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Assassin's Creed Black Flag: Why not?

On 08/20/2013 at 04:57 PM by Michael117

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I haven't played an Assassin's Creed game since Assassin's Creed 2, and I've spent plenty of time since then criticizing the series for never delivering on its original promise to make me feel like an assassin. The first game rarely made me feel like a crafty hidden killer, and it wasn't a great stealth-action game in general, but it showed a bit of promise and I was really excited to see how they'd move forward. Instead of following that promise down the rabbit hole they went the opposite direction and have continued to design Swashbuckling Pirate's Creed ever since, padding the games with copious amounts of sword fighting while occasionally presenting the player with largely boring and rigid assassination missions, and assassinating is what I hoped the games would be all about. Thank God Dishonored came along and turned out good, that was probably what I was looking for all along.

I played the first AC game when it came out in 2007 and loved it. I took the game and narrative quite seriously and by the end I was looking at the mysterious Mayan symbolism and corporate intrigue with expectations that this franchise was going to become the next big thing for me. I was in love with the visuals, time period, vertical levels, and the Templar versus Assassin's Guild storyline. Back then that kind of Templar related shit was still cool. In 2006 the Da Vinci Code movie came out and I thought that was neat, so I was excited when Assassin's Creed came along soon after with its own Templar conspiracies and historical setting.

I enjoyed AC2, it was technically a better game than its predecessor, but even then by the end of it I couldn't have been more deflated about the story, characters, and mechanics. I took it way too seriously and it ended up being kinda dumb and silly, who would've known. But hey guys... video games. Years have gone by and I'm tired of being that dude who's upset that the series wasn't what I hoped for years ago, time to drop that baggage like a sane person should. When I look at AC4: Black Flag I just see a video game, and it looks like it could be rad.

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When I saw the game at E3 I forgot it was an AC game and I simply enjoyed watching the player on shore near a village as galleons out at sea shelled the area with artillery and lit the flora ablaze. The player ran through burning docks and shacks, jumped across obstacles, and transitioned seamlessly from the shore to the deck of a boat and was into a naval battle. Without missing a step they could engage in real-time ranged cannon fire and savage boarding assaults. I'll gladly play Swashbuckling Pirates Creed now that they are cutting through the facade and going all-in on the concept. It looks cool, sounds cool the way the designers describe it, and the thing that excites me most is that they've apparently taken some key people from the Far Cry 3 team to help them build the open world and systems in Black Flag. Far Cry is one of my favorite games of this generation, but it's also one of the dumbest. I couldn't care less about its terrible characters. The fun in FC3 is all in random encounters, and systems that can interact in chaotic ways at any given time. If they can bring some Far Cry magic into Assassin's Creed I'll be very happy.

Back when we were all on 1UP I was talking with this guy (sadly can't remember who) about Windwaker and over the course of the evening we bounced mechanical and structural ideas off one another for another open world game where you could sail your own boat. It was pretty awesome, and the way Black Flag looks is quite similar to what we were thinking of for naval combat. Except we wanted simulation and strategy to be the crux of the game similar to a Port Royal game.

I don't care about the narrative from previous AC games, and I don't care if Black Flag ends up being equally as dumb, I just want to give Ubisoft some money and they can give me a game that let's me be a pirate in an open world. I'll sail my dumb ship through storms, blow stuff up, sack port villages, get in sword fights, and have fun in my beautifully rendered Caribbean sandbox. That seems like a sound business deal to me.




08/20/2013 at 05:25 PM

I'm looking at the AC franchise as just a bunch of fun games. I'm not looking for realism in the story, just for fun gameplay and a decent story with characters that I can care about what happens to them. 


08/20/2013 at 06:08 PM

By now there's so many AC games that you can sit a lot of them out, kinda like yearly sports games lol. Football isn't my sport but I know that the Madden games are designed solidly. They're good games and great for people who love football (in fact the only game for people who love football, but luckily for them it's pretty good).

Same can probably be said for Assassin's Creed games. The stories are dumb and a new one comes out every year, but if you skip a few of them and come back to play an AC game every once in a while it's probably the best way to experience the series. Otherwise you'll get burnt out like many AC fans already have. I'm glad I haven't played any of them since AC2, it'll probably make my experience with Black Flag better.


08/20/2013 at 05:48 PM

As a little kid I used to pretento play as a pirate a lot, so hopefully this game'll live up to the fantasy lol.


08/20/2013 at 06:09 PM

Lol, I hope it can live up to some of that as well. I'm trying to go into Black Flag with more of that childlike appreciation. I want a fun sandbox to play in, and I want to play pirate.

Joaquim Mira Media Manager

08/20/2013 at 06:13 PM

I skipped 3, and Revelations, but I'm definitely getting Black Flag majorly because of its focus on naval gameplay.


08/20/2013 at 07:12 PM

I initially felt kind of bad that I missed out on the naval gameplay in AC3 or whichever one it was that introduced it, but now I'm glad that a whole new game is coming out with that mechanic used as well, and probably focused on a lot more and expanded. It should be pretty neat.


08/20/2013 at 10:42 PM

I saw a trailer today during the Sony conference at Gamescom that convinced me to buy this game, sailing a boat around and blowing shit up convinced me,lol! Its prolly one of the first Ill buy for the PS4.


08/21/2013 at 11:28 AM

Lol I agree. I saw that trailer and it was pretty dang cool. What got me sold on the game was the trailer they showed at E3 during the Sony conference, or maybe it was the Ubi conference, they showed the game at both places. I was so down on the AC games and then that one trailer kinda turned things around and I was like, "Shit, I'd play that."

Super Step Contributing Writer

08/20/2013 at 11:58 PM

I was never into pirates as a kid, but I do think it would be fun to play one in a video game.


