The lights are on
I tried really hard to like AC3, and to an extent, I did. It was pretty, hunting was fun, the twist in the first chapter was one of the defining moments of the entire series, and it was cool exploring the atmosphere of the American Revolution. Ultimately, though, somewhere along the lines, Ubisoft forgot that they were supposed to be making a game because AC3 felt clunky and slow in comparison to past games. I am very happy to say that Black Flag fixes most (if not all) of the issues that held its predecessor back from being great.
For starters, there is a lot to do in this game; go harpoon a whale or a shark, go explore a sunken ship for treasure, free some pirates from trouble, upgrade your ship, hunt (jaguars, people!), grab a map off a dead adventurer that leads to a hidden treasure, collect sea shanties for your crew to sing, accept an Assassin contract, etc! You will find a lot to enjoy here.
Another aspect greatly improved over AC3 is characters. I kind of liked Connor in AC3, but he was ultimately kind of one-dimensional; I sympathized with him, but he never displayed very much personality. Thankfully, his grandfather Edward is a much livelier guy; he's not afraid to get into a fight and he's always got his eyes on big money prizes. Basically, he's a rags to riches kind of person, living a miserable life in England and deciding he wants to see the world and make some coin, he becomes a pirate (excuse me, privateer). I feel like a lot of people can relate to that and I really liked him for it.
The modern day stuff still really isn't very engaging. I think they were trying to make a video game out of Edward's life or something; I really wasn't listening during those points. Of course, no one plays this franchise for the modern day, so no major loss.
The gameplay is much smoother this time around, with combat being fast and fun, and I feel like it's the first game in the series where you don't have to rely on countering attacks so much. The ships handle like a dream, and when the sun is shining, it's literally smooth sailing.
Okay, so let me close this out; ACIV: Black Flag is fantastic and a major improvement over ACIII in every way. If you were disappointed in ACIII, Black Flag may very well restore your faith in the franchise, because that's what it did for me.
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