise, or condemn, a video game even faster than you can post on a forum, "Assassin's Creed IV: Black Flag" may provide a solution.

In Ubisoft's upcoming open-world pirate game, the next installment in the long-running "Assassin's Creed" series, users will be able to rate each mission upon completion.

Eurogamer spoke with an Ubisoft producer and gleaned some details. The process of rating missions will be wholly optional, but Ubisoft intends to use user data to see which missions players loved or hated. The company can then provide more of what they like, and less of what they dislike, in future games.

Fans of the "Assassin's Creed" series are already familiar with the game's "Sequences," which tie together a handful of story missions and side quests into a comprehensive chapter in the game's narrative.

After each story mission in "Black Flag," players will be able to rate it on a scale of one to five stars — or ignore the rating system entirely.

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The system is a holdover from Ubisoft's quality-assurance department, which found it helpful to offer play testers the ability to rate missions in real time. At present, the developer considers "Black Flag" a trial run; if it's successful, Ubisoft may implement the user-feedback feature in other future titles.

The system is likely to split fans down the middle. On the one hand, the option to send a real-life report in the middle of a fictional video game could break some players' immersion, and historical immersion has always been one of the franchise's strong suits.

On the other hand, uneven mission balance has plagued "Assassin's Creed" ever since its very first installment. Over the years, fans have focused their ire on missions involving pickpocketing, rooftop races, city management, tower defense and chase sequences.

If Ubisoft could collect real-time data about which missions work and which don't, it could design much better missions for the next installment.

"Assassin's Creed" is arguably in a better position than most series to implement real-world features without breaking narrative flow. The story in the series relies on a device called the "Animus," which allows modern-day individuals to relive the "genetic memories" of their ancestors at turning points in history, such as the Third Crusade, the Italian Renaissance or the American Revolution.

Between story missions, the player already has to wade through a lot of futuristic sci-fi trappings to get back to the historical action. The addition of one small rating scale should not impact the overall experience much.

If you want to investigate for yourself, "Assassin's Creed IV: Black Flag" will debut on Xbox 360, PS3 and Wii U on Oct. 29, with releases for PC, Xbox One and PS4 to follow in November.

If the feedback feature is a hit, perhaps gamers can expect "Assassin's Creed V: The One With All the Missions You Like" at some point in the future.

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