08/21/2013 at 11:33 AM

I wasn't into pirates much as a kid either, I was actually into stoic knights and medieval history and fantasy more than anything. I didn't start getting into pirates until the Pirates of the Caribbean movies came along, the unrealistic romanticized BS version of pirates lol. I think Black Flag is coming along at a good time, I'm ready to play a pirate game. Several years ago I may not have even been interested in the concept. Sailing around in Windwaker helped me to warm up to the idea of pirates and sailing your own boat. And Pirates of the Caribbean got me into the kind of aesthetic and action a pirate story could have.

Super Step Contributing Writer

08/22/2013 at 03:35 AM

I think I was more into space and dinosaurs as a kid. But yeah, I could see how you'd be more willing to play this stuff now.


08/21/2013 at 02:22 AM

AC in Revolutionary America really got me interested, but sea battles and now Pirates has me foaming at the mouth. I WANT THIS GAME!


08/21/2013 at 11:39 AM

Did you ever play Far Cry 3? Are you excited that Black Flag may have an open world design and random encounters similar to FC3?


08/21/2013 at 03:08 PM

I so want to play Far Cry 3. 

Chris Yarger Community Manager

08/21/2013 at 07:02 AM

I'm a huge fan of the Assassin's Creed series, especially AC2-Revelations (The Ezio trilogy to be specific). I never felt like an Assassin, but I absolutely loved Ezio as a character and how the game took him from an arrogant and cocky 17 year old (AC2) to a humbled older (49?) man who questions himself and everything he has done and what he is doing. I just thought he was amazingly crafted and believable. Just my input though...


08/21/2013 at 11:43 AM

The only game with Ezio I played was AC2, so I never got to see his character develop and unfold into adulthood and maturity. I never hated his character in AC2, but I also never loved him. A lot of people seem to like his character and how it turned out over the course of his multi-game story arc. I only played the one game of his though so I missed out on all his further development.

Nick DiMola Director

08/21/2013 at 11:38 AM

If I didn't hate the naval combat in 3 so much, I'd probably be more interested in this one. As you mentioned, Mike, a lot of AC fans are pretty burnt out on the series and I'm definitely among them.

One day in the future, I might give it a shot. For now I think I'll be content watching this one from the sidelines.


08/21/2013 at 11:53 AM

I never played AC3 so I don't have first-hand experience with how it was implemented. I heard Adam Sessler say that he enjoyed the naval combat, but it was so discrete that he forgot to go seek it out. It seems like it didn't fit well into the game or the mechanics and experience felt detatched (Sess didn't say either of those two later things but that's the picture I get from how people talk about it).

How was the naval combat actually structured into the game, and what did you think about the mechanics?

There's a lot of AC fans who are rightfully burnt out on these games by now. I'm in a unique situation where I was originally a big fan of the series and liked the first two games for the most part, but once I finished AC2 I became burnt out then lol. I burned out early and AC4 will be the first one I've tried since then. Ubisoft already lost me once on these games and made me stop playing them, now it's been long enough that I'll dip my toes into the new pirate themed one years later. There's likely lots of people who will avoid this one and I think they're probably wise to do so if they're burnt out on the series, I've been there before too.

Nick DiMola Director

08/21/2013 at 12:06 PM

The naval combat was definitely awkwardly tied into AC3. It felt like they were probably debuting it then to get some feedback from gamers while developing AC4 in the background. No idea if that's true, but it seems likely enough.

There were a couple mandatory missions that forced it on you and then after that, going sailing was an optional thing. I wouldn't say that any of it was mechanically bad, but it was really boring. It seemed like it should be something that was really grandiose and fun, but in reality it was a chore.

Of course, I really wasn't enamored with the sailing in Wind Waker either, so it might just be a game mechanic that doesn't work for me. The sense of discovery there kept it interesting enough to keep me playing, but in AC3 it was just a mission-based affair so it had none of that much needed flair.


08/21/2013 at 12:22 PM

I was really into the sailing the first time I played Windwaker because there was that sense of exploration and discovery. It only became a chore once I'd explored everything, and I still had to wait minutes sailing around to get anywhere. I wonder if Windwaker HD will add more fast travel options that the original had?

There was a handful of fast travels areas and you could play some song and a hurricane would sweep you away to said areas, but it'd be nice to be able to jump between each island once you've discovered them already (I hope they do that). It's nice they have a faster sail in the game too.

I like open world games. Exploring them the first time is really special when you don't know what's around the next corner. Once I know what's around the corner though, I have no intentions to have to journey back and forth the same way each time. You can't replicate that initial sense of newness more than once with the same areas, so fast travel becomes really useful. Morrowind is a huge game, but there's very few fast travels, you have to ride stupid bugs and pay gold for it even, and the bugs are few and far between. So even though I played tons of Morrowind and saw a lot of cities and wildlands, there's still a ton of places in Morrowind that are uncharted on my world-map, places I've never even seen after all these years because I didn't want to go through the trouble of risking the travel and danger, and there wasn't a lot of fast travel for me.


08/21/2013 at 03:12 PM

I don't know why, but I love sailing ships in games. I can't get enough of them. In fact, there are very few games that I can think of with such things: Sid Meier's Pirates, Wind Waker, AC3 and 4, Suikoden IV, were ships playable in Risen 1 and 2?... what else? A blog idea is forming in my mind about this.

Patrick Kijek Contributing Writer

08/23/2013 at 02:16 AM

If I were you, I would definitely watch a synopsis of the story to Brotherhood and Revelations. They're all connected, although you don't need to burn yourself out with the gameplay. It'll give you a much better payoff if you know what's happening. Also, the story is the most important component that the game has to offer. 

In the more recent entries, I actually have felt more like an assassin. Shh: don't tell anyone.

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