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Assassin's Creed IV: Black Flag

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"I once sailed for a king. I obeyed men of privilege and wealth. Now, I bend my knee to no man. My only oath is to my crew and together we will take back what is rightfully ours. With blood and steel, we shall stand up to the powerful. Captains will curse our flag, and kings will fear it. As long as empires generate wealth and riches, we will be there to bleed them dry."
―Edward Kenway, Assassin's Creed IV: Black Flag's "Under The Black Flag" Trailer.
Assassin's Creed IV: Black Flag
Assassin's Creed IV Black Flag
Developer(s)
Ubisoft Montreal
Publisher
Ubisoft
US release
29 October 2013 (Xbox 360, PS3, Wii U)
15 November 2013 (PS4)
19 November 2013 (PC)[1]
22 November 2013 (Xbox One)
EU release
29 October 2013 (Xbox 360, PS3)[2]
22 November 2013 (PC, Wii U, Xbox One)[1]
29 November 2013 (PS4)
Genre:
Historic Action-Adventure
Game modes:
Singleplayer, Multiplayer
ESRB rating:
RP (Rating Pending)
Platform(s):
Xbox 360, Xbox One, PS3, PS4, PC, Wii U
Media:
DVD, Blu-ray Disc, Digital download

Assassin's Creed IV: Black Flag is a 2013 action-adventure game, and the sixth main installment in the Assassin's Creed series. A sequel to 2012's Assassin's Creed III, the game has the player take on the role of an Abstergo Entertainment research analyst as they explore the story of Edward Kenway – father to Haytham Kenway, grandfather to Ratonhnhaké:ton and an ancestor of Desmond Miles.

Assassin's Creed IV: Black Flag is set primarily on and around the islands in the Caribbean Sea during the Golden Age of Piracy in the early 18th century, with the three major cities consisting of Havana, Nassau and Kingston.

Development

Assassin's Creed IV: Black Flag producer Martin Schelling and Mission Director Ashraf Ismail both stated that they began the project in the summer of 2011, with a pirate game as their focus.[3] Ismail also stressed that they aimed towards a more historically accurate take on the era, including staying away from the stereotypical image associated with pirates, such as parrots, Krakens and plank-walking.[4] The pair also explained that because the game was so radically different from its predecessor and that the scope and open-world gameplay was so different from the previous game, they opted for the project to be a numbered sequel as opposed to a spin-off that followed in the footsteps of the last numbered game, Assassin's Creed III.[3]

Ubisoft's Montreal-based team, in conjunction with 7 other studios from Singapore, Sofia, Annecy, Kiev, Quebec City, Bucharest and Montpellier – accompanied by a band of developers of Far Cry 3 – are working on the completion of the game, with each studio focusing on different elements.[4]

Writer Darby McDevitt began writing the game soon after completing Assassin's Creed: Revelations, after being suggested to do a game expanding the "Kenway family saga", instead of Connor's life story as they did with Ezio Auditore da Firenze. He considered beginning the story with Edward as a boy during the William Kidd and Henry Morgan era of piracy, but decided he felt skeptical as to whether Assassin's Creed II convincingly portrayed a similar span of time, and so opted to simply focus on the Blackbeard era towards the end of the Golden Age of Piracy.[5]

McDevitt stated the game's primary history resources were A General History of the Pyrates (1724) and The Republic of Pirates (2008). As a homage to the former book, the game's subtitles rendered each noun with capital letters. Republic author Colin Woodard was invited to consult on the game.[6]

Lorne Balfe, who was the sole composer for Assassin's Creed III and secondary composer for Assassin's Creed: Brotherhood and Assassin's Creed: Revelations, did not return to score the soundtrack for Assassin's Creed IV: Black Flag. The score was instead composed by Brian Tyler, the composer of Far Cry 3.

Gameplay

Locations and navigation

About 60% of the game takes place on land; players can explore 50 locations ranging from fisherman villages, plantations, jungles, forts, islands, Templar hideouts, Mayan ruins and exotic Coconut Islands. Furthermore, there are around 75 beaches and sandbanks, which can hold various treasures and marooned sailors to add to Edward's crew.

Other activities include hunting, harpooning and exploring underwater environments. The game aims to blend between its land and aquatic experiences seamlessly, to the point where players can simply dive off Edward's ship, swim to the shore and explore the land, as well as dive under the surface to loot underwater ship wrecks.

