It’s definitely a pirate’s life for you in ‘Assassin’s Creed IV: Black Flag’


Ubisoft continues to celebrate the ancient art of killing with their massive tentpole that is Assassin’s Creed. With five video games, multiple novels, comic books, and a feature film in the works, the franchise represents the crown jewel for Ubi right now, although it seems fitting that the newest installment will take us further away from the titles that established the series. Assassin’s Creed III took us to the shores of Revolutionary America, leaving behind the European settings of the past games, and Assassin’s Creed IV: Black Flag turns that corner even further, depositing you straight into the fantasy-fulfillment britches as a privateer.



Captain Jack Sparrow who? Ubisoft is no stranger to marketing, and unless you’ve been under a rock for the past several months, chances are that you’ve heard about Assassin’s Creed IV Black Flag. The game further expands on the fun, albeit brief, naval moments from Assassin’s Creed III, and traces your lineage back a generation before while cranking up the oceanic portion significantly. You play as Edward Kenway, Connor Kenway’s grandfather, and he’s kitted out with a ship, dual cutlasses, four pistols, and everything you’ve come to identify with the romantic world of piracy. That is, the real world of piracy. We’re not talking peg legs and parrots here.

One of the best parts about Black Flag is the fact that the open world of the game will come a lot sooner than it did in Assassin’s Creed III. That game kept you on rails for a long time, and while you knew the open world was eventually coming, it seemed to take forever to get there. Now you’ll be up and roaming a lot sooner, and taking the Jackdaw to remote islands while battling other ships. You know, the sort of pirate stuff we drooled over when this game was announced. 



Broadsides and boarding parties! You’ll still be stealthing, running, jumping, climbing, and generally sneaking around much of AC4BF, and using the weapons that are familiar to your craft like hidden blades and firearms. But there are a lot of additional gameplay elements in this title, like the ability to fire blowdarts that can fire a berserker dart that will cause an enemies to attack his allies, or the option to sing shanties while at sea. You can also now free-aim your firearms, and headshots do more damage. Of course, pirates wouldn’t be the same without treasure, so there is also a large treasure hunting element to the game. You can track down clues, including treasure maps, and follow them to unearth treasure. Although it won’t be a chest dripping with gold and rubies. Instead it will most likely be an upgrade for your ship, which you’ll want a lot more.

But the real draw here is the amped up naval gameplay, which has been expanded exponentially. When you board your ship the Jackdaw, the crew raises a rousing cheer, happy to have their captain back onboard and to hit the seas for more adventure. One on the waters, your spyglass can illuminate other ships and give you onscreen information about their class and bearing. This is key to moving in for a naval skirmish, or deciding if you should steer clear. You can choose between different types of shot for your cannons, like chain shots with can tear through masts, and once you’ve weakened the enemy enough, maneuver into the boarding zone and grapple ship to ship. You can climbing into the rigging, fire deck cannons, and more, pirate-style.

Another unique gameplay element in this game is the tablet integration, which Ubisoft is pressing across the board. For AC4BF, your tablet will function like a pause menu on steroids, offering up maps, database entries, and more, and you can set waypoints, and explore (or let a buddy do it) while you captain your ship. Additionally, when you capture an enemy ship, the game asks what you want to do with it. You can sink it and take their goods, scrap it and use the material to repair your own ship, or you can send it to the Fleet Game that is fully contained on your tablet. While we weren’t able to see the Fleet Game in in action, Ubisoft promised that it will be a two-way street, with benefits to both the console and tablet as you play it. So that means you can take your naval battles with you in some format. Pretty nifty.


There is an entire world in this game that begs to be explored, and every island you see as you sail and climb can be visited and investigated. During our brief time on the seas, a whale breached next to our ship revealing a whaling location, we sailed past a marooned man who could be recused (or ignored), and we found a corpse covered in crabs bearing a bit of a treasure map. We also locked ships with an enemy and subdued him, while steering clear of a very active multi-ship battle. The dynamic weather changed on us, bringing dark skies and waterspouts that can decimate a ship, and much more. And that was all in about 20 minutes, so we can’t wait to see what the rest of the game offers.

It looks simply beautiful, and the only regret we had was that we didn’t get to see any of the underwater sequences which promise to be a large part of the game. If you’ve spied those in the trailers, you know how gorgeous they look. The last thing we did before leaving was to climb a vantage point and sync up our map, and when we did it unlocked that location as a fast travel point. Which means getting around in this enormous world will be a lot easier.  



