A few days ago Ubisoft posted a 13 minute gameplay video for Assassin’s Creed IV: Black Flag, with commentary by game developer Ashraf Ismail.  The video showcases one of the towns present in the game and we also get some insight into the two main characters of the game, Edward Kenway and his ship, the Jackdaw.  In the first few moments of the trailer, we’re greeted with the series’ signature swan dive into the water below, followed by a peek at the new game world.  At first seeing the small island my reaction was an ambivalent “meh,” but I was immediately surprised when Ismail quickly zoomed out and showed just how tiny an island is, when compared to the rest of the game world.  It looks like we’ll have the entire Caribbean as our playground this time around.

Swan Dive

That’s the ticket. NOW it’s an assassin game.

 

Map

In the words of pirate Bart Simpson, “AY CARIBBEAN!”

Another thing that caught my attention was how he presented Edward.  While in previous Assassin’s Creed games we are introduced to characters that have established reasons to be part of the group, Edward is just a guy looking for fame. I have always liked a lot of aspects to the Assassin’s Creed stories, yet the conflict between the Templar’s and the Assassin’s always bothered be.  I’ve always viewed the conflict between them akin to two groups of high-school girls bickering.  I imagine the assassin’s sitting around the lunch table going “OMG, did you SEE what Becky was wearing today?  She looks like a TOTAL templar.  We should just kill her (which if you know anything about high school girls these days, that’s probably the most merciful thing they could do).”

Yes, I know there is more to the conflict between the two factions but even with that, I’ve always felt that players are pigeonholed into the ranks of the Assassins.  The templars do something to wrong your family and you set out on a quest for revenge against them.  Edward however, is presented as a character without any of that baggage.  He just wants money and fame, and even when he meets up with the assassins he doesn’t fully buy into their creed.  From a story stand point this means that the game is going to have to win him and the player over to the side of the Assassin’s.  As the trailer starts, they’re just a means to an end for Edward.  The assassination contracts are money in his pocket and fame to his name, nothing more.  It’ll be interesting to see what they do to have him eventually buy into their side, or if he even fully accepts the creed.

Contract

Creed of the assassin, yea yea yea whatever. Now what did you say about twins?

The second character presented was Jackdaw.  Yes, THE Jackdaw.  As in, the ship The Jackdaw.  It’s great that they’re throwing so much emphasis on the ship that it’s even referred to as the second main character of the game.  Given how much the game seems to focus on exploration and the Caribbean atmosphere, it gives us a lot to look forward to.  From the trailer we know that there will be many different kinds of ships available throughout, all which will have to be taken down with differing strategies. The frigate show in the trailer for example, is the type of ship that needs to be taken out quickly because the amount of damage it can cause to players’ ships can build up quickly the longer the battle goes.  But like any good pirate worth his grog, once Edward sees that the ship carries a large amount of rum the focus switches immediately to trying to capture and plunder the ship.  There’s a lot of detail in how players can go about this, with cannon shots having different effects depending on what parts of the ship you take out.  All in all the ship combat looks to be very fleshed out

Ship combat

First person ship combat is the evolution of the FPS genre.

Once that’s done, players are presented with three options.  They can either recruit crew members from the ship, send it to join their fleet, or salvage it for parts.  I almost lost it the second I heard the word “fleet,” but no more information was given.  I’ll just assume that at some point you’ll charge into battle with a giant kraken while leading an entire armada of plundered ships upgraded to the brim with cannons that shoot out sharks wielding laser swords while Edward stands at the bow of the ship completely inebriated from consuming all the rum he’s plundered throughout the game.  If not that seems like a great idea for DLC.  Pay attention Ubisoft, that first one’s free.  Regardless of that, it’s nice to see that players will get to choose what to do with their plundered goods.

fleet

Now go! Join the ranks of the sword shooting shark ships!

Next up we got to see how dynamic the open seas can be when he comes across two faction ships dueling it out.  Ismail pointed out that these battles happen independent of the player, and if one so chose, they could wait for both ships to do most of  the work and weaken each other.  This would allow players to come in for the finishing blow and take both ships with minimal effort.  The more I hear Ismail talk about the game, the more I’m convinced he’d feel right at home back in the 1700’s looting and pillaging, and that’s awesome.  It’s great to see that so much attention to detail is being given to the general atmosphere of the game and how pirate life in the Caribbean would really be like.

ship battles

Soon

That said, I think the biggest part of the trailer that tickled me was seeing the ship sail on open seas, especially because they showed it braving a storm.  The weather effects look great, and forgive me if I’m making this comparison but the entire time I’m watching this all I could think about was Wind Waker.  When I first played Wind Waker I got such a huge kick out of being able to set sail across open ocean and how big the word was.  Assassin’s Creed IV: Black Flag looks like it’s not only capturing that feeling but expanding on it.  Again, it’s the level of detail that drives it home.  Everything from the way the ship handles storms, to what can be done when you board ships.  The only thing that’s missing is being able to have your crew sing sea shanties.  Oh wait, what’s that? You can? And you can find them throughout the world as collectibles?  Well isn’t that just the icing on the rum flavored cake.

shanty

Did I mention the whales compliment your sea shanties with synchronized swimming?

It’s hard not to get excited for a game like when you get to see how much attention to detail they’ve put in it.  It’s really focusing on making the pirate experience as authentic and realistic as possible.   I would know since I’m a bit of an expert on piracy.  I mean, I was born in the Caribbean and have played every game in the Monkey Island series and all.  Either way, based on those 13 minutes I can say I’m definitely looking forward to Real Life Pirate Simulato…err, Assassin’s Creed IV: Black Flag.

About The Author

Enrique C
Editor-in-Chief

There's no problem that can't be fixed with fire. Doesn't matter what game. If that doesn't work, use more.