Could ‘Assassin’s Creed: Black Flag’ Become A Standalone Series?

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Assassin’s Creed 4: Black Flag may still be found in the disc trays of gamers worldwide, offering one of the biggest and most-detailed game worlds in the series so far. But that doesn’t mean that Ubisoft isn’t already looking to the future, and what directions the franchise could take next.

Although more AC4 content is still on the way – courtesy of the ‘Cry Freedom’ DLC – yet another of the publisher’s surveys has provided a few hints at what gameplay changes they may have in mind, and some questions regarding the very nature of the Assassin’s Creed series from here on out.

This isn’t the first time that Ubisoft has consulted gamers concerning the future of the series, having revealed the setting of AC3 in the past. Unfortunately no clues to where Assassin’s Creed 5 (or another 4?) will be set are given the time around – the developers put those into the game itself – but new gameplay, online cooperative play and even some what fans thought of Black Flag‘s place in the AC lore are all discussed.

Black Flag’s lead game designer had already confirmed that the blend of singleplayer and multiplayer seen with Watch_Dogs is blazing a trail they will likely follow, either in the next major installment or sometime down the road. So it’s no surprise that the survey (uncovered by IGN) asks for general opinions on the attractiveness of “sailing and fighting with friends,” or the chance to “sail and fight with other players.” Since naval combat was one of the most impressive additions seen in Black Flag, we can’t blame Ubisoft for thinking that introducing cooperative or PvP sailing is promising.

Assassins Creed 4 Black Flag Naval Combat

But the most interesting questions are those concerning the value players placed in Black Flag’s positioning as an Assassin’s Creed entry. Asking those taking the survey if they think “this game could have been a whole new franchise (pirate only and not an assassin?)” is a fair one, since the modern elements of the Templar/Assassin war were significantly downplayed. But the way the publisher frames the question is telling.

For starters, we’d bet that the answer most will give to that question is a resounding “yes,” since Black Flag was not only a standalone adventure in every right, but one of the best entries in the series thus far (read our review). But Ubisoft takes things a step further, giving survey-takers the option to claim that Black Flag could have been unrelated to the AC series, both because it “doesn’t fit” with the franchise, or “even if it fits.” Moreover, the reasoning attached to the claim that it couldn’t have stood on its own isn’t due to its quality, but it being “totally integrated” into the greater mythology.

In other words: Ubisoft apparently wants to know how necessary the presence of the Assassin/Templar drama was to Black Flag‘s success. Now, a skeptic could look at that question and think that Ubisoft might be concerned that they passed up a chance to create a brand new pirate franchise, while an optimist might see them simply gauging the amount of players who were attracted by the pirate setting, and those Templar/Assassin faithful.

Assassins Creed 4 Black Flag Lower Sales

No one will argue that two franchises are better than one from the publisher’s perspective, but we’d caution those ready to claim that Ubisoft is only thinking of the potential profits in splitting Black Flag from the core series. Firstly, the pirate-themed adventure, while built upon the same traversal and combat mechanics, innovated on the formula to a great extent. But that innovation meant changes (a new approach to an open world, and a completely new naval gameplay system); changes that Ubisoft accepted would attract fewer players than Assassin’s Creed 3.

If you take that as a vote of confidence on the publisher’s part, then the option of simply cutting ties with the AC name and pursuing their next high seas adventure with more creative freedom might seem a bit more honorable. And that may be the plan, as the survey also asks which features should be added to a non-Assassin’s Creed-branded pirate game: a customizable character, ship, hideout, and more.

Again, it’s all just speculation at this point, but Ubisoft has shown that fan feedback is valued with this game more than any before. And with DLC coming that puts players into the boots of Blackbeard – most certainly not an assassin – perhaps they’re testing the waters already.

What do you hope to see from the next Assassin’s Creed? A continuation of Edward Kenway’s world, or a brand new one? Sound off in the comments.


Follow Andrew on Twitter @andrew_dyce.

Source: IGN

TAGS: Assassin's Creed, Assassin's Creed 4, Ubisoft

  • Salamander

    Black Flag definitely creates the need to place Ship Battles at the forefront of future AC games. This would become gimmicky, so that’s why they want to create a spin-off brand, instead of having to feel like Ship Battles are mandatory for success. I think the best compromise would be to keep choosing large regions like the Caribbean, instead of localized locations in previous ac games, preferably those where water is a major part. Japan, Southeast Asia, and Western Europe.

  • Internetwork

    While ship battles are absolutely great in Black Flag, to keep going with it would only shadow the core of the Assassin’s Creed franchise. However, it would probably be okay if they bring back Edward Kenway for another game like they did with Ezio Auditore de Firenze. I enjoyed playing as Edward since he wasn’t an assassin but still had those skills and *insert ending of game here to prevent spoilers*. I would love to see the next chapter in Edward’s life (whether it be as a pirate once more or as a member of the brotherhood (or maybe both)). If they choose to bring Assassin’s Creed into the next ancestor’s life, I would like to maybe see one of Japan’s historical periods or maybe something from medieval times. Regardless, whatever they do next needs to keep their main focus on “What should the next Assassin’s Creed be?” not “That cool naval battle concept sells!”

