The Average Gamer

Assassin’s Creed IV: Black Flag Open World Gameplay Preview

Assassins Creed IV - Edward Kenway on a Whale Boat
Ubisoft today released the open-world gameplay demo of Assassin’s Creed IV: Black Flag that they showed us at gamescom. Commented by game director Ashraf Ismail, this video takes you through some of the islands in the huge game world. I kinda wish they’d hired a voice actor to read out Ismail’s words or something because some of these narrated walkthroughs sound painfully wooden. Sorry, Mr Ismail. I totally understand that your strength lies in game design. I’m not much better myself.

As shown in the video, the world of Assassin’s Creed IV is a collection of Caribbean islands, filled with secret caves and not-so-secret trading posts. Plenty of the islands have taverns but, as a pirate, you need to prove yourself worthy of these taverns by beating the pulp out of some nearby drinkers. Don’t ask me why. Maybe grog is in limited supply and they don’t want to share.

The Jackdaw, Kenway’s ship, is outfitted with a diving bell, letting him descend to the bottom of the sea in search of shipwrecked treasures. You’ll have to keep him safe from sharks by blending into clumps of seaweed but watch out for the eels that may be lurking. Someone has thoughtfully placed barrels of trapped air around most shipwrecks as well, so as long as you keep your eyes peeled for those, you should be able to stay down for quite a long time. However, each can only be used once. Duck back to the diving bell when you run out.

During our gamescom demo, Nick had trouble selecting the hotspots on most chests and barrels, making each dive far more perilous than it should be. The dev guy whose name I neglected to write down, assured us that this is being tweaked before launch.

Above the water, you can hunt for sharks with the harpoon gun. Head towards an area known for sharks, as marked on the map and hop into a rowboat equipped with dozens of harpoons. Pretty soon you’ll see a shark swimming nearby. Simply lob the harpoon into him and he’ll swim away, dragging you and your little boat along at a frantic pace until you hit him with 5-8 harpoons to take him down. It’s not a complex minigame – mostly you’re just being rocked a bit while you try and aim at your prey – but it is fun. Don’t let him get away or your injured shark/whale/terror from the deep will come back to ram your puny boat with his massive jaws.

Here’s the video to watch all this for yourself:

Also check out our Assassin’s Creed IV multiplayer hands-on video, guided by Lead Designer Tim Browne.