Pirates have always entertained me. Everything from their devil-may-care attitude to their constant search for adventure and treasure interests me. Though, it wasn’t until I grew older that I realized this was a romanticized version of how pirates acted. While Assassin’s Creed IV: Black Flag isn’t necessarily an exact representation of the life of pirates, the developers did take true stories of pirates into the narrative that they were crafting.
Like all Assassin’s Creed games, we start as a person living in the present day. No longer playing as Desmond Miles, we are now an unnamed research analyst working for Absturgo Entertainment. As we play, we shift through the memories of Desmond’s ancestor Edward Kenway, grandfather of Assassin’s Creed 3 historical protagonist Ratonhnhaké:ton
Edward is a pirate during the golden age of piracy of the early 1700s. During this time, the Caribbean Sea is full of legendary pirates like Blackbeard, Benjamin Hornigold, Charles Vane and Calico Jack. Edward’s exploits during this time bring him into contact with each one of these pirates along with other historical figures like Woodes Rogers.
The story bucks traditional Assassin’s Creed trends of focusing on an Assassin that is on a mission to bring peace to a place or himself. Instead, we find Edward doing what pirates do, taking things that he wants in an attempt to gain as much money as he can to return home as something more than when he left.
The change in the story is what brings us the most significant difference in navel combat. In Assassin’s Creed 3, we had a small taste of what Assassin’s Creed IV: Black Flag would give us. Most of the map is full of water, giving us the free rain of the world on the deck of a ship. You can choose who and when you attack and with what kind of weaponry. Chain shot, heavy shot, and mortars are all at your disposal to take down everything from other ships to forts.
The new naval combat does not mean the old staples do not return. While on land or while clearing the deck of a ship, hidden blades and smoke bombs return along with the ability to carry multiple pistols instead of just one with Ratonhnhaké:ton. Climbing and free running feel smooth and quick, and the combat that Assassin’s Creed 3 introduced has been tweaked making it more responsive.
Assassin’s Creed IV: Black Flag is often considered one of the best in the series. While some may complain that it is more of a pirate game than an Assassin’s game, the story that of the game fits into the overall arc of the Assassin’s Creed series.
At times the story is heartbreaking and at others a fun romp in the Carrebian. Assassin’s Creed IV: Black Flag stands out in a series where narrative and lore are vital factors. A game that is a decent place for new players to start, though it has more meaning when added with others, it is fun and a game I enjoy to come back to when leading to a new entry in the Assassin’s Creed series.