The first Assassin’s Creed title to directly target fans of open-world piracy is almost here, but to make sure they’re keeping all of their audience as interested, Ubisoft wants to remind fans that Assassin’s Creed 4: Black Flag will be a step forward for the franchise, not just a pirate-themed side story.

To help with the task, the studio has released another walkthrough video – with commentary from the game’s director Ashraf Ismail – this time detailing the life of Edward Kenway. As one of the Caribbean’s elite pirate community, Kenway (and players) will have plenty of ways to fund their illegal ventures – and plenty of people trying to stop them, if the video is any indication.

Ubisoft has been touting from the start just how expansive and seamless the world of Black Flag will be, and while that’s expected when promoting an open-world adventure, the amount of walkthrough videos back up their claims. Although Kenway would presumably be the hero of the game, the writers have pulled no punches, with the cast of actors seeking to bring history’s most infamous pirates to life, warts and all.

Edward Kenway kicks a soldier in the groin in 'Assassin's Creed IV: Black Flag'

That includes Kenway, who, according to the previously released walkthrough videos, will be spending his time attacking cargo shipments throughout the Caribbean, taking on private assassination contracts, and reducing naval forts to rubble with the help of his own ship, The Jackdaw.

Although much of the gameplay has been seen elsewhere, the underwater treasure-hunting continues to be surprisingly well-polished. We’ll forgive the length of time that Edward Kenway appears to be able to hold his breath, given just how impressive the visuals of the aquatic aspect of Black Flag appears to be. Especially given the risks (beside drowning) that players will be dealing with.

We’ve known for some time that Kenway would be engaging in shark battles during his underwater exploits, but the walkthrough video shows that the mammals actually model the same behavior as traditional guards; following their patrol routes, growing suspicious when spotting the player, and becoming aggressive once a corresponding meter is filled. We’re not quite sure how fans will react to the design, since guard aggression in the series has consistently been criticized as an interruption (not a challenge) to more enjoyable gameplay.

Assassins Creed 4 Black Flag Jackdaw Dolphins

That might change once the guards become sharks, but we’ll reserve judgement. Frankly, we’re still wondering if Ubisoft has found a means to successfully include stealth gameplay into their traversal. Players have always had the ability to sneak around corners and avoid detection, but even this brief gameplay video shows a number of times when players will obliviously walk face first into a guard’s line of sight. We remain optimistic, but maybe Kenway’s steal shortcoming will be easier to take this time around, since pirates are more known for their theatricality than assassins.

Of course, players could go the other route and try to reach the highest level of infamy, attracting entire fleets intent on bringing them to justice. The video doesn’t give a look at that level of carnage, but implies that ship combat may be an aspect of the game’s progression that players won’t be able to ignore. Ranking up one’s ship means raising money, which raises the need for treasure-hunting… you get the idea. That’s a risky means of getting players to experiment with new mechanics, but if the side content is worthwhile, it could work in the long run. Only time will tell.

Which aspects of Black Flag‘s open world are you most looking forward to? Has this walkthrough gotten your interest piqued, or are you already sold on the sheer variety of gameplay options? Sound off in the comments.


Assassin’s Creed 4: Black Flag will be released on October 29, 2013 for the Xbox 360, PS3, and PC, and on next-gen consoles.

Follow Andrew on Twitter @andrew_dyce.