Thanks to All Games Beta, we now know a few key details about Ubisoft’s upcoming pirate-themed Assassin’s Creed 4: Black Flag. There’s a lot to cover of interesting ground to cover but first allow me to show you a transcription of the internal fact sheet going around giving a basic overview of what “ACIVBF” brings to the table:
The year is 1715. Pirates rule the Caribbean and have established their own lawless Republic where corruption, greediness and cruelty are commonplace.
Among these outlaws is a brash young captain named Edward Kenway. His fight for glory has earned him the respect of legends like Blackbeard, but also drawn him into the ancient war between Assassins and Templars, a war that may destroy everything the pirates have built.
Welcome to the Golden Age of Piracy.
● A Brash Rebel Assassin – Become Edward Kenway, a charismatic yet brutal pirate captain, trained by Assassins. Edward can effortlessly switch between the Hidden Blade of the Assassin’s Order and all new weaponry including four flintlock pistols and dual cutlass swords.
● Explore an Open world Filed With Opportunities – Discover the largest and most diverse Assassin’s Creed world ever created. From Kingston to Nassau, explore 50 unique locations where you can live the life of a pirate including: Loot underwater shipwrecks, assassinate Templars in blossoming cities, hunt for rare animals in untamed jungles, search for treasure in lost ruins and escape to hidden coves.
● Become the Most Feared Pirate in the Caribbean – Command your ship, the Jackdaw, and strike fear in all who see her. Plunder and pillage to upgrade the Jackdaw with ammunition and equipment needed to fight off enemy ships. The ship`s improvements are critical to Edward` s progression through the game. Attack and seamlessly board massive galleons, recruit sailors to join your crew and embark on an epic and infamous adventure.
● Experience the Gritty Reality Behind the Pirate Fantasy – Stand amongst legendary names such as Blackbeard, Calico Jack and Benjamin Hornigold, as you establish a lawless Republic in the Bahamas and relive the truly explosive events that defined the Golden Age of Piracy.
● Multiplayer Experience – Fight against or cooperate with your friends in the ruthless and acclaimed multiplayer experience. Choose from an eclectic cast of characters and fight to the death in exotic themed maps.”
Alright, with that out of the way I’m going to pick out a number of the most interesting questions and answers provided by Ubisoft Montreal’s Creative Director Jean Guesdon. The full document can be found at the AGB link provided at the beginning of this article.
“Question: Assassin’s Creed IV: Black Flag is a project developed by world-wide studios. Who leads the development and how do you coordinate within all these studios?
Answer: Ubisoft Montreal is the lead studio for ACIVBF but it’s a real co-production with other studios Ubisoft Singapore, Ubisoft Sofia, Ubisoft Québec for the Single Player and Ubisoft Annecy and Bucharest for the Multiplayer part.
We are extremely efficient with this kind of process now. Multiple studios have been involved in parallel on AC games starting since AC2.
We’ve put in place a dedicated team to ensure the best possible communication with tools and processes to make sure that everybody knows what he has to deliver.
Question: What are the forces at play? What is the Templar’s role in the story? The Assassins?
Answer: ACIVBF, like any other Assassin Game tells the secret story, the true story behind events of our history that shaped the world. Behind the War between English and Spanish, between Empires and Pirates there was also the secret war between Templars and Assassins.
In ACIVBF Templars are looking for a mysterious place that, as rumors say, could give them a strong advantage against their eternal enemies, the Assassins, in order to achieve their goal of human domination. But Assassins are everywhere and they’ll carefully make sure that such a plan is not realized. Edward will be their more important asset to do so.
Question: The Golden Age of Piracy and legendary pirates have been much fantasized in people’s mind by recent entertainment, How is this period treated in the game?
Answer: The Assassin Creed franchise has been praised for its efforts to depict history as realistically as it can be and ACIVBF will not change that.
We feel that Assassin Creed is the perfect vehicle to tell the TRUE story of piracy, far from the “cliché” fantasy one.
We have the ambition to respect that time period and its characters and show our audience what being a pirate meant.
It wasn’t an amusement park, neither it was taking place under big dark grey clouds.
It’s a story about men and women trying to survive far from their homeland in precarious conditions but full of hope in better tomorrows.
Men and women that, for a certain time, and against Big Empires have bond together to create what they thought could become a distinct society.
Question: What are the different weapons Edward will be using on his missions?
Answer: Edward’s main arsenals are the dual swords and multi-pistols. The multi-pistols are a tool that can be combined with any other weapon to have insane kill counts. Besides this Edward also gets a blowpipe with multiple effect darts, the double hidden blades (AC classic) and is able to use all the weapons enemies carry (Rifles, single sword, knives and Heavy Axe). The Rope Dart will also make a return.
But another element of Edward is The Jackdaw, his Ship. This will also receive new weapons as the game progresses. These include the Round shot (base weapons), Heat shot (shotgun like weapon), Mines, Mortar, Swivel guns, Chain shot and Ram!
Question: What can you tell us of the scope of the game? Is it comparable to ACIII?
Answer: You know, we don’t really craft a game comparing its size to previous ones. ACIVBF will be significantly different from any previous AC games. The global world is bigger but its structure is totally different and will allow us to visit more than 50 (fifty) locations.
The “main path”, the story of the game, will be around the same amplitude than AC3 and the world will be filled with new gameplays and things to do.
