We’ve covered Assassin’s Creed 4: Black Flag here at Ubergizmo quite often as we can’t help but be a bit excited for the next chapter of Ubisoft’s iconic series. We can also tell you’re equally excited to not only play as another assassin, but as a pirate as well. That’s why when Ubisoft gave us the chance to check out Assassin’s Creed 4: Black Flag for ourselves, we immediately jumped at the opportunity.
We already know Assassin’s Creed 4 will star a new assassin named Edward who is regularly torn between the life of a pirate and his new life as an assassin. The demo had Edward starting off in a simple fisherman’s village, which is just one of 50 different locations he’ll be able to make his way through the game. While he’s at the fisherman’s village, Edward accepts a contract, which is just one of the methods he’ll go through to help train him become an assassin. Before we’re able to start looking for our assassination targets, Assassin’s Creed 4’s Game Director Ashraf Ismail takes a moment to show us the game world.
The game world of Assassin’s Creed 4 is absolutely massive as you can make your way through the majority of the caribbean. Ismail points out certain areas of the map like Havana, Cuba, the Bahamas, the lower portion of Florida, and Haiti, although there’s more than just those areas to travel to.
After that short introduction to Assassin’s Creed 4’s game world, we go back to Edward in the fisherman’s village who is now on the hunt for his assassination targets. As Edward makes his way through the fisherman’s village, which happens to be filled with a number of distractions such as a tavern. The tavern allows you to hire new crew members, play mini-games, and of course, drink, as most pirates love to do. Instead of enjoying himself, Edward focuses on his targets, one of which just so happens to be located outside of a tavern. Edward decides to blend in to get as close to one of the targets as he can, and as soon as he’s able to, he takes him out by slamming his head against the bar.
Seeing as his brother was just murdered by an assassin, the other target takes off, which allows Edward to chase him down. There are a number of options players can go through when chasing down a target as they can simply leap at them to kill them in the traditional assassin way, shoot him with the new shooting mechanics, or in this case, let him get onto his ship and take him down that way. Once the target boards his ship, Edward still has the option to jump on the target’s ship to take him out along with his crew, but seeing as his trusty ship is nearby, we decide to board Edward’s ship.
Upon boarding his ship, the crew immediately responds to Edward positively as there’s a camaraderie between the ship’s captain and the crew. As much as Edward would love to hang out with his crew, there’s work to be done as his target is getting away on his ship. Edward could simply destroy the ship in order to kill his target, but we use the game’s spy glass feature in order to see the target ship is a level 4 frigate with a valuable resource on board: wood. Wood is a resource that is required to further upgrade Edward’s ship, so you could see why plundering it would be the best course of action as not only will you get the target, but also its resources as well.
Ubisoft has put some work behind its naval combat in Assassin’s Creed 4 as well as how the water can either help or become an obstacle based on its choppiness. You can use front cannons that use trajectory aiming, fire barrels that can be dropped from the rear of the ship into the water and it’s possible to aim your cannons while also steering the ship. More skilled players will be able to shoot at specific targets of the ship, such as the hull or the sails, which will offer different advantages throughout the battle.
Once the ship is disabled, Edward is then able to complete a few smaller objectives like killing a certain number of the enemy’s crew, as well as kill the target. Since Edward disabled the ship from a distance, he can use the ship’s swivel gun in order to kill the enemy crew, although if the ship was disabled at a close distance, Edward’s crew could have just boarded the ship and taken out the enemy crew themselves. After killing a number of the crew, Edward’s ship gets close enough where he can board the enemy ship stealthily, maneuver his way across the ship’s mast to find himself directly over his target. Edward then leaps down and kills his target, which results in the contract being completed.
Now that we’ve completed our contract and have plundered the enemy’s ship, Edward stumbles onto a sandbank, which always have something extremely valuable on them. Edward finds the remains of a drunken sailor, and after looting his corpse, he finds a treasure map for a hidden treasure located on an island called Misteriosa. Luckily for Edward, the island of Misteriosa jus so happens to be within a reachable distance, so he heads out to look for the treasure.
