Assassin's Creed IV: Black Flag is the sixth mainline installment of the Assassin's Creed franchise, and the first of the annual releases to be a numbered installment directly after another one. Developed by Ubisoft Montreal and published by Ubisoft, Assassin's Creed IV: Black Flag is set to be released on October 29, 2013 for the 7th generation consoles, with a currently unknown release date for the Eight Generation versions.
Assassin's Creed IV is built on the AnvilNext engine, like 2012's Assassin's Creed III. As a result, the base combat, platforming and structure remains very similar, with only new additions added to differentiate it. Unlike the previous game in which players could only dual wield small weapons with the Hidden Blade-Knife, Assassin's Creed IV features more prominent dual wielding features in combat, allowing for two medium-sized weapons such as cutlasses to be wielded at the same time in a fight. The player can also carry a much larger number of flintlock pistols, allowing for numerous shots before needing to reload.
Unlike Assassin's Creed III, which featured incredibly scripted and linear mission design, Assassin's Creed IV has mission designed meant to hark back to the original Assassin's Creed, focusing instead on open level design and allowing players to decide for themselves how to tackle mission objectives. Also unlike its predecessor, which featured next to no open world content until the conclusion of the first act hours into the game, Black Flag is meant to be open and accessible from the beginning. Players not only retain the classic collectible and treasure mechanics of the previous games, but the hunting of III, which has been improved with the addition of underwater animals and the ability to travel between numerous small islands dotted with treasures and animals that the player can spot at a distance with a spyglass.
A big emphasis on Black Flag is the naval elements, returning from III in a much more prominent spotlight. Naval combat and exploration are central elements to Black Flag, and are said to make up at least 40% of the game's content. Improving the combat on the seas, Black Flag allows players to chose when to board a ship, occupying it for plunder or sending it to the bottom of the seas at will, instead of being limited to scripted mission events to do so. Assassin's Creed III's naval upgrade system will also return, in a much more meaningful way. There are plentiful combat and aesthetic upgrades that can be made to the player's ship throughout the course of the game.
After Desmond Miles' sacrifice to stop the end of civilization, his genetic code that had been used to allow him to relive his ancestor Altair and Ezio's memories within the Animus was uploaded to "The Cloud", allowing others to access it with the right technological know-how. With the 2012 cataclysm behind them, and their leader Warren Vidic dead, the Templars at Abstergo Industries are placed in a precarious position, and decide to use their Research Analysts to access Desmond and his father, William's data and relive the life of their ancestor, Edward Kenway, for reasons currently uknown.
Edward Kenway, a British privateer and pirate during the early 1700's Golden Age of Piracy, was a member of the Assassin Order and the influential captain of the Jackdaw, a notorious pirate ship. During his rise to infamy on the high seas, Kenway followed a separate adventure as an Assassin in the cities of Havana, Kingston and Nassau. He was also allies with the infamous Blackbeard.
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After the game's initial reveal showed off the new naval hunting mechanics, including the hunting of whales, PETA began publicly rallying against the game for "disgraceful" "glorifying" of Whaling, further saying "Whaling—that is, shooting whales with harpoons and leaving them to struggle for an hour or more before they die or are hacked apart while they are still alive—may seem like something out of the history books, but this bloody industry still goes on today in the face of international condemnation, and it's disgraceful for any game to glorify it. PETA encourages video game companies to create games that celebrate animals—not games that promote hurting and killing them." Ubisoft responded "History is our playground in Assassin's Creed. Assassin's Creed IV: Black Flag is a work of fiction that depicts the real events during the Golden Era of Pirates. We do not condone illegal whaling, just as we don't condone a pirate lifestyle of poor hygiene, plundering, hijacking ships, and over the legal limit drunken debauchery."
Collector's EditionEditLike Assassin's Creed III before it, Assassin's Creed IV: Black Flag has a large number of collector's editions. The Black Chest Edition of the game features a 55-cm tall statute of Edward Kenway climbing on the mast of the Jackdaw triumphantly waving a compass, a large Assassin's Creed pirate flag, a world map, 2 exclusive lithographs, 2 canvass paintings, an artbook, an official soundtrack and an exclusive steelbook case, all contained in a large collector's treasure chest. Digital goods include all of the pre-order DLC packages and three single-player story missions: Black Island, Hidden Mystery and Sacrificed Secrets. This edition could only be purchased through UPlay and could be pre-ordered for PC, Playstation 3, Playstation 4, Wii U and Xbox 360.
The standard retail collector's edition, the Buccaneer Edition, is a skimmed down version of the Black Chest Edition. The Buccaneer set includes a simplified Kenway statue with a less intricate base standing at 46". The set also includes the soundtrack, lithographs and artbook, and comes with a different Collector's box, designed to look like a wooden crate. In-game items include the three story missions and the Captain Kenway's Legacy item and costume pack.
The Skull Pack, a smaller Collector's Edition, includes an exclusive "jumbo" steelbook case, 2 lithographs, an artbook and the soundtrack. The in-game goods include the Captain Kenway's Legacy pack and two of the three single player missions: Hidden Mystery and Sacrificed Secrets. The standard Collector's Edition includes the Sacrifice Island single player mission, the Captain Drake's Outfit costume, exclusive dual swords and dual flintlocks, dual Golden Swords and the multiplayer character Treasure Hunter. The Gamestop Edition includes an exclusive poster featuring the cover art by Todd MacFarlane, the Black Island mission, access to the Black Ship, and special Captain Morgan single player items.
- Numerous pre-order and collector's edition packs.