View Points are also in Black Flag. As in the previous games, View Points have to be synchronized so as to reveal information about an area and its surroundings. Furthermore, they now also serve the function of fast-travel locations. Synchronizing with a viewpoint unlocks more loot and area of "interest" to Edward and can also be used as a faster way of locating a specific target.

Combat

Black Flag's combat has been upgraded to include free aiming. While previous instalments relied on the game's built-in auto aim, in Assassin's Creed IV: Black Flag, players are able to just aim and fire, similar to third-person shooters.

Dual-wielding weapons has also been implemented, with Edward being able to carry four flintlock pistols and be able to use them all together, chaining up to four gunshots into a combo of attacks to take down more enemies. Aside from the pistols and his Hidden Blades, Edward can equip dual cutlass swords and chain their attacks together. Other weapons include a blowpipe with multiple effected projectiles and rope darts. Accompanying this, the stealth system has been remade and is encouraged in-game. 

Combo attacks are achieved through chaining multiple attacks in a row while uninterrupted. The game includes many different ways of combo moves, with some available through running towards an enemy or jumping onto an enemy from the high ground.

Naval combat

The game also includes naval combat, with 40% of the story taking place on the water, which includes numerous side missions. After checking out a ship with Edward's spyglass from the Jackdaw's crow's nest and evaluating the information and statistics, players can launch an attack using various scenarios; one can simply shoot the opposing captain, board the ship by leaping from mast-to-mast and performing an air assassination, or charge into the fray to cut down foes using Edward's swords. Once the objectives for each boarding process, all of which include killing a certain amount of soldiers, are completed, the player has three options - reduce the Jackdaw's notoriety, send the ship to Edward's fleet or salvage the ship to repair the Jackdaw. Players are also able to exploit weather patterns, luring the opposition into less than ideal conditions such as rougue waves, to their advantage. Naval combat also features a trajectory-based aiming system that requires knowledge of distance and the speed of an enemy.

Upgrades

Players are also able to upgrade Edward Kenway's the Jackdaw through pillaging, taking over enemy ships and completing missions, granting the Jackdaw with new weapons and abilities. Of these, weapon upgrades include round shot, heat shot, chain shot, fire barrels, mortars, swivel guns and a ram. Edward can recruit crew-members for the Jackdaw via side missions that include bar fights, and battle missions. It is also possible to simply rescue them while just sailing across the map. However, the crew members are also expected to die in the game while braving storms and boarding enemy ships, forcing Edward to continuously recruit more members. The game also has six different enemy archetypes at sea that all behave in vastly different ways and require the player to have different upgrades to deal with them.

Memories

Instead of Desmond Miles, the modern day portion is centered around the players themselves, who act as Abstergo Entertainment research analysts that are reliving the memories of Edward Kenway. The Animus no longer constrains the players with its barriers whenever they attempt to interact with an environment the ancestor has not; instead tougher enemy ships will block the way, with the only way around them being to actually explore the world, and finding things that can go towards upgrading the Jackdaw. In addition, players are able to connect with other players in the modern day, which will allow them to interact and share information with each other.

Other

Assassin's Creed IV: Black Flag includes many historical figures such as Benjamin HornigoldJack RackhamAnne Bonny, Charles Vane, and Edward Thatch.

The notoriety system featured in previous Assassin's Creed games was remade in Black Flag, as a "worldwide alert" for a pirate sailing between islands was deemed illogical. In its place, a system of pirate hunters were introduced, with four tiers of increasingly difficult ships appearing to attack the Jackdaw depending on how many robberies Edward has committed.

The new "Horizon" open-world system dynamically creates side missions, such as merchant ships to rob, whales to hunt or pirates to rescue, dependent on an individual's playing style.

Edward will put his hood on when in a restricted zone or in a city, and take it off when on the open seas or as soon as he is incognito.

Multiplayer

The multiplayer aspect of Black Flag includes cooperative and competitive multiplayer modes, some of which that are reused from previous games, along with all new maps and new characters.

To date, the characters are as follows:

Adding to this, the locations are:

Furthermore, players can create custom game modes alongside default and Game Lab modes and share it to their friends.

Marketing

As with its predecessor – Assassin's Creed IIIAssassin's Creed IV: Black Flag features an additional 60 minutes of downloadable gameplay for Sony's PS3 and PS4 consoles, which features Aveline de Grandpré.

