Getting Back to the Basics with Assassin’s Creed IV: Black Flag

assassins creed 4 black flag

Much like my fellow GamerSushi editors who have made the jump to the next-gen, I’ve been sinking my teeth into the latest Assassin’s Creed game, Black Flag, over the past few days, although I am playing the PC version.

While the mouse and keyboard controls took a little getting used to, Assassin’s Creed IV: Black Flag looks amazing on PC and is a spectacular return to form that the series needed after 3.

While I was originally pretty down on the meta-narrative for AC4, in which you are a game designer playing through Edward Kenway’s memories to turn them into a video game, it’s actually a good way to get players to stay inside the Aniumus for as long as they like without breaking them out periodically to remind them that there’s another story going on. Sure, playing through Edward’s memories because of Desmond Mile’s “generous” donation of his genetic lineage to turn them into a video game is pretty goofy, but it serves its purpose for getting you into the Animus and letting you stay there as long as you like.

While Assassin’s Creed IV does take place in the Carribean, and as such there are no large towns, it’s quite fun to traverse the rooftops of Havana, or Nassau, or wherever you find yourself. While the towns are smaller than any previous AC game, the way they link together is much more reminiscent of the Ezio trilogy than 3, where I found myself spending a lot of time on street level. Even the uninhabited islands of the games are designed with an eye towards elevation, so your treks into the jungle will be much more vertical than the Frontier of 3.

Stealth is a bit more of a viable option this time thanks to some changes made to the mechanics, including the “mark and track” system lifted from Far Cry and Splinter Cell, where tagging an enemy in Eagle Vision will allow you to know where they are, even through solid obstacles. While Edward still stands ups like a dork in-between sections of underbrush, the bushes themselves are much more filled out so you have more room to maneuver, and sprinting between them won’t make anyone notice you as long as you’re quick about it.

I haven’t done much open-water sailing on the Jackdaw, since I just captured her last night, but the naval controls are as tight and fun to use as they were in Assassin’s Creed III. Assassin’s Creed IV adds in a sort of cruising speed option for your ship on open water so you can get between points even quicker. I’ve heard from several people that tackling merchant ships and making off with their goods is super addictive, so I can’t wait to give that a shot.

Overall I’m enjoying Assassin’s Creed IV: Black Flag quite a bit. I’m only a short way in to the game but I can tell it’s going to be one of the best games of the series, even if the Edward Kenway and the meta-narrative are pretty disconnected from the Templar-Assassin battles of the past.

Has anyone else been playing AC4? What do you think of it? I also recommend signing up for Assassin’s Creed: Initiates, which gives you some cool stuff based on your completion progress in previous games. It’s in early Alpha right now so it’s pretty buggy, but it has the potential to be a cool site for those of use who have invested a lot in the series.

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mitch@gamersushi.com Twitter: @mi7ch Gamertag: Lubeius PSN ID: Lubeius SteamID: Lube182 Origin/EA:Lube182 Currently Playing: Stardew Valley, Mario & Luigi: Paper Jam, Knights of the Old Republic 2: The Sith Lords, Battlefield 4, Tom Clancy Double Feature: Rainbow Six Siege and The Division