It’s been a scary rollercoaster for Assassin’s Creed in the last few years. So many people will still today say that their favourite in the series was either Assassin’s Creed II or Brotherhood, games that are at least three years ago meaning the series seems to be declining in quality which is clearly evident by fan’s reactions to Conor in Assassin’s Creed III. Take away a serious protagonist and instead throw in a Welsh Pirate with a lot of attitude and a lust for gold. Does Assassin’s Creed IV Black Flag return the series to greatness or is it drifting further apart from the series earlier heights?
In Black Flag, you play the role of Edward Kenway, a Welsh man with a lot of attitude and little compassion. He has one thing on his mind and that’s gold. Edward Kenway is not an assassin in the beginning of the game nor does he even really know of their existence. He ends up coming across both the Templars and assassins through his adventures and battles at sea. From there, he’s slowly brought into the world of both the Templars and assassins as they see something special in him.
When the game was first revealed and even subsequent trailers afterwards, I was finding a hard time seeing this game as an Assassin’s Creed game. As I played the first few hours, those concerns grew. The game plays a bit like an Assassin’s Creed game as you go to cities, climb buildings, and sneak around but those bits felt really forced, an addition to justify the brand’s name inclusion.
You spend a lot of time on your boat, visiting new islands, fighting other crews, and finding treasure; all of which do not look or feel like an Assassin’s Creed game. It was getting worrying until the story really started to take over. It wasn’t long before this was becoming the best story in the Assassin’s Creed series as Edward had no alliengence to either side and therefore you saw both sides of the gold coin and at first Edward went with his money-leading hand but it evolves and Edward becomes a truly good character.
After the massive disappointment of Connor in Assassin’s Creed III, Edward is massive breath of rum-filled fresh air. He’s charismatic, sure of who he is and what he wants, and isn’t always as straight or serious as Connor. He definitely is a good enough character to keep you playing through the story.
Assassin’s Creed IV: Blag Flag is definitely a return to form as the world is incredibly fun to be in and easily the highlight of the game is the boat mechanics. You will spend a vast majority of your time on your boat, the Jack Daw. You can sail around the world freely from a rather early stage. You can pick you resources that are floating on the sea as well as collect stranded people to recruit them to your crew.
As you sail the seas, you can find other ships and attack them. You can then either board them to take their supplies and recruit crew members or just sink the ship to be cruel. You can also attack forts and take them over. Both ships and forts have levels where you must be wary of because should you attack a ship that is a much higher level than you, you’ll quickly be decimated. You can upgrade the ship and add new weapons to it through the money you earn and resources you gather.
Visually Assassin’s Creed IV Blag Flag is beautiful, but is easy to notice the shortcomings if you have seen any footage of the next-gen versions. The seas look incredible as waves roll and crash into your ship. Weather is also rather impressive and the world itself is filled with detail. If you were worried about how reduced the visual fidelity is compared to next-gen, it is definitely noticeable but its still a lovely looking game.
Multiplayer returns with pretty much everything that has come before it. However, last year’s version of the multiplayer had uninspired maps as the time-period was just not that fun to be in. Blag Flag though is a much better setting and therefore maps are much more enjoyable to be in. It’s still a unique multiplayer mode well worth trying out and maybe getting invested into.
Assassin’s Creed IV Blag Flag has a worrying first impression where the brand name felt thrown in for sales numbers. However, as the single-player opens up, it becomes possibly the best Assassin’s Creed story to date. The Abstergo stuff still exists but is much smaller and less serious. If you’re holding out for next-gen, this version is still worth checking out. If you are only able to pick up the current-gen version, do not worry as this is an incredible game and easily the best Assassin’s Creed game since Brotherhood.
UPDATE: Next Gen-Versions
While the current-gen versions of the game looks pretty damn good given the platforms it was on, seeing it in motion on next-gen hardware is sometimes stunning. The game now runs at 60 frames a second on both systems and natively 1080p on the PlayStation 4 version.
Gameplay is pretty much the exact same so all upgrade are purely aesthetic. If you have played through the entire game on Xbox 360 or PlayStation 3, it may be a hard push to say it’s essential to add to your new collection but thankfully Assassin’s Creed IV: Black Flag is the best Assassin’s Creed game in years and has definitely reinvigorated the future the series.
Visually, the game has some stunning scenes with the sea gameplay really having quite a different look to the Xbox 360 and PlayStation 3 version. In the towns and on foot, the visuals look great but it is also when they look more like the Xbox 360 version with an extra layer of textures on top. Regardless of the jaggies that you will notice, more so on the Xbox One version, the game still looks pretty impressive and an absolute joy to explore. If you haven’t invested much or any time into Assassin’s Creed IV: Black Flag on Xbox 360 or PlauStation 3 then upgrading to next-gen is certainly advised.