While Edward is traveling from the secluded sandbank towards Misteriosa, we see a storm is brewing off in the distance in the direction of where he needs to go. Storms are quite dangerous in the Assassin’s Creed 4 world as poorly navigating through a storm can result in the loss of crew members as well as damage to your ship. Luckily, Edward was able to navigate the choppy waters and high winds found within the storm to make it to Misteriosa.
When Edward arrives at Misteriosa, he jumps into the water and swims to its shore. The treasure map Edward looted shows the buried treasure is located at the top of a Mayan temple, so he sets off to find it, only to be met with a group of guards. Ismael notes fighting guards in Assassin’s Creed 4 is much more difficult than previous games in the Assassin’s Creed series, so Edward decides to make his way around them instead of fighting them head on.
As Edward makes his way through a side road towards the temple, I notice Ubisoft has put a lot of work in the trees and foliage that can be found all over the game world. For example, Edward sees a guard and decides he’s going to ambush him from a nearby bush. When Edward jumps into the bush, you can see the leaves of the bush move around independently as he makes his way through it. One the guard is within range, Edward grabs him and takes him out quietly, to then continue up towards the temple.
At one point towards his ascent towards the top of the temple, Edward needs to navigate through some trees in order to reach the middle of the temple. Below the trees is where those guards Edward had decided against fighting are located, so he decides to use one of his new weapons to create a diversion: the blowpipe. The blowpipe was combined with berzerk darts, which when they pierce a person, they go on a rampage. Edward decides to target a captain, who is much stronger than the typical guard, which creates quite the distraction so he could make his way across the trees over the guards.
Once Edward makes his way past the guards located below him, he makes his way up the temple where he comes across a hostage situation. There are two guards holding two men and an additional guard patrolling the area. In these situations, the developers want to challenge the players to attempt to figure out the best way to complete these challenges, which in this case requires Edward to take out each guard using stealth, or else the hostages will be killed. In this scenario, Edward corners the patrolling guard and takes him out behind cover so the other two holding the hostages don’t see him. He then climbs on a tree to get to a high point, and takes down both guards using a double assassination with his two swords. As a result of your work, both hostages are free and are happy to join your crew.
After freeing the two hostages, Edward continues on to look for the hidden treasure, which he finally reaches, and inside of the treasure chest is some resources and a blueprint. Blueprints play an important role in Assassin’s Creed 4 as they’re required in order to upgrade the largest upgrades available for Edward’s ship. In this case, the blueprint Edward earned was to reach the final upgrade for one of his ship’s weapons. Treasure chests will always have something worthwhile inside of them, which helps give the game additional play time, and in this case, helps make progressing through the game easier once you have these hard-to-reach treasures.
If our demo time with Assassin’s Creed 4: Black Flag has taught us anything, it’s that Ubisoft has taken its open-world game mechanics beyond simply being able to make your through cities to complete a number of side missions to offer a slight improvement over your assassin. In Assassin’s Creed 4, you’ll be able to go from accepting a contract at a fisherman’s village, to taking part in naval warfare, to searching for buried treasure. And these were activities that were done outside of the main story, which just goes to show just how much content Ubisoft is planning to throw in to Assassin’s Creed 4.
At the end of our demo, the game’s director Ashraf Ismail said something that I feel sums up how much passion he and his team have for not only the series, but Assassin’s Creed 4. He said, “We want the fans to love this game. We want people to buy [Assassin’s Creed 4] and [say] “That $60 dollars was more than enough.” It would break my heart… it would break my heart if someone [said] “I wasted money.”” After seeing just how much content was shown for the 30 minutes of time I had with Assassin’s Creed 4, I can safely say this look like yet another Assassin’s Creed game that will be well worth your $60.