So I would definitely say that this adventure will provide to the players one of the most appealing and diversified playground ever seen.
Question: Assassin’s Creed’s gameplay heritage was mainly set on land. With ACIII, you introduced some naval missions without making it a central piece of the game. With ACIVBF being set in the Caribbean, how will you be balancing sea and land?
Answer: Our main ambition with that game is to deliver a TRUE PIRATE GAME, which means ONE, SINGLE, UNIFIED GAME using both naval and ground gameplay.
Players will obviously be able to attack, board and plunder ships at sea but a LOT of activities will be set on ground.
From attacking plantations, exploring shipwrecks, debunking smugglers from their caves, discovering Mayan ruins without forgetting our 3 main cities Havana, Nassau and Kingston.
The “pirate loop” will require the mastery of both naval and ground gameplay to be able to continue exploration in the world and progression of the character.
Question: Stealth was once a key element in the Assassin’s Creed franchise, but that has become less and less prevalent in recent games. How much stealth is there in ACIVBF?
Answer: We are putting a lot of effort to improve that pillar of the franchise.
Being a pirate was also about taking places by surprise, and this would require stealth abilities.
So yes, stealth will be back in ACIVBF. Infiltrations, tails and exploration of islands are all part of it.
Question: What is the “horizon system” and how will it work in the game? How will you make sure the sea is breathing with interesting opportunities for the player? Can you give us examples?
Answer: At any given moment in the game when you are aboard your ship you can take out your spyglass and survey the world. The Horizon system ensures that you will always have 2 or 3 pirate “opportunities” available to you. That could be a merchant ship convoy to rob, a whale to hunt, fellow pirates to rescue… the list goes on. These opportunities happen systemically and evolve based on your progress, meaning that every player’s experience will be different. It means that if you love the naval experience you can play it as much as you want, being constantly and variably challenged outside the main story path.
Question: You mention that Edward’s ship, the Jackdaw, can be looked at as a 2nd hero in the game. Can you explain what you mean by that?
Answer: We consider the Jackdaw as a 2nd main hero for a very simple reason: Global progression of the player will rely on both Edward’s progression as a man and an assassin and Jackdaw’s progression as a vessel that allows Edward to access new territories and defeat stronger and stronger enemies.
If the Jackdaw doesn’t progress, Edward doesn’t either. Both can’t be separated, they form the two faces of one game (naval and the ground) merged into one unified destiny.
Question: Will we get a chance to meet some historical pirates? Will Blackbeard be in the game?
Answer: Not only have we chosen this time period for the real importance of the pirates’ attempt at democracy in the Bahamas but also, obviously because it provided us an incredible cast to play with.
Edward, being one of the fiercest pirates of the time will have the opportunity to meet many of the legendary ones.
Blackbeard, Benjamin Hornigold, Charles Vane, Calico Jack Rackham, Bartholomew Roberts will all be part of the game and you will fight alongside (and in some cases against) all of them.
Question: Is ACIVBF a next gen game? What’s the difference between the Next Gen version and the PS3/Xbox 360 version?
Answer: ACIVBF will also be available on Next Gen consoles. In addition to improved graphics and physic, Next Gen versions will bring to the players new connected features allowing them to feel that even if they remain “Single Player” it will be better to be a “Single Connected Player”. I mean, that Next Gen Consoles will allow players to have a solo experience that benefit the presence of a huge community.
Question: As the Creative Director, can you tell us of what are the key challenges you are facing when developing ACIVBF?
Answer: I would list 3 main key challenges:
– Delivering the first true realistic & fun naval open world game.
– Delivering the first true realistic pirate game while staying true to the pillars of the AC franchise.
– Keeping a strong vision of the game and making sure that all teams around the world understand it and want to deliver it.”
Some really interesting ideas are at play here. First, I’m glad the studio realizes internally that stealth and “assassination” missions have steadily become less and less important to the series; to the unfortunate point that many fans can list expectations about upcoming features they’re looking forward to without assassinating targets being among them. The franchise has lost its way a bit but they appear to be back on track.
More importantly is that bit about what types of experiences we can expect next-gen consoles to provide, should players choose to wait until the new consoles release to pick up ACIVBF. Ubisoft appears to be aligning their views with Crytek and many other development studios that have mentioned in the past they believe “the notion of ‘single-player’ experiences has to go away.” Unfortunately, that means a lot more social integration and social functionality within games. As I’ve stated in the past, so long as these features are not intrusive as well as entirely optional, I won’t have a problem with their addition to the experience. Specifically, Guesdon mentions that, even while playing the single-player campaign, it will be better if gamers can feel connected to the online community. How that will translate to actual features, aside from content sharing and reading community feedback in real-time, remains to be seen.
There’s a lot to feel good about in regards to the upcoming Assassin’s Creed adventure. Pirate adventures are always interesting, and if Ubisoft keeps up their end of the “authentic experience” bargain, then Black Flag could turn out to be one of the greatest Pirate games we’ve seen. For now, we’ll just have to sit back and play the waiting game before it’s time to rejoin the eternal struggle of Assassins and Templars.
Assassin’s Creed IV: Black Flag releases on October 29 (November 1 in the UK) for the Xbox 360, PS3, Wii U, PC, PS4 and “next-gen platforms” (read: Next Xbox) later this year.