Assassin’s Creed IV Black Flag’s world is seamlessly open and massive in scope. There are three major cities to explore, miles of ocean and hundreds of secrets to uncover both on land and off. Each of the cities has a distinctive look and sound (yes, sound – the folk tunes and languages change depending on where you are), and they all boast their own markedly different personalities. Kingston, the capital city of Jamaica, is the oldest key location in the game with a largely British population. The pirate stronghold and capital of the Bahamas, Nassau, is the second major city. Totally disparate from the other large locales, Nassau is a lively shanty town where disorder reigns and the citizens are drunk probably 90 percent of the time. Finally, we have Havana, which Ubisoft showed off behind closed doors at its booth during E3 this year.
Havana is a Spanish colony and the capital city of Cuba. During the Golden Age of Pirates the war between Britain and Spain was fierce, but many peaceful Spanish settlers called Havana home. When you explore the streets (and rooftops) you’ll hear only Spanish chatter from its citizens. The entire town is brightly colored and gave us a strong feeling of déjà vu: Walking through Havana brought back warm feelings of countless hours playing as Ezio in Venice, Italy.
We admire Havana a bit before approaching a familiar pigeon cage. Edward has an assassination contract to fulfill. In typical Assassin style we take to the rooftops to make our way toward our objective.
It’s at this point in our demo that we’re reminded we can no longer call on other Assassins for help; no more eager recruits leaping out of the bushes to do our bidding. Edward’s recruits are his crew and it doesn’t make sense for them to follow him everywhere. They stay with the ship and Edward is on his own for the assassination.
We track the target of the assassination to a small courtyard and use Eagle Vision to pick him out of the crowd. He’s got a few guards around him, so we decide to take the easier path: rather than hopping down onto the ground to take them on, Edward will just blow them all up. He waits for the group to approach an explosive barrel and fires at it with his pistol. The bodies go flying and the contract is complete.
During the mission, our progress through Havana was being tracked via a new addition to the series: the companion app.
Companion App Experience
“It almost allows a second person to be your quartermaster,” Lead Writer Darby McDevitt says about the companion app experience. Think about all that data available in an Assassin’s Creed game when you hit pause and wade through the various maps and menus; now imagine having access to all of that, while you’re playing. “You have your database, your world map that’s updating in real time, your fleet metagame, your status in the game and all the treasure maps you’ve acquired. It really acts as a second screen.” With the companion app players will be able to link their games and watch in real time on the second screen as they move Edward through the world. During our demo we were able to watch him running through Havana on the main screen and glance at the iPad to see it track his progress. Should you hand your iPad off to someone else, they can look around the world map and mark locations that look interesting for you to investigate.
The companion app is also the home of Assassin’s Creed IV Black Flag’s fleet metagame. After boarding and claiming a ship, you are given a choice: salvage parts from the ship to fix the Jackdaw or send the ship to be part of your fleet within this metagame. Should you choose the latter, Edward will appoint a member of his crew captain of this new ship and you will be able to go into the app and send the ship out on excursions to loot other ships. Any money earned while your fleet is doing its thing in the metagame will be yours to spend in the main game. The companion app will work with both next-gen platforms and current-gen.