Word’s been out on Assassin’s Creed IV: Black Flag for some time now. But after the announcement trailer was leaked, and screenshots showing the tropical locales prepared for players made their way online, Ubisoft certainly hasn’t disappointed with their official details.
Edward Kenway will indeed be the new hero, and to show his lethality, a new weapons trailer has been released to show the tools of Kenway’s trade up close and personal. With the new footage comes a large crop of information, so settle in and get reading.
As has been the case with previous titles, Black Flag is being developed by lead studio Ubisoft Montreal, with help from their teams in Annecy, Bucharest, Kiev, Quebec, Singapore and Sofia. Given that the game is confirmed to be releasing on current platforms October 29, then later on the PlayStation 4 and presumably Xbox’s successor, there’s enough programming work to go around.
The fact that Edward Kenway – make that ‘Captain’ Edward Kenway – will be the protagonist hasn’t been in question, but is now officially confirmed (Ubisoft is still holding back from explaining the link between Edward and the leads of Assassin’s Creed 3, but they’re fairly clear). Interestingly though, the brief description of Kenway helps put some our questions to rest.
Aside from the above trailer describing Kenway as “a pirate trained by Assassins,” the official press release hints that Edward’s role with the Assassin Order comes long after he has made himself a man to be feared:
Assassin’s Creed IV Black Flag tells the story of Edward Kenway, a young British man with a thirst for danger and adventure, who falls from privateering for the Royal Navy into piracy as the war between the major Empires comes to an end. Edward is a fierce pirate and seasoned fighter who soon finds himself embroiled in the ancient war between Assassins and Templars.
Just how well players will be able to get to know Edward before he joins the Assassin ranks remains to be seen, but the plot does give the game’s writers a bit more flexibility. especially since this charismatic, cocky and selfish pirate will have to marry twice, father two children and move to London without any of it seeming forced. Who knows, maybe his mission against the Templars will have something to do with his first wife, Caroline.
What we do know, thanks to Ubisoft and some new details from CVG, is that Black Flag will send players into the Caribbean Sea circa 1715, though not thanks to the genetic memory of modern-day Assassin Desmond Miles.
We had wondered how the developers would explain Desmond’s presence or absence, and it seems that the memories of Edward Kenway will not be accessed by one of his descendants, but a modern-day “research analyst” at Abstergo Industries. That might sound like a cop-out, but it was the premise of Assassin’s Creed 3: Liberation, and the Templar-led Abstergo did invent the Animus technology. We’re not convinced it won’t open up plot-holes, just saying it doesn’t have to.
Luckily, players will likely have too much to do as Edward Kenway to worry about how it’s possible. With over 50 locations able to be traveled to, either by swimming, on foot, or manning the helm of Edward’s ship, The Jackdaw (an opportunistic bird in the crow family that eats what it can get, and becomes absolutely silent when detecting a threat). Given the amount of upgrades and side-missions made available in AC3, expect to spend some serious time on the ship, both traveling and upgrading.
For those who felt that the naval combat in AC3 was a bit straightforward and shallow, big improvements are coming for the next title. With physics reported to play a larger part, enemy ships that can actually attack and ram directly into the Jackdaw, and seamlessly transitioning from ship-to-ship combat into boarding and swordfighting, hopes are high. Especially since the existing naval gameplay was one of AC3‘s high points.
Beyond combat, players will also be able to customize and manage the ship’s crew (to what extent or goal we don’t yet know), and even channel their inner Captain Ahab in pursuit of whales, as was hinted at in previous screenshots. For these and other purposes, the player can also climb to the ship’s crow’s nest to examine ships on the horizon, along with their fortifications and possible cargo. From there, the choice to either attack a ship, or swim aboard and execute the captain silently is up to the player.
Just in case sailing from Havana to Kingston and everywhere in between isn’t your idea of Assassin action, there will still be plenty of targets to eliminate. The likes of actual historical figures Edward ‘Blackbeard’ Teach, Benjamin Hornigold, ‘Calico’ Jack Rackham and his lover Anne Bonny and more. In other words, pirate fans are in luck. How Edward will measure up against these legends will be entertaining to see.
Nobody doubted that Black Flag would be a worthwhile experience, but after some felt that Ubisoft had somewhat broken their promise of an entirely new hero and setting, these details might help convince them that a new course is certainly being charted. Assuming that the developer delivers on all of these potentially powerful mechanics, of course.
What are you most interested to see of Black Flag next? A better idea of the open-world environments and interactions, or some gameplay footage to know how Edward’s pirate skills will distinguish him from past Assassins?
Assassins Creed 4: Black Flag will be released on October 29, 2013 for the PC, PS3, Xbox 360 and Wii U. A PS4 release is confirmed, with an Xbox successor version also expected.
And in case anyone missed the stunning Black Flag announcement trailer, check it out below:
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