Comfort. That’s not a word often associated with pirates. Or Assassins. But when it comes to the companion app for Assassin’s Creed IV Black Flag, that’s exactly the word that Game Director Ashraf Ismail uses to describe the second-screen gaming experience.
“The philosophy behind the companion app is that it’s an extension of the game and a comfort tool,” Ismail says. “Comfort in the sense that you can have the world map out and it’s directly connected to the game, so it’s not just a static map. It’s actually updating live with what’s happening in your world.”
Having seen it in action, we can attest to the straightforward (and, dare we say, comforting) charm of having a fully functional real-time map on a second touchscreen right by our side. During a recent hands-on session with the game, the companion app’s interactive map showed us everything from ships sailing the seas to myriad events happening around us. The best part? We were able to tag stuff in the app – anything from a cluster of combative ships to a deep-sea diving location to a shark-hunting opportunity and more – and the marker would then appear as a waypoint in the game. Or, to be more precise, our host from the Ubisoft Montreal development team was able to do so, since he was controlling the app during our session. Which, interestingly enough, lent our gameplay experience a equally comforting feeling of collaboration, with our developer host spotting and then directing our attention to all kinds of interesting gameplay opportunities.
“There are a lot of these small comfort tools where instead of having to go into a menu you can just have it next to you and do stuff really easily,” Ismail says. “Or you can have someone else do it for you. It’s kind of like your first mate next to you.”
That “first mate” experience wasn’t what was originally intended – not in the my-real-world-best-friend-is-seated-next-to-me sense, at least – but after seeing how people were using the companion app, this quickly evolved to be part of the development. “We know a lot of the time when people play they will have their significant other, friend, brother or sister in the room,” Ismail says. “Maybe they really enjoy the story and they’re just watching – but to actually have them involved is really cool. It’s not an intense experience, but they can see stuff you might not be paying attention to and they can highlight it for you and tell you, Hey, something is happening over there.”
And it’s not just the world map that can be explored via the app. Want to immerse yourself in Black Flag’s deep lore? Now you don’t have to pause the game and wade through the menus to dive into what you’re seeking. Seeking out a collectible? Go ahead and call up the full list on the second screen so you know what trinkets of buried treasure you still need to hunt for. And speaking of treasure: those handy treasure maps are perfect for viewing via the companion app, too.
Having the comfort of a virtual first mate might be more than enough, but the companion app doesn’t stop there. One of the key features in Black Flag is the ability to capture enemy ships, after which you have three options: salvage the ship to repair the Jackdaw, recruit the crew, or add the vessel to your fleet. That final option is where the companion app also shines.
But before we jump back into the app, a quick primer on how the fleet metagame works. In the game you can access your fleet and send it out on missions (think of the training missions from previous games). Depending on the mission objectives, you’ll want to customize your fleet to include, say, lighter, faster ships or heavier, more powerful ones. Ships can also be upgraded, repaired… and lost. Much of the work of fleet management can be done from the safety of Edward Kenway’s in-game hideout, a little pirate cove that Black Flag’s hero sees as his sanctuary. (Even this hideout can be upgraded to allow for more ships in your fleet.) “There are many layers of strategy we want the players to think about when capturing ships,” Ismail says.
Here’s the neat part: “With the companion app, you can actually delve deeper into those missions and you don’t have to be in the same room,” Ismail says. “It’s not just a second screen. You can be on the bus and jump into the minigame, which can gain you more resources and loot if you jump into the action. Because you’re putting more into it, we reward you more.”
Wait, hang on: jump into the action? Yep. In the app, “you can jump into those missions and actually do the fight for them,” Ismail says. All you need to do is pull up the list of active missions, click on one, and in you go. You’ll not only see how your ships are progressing and where the enemies are, but you’ll also have the option of actually playing a combat minigame – and by doing so you can increase the potential rewards you earn.
