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Assassin's Creed: Revelations multiplayer preview: POP, POP!

Pouncing on unsuspecting victims is as thrilling as ever in Assassin's Creed: Revelations. Earlier this week, Alexander and I reformed our effective stabbing partnership and got to experience the multiplayer follow-up's notable additions -- and a few subtractions.

Though we didn't see for ourselves in our hands-on session, AC: R's multiplayer features more story wrappings than ever before. Beyond the conceit in the last game -- Templar agents training in the ways of assassination -- AC: R ups the ante with cutscenes about the world of Abstergo, the modern-day, Templar-run corporation. %Gallery-125826% "The idea is that you have little clips here and there that will actually tell you what's happening and will reward you in your leveling," Ubisoft producer Andreane Meunier explained to us. "Abstergo is actually acknowledging your work and is going to be rewarding you and talking to you progressively throughout your campaign," she added. Rather than simply using Abstergo training to explain away AC's multiplayer, it'll become a separate storyline unto itself in AC: R.

Beyond the story expansion in multiplayer, the leveling system has been overhauled. "A lot of people basically either never got to 50 or, when they did get to 50, they just stopped playing because there's no incentive after," Meunier admitted. Rather than the linear progression in Brotherhood, Revelations will feature a currency system. "It's the idea behind the whole game, actually. We're giving you more control over how you start a game," she added, saying that the this fall's AC title will have playlists for multiplayer, more customization options with characters, and each person will now wield two weapons.

More abilities -- no specific number was given -- have been added, some have been altered and a few have been removed altogether. Unfortunately, Meunier wouldn't go into specifics, instead pointing us to the demo as a point of reference. In my short time with the game, I employed a new ability that resembled dropping a land mine which I used as a trap against my potential captors. And though it might show up in the end game, Templar Vision was notoriously missing from the demo -- Meunier also wouldn't confirm or deny this possibility, despite our repeated hounding.

Two major game changers were up next, with Meunier first explaining a new concept for AC multiplayer in "contested kills." In so many words, rather than being stabbed by someone clearly running at you full speed, should you spot them in time and press the punch button, a "contested kill" will result in both players being stunned. Take that, game breaking perma-runners!

In the same vein, assassination animation times have been changed dramatically. In Brotherhood, all kills cost the same amount of time -- everything from an obvious running murder to a stealth assassination. In Revelations, however, stealth is rewarded with shorter animations, incentivizing players further toward clandestine kills rather than open deathmatch.

With just a single multiplayer match under my belt in AC: R, it'd be hard to tell you definitively that Revelations is set to meet and exceed last year's excellent first effort, but it certainly seems to be well on its way.

This article was originally published on Joystiq.