What would you do if you had your hands on a totally open Assassin’s Creed IV Black Flag demo for a full hour? In our hour-long play session Gary Steinman and I got into skirmishes with other ships, hunted for treasure, harpooned some sharks, assassinated some Templars and swashbuckled our way through loads of other shenanigans. Here are a handful of my favorite moments. For Gary’s favorites, check out: Assassin’s Creed IV Black Flag – Hands-On Favorites (Part 2)
Many areas in Black Flag will be accessible by water, and often you’ll want to be as silent as possible when making your approach. The newly added Stealth Swimming feature allows Edward to quietly slip through the water undetected. This is a much slower process than normal swimming, but it came in handy during an Assassination Contract when my target was near some docks, allowing me to come in noiselessly from the water and pick off the guards who were careless enough to walk too close to the edge of the docks.
As I sailed through the Caribbean, I noticed an icon appear on my map that looked like a man struggling to swim. Curious, I steered my ship in its direction until I spotted a figure clinging to a piece of driftwood. Once I was close enough I was given the option to rescue this stranded sailor. Doing so allowed me to add him to my crew, replacing someone I may have lost in a battle. I was informed that these men are often survivors from ship battles, left behind when either their ships sinks or they fall overboard. These battles will also leave behind loot flotsam, which can similarly be collected as you sail by.
You aren’t the only one getting into ship battles on the open ocean. Often in the distance you’ll be able to see British and Spanish vessels attacking each other. There are several ways to benefit from these skirmishes, including weakening the ships to allow for easier boarding. Alternatively, you could stumble upon a burning enemy ship. These ships on fire are primed for boarding and looting… You just have to manage to escape before they explode. Once you hop onto a burning ship a timer starts counting down. You have until it hits zero to collect as much of the loot onboard as you can, and then hotfoot it back to your ship.
We’ve seen darts in the series before, but Edward now has a blowpipe with only non-lethal ammo. Right before one of my Assassination Contracts I stocked up on the Berserk darts and took to the underbrush, obstructing the guards’ view of me. Shooting a guard with a Berserk dart won’t kill him, but it causes him to act irrationally, swinging his sword and attacking anything that comes near him. He’ll even attack allies when they approach to investigate. It served as the perfect distraction to draw my target’s guards away from him.
What kind of pirate would you be if you didn’t get into bar fights regularly? Taverns are a great source of information and sometimes even new recruits, but you’ll have to earn the trust of the patrons before you can access these things. That, of course, means you’ll have to beat them in a bare-knuckle fight. Once you win you simply need to speak to the bartender to purchase information.
Return of the Pigeon Coops
Yes, I realize this might be a small detail to some people but the pigeon coops are back! The pigeon coops were how you accessed Assassination Contracts in earlier games (except the first game, although they did appear throughout the world). They weren’t present in Assassin’s Creed III and I’m happy to see them make a comeback.
Assassin's Creed® IV Black Flag
ESRB Rating: MATURE with Blood, Sexual Themes, Violence, Strong Language, Use of Alcohol