Assassins Creed IV Black Flag Reveal and Top Five Features

Feature

Assassins Creed IV Black Flag Reveal and Top Five Features
We've seen the game in action, find out inside the new features for this piratical party
Just a matter of months after the release of Assassin’s Creed III – the struggle between the Templars and the free-runners is back at the forefront of our minds with the announcement of an all new entry – Assassin’s Creed IV: Black Flag.

Officially one of the worst kept secrets in the industry this past week, with a number of high profile leaks, there are still plenty of secrets to tell about Black Flag and we’ve got the skinny below as we pick out five new features to focus on.

WHAT’S NEW IN ASSASSIN’S CREED IV:

SETTING
Assassin’s Creed IV: Black Flag will be set in the early part of the 1700s, a number of decades before the time of AC III. The year we’ve heard mentioned the most is 1715, most associated with the golden age of piracy in the Caribbean sea. The game will take place in and around the islands of Cuba and Haiti, taking in the American coast and up to 50 unique locations throughout. For a decade, pirates ruled these high seas – former soldiers and men of fortune who were disenfranchised when a tentative peace came to the new world forcing them to take their plunder where they could get it.

Players will take their adventure to real life locations like urban Havana and Kingston, as well as the isolated pirate nation in the Bahamas where they settle disputes and decide on new leaders.


CAST AND CHARACTERS
Players will take on the role of a new but familiar hero in Black Flag in the form of Edward Kenway. If you’ve heard that name before it’s because he’s the father of Hatham Kenway, who staged a lengthy cameo at the start of Assassin’s Creed III. Hatham’s pa turned to piracy but, as is obvious from the CG trailer, also manages a sideline in assassinations for the brotherhood. That’s an interesting story-point, as Hatham was famously a member of the Templar order, so what changed from one generation to the next?

Edward may be an Assassin but he’ll also find his feet as a pirate during the game – and that has us very excited. It’s a role that couldn’t be more fitting to the Assassin’s Creed world and, crucially, means that Edward will be precisely a million times more interesting than the dull as dishwater Connor, which was the only real sticking point of the otherwise effervescent ACIII experience.

Joining Edward will be a band of scurvy rogues borrowed from the real history of the era, including the infamous Blackbeard, Ben Hornigold and Irish lady pirate person Anne Bonny. They’ll be varying allies to Edward but he’ll also have his share of enemies like the vicious Calico Jack and raving and insane Charles Vane. We even heard tell that Ed may spend some quality time with the latter trapped on a tiny island with only rum for company. Very Pirates of the Carribbean.

Edward - not a people person
Edward - not a people personEnlarge Enlarge

NAVAL WARFARE
Ship to ship battles made a strong debut in Assassin’s Creed III but Ubisoft knows full well the encounters were often scripted and curtailed. No so in Black Flag, which will give you access to the full spread of the ocean at any time, in your personal ship called the Jackdaw. The developers descrive the ship as the other main character in the game as you’ll live and die with it for the entire campaign. The Jackdaw can be upgraded in numerous ways, with room for 6 to 56 cannons and up to four swivel guns in its 60 metre long mass.

That may sound impressive, but you’ll be going up against armadas and galleons with up to 100 cannon spraying fire and death at your flimsy craft. Naval battles will be emergent in BlackFlag, with players able to check out nearby vessels using the spyglass to see what kind of cargo and armaments they are carrying. From there, you can transition straight into an assault, using your cannon, guns and even explosives and mortars to wear down your enemy. One major new addition is the ability to initiate boarding mid battle, using grappling hooks to drag the two ships together and changing the gameplay to the free-running and fighting of a regular level as Edward takes no prisoners. What’s more, it’s a freeform world, giving you the chance to dive into the water for a sneaky attack around the other side, mounting the rigging to gain some air assassinations or just using a spring rope to get right into the melee.

Take it!
Take it!Enlarge Enlarge

SEAMLESS GAMEPLAY
The fluid nature of the naval battles all stems from a new buzzphrase for the series – seamless gameplay. The entire world is available to explore at any time; though some will be less easily accessible thanks to the more powerful enemies. But the term goes even further than that, exemplified in the naval battles but also in the assault on a fort. They must first be pummelled from afar by cannon fire before taking the fight sword to sword. All this happens in a single fluid motion, Edward releases the helm of the Jackdaw and flings himself from the deck into battle, moving until the fort is secured, all without a level load.

It all ties into Ubisoft’s aim to make this the first Naval open world game – where your ship can take you from hidden coves to open water fights, from raiding treasure chests under water in your diving bell (another first for the series) to harpooning whales in another tertiary challenge. The world won’t be without loading between certain areas, it’s more about making the transition between certain activities seamless.

Ship to ship warfare. With swords.
Ship to ship warfare. With swords.Enlarge Enlarge

THE PRESENT
One question at the forefront of anyone’s mind if they’ve played Assassin’s Creed III is what form the present day sequences will take, given the fact that Desmond Miles’ story has finally come to an end. And Ubisoft’s approach is far from typical – rather than just transitioning to a new character, they’v decided to let the modern day person be… you.

The explanation is that the Assassin’s Creed games always placed their present day in 2012, with ACIII ending its current timeline there, in line with the Mayan calander and the end of the world. We’ve all since moved on to 2013 and so has the universe of Assassin’s Creed, meaning game fiction and the real world are now in sync. With that in mind, players will be themselves, hacking into the vaults of Abstergo Entertainment to research the historical character of Edward Kenway and become enveloped in a whole new adventure. It’s likely these sequences will not include regular free-running gameplay but rather some kind of puzzle mechanic, though we’ve yet to be treated to even a screenshot of these elements.

Swim underwater for the first time
Swim underwater for the first timeEnlarge Enlarge

Assassin’s Creed IV: Black Flag is officially on the way, taking the AC universe to a piratical past which many have been hoping for since the series debuted. With a new and lurid character in the form of Edward Kenway and a setting which mixes myth and history to create a fantastically real portrait of the Golden Age of Piracy, we think there’s a chance it could be the best Assassin’s Creed title to date.

Assassin’s Creed: Black Flag is coming to Xbox 360, PS3, PC, Wii U and will also be debuting on PS4 from November 1st 2013.


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