Ismail isn’t sharing more details on the combat – and not just because he’s being coy. “We’re not talking about that just yet,” Ismail smiles. “It’s something we’re still pushing deep, but the one thing we’ve seen from a lot of playtests is that people are really digging the fleet metagame way more than we had anticipated.” After numerous playtests, the team found that gamers actually wanted more tools, more depth and more strategy in the metagame. So while the missions have been scripted, the system has been built, and the app is fully functional, the team is now adding even more to the fleet metagame – especially since the reward loop of the metagame is proving to have such a positive effect on the game’s open-world exploration. “People are now spending way more time in the ocean looking for more powerful ships and then figuring out what they need to do to get a certain ship,” Ismail says.
Keep in mind, though, that if you want to jump directly into the fleet metagame minigame (phew, that’s a mouthful), you’ll need to do so via the companion app. That’s by design, in order to help keep the app experience unique. “On the console you can send your fleet on missions, you can choose who you want to go, and you can choose what missions you want them go on, then the mission itself is simulated,” Ismail says. “If you want to actually do the action yourself and not go through the simulation, you use the companion app.” After all, if the companion app is indeed your first mate, then it needs to spread its own sails now and again, too.
Set sail for more Assassin’s Creed IV Black Flag stories:
Assassin's Creed® IV Black Flag
ESRB Rating: MATURE with Blood, Sexual Themes, Violence, Strong Language, Use of Alcohol
Its funny this game is on Xbox, Xbox is a windows product and no companion app for windows weather phone or tablet
Sadly this app does not work with an expensive Tablet, like the Nvidia Shield.
There is much work to be done with this app.
Jogo e fantastico,maravilhoso,graficos lindissimos,Ubisoft thank you for game assassins creed black flag veryyyyyyyy niceeeeeeeeeeee ^^
I was extremely excited about this app when I found it. Then come to discover, it is not compatible with my phone... I do not own a tablet and am not waisting my money on a giant 'phone' that doesn't make phone calls. :(
I was hoping after a long time they would bring it to more devices, sadly it still says it's incompatible with my Xoom. even though it's 4.1.2 Huge fan of the game and this would of been an ideal app for me, but nope.
Why is the app not compatible with my Motorola Xoom? I can run it on my HTC One, would prefer to have it on my tablet though.
I have a PS Vita and a Windows Phone ? When will be the companion app available for one of those platforms ? I would prefer the PS Vita. Any news ?
I have the app, and the game, but it won't connect the two unless I enter my uplay passport. The one I got with the game says that's it's been used already, and I can't find a replacement to buy on the play station store? What happens now :/
I haven't tried running it yet but it's downloading on my Galaxy S4 just fine, it didn't say it "isn't compatible with your device" so I'm hopping it works :)
I have no coral with this app it is very in geniused actually, while you losers with the volnerable windows devices should really update to something that does gain virus simply by turning it on for the first time. Just saying when every week a new virus software comes out for windows that's a sign windows suck.
Why would you NOT release this for phones? Do you realize the amount of people who own a tablet are far less than people who dont. Are you guys insane. Why would you take the experience away from people who can't afford such an expensive electronic?
Seriously, no comments from Ubisoft regarding support for Microsoft platforms? How many millions of dollars do you make off of customers with Xbox 360 and One consoles? A native app for Windows Phone and Win8 or Smartglass integration is a minimum expectation as a consumer. If you did not want to develop for all of the different ecosystems out there then you should have coded HTML5 and made it a web app.
Sorely disappointed and regretting this purchase.
Great game, cant install the app. Emailed Google Play customer support requesting they address the misleading/wrong information on the Assassin's Creed Companion app Play page. Both "Compatible with Android 2.3 and up" and "Assassin's Creed IV Black Flag Companion is compatible with PS4, Xbox One, PS3, Xbox 360, Wii U and PC." are incorrect/wrong/misleading/lie (or some combination thereof). Again, great game, great app idea, poor/weak app support/communication.
Will ACIV on PS4 ever get second screen support (the PS4 version of the companion app)? Or even a Vita version of the Companion App? Thanks.
