When Assassin’s Creed III was released last year with a ton of glitches, it seemed like Ubisoft cared more about quantity over quality. Assassins Creed IV: Black Flag not only redeems Ubisoft of any past bugs, but also takes the franchise to new heights. So batten down the hatches and get ready to set sail in quite possibly the best game of the year.
When Assassin’s Creed first appeared in 2007, it was a groundbreaking game to be sure, but it wasn’t until its sequel in 2009, Assassin’s Creed 2, that we saw it evolve into the powerhouse we know it as today. Between an immersive story, charismatic characters, and a vibrant Renaissance setting, it garnered high praise from both fans and critics alike. After this, Ubisoft began releasing a new game each year. Whereas some titles were definitely stronger than others, each title did expand the series into new realms, such as Assassins Creed: Brotherhoods multiplayer addition. Even the bug-filled Assassins Creed III made tremendous strides, whether it be the fluidity of tree-running or the thrill of naval combat. In Assassins Creed IV: Black Flag, we not only see the refinement of all of these concepts, but also how truly visionary Ubisoft has once again proved itself.
Whether film, novel, or game, your story hinges upon the main character. Ezio Auditore was a huge part of why the Assassins Creed 2 trilogy was successful. With relationships and conflicted decisions, he showed more personality than Altair originally did in the first game. Connor Kenway was an awesome fighter and a truly tragic character, but he was missing some depth. Beyond daddy issues and constantly having his ideals of freedom shattered, there was no romantic side to him or even a fun-love side in general.
In ACIV: Black Flag, Edward Kenway brings the character mold back to the multi-dimensional form of Ezio. He might be a charming, self-driven man’s man, but at heart he actually cares a great deal for his wife and does all of this for her – a secret he keeps close to his chest so other pirates can fear him rather than find leverage on him. Along with seeing the character development of Blackbeard and the cool-minded charms of first-mate Adewale, dynamic characters aren’t in short supply in this game.
Maybe its because I’m American and have learned about the American Revolution time and time again, but I didn’t actually enjoy the time period in ACIII. I thought I would, but it just seemed like history class all over again.
With ACIV: Black Flag, we know the stereotypes about pirates, but not about the actual history – at least I didn’t learn that in my classes. We know the Golden Age of pirates will come to an end, but its very entertaining to see how it plays out. The cast of characters is also much more lively in my opinion. ACIV: Black Flag makes me want to learn more about these historical figures – a feeling that was lacking in ACIII
Each Assassins Creed game has expanded the open-world aspect of the series. From Altair in the original Assassin’s Creed not being able to swim, to Connor running through the trees with ease, there are less and less places that the player cant explore.
ACIV: Black Flag takes it even further. Weather now comes in various types and degrees. Whether a slight drizzle to a raging maelstrom and everything in between, ACIV has got it. If that wasn’t enough, underwater dive sites offer a unique experience that is both wholly exciting and frightening. From your first dive, you just want to explore, but be mindful of patrolling sharks as well as your diminishing air supply. Though are you any safer above water? Between rogue waves, water devils, and hunting grounds, dangers lurk around every corner.
Past Assassins Creeds have been fairly easy difficulty. Aside from the occasional ‘don’t be detected’, all fights come down to parry, kill, kill streak regardless of your upgrades. Later Assassin Creeds introduced optional objectives that were fun, but ACIII made them far too difficult at time.
ACIV: Black Flag finds the perfect balance with obtainable objectives and a heavy need to grow stronger. With optional objectives like ‘Use berserk darts on 10 guards’, it is much easier to reach 100% sync. Just don’t for a second think that makes this game a push over. If you wish to board stronger ships, sail at ease, and face some of the overwhelming soldier presence, you’re going to need every upgrade available to you.
Multiplayer returns in the style we’ve come to love, but this time with even more customizability. With players being able to make their own game scenarios in the Game Lab area, the possibilities are endless.
A perfect example of this was the recently finished ‘Flying Dutchmen’ multiplayer event. Take everything you know about a run of the mill Artifact Assault (basically capture the flag), but take out melee kills, chase breakers and shorten the cool down clock. These seemingly simple changes can drastically change the play style needed to come out on top.
I have yet to find a moment in this game that is less than amazing. So treat yourself to Assassin’s Creed IV: Black Flag. I promise you have never seen such an expansive and open world game, and probably never will again – that is until Ubisoft releases their next amazing game.