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Well now is the time for a new Assassin's Creed. After the divide created by AC3 and the end of Desmond's story, Ubisoft's action-adventure, historic fiction, science fiction, game series is going at it again. Assassin's Creed IV: Black Flag hopes to revitalize the series that has zigzaged in both story and gameplay elements, both good and bad. New information and a new trailer has now been released and information has now been released for us to soak in.
Game director Ashraf Ismail explains much about the story and gameplay elements that will define Black Flag."Yes, we are a pirate game, and we advertise ourselves as a pirate game. It's even in our title, but it's an Assassin's Creed game, and this is very important, because this is how we're able to build a pirate game. We have this really solid foundation that is the core and the heart of the experience. The story is about a guy who is an assassin and the conflict he goes through to become this guy. We actually have more assassinations than AC1 had", he explains.
Following a presentation at Ubi's offices in San Francisco, Ismail explains the "older philosophy" of Assassin's Creed as an important consideration for Black Flag, even if its appearance suggests otherwise. "This is something we did learn, we do listen to our fans a lot," Ismail says. "We know that in AC3 there was a lot more handholding done, and we do want to go back to an older philosophy where we just present you with a simple objective and we let you choose the gameplay you want."
Assassin's Creed 4 addresses the issue of hand-holding in a few ways, Ismail says, starting with new anti-hero Edward Kenway – yes, the father of Haytham Kenway, the surly pre-protagonist in AC3's ambitious, barely elastic prologue."At some point, people were asking us – do pirates in Assassin's Creed make sense?" says Ismail. "They're very different fantasies. But, actually, the gameplay mechanics of being an assassin completely fit in line with being a pirate. For example, navigation: well, pirates were sailors, and they climbed masts, and they were actually really great climbers, so that makes sense. Fighting? Well, they were melee fighters and used guns, and this is why Edward has four pistols.""And the stealth itself, they were outlaws, they needed to be hidden, even when they plundered certain ships."
In addition to the Carribbean sea, city-based exploration is still key to the series, Ubisoft stressed. Despite all the advancements in nautical navigation, Black Flag would not be an Assassin's Creed game without chases over rooftops. For that there is Havana, capital of Cuba but described as the most European-style city in the game, like AC2's Florence but under the Caribbean sun. There's also Kingston, a British town similar to AC3's Boston, surrounded by plantations and tobacco fields. Finally, players will explore Nassau, a base for Bahamian buccaneers, and the most traditionally piratey area of the game. In addition, Ubisoft has said that there would be at least 50 locations to be explored in the game.
Not that AC4 will indulge in the parrots and peg-legs of Disney or Robert Louis Stevenson. Ubisoft was keen to stress the game's historical setting in the Golden Age of Piracy, when scores of privateers were laid off after the Treaty of Utrecht and formed close-knit alliances, some even with early democratic leanings. The game's supporting cast includes the infamous Blackbeard, vicious Calico Jack, Anne Bonny and Charles Vane, the tales of which Ubisoft has plundered. The developer promised that these were already as colourful as any Hollywood blockbuster. Ubisoft only said a little about the modern day sections. You now play as a researcher working within Abstergo Entertainment (a fictional front company of the evil Templars). It seems any direct continuation with Desmond's crew is unlikely, although the fallout of AC3's finale is certain to be addressed in some way.
Being in development since Summer of 2011, Ismail hopes that using concepts from AC1 and learning from AC3's mistakes would help make this AC go forward. Assassin's Creed IV: Black Flag releases on October 29th, 2013 on Playstation 4, Playstation 3, Xbox 360, Wii U, PC, and the next Xbox(whatever it will be called).
I will get this out of the way: I liked Assassin's Creed 3. It had problems, it wasn't perfect, but going through everything it had to offer equaled a lot of fun for me, even with some lack of cohesion and numerous glitches. To me it was "1 step forward, 2 steps back". Plus I loved the American Revolution in history and AC3 brought it to life better than most shows/documentaries. It still needed more to be a "major step forward" for AC. So I am looking at this with a bit of skepticism. The whole age of piracy element seems like a nice change of pace, I only hope Ubisoft learns from their mistakes from AC3, so I am not completely excited for this, but I will keep an eye on it and make sure I get my info straight. I am excited, but I will go into this with an open mind, caution, and hope.
What do you think? Are you done with AC thanks to 3? Does this sound like a good/bad idea?
Sound off in the comments.