Assassin’s Creed IV: Black Flag might be a new numbered entry in the series, but it is strongly connected in many ways to the previous game, Assassin’s Creed III. While the protagonists of the Assassin’s Creed series have a tendency to all be related to each other in some way (due to the “genetic memory” element of the science fiction plotline), Assassin’s Creed IV: Black Flag is strongly marked as a prequel since its main character – swashbuckling pirate Edward Kenway – is the grandfather of Assassin’s Creed III‘s brooding lead Connor Kenway. With barely a year separating the release dates of the two games, it’s to expected that they share quite a few of the same mechanics to go with their close blood ties.
One of the elements being carried over from Assassin’s Creed III into Assassin’s Creed IV: Black Flag is the naval exploration and battles – understandable, since these missions received almost universal praise amidst the mixed reviews. Since sailing gameplay wasn’t exactly integral to Connor’s American Revolution storyline (Achilles just happened to have an old ship lying around) and almost all the naval missions in Assassin’s Creed III were sidequests, it’s a safe bet that they were developed as a kind of practice run for a more significant sailing element in Assassin’s Creed IV: Black Flag.
Since the game is all about pirates, the naval exploration is being touted quite strongly in the trailers for Assassin’s Creed IV: Black Flag, and a new gameplay video released by Ubisoft places a great amount of emphasis on the importance of Edward Kenway’s ship, the Jackdaw. Game director Ashraf Ismail describes the Jackdaw as the “second main character of the game – this is your baby,” and a quick glance at the map for the game’s world shows that trying to get around with the assistance of the Jackdaw is going to be impossible, unless you want to try swimming for miles on end through a stormy ocean with cannonballs flying around and sharks nibbling at your toes.
The gameplay video is comprised of various different missions that come into play during naval exploration, including a raid of a treasure chest in a temple, a battle and raid of another ship, and an attack on an enemy fort. The first of these, which you’d expect to be more along the lines of the tomb-raiding missions of the previous games, is actually a little underwhelming – essentially consisting of a “go here, click this” structure, but that might be because they only show a portion of it. The ship-based missions, however, are much more impressive, and show how this aspect of the gameplay has been expanded since Assassin’s Creed III.
Since Edward is somewhat estranged from the Assassins, the ability to recruit new members to the cause, which has been an element of the games since Assassin’s Creed: Brotherhood, has been replaced with Edward’s acquisition of new crew members for the Jackdaw. This can be done by raiding other ships, imprisoning the crew members and waving a handful of gold in one hand with a cutlass in the other (at least, that’s probably how the exchange goes down). Alternatively, you can break the ship down for spare parts and use it to repair the Jackdaw. It seems odd that the two options are mutually exclusive, since it would surely make more sense to loot the ship for planks and steal its crew members, but perhaps this will be explained better within the game.
Are you excited to hit the high seas again in Assassin’s Creed IV: Black Flag, or would you prefer to see a video of some assassination gameplay?
Assassin’s Creed IV: Black Flag will be available for PS3, Wii U and Xbox 360. The PC release has experienced delays, and the Xbox One and PS4 release dates will have to wait until the consoles themselves get confirmed launch dates.