I would like to add to the vote of wanting to see this app for Windows Phone and Windows Surface RT tablet mainly in the form of a SmartGlass app please
Why the f*** is there no windows phone/tablet app? Are you retarded? Why the hate for windows phones? Nokia features are far outpacing any other phone, including the iPhone. Yet its developers like lazy ass ubisoft who refuse to develop an app for windows phones that cut the legs off of windows phones before it even starts to run off. If you don't develop, than can we even call you developers? Where's the fairness and honesty. No fairness without a windows app, and no honesty as to why!!! I love your games, but I'm never buying another ubisoft product again if this shit continues to happen!! F***ing bullshit!!!
Any comments on when will this App be available through the Xbox Smartglass would be much appreciated. I've been using the new Smartglass for Xbox One for other games and it works amazingly, but it's a shame that for AC4 it won't give you the ability to do Companion Mode.
Even an App for Windows 8 would be good at this point, so please give us an update or any word on this. Thanks!
How do i connect my ps3 with my iphone app??? doesnt seem to work. The fleet is not a prob but the world map doent show up on my iphone. Tutorial somewhere? thnx
I downloaded it to my galaxy s4 no issues at all except one it wont connect with my playstation 3 why is that
Can't believe this was made only for tablets and is it too much to ask that you acknowledge your fans and customers? There is no reason this shouldn't run on my S3 running 4.3.
https://support.ubi.com/en-US/FAQ.aspx?platformid=9&brandid=22&productid=4186&faqid=kA030000000ebkNCAQ - Say what? - "The currently supported tablets and phones are as follows: iOS iPad 2, 3, 4, and 5 (Air) iPad Mini and Mini 2 (Retina) iPhone 4, 4S, 5, 5C and 5S iPod 5 iPod Touch (4th Generation)" Erm...
I don't even own a cell phone, much less a smart phone. Think how I feel. While every other game on the Xbox One platform that uses this sort of feature supports Smart Glass, this travesty of a title requires you to own a particular brand of phone.
That is absolutely terrible, I am not in favor of this sort of thing. Support the native "companion app" platform (basically the dedicated second screen platform) for the system you ship your game on or don't offer this feature at all, in my book. That would mean the GamePad on Wii U, Smart Glass on 360/Xbox One, PS Vita on PS4... as for the PC, who knows - we always get the shaft anyway and are used to it.
I am a big Fan of the AC franchise no matter what reviews says I always find it utterly amazing. and this new feature of the companion app is the best I have seen across all games that uses the second screen features in their games. However, I own only an iPhone 4S and iPad 1st generation and thus I am deprived from this feature and thus feel that Ubisoft did not treat a big fan well this time.
I heard that the app is now out for Galaxy SIII and S4 which is a nice but why is it not yet released for the iPhone.
Works great on my Galaxy S 3. Go to app store and download Market Helper. Google for more details. I have the PS3 version.
I was if you had any plans to bring the app to smart phones. I have a new android smart phone and would love to use this app. It looks like it will bring a lot to the game. Between my laptop and smartphone I dont have use for a tablet. It would be really sad if I missed out on this great tool you guys spent time in creating.
The app doesn't work for my Asus Transformer TF101. In what way is acceptable to advertise as "an app for android" when anything more than a measly 2 years old is incompatible?
No HTC One X compatability? Too many game companies cater to iPhone and iPad and leave out the big four Android phone makers Samsung, HTC, Googe, and Mororola. Great way to make me feel aliennated.
This is kool and all, but they're screwing the people that don't have ipads or android tablets.. Be nice if it was available for iphones or android phones.
Looks intersting. Too bad I and many others with galaxy phones can't be a part of this game extenstion. Maybe before launching an app you should have all platforms thought through.
How can this new game not be out for the newest phones? Not for Galaxy S4? Seriously? How can you call yourself a major game house?
Please release the app for windows tablets. I will not buy the game without support for my surface pro 2.
It does work... unless you have more than 100 people on your friends list. There's a bug that won't allow it to connect if you do and it's unlikely that there will be a patch any time soon, if ever. Ubisoft hasn't even officially acknowledged the issue though it's been well documented in forums around the web.
Disregard my statement about it running on my S3, I did an update from the Play Store and now it works. But it would still be nice to see some feedback for those experiencing trouble.