Assassin’s Creed IV: Black Flag Preview – The E3 Primer


Not too much is known about just how much AC4 will change up the formula of Assasssin’s Creed (and specifically Assassin’s Creed 3), but Ubisoft has promised a few things in terms of what we can expect, as we saw at PAX East.

All About the Ship

First, we know a major portion of the game is going to take place on the high seas, to the extent that Ubisoft says your ship will be something of a secondary character to Kenway’s lead. You’ll be traveling the Caribbean in your ship and fighting naval battles akin to those experienced in Assassin’s Creed 3, although there will be a lot more emphasis on upgrading your ship and decking it out to make it powerful enough to withstand your opponents.

Upgrades will be earned with money, so taking on side-quests and other means of earning pirate booty are going to be key to moving forward in the game. Ubisoft says it’s taking something of a Metroid approach to the game world and walling off areas by making them difficult to enter until your ship is upgraded in a specific way or to a specific level — meaning spending time getting your ship in ship-shape is going to be a big part of the experience.

Stealthing It Up

Assassin’s Creed 3 felt like it was pretty lacking in the stealth department for the most part, but Ubisoft says you’ll be treated to more stealth gameplay in AC4, and that stealth remains a core part of the series. Specifically, stealth is going to be important part of gameplay, and Edward will use it to infiltrate various land-based locations (and maybe some ships, too). There will be a return of tall architecture (something that was lost a bit in Assassin’s Creed 3), and expect to spend more time sneaking around rooftops to get the drop on opponents and assassination targets.

‘Systematic Gameplay’ and an Open World

Ubisoft is promising a lot more freedom in Assassin’s Creed 4 than players are used to seeing, especially in the way they deal with issues that pop up at random. Traversing the huge Caribbean Sea, which will include some 50 navigable locations according to the developer, is going to be boring unless there’s a lot going on between islands. Expect to run into other pirates, the British Navy, and a host of other obstacles along the way as you navigate between missions. Ubisoft has also said you’ll be able to use your environment and other elements in creative ways to solve problems: for example, you might lure an enemy ship into a storm to weaken it, or into an enemy blockade for a distraction. Also mentioned by Ubisoft is the ability for Kenway to engage in whaling, which sounds … involved. It also drew the ire of animal rights activist group PETA.

You’ll mostly be free to explore and take up activities as you see fit, with landfall available at locations that range from towns and ports, to jungles, temples, Mayan ruins, shipwrecks, various villages and more. Also expect swimming to play a large role in the game, with the ability to dive deep and explore underwater locales as well as those on land and floating on the water.

Freedom to go about the game as you see fit seems to be a major part of the whole package. Don’t expect load screens to be hidden behind lengthy cutscenes as in Assassin’s Creed 3, Ubisoft says — instead, you’ll transition straight from water to port to land, and so on. With different areas more or less walled off to you until you progress deeper into the game, it seems Ubisoft is hoping to create as immersive an experience as possible, in terms of keeping you in the action pretty much all the time.

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3 Comments on Assassin’s Creed IV: Black Flag Preview – The E3 Primer


On May 1, 2013 at 7:23 am

Doesn’t it insult anybody that like about a year from now, we’ll have forgotten all about AC4 and moved on to talking about AC5?

Phil Hornshaw

On May 1, 2013 at 9:52 am


I don’t know about “Insult.” There was a time there when I felt like all the Assassin’s Creed games were bleeding together (what with three games about Ezio, set in roughly the same period), but AC3 at least mixed things up, despite its problems. This is kind of the issue we have with an annual game release, though.

On the plus side, Ubisoft seems to be recognizing the need to make changes, while also maintaining the series’ core. So while I said this with AC3 and was ultimately kinda disappointed, I’m still looking forward to AC4.


On May 4, 2013 at 8:32 am

Personally I’m excited that Darby is the lead writer for this game. The story is the main reason why AC:Revelations is still the favorite game of the series for me.