A step in the right direction
So, Another Assassins Creed game huh? After AC3 many fans were saying oh look, another one. Well the same won’t be said after this one. Assassins Creed 4 Black Flag takes place in the early 1700s in the Caribbean, the Golden Age of Piracy. Featuring places from Florida to Tortuga with Nassau, Havana, and Kingston, this title feels like an open water pirate adventure with an assassins overlay.
The games protagonist, Edward Kenway, is a refreshing change of pace and grandfather of straight arrowed Connor. His colorful personality and responses invoke a sense of pride and realism that you can really appreciate. The cast is a memorable one, with colorful characters such as Blackbeard (Edward Thatch), Calico Jack, and Billy the Kidd, this open world adventure is a memorable ride.
And I do mean open. Right from the start. You still have those inaccessible story areas, and the stronger ships that will tear you apart in the beginning to the south, but they are still there for the adventurous. You quickly obtain your own ship, the Jackdaw, in unique fashion, with a showdown with an assassin. Black Flag builds on earlier ship battles, with an array of attacks based on where you aim using mortars, broadside cannons, and chained shot. Of course upgrading your ship will allow you to assault bigger and bigger ships, with materials you collect along the way. You have the option of taking your loot and repairing the Jackdaw, lower your wanted level (you gain fame you gain attention), or sending them to your fleet. Fleet missions gain you unique rewards, as seen before in earlier Assassin Creed games.
You hunt for animal skins to craft your upgrades, for a variety of darts, pistols, and grenades. Your rowboat is readily available for these great beast hunts, and a diving bell is used for underwater missions, which can be good or dreadful giving your feeling of the quests. Watching out for the sharks, collecting treasure, and keeping our oxygen level up all at the same time proves quite challenging. Some unexpected events will take you by surprise to be sure to keep that oxygen level up!
The present day Abstergo and animus is back, though it plays a substantially less significant role. You can hack consoles, gaining a little insight into what Abstergo is up to in the present day. You are the star employee, and get roped in to some courier business as well. Keep your eyes open for Easter eggs and familiar faces 🙂
Pirating has certainly had its fame in games and the internet, but none are done on quite this scale. The world is immersive and full, better designed cities, the feel of running and scaling your environment is more fluid, but you’ll still end up grabbing that ledge or that ladder you were trying to run past, its not perfect. Combat remains what it has been in the past, with the exception of some kill animations. Thankfully they are easy to execute, and you can really mop up a mob better than ever before. There is still enough of a variety to keep it from getting stale, with emphasis of parrying and counter/dodge tactics, its easy to feel like a badass. The AI detection is great, but their tactics seem to be the same, still filtering one at a time to get knocked off a roof, but teaming up on you on the ground. Go for those alarm bells, or suffer the consequences. Multiplayer is there, Deathmatch, Wanted, Assassinate, and the fan-favorite, Manhunt. They all function as intended, but I didn’t play much time on it as the single player exploration is where this title shines.
All in all the landscapes are beautiful, the gameplay is fun, the story is interesting enough, and the ship battles are memorable. This is a step up as the most fun in an Assassins Creed game since running around Italy’s street festival as Ezio. Come visit the Caribbean soon. Arrrr.