Assassin’s Creed 4: Black Flag, on the surface, looks like Ubisoft’s response to the two major points players and critics raised about Assassin’s Creed 3. While last year’s game received generally positive reviews, it was slammed for its po-faced protagonist, Connor Kenway, and for its lack of innovation, mechanically and structurally speaking.
One of the only things audiences gave Assassin’s Creed 3 props for, beyond its expected strengths, were the sections set at sea where players had to pilot a galley and use its cannons to send enemies to Davy Jones’s Locker.
Assassin’s Creed 4 Black Flag: Plot
Well, players can prepare to say goodbye to Connor Kenway and hello to the open sea. Both AC3’s stoic protagonist and the pre-colonial American Frontier are now gone and the latest game in the series will be set in the Golden Age of Piracy.
At a recent event in London, Ubisoft revealed that the timeline for their new game kicks off around the 1720s during the post-Spanish Succession period. A lot of privateers and sailors at the time, we are told, suddenly found themselves out of work and began to turn to piracy in order to make a living.
Among them was one privateer named Edward Kenway, a brash, brutish, if slightly intelligent man who captained a ship called The Jackdaw. It’s this colourful rogue the players will be taking control of as they head out on adventure that’ll take them from Cuba, to the West Indies, to the Bahamas and dozens of places in between.
According to Ubisoft, there are 50 unique locations in the game, which include three large open cities – Havana, Kingston and the Pirate Republic of Nassau –, fishing villages, secret coves, jungles, forts, Mayan ruins, islands and more. They’ll even be able to use a diving bell to explore the ocean floor.
Assassin’s Creed 4 Black Flag: Characters
Of course, fans of the series will note that Black Flag’s protagonist has the same last name as the half-British/half-Native American hero from Assassin’s Creed 3.
It turns out that Edward Kenway is Connor’s grandfather, who also joined the order of assassin’s in their fight against the Templars. Black Flag, Ubisoft said, will also not feature Desmond, the future protagonist of the series, so Edward is obviously not part of his bloodline.
Ubisoft said, however, that Black Flag will also feature a lot of figures from the Golden Age of Piracy including Ben Hornigold, the gentlemen pirate, Anne Bonney, one of the rare female captains of the time, Calico Jack and Charles Vane, a pair of unrepentant psychos and Blackbeard, who needs no introduction.
Assassin’s Creed 4 Black Flag: Features
At the centre of everything, though, stands Ed Kenway and his progression through the ranks of the League of Assassins. The two trailers shown at the Ubisoft’s London event reveal that players will, naturally, spend some time traversing rooftops, assassinating bad guys and engaging in swordplay with crowds of enemies.
Ubisoft said, however that Black Flag will feature the deepest gameplay the AC series has seen to date.
Players will obviously take control of Kenway’s ship, The Jackdaw, in the game, and will be able to customise it to some degree. There are a raft of new activities including naval battles – featuring boarding party battles –, treasure and whale hunting and deep sea diving. Ubisoft says many of the new activities will push players to explore the deep and rich world they’ve created.
Assassin’s Creed 4 Black Flag: Verdict
What’s even more impressive, is the fact that Black Flag is scheduled for release this year – a turnaround time from AC3 that seems miniscule given the scope and breadth of what Ubisoft hope to accomplish with the game.
It’s certainly a new step for the series, gameplay wise, and like every Assassin’s Creed game, it looks absolutely gorgeous. We can’t wait to buckle a swash with Black Flag come this autumn.29 October 2013
Assassin’s Creed 4 Black Flag release date: 29 October 2013
Assassin’s Creed 4 Black Flag price: TBC