On the flipside of our Assassin’s Creed IV Black Flag Horizon demo (wow, that’s a lot of words) was the new multiplayer Wolfpack experience, which has been streamlined and updated since Assassin’s Creed III. The entire experience is now a lot smoother, and they have added the Game Lab to multiplayer, allowing you to tweak multiple options for online games. You can specific everything from the kinds of weapons to AI behavior, rules, bonuses and more, allowing for a lot of customs setups and game types. It’s the biggest change to multiplayer, and should allow for a much bigger replay value. Sadly, none of the multiplayer offers up naval-based combat, and we’re really hoping that gets added at some point.


While we have been big fans of Assassin’s Creed since the first game, there is no denying that moving this in the naval-based arena has infused this series with a shot of excitement. Personally, this game could drop the Assassin’s Creed moniker altogether and just be called The Way of the Pirate, and it would be just as exciting. The game will be out for current-gen systems on October 29, and some point later for next-gen systems.


We tested Nvidia’s RTX 2080 and 2080 Ti. Are they a worthy upgrade?

We finally have Nvidia's newest graphics cards, the RTX 2080 and 2080 Ti, and put them through our standard suite of benchmarks and game tests to see how they performed in a standard play of Battlefield 1 and Fornite. How do they compare to…

Razer’s BlackWidow Lite is a mechanical keyboard designed for work and play

Razer's latest keyboard comes with a minimalist design that will appeal to professionals. But don't let the all-black aesthetics fool you, as the BlackWidow Lite comes with mechanical keys that makes it a great gaming companion.

Everything you need to know about Garmin’s GPS watches and trackers

Garmin jumped into the GPS smartwatch and fitness tracker market five years ago and has built a portfolio of devices that rivals competitor Fitbit. Here's your guide to the latest and greatest fitness devices that Garmin has to offer.

Everything we know about 'Anthem', including new details on Javelin classes

BioWare announced an upcoming action role-playing game called 'Anthem' at EA Play 2017. Here's everything we know about the game so far, including gameplay, DLC, and when you'll be able to play it.

The Army wants YOU … to play esports with soldiers

The U.S. Army is creating esports teams for games such as Overwatch, Fortnite, PlayerUnknown's Battlegrounds, and League of Legends. The initiative looks to boost recruitment, after missing the mark for the first time since 2005.

If the speed of AMD’s Radeon RX 590 doesn’t entice you, the game bundle will

AMD's Radeon RX 590 is a new video card that targets 1080p gaming at maximum detail. Starting at $280, it fills a gap between the Radeon RX 580 and the more expensive Radeon RX Vega. AMD says the new RX 590 can beat Nvidia's GTX 1060 Ti.

PlayStation 4 celebrates fifth anniversary with ‘Call of Duty: Black Ops 4’ bundle

The PlayStation 4 is officially five years old today, November 15, and to celebrate the anniversary, Sony is offering a new console bundle that includes a free copy of Call of Duty: Black Ops 4.

These are the best Xbox One games available right now

More than four years into its life span, Microsoft's latest console is finally coming into its own. From 'Cuphead' to 'Halo 5,' the best Xbox One games offer something for everyone.

‘Hitman 2’ makes a target of the unkillable Sean Bean, but you’d better not miss

Famously mortal actor Sean Bean will be available to kill in Hitman 2 beginning November 20. He'll be in the game as an Elusive Target for two weeks and you'll only get one chance to take him out.

Bug is turning ‘Fallout 76’ players into mutants even more terrifying than usual

A bug linked to the Power Armor gear in Fallout 76 appears to be turning players into bizarre naked mutants, complete with extremely long limbs that are more than a little unsettling.

Your PlayStation 4 game library isn't complete without these games

Looking for the best PS4 games out there? Out of the massive crop of titles available, we selected the best you should buy. No matter what your genre of choice may be, there's something here for you.

Tips for surviving the nuclear wasteland in 'Fallout 76'

Before running into nuclear wasteland with your Pip-Boy, take a moment to consider these Fallout 76 tips. From food and water to maintaining weapons and armor, here are the things all beginners should know.

Find a fish and get your boogie on with Fortnite's week 8 challenge

The Fortnite season 6 week 8 challenges have arrived as we near the end of this spooky season. The big free challenge this week is the Fortnite fish trophy challenge where you need to dance with different fishes. Here are all of the…

For the first time ever, PlayStation will be a no-show at E3

For the first time in the event's history, E3 2019 will not feature Sony or PlayStation. The massive event almost always features a lengthy press conference from Sony, often after all other major companies give theirs.