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E3 2013: Assassin’s Creed IV: Black Flag

Assassin's CreedE3 2013

I think it’s safe to say that pirates and assassins make for a compelling combination. But to see Assassin’s Creed IV as a simple mix of the series’ mechanics and a new historical period is to miss its ambition.

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This is an enormous game, with an open-world that dwarfs all of the previous game worlds combined. As pirate and assassin Edward Kenway, you’ll be able to travel freely around the entire Caribbean in your ship, the Jackdaw, in scenes familiar to anyone who’s played Sid Meier’s Pirates!

“Travel freely around the entire Caribbean”The Jackdaw was described as “the second character of the game” by Ubisoft at their booth this year, and it acts as a floating home as you sail from island to island. The ship is upgradable and is manned by your crew, who need to be replenished as you lose them to storms and sea battled.

In a 20 minute presentation, we were shown two demos, the first a repeat of the one shown at the press conference on Monday, the second a look at the free-roaming gameplay between missions.

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The gameplay will be familiar to anyone who’s played the Assassin’s Creed series before. In the second demo, the Ubisoft representative accepted a contract hit for two British officers, who were conveniently in the same town. After taking out the first, the second escaped onboard a warship, giving an opportunity to see the updated naval battle gameplay.

“Focuses much more on sea travel”As Assassin’s Creed IV focuses much more on sea travel, the ship-based gameplay has become more sophisticated, including a spyglass to examine other ships from a distance. The companion tablet app also provides useful functionality, serving as a map on which you can place waypoints in the game. If you defeat another ship in battle, you can add it to your fleet and then use the tablet app to send it off on missions for you around the Caribbean, earning money from their exploits. This can also be done when you’re not playing the console game.

We were shown the PS4 build (i.e. running on a PC, but limited to that console’s specs) in the two demos, which did a good job of showing off the colourful setting. The graphics weren’t quite as stunning as some games at this year’s show, but that’s not to say it wasn’t impressive and of course, it still has months before release.

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Assassin’s Creed IV steadily builds on what the series has done before, dipping its toe into the choppy next-gen waters. But while it’s not a revolutionary game, it has pirates, assassins, buried treasure and a ship you can sail around the whole Caribbean. Who wouldn’t want to play that?

The author of this fine article

is the Editor at Thunderbolt, having joined in November 2000. Get in touch on Twitter @PhilipMorton.

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