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Assassin’s Creed IV: Black Flag

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By Weigh anchor and hoist the mizzen for sea battles and pirate parties in one of the most anticipated gameS of the year -- Assassin’s Creed IV: Black Flag
  • Published 12.09.13

Unlike most video games out there, Assassin’s Creed IV: Black Flag is well-thought-out and has been executed over two-and-a-half years. Ubisoft’s next major instalment in the series features three cities –– Havana, Nassau and Kingston –– and you have to master both naval and ground gameplay to plunder ships, find treasures and earn your booty.

An email chat with the AC team…

How did Assassin’s Creed IV: Black Flag evolve from the drawing board to the final product?

Team AC: When we were kicking around ideas about where to set our next game, a number of concurrent decisions led to choosing this period. One, we liked the idea of telling a family’s story, rather than doing two-three games about one character… hence the Kenway Family saga. We also realised that Edward Kenway would have been the right age to be active in the golden age of piracy. And, of course, when we first started seeing Ubisoft Singapore’s naval prototypes coming together, we knew we had a solid framework, which we could use to make a more robust pirate game. Of course, we have greatly expanded the scope of that original system…

Tell us about the research that went in… the books, scholars...

Darby McDevitt (lead scriptwriter): I cracked open my first book about pirates in the summer of 2011, just after finishing my work on AC Revelations, and for the following six months I read dozens of primary and secondary sources. I researched as broadly as I could, to get a good sense of the entire period, which meant reading books and articles on the sugar trade, slavery, politics and sailing, in addition to the best books on piracy. I also brushed up on some popular pirate fiction –– books like Treasure Island and the Pirate King, and various films –– to get a general sense of what made up the standard “pirate yarn”.

Lastly, we contacted Colin Woodard, author of The Republic of Pirates, and asked him to help steer our ship in the right direction. Colin’s book provided us with the answer to one crucial question we had –– how do we get all of the most famous pirates in history together in the same story? It turns out that The Republic of Pirates was the answer.

All told, it took almost a year of aggressive research and writing to feel like we had arrived at a confident understanding of the time period and its people, and I am confident that it will show. Naturally there are always concessions that must be made when creating a playable video game, but the overall “feel” of this world is astounding, and far richer than any pirate-themed experience ever made.

With not many pirate games out there, how did you go about researching what players are interested in?

Team AC: When we decided on the pirate theme, we thought about a lot of features that would make sense for a great pirate game –– a free-roaming world where you can plunder ships, get some loot, gain a reputation, explore uncharted islands, find treasures, etc. Then, when we brought players in for some preliminary playtests, we actually found that the activities we’d chosen to build our open-world pirate experience around were also the ones they expected out of a pirate game.

What is the core behind the game’s multiplayer mode? What are some of the new game modes?

Team AC: Multiplayer is definitely a key part of the global offer any AC game offers. And this year it won’t be different. The introduction of the Gamelab will, for the first time, allow players to generate modes and a set of rules that will be playable by friends and the community. This should be a turning point for the franchise.

Tell us about some of the activities that players can undertake in the game…

Jean Guesdon (creative director): Our main ambition is to deliver a True Pirate Game, which means One, Single, Unified Game using both naval and ground gameplay.

Players will obviously be able to attack, board and plunder ships at sea but a LOT of activities will be set on ground.

From attacking plantations, exploring shipwrecks, debunking smugglers from their caves, discovering Mayan ruins without forgetting our three main cities –– Havana, Nassau and Kingston.

The “pirate loop” will require the mastery of both naval and ground gameplay to be able to continue exploration in the world and progression of the character.

With PS4 and XBox One launching soon, what are some of the changes we will see in the game over its PS3 and XBox 360 versions?

Team AC: You may think the difference would be small, but when you compile all that will change (better smoke, plants physic, ocean simulation, sails movements, incredible forts destruction), you would be stunned.

Any special element that Indian gamers would particularly like?

Team AC: With the game being set in the Caribbean, there are not too many ties to the Indian market unfortunately. But India will get its very own Assassin in the upcoming comic book series Assassin’s Creed: Brahman!

Mathures Paul
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Assassin’s Creed IV: Black Flag will release on November 1 in India for PC, PS3 and XBox 360