Assassin's Creed IV: Black Flag Eyes On

Assassin's Creed IV: Black Flag Eyes On

The Ubisoft booth at E3 is exactly what you expect E3 is going to be like. It’s loud, it’s hot, it’s ridiculously crowded, and seems to pulsate with the message “we are power players in this industry”. Throngs of people walk around open mouthed bumping into each other, and soaking up the spectacle.

Promoting Just Dance 2014 dancers shake their groove things on a circular raised stage in the middle. Spare a thought for these poor colourfully dressed souls – they must have to go lie down in a chest freezer on their breaks.

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Of course, on my arrival at lunchtime on Day 1 of E3 there was only one game I really wanted to see in this haze of hype. Assassins Creed 4. Arrrrrrrr. (Disclaimer: I find pirate talk hilarious, so there may be multiple occurrences throughout, me hearties.)

I was lucky enough to be allowed, with about fifteen others, to file into a hot little room. We sat down in front of the screen and were given headphones to wear. We were addressed by Ubisoft’s Lead Content Developer, Carsten Myhill, who talked us through the short demo.

The main thing he wanted to impress upon us was the sheer scale of the game; the largest AC world Ubisoft have ever created. Showing us a brief scan around the map, we could see Cuba, Florida, Haiti and Mexico highlighted, amongst others. Aye aye, Matey, she’s big alright.

Once we got into the world, it looked gorgeous. The water was crystal blue and textured, the vegetation lush, and the boats and wharves creaked with authentic looking, artfully shaded planks.

But enough about what it looks like. What’s new, and likely to shiver our timbers?

Aboardship, Cap’n Edward Kenway has a new front firing charge shot added to the arsenal. He also has a new weapon in the blow pipe, which provides non-lethal darts in two flavours: sleep, and berserk. The sleep is obvious, but the berserk causes your target to go berserk and attack the people around him, creating a neat diversion for Edward.

There are also no load times or cut times between land and sea, something that Carsten seemed quite proud to be able to announce. Seamless transition between modes was something required by the audience, and they have had their wishes granted.

Events can be sent to your friends. The example given was if you see a rare whale, you can notify your friends of your discovery. For the next six hours they will be able to see the same whale in the spot where you found it, sharing in your triumph. Then they can kill it if they want.

Er, right.

In our 15 minute demo, Edward found a treasure map, then sailed to the island to retrieve the booty. (Arrrrrrr.) The island was already inhabited by Spanish troops, so Edward stealthily snuck around them. This was particularly highlighted as a feature of AC4, as stealth had gone out of the window a little in the latest iterations of the franchise.

He also mentioned that there was a companion app playable on your tablet (a common feature of other upcoming games at Ubisoft and other developer stands this year) that you could use to view maps on screen. He didn’t go into a lot of detail, so I assume there are other uses for the app other than just map display, but don’t have confirmation on it at this stage.

In the previous Assassins Creed titles, aside from weapons collection and expansion, upgrading the hero’s home, and the village, etc was a big driver for the gamer. In AC4, you’ll be updating Edward’s pirate ship, the Jackdaw. As the game progresses, the boat must become more powerful to be able to take on fiercer foes, and more heavily fortified enemy bases, so you can’t progress throughout the game without upgrading as you go.

You will also have to keep a close eye on your crew, as they can be killed in battles, during boarding of other ships, and also in storms. You can recruit new crew to join the merry band on the Jackdaw if you rescue them from enemies, or capture them from enemy crews.

Boarding ships definitely seemed like it could be a lot of fun, with the ability to free roam around the ropes and rigging, and then leaping into the fray to stab, slash and rampage your way thrugh the enemy crew.

So that’s the information I managed to glean from my fifteen minute demo. I’ll be looking forward to this title coming out in late October this year, and seeing if Ubisoft have actually managed to put together a compelling story to match the pretty visuals seen today.

I’ll be watching with interest. From the crow’s nest.

Assassin's Creed IV: Black Flag
+ Swashbuckling fun on the very pretty high seas.
- Ubisoft are still keeping this beauty pretty close to their sunken chests.
"I’ll be watching with interest."
- Assassin's Creed IV: Black Flag
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Comments Comments (16)

Posted by Deanology
On Wednesday 12 Jun 2013 9:39 PM
Looks pretty awesome.
Seems like it hasn't been long since AC3.
Posted by SpeediePetey
On Wednesday 12 Jun 2013 9:53 PM
Considering this was done by the B-team I'm looking foward to seeing what they can do but this franchise really is being milked hard.
Posted by imonthenet
On Wednesday 12 Jun 2013 10:17 PM
I'm an Assassin's Creed fanboy, so I can't help but be excited for this. I am though keeping my expectations down. I loved Assassin's Creed III, and I think it's almost necessary that it gets it's own 'Brotherhood' (which I see this as being). I can't deny Ubisoft is milking this franchise, but I also can't help but be optimistic that I might be surprised by this sequel.
Posted by kiwimike87
On Wednesday 12 Jun 2013 10:41 PM
I like the way they change it up enough each time to keep you interested. Looks like a great game
Posted by gh567
On Wednesday 12 Jun 2013 11:02 PM
I just love pirates... that's enough for me to hold all reservations until I play it or see some more of it in action....
Posted by RealmEnder
On Thursday 13 Jun 2013 12:00 AM
I played AC 1&2 then got a bit of franchise fatigue. 4 looks like a point to jump back in on.
Posted by dark_hadou1
On Thursday 13 Jun 2013 8:22 AM
Kinda sucks you guys didn't get a hands on with some multiplayer, even if it were an unfinished product.

Guess they're keeping that close to their chests
Posted by Valsira
On Thursday 13 Jun 2013 10:52 AM
Having the blow pipe as a weapon and being able to use a stealthier approach worked well in Liberation so I'm happy to hear that they're doing that with this one. I read that the PS versions of this game will have extra missions where you play as Aveline which is actually a pretty big drawcard for me. I still haven't gotten around to playing Revelations or AC3 (not that I haven't wanted to but other games have taken priority) but I might jump back in with this one.
Posted by tom_nz
On Thursday 13 Jun 2013 12:59 PM
Pirates done well is hard to come by. Ubisoft should have this in the bag though. Arrrrr!
Posted by karli
On Thursday 13 Jun 2013 3:13 PM
I am a fan of Assassins Creed, and who doesn't love Pirates! Yes Ubisoft is milking the franchise but I still enjoy every game so I'm not complaining.
Posted by NickJacques
On Thursday 13 Jun 2013 5:28 PM
13 June 2013, 12:00 AM Reply to RealmEnder
I played AC 1&2 then got a bit of franchise fatigue. 4 looks like a point to jump back in on.
Same here, looking forward to it.
Posted by LoftyDog
On Friday 14 Jun 2013 10:37 AM
in so very torn. While I love the present day story of AC, the last 2 games have just not done it for me. I think after 3 I may have to hang it up, especially since this one appears to not do anything different.
Posted by kiwibadboy
On Saturday 15 Jun 2013 9:51 AM
Sounds awesome! Even though the gameplay Demo caked it.....
Posted by nos4r2d2
On Saturday 15 Jun 2013 4:20 PM
Hopefully this won't be rushed for the new console releases.
Posted by predatorhunter
On Sunday 16 Jun 2013 1:39 PM
Havnt played any ac games yet but this 1 looks amazing love pirates.
Posted by animallover
On Monday 17 Jun 2013 9:37 AM
Gotta love pirates. The world look amazing. Worth checking out.