Despite the numerous leaks that Ubisoft seemed to have sprung surrounding the announcement of the new Assassin’s Creed: Black Flag game, initial impressions don’t look like the franchise is scuppered.
How’re you liking these nautical puns? Are they floating your boat? 😉
So now that we all officially know that Assassin’s Creed IV: Black Flag is Ubisoft’s next installment, here’s a few tidbits of information that we know from their announcement this morning.
Please be advised that there be spoilers abound! Yar! Ahem.
Instead of the modern-day protagonist being Desmond, you play as an Abstergo Research Analyst living the life of Edward Kenway (father of AC3’s Haytham) as he rampages through the Caribbean in 1715 – this is apparently a man that even the infamous Blackbeard is afraid of judging by the trailer (embedded below). He’s the captain of the Jackdaw – a ship you can upgrade, customise and even manage the crewmembers aboard.
There are 8 Ubisoft studios working on AC4 at present, with Ubisoft Montreal leading the way, along with Kiev, Quebec, Singapore, Annecy, Sofia, Montpellier & Bucharest all assisting in the game’s development… so this is a HUGE project. As a result, there are 50 unique locations and environments within the game, from cities, jungles & ruins to coves and caves… all with hidden items, treasure and of course… enemies to run through. The cities in the game include Havana, & Kingston, along with dozens of smaller towns and ports to explore.
Ubisoft are wary that AC3 had lots of guided gameplay, and that players got a little annoyed with the game acting like an over-protective parent in it’s hand-holding… with this in mind they’re going back to the play-style of old, opening up the freedom of the gamer. There’s more emphasis on proper assassinations, and an emphasis on giving the player the choice on how to approach them.
The naval combat side of things plays a heavy part, obviously – and as a result weather and water physics will play a heavy part in the gameplay. The transition between the ship combat & boarding a boat for some hand-to-hand stabby shenanigans are apparently almost seamless. You can approach ships from any angle, inflicting cannon damage and pull them towards you with grappling hooks… alternatively you can take the stealthy approach – swim to the ship under cover of darkness, climb up the side of the boat and slit everyone’s throats while they sleep. It’s your call.
There will be several different types of ship in the naval combat segments too… some will even try to ram you and shatter the hull of the Jackdaw. You can loot ships once you’ve defeated them… and you can even go on a whale hunt should you wish, or go diving around shipwrecks.
I mentioned Edward “Blackbeard” Teach earlier – you’ll be able to fight alongside him, along with other famous pirates like Benjamin Hornigold, Anne Bonny and Calico Jack. From the trailer, I get the impression that Blackbeard may even appear much like Leonardo DaVinci did for Ezio in AC2.
Looking at the screen renders and concept art, there are a few other things I’m pretty excited about. For one – the dual-weilding looks like it’s been amped-up somewhat… so now you can use two full-sized swords in combat, as well as two pistols. I can see being a spinning death machine on board an enemy ship being extremely fun!
All-in-all, the game looks beautiful – as to be expected from the franchise… I’ve never been disappointed there. I’m not so psyched about the inevitable increased frequency of naval combat (I wasn’t really a fan in AC3 if I’m honest), but we’ll see how it’s been developed for the new game. With any luck I’ll get a chance to play it at the Eurogamer Expo in September.
The game will be released on PS3, Xbox 360, Wii U and PC on October 29th. There’s also next-gen versions planned – the new PS4 controller’s touch screen to be incorporated etc… however as yet there are no dates for the next-gen versions of the game.