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Assassin's Creed IV: Black Flag

Hunting Ships And Sharks

In Assassin’s Creed III, Connor could sail ships and engage in naval battles in the wide-open sea. Ubisoft is cranking up the ship combat even further in Black Flag, with the option to be a law-abiding captain, ruthless pirate, or even an entrepreneuring harpooner. At Gamescom 2013 in Cologne, Germany I got a hands-on opportunity to blast apart ships and reel in a shark.

Edward Kenway is a masterful jack of all trades. He can climb any structure, stealthily assassinate any foe, captain a ship, and eventually hunt whales. I got the chance to try my hand at pirating, and it was a roaring success. My careful naval strategy involves attacking anything that floats, but being careful not to raise my wanted level so high that pirate hunters give chase. Once at the helm, I pick up anchor, raise my sails, and set out for a frigate in the distance, using my viewfinder to appraise the vessel’s worth. It’s a royal ship packed with cash. Your men sing a merry song en route the impending slaughter. I open up with a mortar strike, which chips off a chunk of damage. Several escort ships I didn’t spot initially sail into view, surrounding my ship. Your attack options depend on which side of the ship the enemy is adjacent to. I combine cannon fire, chain-linked shot, and exploding barrels to take out the smaller threats. The frigate crumples quickly without the distracting ships, but I’m careful not to sink it. Of course I could destroy the royal frigate and receive some rewards, but preserving it yields more options.

Sailing close beside the frigate unlocks the option to board. Disengaging from the help allows me to seamlessly control Edward like the assassins of past games. I deftly sneak across a rope suspended between the ropes via a grappling hook. I attack a sailor attempting to hack down my tight rope and a sword fight breaks out. A careful mix of slashes, counters, and breaking past enemies’ defenses does the trick. I kill the captain and then decide what to do with the hijacked ship. Kenway can add it to his fleet, which progresses a flotilla-building metagame. He can sink it to earn some meager loot. He can also use the ship to repair the damage his own ship suffered during the battle. I choose the latter, then head off for a new adventure.

I spot a flock of birds circling in the distance and use the map to set a waypoint for their position. This flock indicates something is swimming in the waters below. Edward strops down to his pantaloons and deploys a row boat, hoping to harpoon a shark. Ropes connect Kenway’s spears to the boat, which players aim holding the left trigger. His throw becomes more accurate the longer it’s held in. I spot a shark and plant a harpoon in it. It swims around frantically, but can’t escape thanks to the harpoon. The frustrated fish attempts to ram the small boat while I try to dial in shots, creating a tense battle. Taking down deadly sea predators reminds me of fighting the lake monster in Resident Evil 4, a harrowing encounter that I’m happy lives on in spirit via Black Flag.

Besides hunting sharks and pirating ships, Kenway can explore caves for treasure, accept assassination missions in cities like Havana or Kingston, and even swim through underwater sequences. The options in Black Flag are bountiful whether you're a rogue looking for trouble or a regimented captain. Assassin's Creed IV: Black Flag is out on PS4, PS3, Xbox One, 360, Wii U, and PC October 29.

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  • This game has my interest just for the setting alone..It looks beautiful.
  • this doesn't even look like assassin's creed anymore.. but in a good way.

  • I'm even more pumped for Pirate's Creed: Black Flag now.

  • I loved all the AC's so far, but I think this is installment will bring the freshness loyal fans have been waiting for. It's almost like a new beginning but within the same series. So pumped!
  • AC3 was great so I can imagine that this one will be even better, if not as good. Ubisoft has yet to let me down with the series so I have high hopes for AC4. I just hope that they eventually do the obvious and make an Asia based game.
  • I'm thinking this will be the second game I play on PS4 after Killzone!

  • Spoiler.

    Edward Kenway dies, his son dies and his grandson too.

    However I felt that the naval missions were the best part of AC3. this game is looking great.

  • Will it really be out for the PC on the same date? Considering that the date has been removed for PC on their site, I would love to get confirmation, though I'm quite sceptical ;)

  • Can't wait to play this on my PS4.
  • I love the game so far but the developers should never have put shark fishing in the game. Now, shark finning is rapidly causing the edangering and  extinction of some species of sharks. Sharks are essential to the balance of earth and putting this vile practice in the game and making the sharks look menacing, which they do not in real life, are promoting this practice.

  • Is it October yet? I want to play this NOW?
  • As long as we're hunting sharks and whales, I'm keeping my fingers crossed for a kraken to show up. A man can dream, right?

  • Too bad they didn't continue with Connor's story, I personally loved him and really hoped he find love like Ezio or Altair :(

    Sad though that they gave him a strange DLC and went back in time to his cooler grandpa

    Let's see how will this one turns out, as the naval sequences and hunting were my fav in all AC games' features, better even than the eavesdropping bits in AC 1