Preview: Assassin’s Creed IV: Black Flag

ac43Who hasn’t dreamt of joining a pirate’s crew, commandeering a few ships, plundering treasure and living a life of freedom on the seven seas? Forget watching Pirates of the Caribbean for the umpteenth time: in Assassin’s Creed IV: Black Flag, you get the chance to make that dream a reality.

Black Flag takes players back in time to the early 18th century, also fondly called the “Golden Age of Piracy.” You’ll step into the shoes of Edward Kenway, an Abstergo Industries research analyst who’s the father of Haytham Kenway and related to Desmond Miles, the main protagonist of the Assassin’s Creed series. He’s also the grandfather of the Native American Ratonhnhake’:ton, better known as Connor, of Assassin’s Creed III. If you’re confused about all this time-travel stuff and aren’t quite sure how everything fits together, don’t worry–that’s completely natural. It’s a good thing, then, that Black Flag looks like fun whether you understand the plot or not.

In Black Flag, you’ll journey to the cities of Nassau, Kingston, and Havana and plunder sailing vessels via your ship on the high seas. Black Flag is the first game in the series to offer extensive underwater gameplay. Edward will be able to dive for treasure, loot shipwrecks, and search for underwater smuggler’s dens. He’ll need to watch out for sharks and eels  as well as other pirates when you take him below the sea. Black Flag aims for a seamless transition between land and sea play, so you can leap from your ship to explore the water below at any point.

On land, you’ll feel like you’re on a real adventure as you explore deserted islands, Mayan ruins, forts, plantations and lush jungles. Just like in previous titles, you will need to activate View Points to get a better look at the world around you on the map. Expect to spend time climbing high mountain peaks and reaching for the top of ancient, crumbling buildings to access some of the game’s toughest View Point challenges.

Of course, in a game about pirates, you’ve got to do plenty of pirating. About 40 percent of the game is slated to take place on the water. You’ll be able to use Edward’s boat, the Jackdaw, to hunt for opposing pirate ships and take down their ac42crew with cannon fire. After killing the captain, you have the choice to capture the ship for your sleet, break down the ship for parts, or capture the crew for yourself. Your crew members can die in battle, so you’ll need to be on the lookout for more all the time. Money is a must-have for upgrading your ship with new cannons, mines, a ram, and a variety of mortar shots. You’ll also need cash for personal weapons, such as rope darts, swords, flintlock pistols, and a blowpipe.

The game will contain a meaty amount of main quest missions, side missions, and and endless number of dynamic quests, much like the dynamic quest system worked in The Elder Scrolls V: Skyrim. This means that you’ll never run out of ships to plunder or merchants to rob.

Pirate lovers will be thrilled to meet and interact with legends such as Blackbeard, Charles Vane, Anne Bonny, and Benjamin Hornigold. In previous titles in the series, players befriended historical figures like Leonardo Da Vinci and battled corrupt foes, including the wicked Pope Rodrigo Borgia, who took up his station in 1492.

Multiplayer mode returns in Black Flag. You’ll have access to character classes such as the adventurer, duelist, cutthroat, dandy, physician, and mercenary. Maps so far include Portobelo, Saint Lucia, Havana, Saba Island and Prison.

ac45Assassin’s Creed IV: Black Flag releases on October 29, 2013 for the Xbox 360 and PlayStation 3. It will release on November 13 for the Xbox One and PlayStation 4. November 13 is also the PS4’s launch date.

If you order the PlayStation 3 or  PlayStation 4 version of the game, you’ll also get 60 additional minutes of bonus gameplay featuring Aveline de Grandpre. Aveline was the main protagonist in the PlayStation Vita game, Assassin’s Creed III: Liberation.

Ubisoft has announced a special Limited Edition version of the game, but pricing or a release date has yet to be announced. The game comes with many goodies, including an 18-inch Edward Kenway statue, 80-page art book, official soundtrack, SteelBook game case, collectible box, and a cloth pirate flag. If you order from Amazon, you will also get the Hidden Mystery Pack which comes with Stede Bonnet’s ship, the exclusive Mystery Island mission, and a special outfit.

For an extra $10, you’ll upgrade to the Lethal Pirate pack. It includes all the items from the Limited Edition, plus exclusive Todd McFarlane wallpaper and a Black Bart action figure by McFarlane toys.

Click here to learn more and buy Assassin’s Creed IV: Black Flag on Amazon.

Game Info

GAME NAME: Assassin’s Creed IV: Black Flag

DEVELOPER(S): Ubisoft Montreal

PUBLISHER(S): Ubisoft

PLATFORM(S): Xbox 360, Xbox One, PlayStation 3, PlayStation 4, Wii U

GENRE(S): Action-adventure

RELEASE DATE(S): October 29, 2013 (Xbox 360, PlayStation 3, Wii U) December 31, 2013 (Xbox One, PlayStation 4)

Learn More: PlayStation Universe: The Amazing (Real) History Behind the Assassin’s Creed Franchise

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