Alright, yes, it does appear that I was wrong in my guesses again. After a week where things were leaking out left and right, the embargo was finally lifted yesterday and Assassin’s Creed IV: Black Flag officially became a thing. From the sounds of it, this may be Ubisoft’s attempt to reinvigorate the franchise. Out are the time period, main character, and modern protagonists in favor of something completely new. Here’s what we know so far:
Black Flag is moving back in time to the early parts of the 18th century during the golden age of pirates. Don’t expect a Disney rehash however as Ubisoft Montreal is aiming to portray a more historical aspect on pirates and that time period. So expect less Jack Sparrow and more grit, violence, and mature themes. We’re also going to see some of the more notorious pirates during this era including Calico Jack, Blackbeard, and Anne Bonny to name a few.
It’s evident that Ubisoft is working hard to correct the many complaints levied at Assassin’s Creed III. The first of these can be seen in the new protagonist for the game, Edward Kenway. If the last name rings a bell, that’s because Edward is actually the father of Haytham and grandfather of Connor so we’re staying within the family here. From what I’ve read/seen, Edward seems to be the polar opposite to the stoic, serious, brooding and sometimes unlikable Connor Kenway. Edward seems more akin to series favorite, Ezio Auditore, as he looks to have more charm and charisma with a dash of recklessness. I think it’s also fair to say that he’s a hit with the ladies as well.
What’s a game about pirates without epic sea battles? If you were a fan of the Aquila and the naval portions of Assassin’s Creed III, you’re probably going to be in heaven as the game world runs from Florida all the way down to the southern parts of the Caribbean. The ship is a large part of the experience as you’ll be upgrading and customizing which lends to an almost Metroid-esque feel within the open world, but certain areas will be very difficult until a certain upgrade has been added to your ship.
The team at Ubisoft Montreal is also working hard to completely eliminate loading screens. So if you see a spot you want to explore, you can very easily jump off your ship, swim to the location, and go about your business. The team is attempting to create a true open world experience where you can go where you want and do what you want without being bogged down by cut scenes or loading screens. Within this open world, you’re also going to be involved with dynamic events, side missions, treasure hunts and so much more. Better yet, many of the developers that worked on the excellent open world shooter, Far Cry 3, have moved to assist on this project as well. It all sounds very promising and I hope they can reach these lofty goals.
In terms of the modern storyline, Ubisoft made sure to tie up many loose ends as it completed Desmond’s storyline in Assassin’s Creed III. So where does that leave the modern storyline? This time around, you portray a person hired by Abstergo Entertainment to research a certain event in Desmond’s memories to which leads you to Edward. Not much else was given in terms of details but even then, it sounds intriguing.
With all of that said, on paper Assassin’s Creed IV sounds like a fresh take on the franchise and a step in the right direction for keeping it relevant and progressing. At this time, no gameplay has been shown and Assassin’s Creed III ran wild with hype until it came crashing down after release. So as exciting as all of this may be, I urge caution for now until we see and hear more. I’m a huge fan of the franchise and I remain hopeful that it continues to evolve as it looks to correct the problems of the last game and sail into a brighter future.
Assassin’s Creed IV: Black Flag hits current gen consoles (PS3, Xbox 360) on October 29 and next generation consoles later this year.