By the time you read this, you’ve probably already played Assassin’s Creed IV. I am writing this last minute preview in this manner on purpose. Oftentimes previews are written months in advance and a large majority of previews are overwhelmingly positive, only for a game to release to mediocre reviews when it actually hits store shelves. The purpose of this article is to have it published at the same time many of the reviews for the game are published as well to see if my opinion (be it negative or positive) matches up with the general consensus of the gaming community or not.
In the meantime, I probably won’t be playing Assassin’s Creed IV until next week at some point. I have spoken at length about my disappointments in regards to the latest games in the series, and I have serious doubts that Black Flag is going to be able to win me over. I hope Ubisoft proves me wrong.
On with the show. Yarr.
Assassin’s Creed IV is designed to not only be a sequel for longtime fans, but also one that those entirely new to the series can jump into and not be overwhelmed by the overall story arc that the franchise deals with in each installment. This is mainly going to be accomplished with the characters.
The previous games followed Desmond, a very boring character if I do say so myself, as he lived much more interesting lives and adventures through the eyes of his assassin ancestors. Assassin’s Creed III was written to be the end of Desmond’s story, so now the franchise is able to take a step away from all of that and breathe a little bit.
The vast majority of Assassin’s Creed IV takes place in the historical age of pirates. The main protagonist is not Ezio or Altair or any other assassin that we’ve come to know so far, but rather a pirate named Edward Kenway. Other pirates will populate the game as well, including the most famous pirates in history, such as Blackbeard himself.
The evil Templar-ran Abstergo corporation will be a returning force in Assassin’s Creed IV. They will show up during the portions of the game that take place in modern times, though most of the modern day content is entirely optional. It’s mainly there for the longtime fans of the series to find out the ultimate fates of some of their favorite characters in the franchise.
The player will see the modern way by playing as a low level employee at Abstergo. This low level employee catches wind that Abstergo has taken a vested interest in the assassin pirate Edward Kenway and has a personal mission to figure out why that happens to be. One thing’s for sure, I don’t think it is even possible for anyone to be as boring or lame as Desmond, so we have that upgrade to look forward to in ACIV.
The heart of any game is the gameplay. Gamers have to come away from each gaming experience and ask themselves, “Did I have fun?” That is really the ultimate question when it comes to reviewing video games or deciding for yourself what the quality of the game was to you. Assassin’s Creed IV hopes to bring the fun by relishing in its pirate setting.
Despite its flaws, the Assassin’s Creed franchise has always been consistent in providing fun, historically accurate (eh…well when it comes to how the eras looked anyway) settings for players to explore. The golden age of pirates seems like a no-brainer for a video game, though the territory has surprisingly been mostly unexplored, with only a handful of pirate-themed games that I can even think of off the top of my head. And this is coming from someone that has literally played thousands of video games in his time.
Well, those that have been wanting a pirate-themed video game adventure are going to find that Assassin’s Creed IV goes out of its way to hit all the pirate tropes. Edward Kenway sails the ocean in his boat called the Jackdaw along with his crew members. Edward’s crew can even sing pirate shanties at the player’s command, with different shanties unlockable through optional fetch quests.
It won’t be all song and dance on the ships, though. Naval battles play a pivotal role in the gameplay of Assassin’s Creed IV. Ubisoft has went out of their way to make sure that the naval battles in ACIV are as realistic as possible. Water will play a huge factor in the battle as will boat positioning. The position of the boat will also determine what type of weapon will be used in the battle. When facing an enemy ship from the side, cannons will be used. When charging an enemy ship head on, guns will be used. And when an enemy ship is chasing you, the goal will be to throw explosive barrels in the water.
Players can destroy enemy ships or board them for loots. Of course, that is all very piratey, but the pirate lifestyle doesn’t just take place on the sea. There’s an entire Caribbean to explore with multiple islands and jungles. There are villages to plunder and forts to take over. Barfights to be had and board games to be won. Pirates to recruit and animals to hunt. There’s just a little bit of everything in Assassin’s Creed IV.
Speaking of the wildlife, the variety of creatures in the game is very exciting. There are iguanas and ocelots and whales and of course, sharks. I am particularly excited about these exotic creatures because they remind me of Ubisoft’s own Far Cry 3, which was one of my favorite games of 2012.
In Far Cry 3, animals are hunted and used for crafting purposes. It is the same story in Assassin’s Creed IV. I can’t wait to try out this crafting system for myself to see how it compares to the one featured in Far Cry 3. Players will be able to craft weapons such as sleeping darts, new clothing, and more by hunting the animals of the islands.
The sea creatures are perhaps the most interesting. Whale hunting is going to be epic for sure, but the sharks are going to be especially terrifying I bet, like they usually are. The sea creatures will be a big part of the game, especially during the underwater missions. With Call of Duty: Ghosts and Assassin’s Creed IV both putting a big emphasis on underwater gameplay, I just hope that the old “underwater levels suck” stereotype can be laid to rest!…assuming these games actually deliver.
The last thing I want to talk about in regards to the gameplay is Edward’s personal island. In the game, Edward has his own island called Inagau Island. This island serves as Edward’s home base. Players will be able to explore the island at their leisure, and I just think the thought of owning your own island is awesome.
Current and Next Gen
Assassin’s Creed IV: Black Flag is one of those games that is not really next-gen but not really current-gen either. It is stuck somewhere in the middle; it’s available for all of the consoles, yet it doesn’t really take advantage of the next-gen hardware.
That being said, Assassin’s Creed IV does have some minor differences between the versions. The PS4 version of the game will have timed-exclusive DLC content. The next-gen versions will also feature some improved physics as well as other graphical upgrades.
Ubisoft has said that all of the versions of the game will contain the same core content and gameplay experience. So in the end, it doesn’t really matter what system you’re playing Assassin’s Creed IV on, as it is going to be the same game no matter what. At least it looks to be far more polished than Assassin’s Creed III though, which is widely criticized for its glitches and technical shortcomings.
This preview has had a positive slant. I am impressed from what I have seen and read about Assassin’s Creed IV, and this is despite my general distaste for the series since Revelations. The game is already out and while I will have to wait a bit to play it myself, many of you will have already played it.
So the question is, was this preview representative of the final version of the game? Sound off in the comments below if you think Ubisoft delivered a gaming experience to the same quality as was promised.