  • Single player, player

    No doubt AC: 4 is great. If I where Ubisoft I’d tread lightly when it comes to naval mechanics, because I got kinda sick of constantly grinding for money to take down those pesky legendary’s. I’m mad at Ubi for essentially splitting from all aspects of the present day plot. I found it fun to wonder through Havana killing every guard I see with my amazing asenal of tools and weapons. Also I found it a wonderful surprise to hear those shantie’s “hey, what’s that singing?” “Why that’s the men cap’n, there singing!” When I got the gun in AC: 2 I said “here we go assasins creed: modern warfare.” in my opinion Ubi should keep to what they do best.

  • River

    Definitely. Assassin’s Creed 4 has the potential to go far. I know there is an Assassin’s Creed movie in the works, but I was already thinking whilst listening to the soundtrack, that a drama series would be awesome based solely on Assassin’s Creed 4 Black Flag. History with ACIII would make it awesome. Do it! 😀

  • Ben

    Future titles in the Assassin’s Creed series could definitely head to different areas of the world that haven’t been explored so well in video games, such as the Mongol-Jin war in China, The French Revolution, some of the major African wars. Although the American, or at least colonial/Western setting of the last two games has been great, there is a whole world of history to explore. I just hope they don’t continually move towards modern periods in history because there are so many games dealing with those periods in circulation now.

  • Alex

    Assassins Creed IV Black Flag was great no doubt of it.
    I liked the open world liked th time period and the great city and travelling whenever i whish to travel and there is tons of things to collect and to do.One thing that really dissapoints me its the main story in not really benefint to the storyline it self it just continued maybe 10% or 15% not more than that.To play in abstergo is great we can hack computers and discover interesting stuff but still the story not really going.
    they should keep all the new elemnts and ideas that they have all the open world and stuff but most important to keep working on the main story because me and a lot of fans we are having a alot of quenstions.
    i think that what will make the assassins creed franshise very seccussful is to the game in japan and egypt those are one of the most interesting and great locations that the game in my opinion should be there in the next assassins creed games.

    • greensparkes

      Agree with Alex, as a fan of the overall underlying story, I have always thought the game lends itself well to Ancient Japan or Egypt, who doesn’t want to see a Samurai assassin? or perhaps a pyramid building slave triumph over his pharoah led masters? Perhaps even ancient China a ninja assassin anyone?? :)
      AC4 is a great compliment to the series and has pushed AC’s gameplay further than before, I’ve spent hours/days and more unravelling this great looking chapter. But, if a great part of this game is just an emphasis on a nice touch in AC3 (the ship/sailing combat) then its not a big enough reason to develop a spin off in my opinion.
      I would push forward and get this story told, otherwise there is a danger of them rushing through it if the franchise begins to wane. This is a marathon – not a sprint…and I love it!

  • Rafael

    It woud be good black flag franchise i say it will be a good game but to make it better lets add the assassins that taught edward how and put a story on how he trained. EPIC

  • Justin

    Two things:

    1. A stand alone pirate game would be profitable and also, if done right, the best game franchise to ever come out. My reasoning for that is simple: we’ve been crying for an excellent pirate game for many years and finally Black Flag comes out. So should that be the end of it?? Lord no! Ubisoft, if you do make a stand alone game series around pirate-ing, you must include the following features:

    – Integrated next gen Multiplayer.
    – High Seas multiplayer free roam/GTA Online styled free roam campaign.
    – Fully customizable, unique player ships. Everything on the ship must be customizable, heck maybe even include shipwrights so players can plan out their ship and have it built.
    – Pirate Fleets option should return, but with much more indepth. Include actual naval battles, but keep the option to simulate them as well.
    – Fully Customizable Pirate Hideout. Maybe have different presets to choose, or be able to play “sim city” with your new area.
    – Multiple pirate hideout across a massive open world. By having multiple hideouts, you can setup trade routes and see your convoys trading in real-time.
    – double the world size. Make it large and in charge! But do not sacrifice detail.
    – customizable weapons!
    – ONLINE FREE ROAM!!@! Yes, it is that important.
    – design the online multiplayer like GTA Online. I say it again because going that route could allow Ubisoft to create a never ending persistent pirate world that can be added onto with new missions, land masses, graphic updates, and so forth.

    Ubisoft, I have an entire game designed based upon your Black Flag including all the options I’ve listed. I just need the right people (you guys) to get the job done. I already figured out how each component I’ve listed will work and is incorporated. Contact me, and I’ll make you a billion dollars. Or, I’ll help you make a billion dollars :p

    • Ragebayne

      No just no I’m a massive pirate fan black flag was the greatest release from assassin creed ever but multiplayer gta online style would suck. Even in small lobby 16 ships all out on seas trying to kill each other there would be no story it would be call of duty ships and would destroy the immersive world your a pirate your rare but fearsome sight on the ocean you can’t be rare sight when you always out blowing each other’s sails off

      They should make a standalone series I would buy it but it should not include any multiplayer unless there is a pirate island were you meet other pirates to trade and fight in bars the seas should remain solo if you have ever played eve online or any game that isn’t about shoot on sight mechanics like gta you would understand people are dumb the most team work you get in gta online is your team mate saves you bullets when he shoots you in the head.