During the 2013 San Diego Comic-Con, Ubisoft hired the Star of India to stand in for the Jackdaw.

McFarlane Toys' action figures of characters from Black Flag and Assassin's Creed III come with unique codes to unlock in-game weapons, outfits, and sails for the Jackdaw.

Other media

A Japanese manga adaptation of the game, written by Takashi Yano and illustrated by Kendi Oiwa, began serialization in Shueisha's Jump X magazine on 10 August 2013.[7]

Controversy

BlackFlag promo 4

Edward aboard the Jackdaw as a whale breaches the water ahead

After this screenshot (right) was released, PETA issued a statement condemning Black Flag as "disgraceful" as it "glorified" whaling.

A Ubisoft spokesperson provided this response to IGN.

"History is our playground in Assassin's Creed. Assassin's Creed IV: Black Flag is a work of fiction that depicts the real events during the Golden Era of Pirates. We do not condone illegal whaling, just as we don't condone a pirate lifestyle of poor hygiene, plundering, hijacking ships, and over the legal limit drunken debauchery."

Ubisoft later established Susan Drayton, a character in Assassin's Creed: Initiates, as being anti-whaling.

Editions

Ubisoft announced several collector's editions of Assassin's Creed IV: Black Flag.

Black chest edition
  • A retail copy of Assassin's Creed IV: Black Flag
  • A collector's box
  • A steelbook case
  • A copy of the world map
  • An artbook
  • A copy of the official soundtrack
  • Two exclusive lithographs
  • Two canvas prints
  • A black flag
  • A 55 centimeter Captain Edward Kenway diorama
  • Three exclusive single player locations, Black Island, Mystery Island, and Sacrifice Island
  • Access to all pre-order packs

Buccaneer edition
  • A retail copy of Assassin's Creed IV: Black Flag
  • A collector's box
  • An artbook
  • A copy of the official soundtrack
  • Two exclusive lithographs
  • A 46 centimeter Captain Edward Kenway figurine
  • Three exclusive single player locations, Black Island, Mystery Island and Sacrifice Island
  • Pre-order pack: Captain Kenway's Legacy

Skull edition
  • A retail copy of Assassin's Creed IV: Black Flag
  • A jumbo steel case
  • Two exclusive lithographs
  • An artbook.
  • A copy of the official soundtrack
  • Two exclusive single player locations, Mystery Island and Sacrifice Island
  • Pre-order pack: Captain Kenway's Legacy

Special edition
  • A retail copy of Assassin's Creed IV: Black Flag
  • An exclusive single player location, Sacrifice Island
  • Pre-order pack: Includes Captain Francis Drake's outfit, swords, and flintlocks
  • Pre-order pack: Captain Kenway's Legacy. Includes dual golden swords and the Treasure Hunter costume for the Navigator multiplayer character

Gamestop edition
  • A retail copy of Assassin's Creed IV: Black Flag
  • An exclusive single player location, Black Island
  • Access to the Black Ship sails, wheel and figurine
  • Captain Henry Morgan's outfit, silver flintlocks, and swords for single player, and additional Captain Morgan items for use in multiplayer
  • Todd MacFarlane poster

  • 18-inch statue of Edward Kenway
  • Pirate flag measuring 28 inches by 48 inches, embroidered with the Assassins' crest
  • Art book
  • Steel game case
  • Original soundtrack

AC4-Lethal Pirate Edition
  • A retail copy of Assassin's Creed IV: Black Flag
  • Black Bart action figure by McFarlane Toys
  • Digital wallpaper by Todd McFarlane
  • The Royal Fortune's sails, wheel and figurine
  • Mystery Island location
  • Stede Bonnet's sails, wheel and figurine

Jackdaw Edition
  • A retail copy of Assassin's Creed IV: Black Flag
  • Freedom Cry single player missions
  • Death Vessel sails, wheel and figurine
  • Ezio's sails and figurine
  • Altaïr's sails and figurine
  • Kraken sails, wheel and figurine
  • Illustrious Pirates Pack
  • Multiplayer Characters Pack

Awards

Winner

  • Best Action/Adventure Game

Trivia

  • Assassin's Creed IV: Black Flag is notable for being the only main game to have both a Roman numeral in its title and a subtitle, as well as being the first main entry to have the historical element set before the previous one.
  • This is the first Assassin's Creed game to not have a mobile release of the game.

Gallery

References


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