Edward Kenway’s story may be the heart of Assassin’s Creed IV Black Flag, but his shoes aren’t the only ones you’ll be stepping into. You’ll also be playing as… yourself? That’s right: You are hired by Abstergo Entertainment to explore history, supposedly in search of a good product. You’re probably thinking, “Hold up, Abstergo is all Templars, right?” Well, sort of. Templars run Abstergo and use it for their own nefarious purposes, but there are plenty of normal folks who work there too.
Abstergo Entertainment is fun, chic and modern. Picture Google – if Google were secretly run by an ancient order out to create their own corrupt version of a perfect world. When you exit the Animus and wander around the office there are little statues on your desk (which showcase your progression in the game) and your coworkers are hard at work or milling around talking to each other. At the bottom of the screen you’ll see a corner of a tablet poking into your line of vision, and quick tap of a button brings it up – exposing your menus and interface when back in the “real world.” Though we only hopped out for a brief moment to peek around, Game Director Ashraf Ismail explains there’s a lot do in the Abstergo Entertainment office – if you want to, that is. And for those of you who are curious to know if the First Civilization will be making an appearance in Black Flag, don’t worry, we asked Ash about that too.
Heads up, some of this is a spoiler if you haven’t finished Assassin’s Creed III.
Optional Content, Cameos and WTF Moments
How much of the present day content is required and how much is optional?
In total, if you were to do everything in the present day – find everything, hack every computer, access every room – it’s a solid three to five hours. For the main path – the stuff you’re required to do – it’s somewhere between 20 and 25 minutes. You leave the Animus five times during the game’s main path and each time you’re there for about three to four minutes.
It’s there to progress the story because there’s this meta story that we’re telling. Why are you researching Edward? Why him specifically? What did he do that’s interesting? There is a story that connects everything together. We pretty much tried to boil it down to its most core essence because we know there are people out there who really don’t like the present day, and that’s okay. You don’t have to like it, but it’s part of the brand. For the people who like the present day and are big fans, we put in a lot of fan service and a lot of fun optional content. You get to choose if you want it or not.
What do players get out of that optional content?
You have to hack computers and figure out how to access certain rooms and get through security. There is gameplay in just being able to access that stuff. When you access it, the content you find is a reward for us. Through this content you see what happens to Desmond after Assassin’s Creed III. We used it as an opportunity to say goodbye to Desmond. There’s actually a lot of stuff linked to him that you find.
We also have a lot of fun with the present day stuff. You get to see what Abstergo Entertainment as a company is doing with your research. You get to see the progression of what they’re trying to do, which is really fun. Some of it is just us making fun of the videogame industry and being a videogame company. We have the Abstergo Entertainment Employee Manual, which is kind of poking fun at our employee manual. There’s a lot of stuff we just had a good time with. It’s really there for people who enjoy it and want to see a bit more of it.
We know Aveline will be making an appearance thanks to the present day content. Will we see any other familiar characters?
Aveline is specifically for PS3 and PS4. She’s not from the same time as Edward, of course, so her story is not really directly connected to Edward. There is a connection in the brand but I won’t say what it is. You get to see it when you play as Aveline. Aside from Aveline… There are awesome cameos. Let’s put it like that.
Assassin’s Creed has always had a supernatural element to it. Will that be returning in Black Flag?
We call those “What the F–k Moments.” You can’t have an Assassin’s Creed game without a What the F–k Moment. It has to be in there. The First Civilization, Juno… all that is part of the brand and yes, there’s progression in it. It’s not just a nod that we make to it. It’s actually part of the meta story. You see what happens after Assassin’s Creed III – you see the ramifications of that, and we push it further.