Set in the early 18th Century in the West Indies, Assassin’s Creed IV: Black Flag centers around the pirate Edward Kenway. During this year’s E3, Ubisoft showed off the single player while allowing hands on the multiplayer modes.
In the guided demo for single player (on PS4), Ubisoft really focused on naval travel, naval combat, exploration and the use of the companion app for a tablet. Ubisoft seems to really be pushing on this, since I saw it used her in AC4:BF, as well as in The Division. In Black Flag, it is mainly used as a personal map interface that allows you to see where you are in the world, the ability to set waypoints and see what’s ahead of you. It looks pretty slick and actually useful.
If you’ve read my reviews or watched my videos on AC3, you know my favorite part was the naval combat. In AC4, naval combat is more intricate and more strategic. There are even more upgrades for your ship, the ability to see what other ships are carrying and more weapons and tactics to choose from. Ships have multiple targets to shoot at, depending on your strategy, leaving you to choose specific weak points to reach your goal. All ships are climbable, so when you latch on to another ship to lead a boarding party, an entire, mulit-tiered playground is created in the rigging. And after you’ve succeeded, you can capture the ship and the crew and decide their fate –whether it be to break the ship down for parts or fix it back up and make it a part of your pirate fleet.
It’s not all about the battle on the high seas. Sometimes, you need a break to explore and enjoy the scenery (aka search for pirate treasure). At any time, you can simply stop the ship, jump into the water and explore. I really liked the feeling of openness provided to you compared to your limited abilities on the sea in Assassin’s Creed III. Of course, no new game shown at E3 this year would be anything without dynamic weather. Black Flag is no exception. Their dynamic weather system directly affects your sailing ability, whether that is through navigation, visibility or handling. Of course, one last awesome thing to mention is you can have your crew sing pirate shanties as you cruise around the West Indies.
After going through the guided tour of the single player, I was able to go hands-on with the multiplayer for Black Flag. Much like the previous iteration of multiplayer, Black Flag’s multiplayer focuses on an 8-player world of assassins, each with its own target. During my playtest on Thursday, Ubisolft was focused on showing off its “Frantic” multiplayer mode. Not so much the hide and seek of the usual variety, frantic mode is all about running around to finish a target before they can “contest” your kill. Every kill is one point, as is every “good finish,“ but having your kill contested means you get zero points. While I liked this mode, I think fans of the multiplayer will likely stick to the modes they already enjoy.
Overall, it looks like Assassin’s Creed IV: Black Flag seems to be shaping up nicely. Ubisoft didn’t really get at all into the story, but the game boasts 50 locations, 3 cities, a smuggler’s cave and a huge plantation to explore. The game looks great on the PlayStation 4 and I am jazzed to get out onto the high seas.
Assassin’s Creed IV: Black Flag is set to release on October 29, 2013 on the PC, PlayStation 4, Xbox One, Wii U, Xbox 360 and PlayStation 3.
Assassin’s Creed 4 Black Flag Trailer