Have you ever wanted to be a pirate? The Assassin’s Creed franchise has been taking players back in time for nearly a decade. But while most of the action is fought on land, 2013’s Assassin’s Creed: Black Flag transported gamers onto the wide open seas, complete with full-scale naval battles and swashbuckling pirates. This Assassin’s Creed Black Flag review is intended to give an in-depth look at the game, to see if it’s worth your time and money.
|Type of game:||Action-Adventure/Stealth|
|Total Play Time:||22.5 hours|
|System Requirements:||CPU: Intel Core2 Duo E8400, 3.0GHz
GPU:Nvidia Geforce GTX 260 or AMD Radeon HD 4870
RAM: 2 GB
OS: Windows Vista
HDD Space: 30 GB
The World of Assassin’s Creed: Black Flag
Black Flag is set in the Caribbean during the 18th century, and follows Edward Kenway – a pirate who finds himself in the middle of the Templar/Assassin struggle. Like most Assassin’s Creed games, Black Flag had a downloadable season pass that would grant the gamer access to extra missions, multi-player elements, and personalization upgrades. Although the game was well-received by critics, fan response was mixed, with some claiming that it felt repetitive. This article will summarize some of the main features of the game.
Atmosphere and Location
With over 50 different locations, three main cities (Nassau, Kingston, and Havana), and an entire ocean of islands and underwater areas to explore stretched over the known world, Black Flag is an immersive, fully-interactive stealth game that throws the user right into the open-world experience almost immediately. Forts, ports, and villages are all open for the gamer to interact with, but the most impressive feature is the Jackdaw – an upgradable ship that acts as Kenway’s base of operations. The music is composed by Brian Tyler, who also worked on games like Far Cry 3, and provides a nice island feel to the game as a whole.
The story follows two different arcs: Kenway’s pirate life in the 18th century and a present-day setting involving Abstergo, the company that is responsible for creating the Animus, which allows the characters to go back in time. Like most Assassin’s Creed Games, the story involves a present-day character that is hired by Abstergo in order to allow the company to tap into their ancestor’s assassin memories via memories pulled from their DNA. This creates a plot line for the player that spends the majority of their time in the past but cuts to the present to fill in specific narrative elements.
Edward Kenway is a pirate from Wales who has made his living as a carefree privateer jumping from port to port. Players who are familiar with the Assassin’s Creed series will be familiar with Kenway: he is the father of Haytham Kenway, an assassin turned Templar featured in Assassin’s Creed III, and grandfather of Ratonhnhae:ton, or Connor Kenway, the main character of the same game. The events of this game lead directly into Assassin’s Creed III, and influence that game’s events, even though Black Flag was released after III.
Kenway’s right-hand man is a slave-turned-assassin named Adewale, who had his own follow-up story coverd in the downloadable expansion Freedom Cry. After the events of Black Flag, Adewale receives his own ship named the Victoire and assists a slave community in their fight for independence.
Despite Assassin’s Creed: Black Flag’s fictional narrative, many real-life figures show up to help Kenway along his journey, with some of them playing a major role in the story. The most noteworthy real-life character who also is a mainstay throughout the tale is Edward Thatch, better known as Blackbeard the Pirate. Blackbeard leads a band of pirates including other well-known characters such as Benjamin Hornigold, Mary Read, Stede Bonnet, Calico Jack, Anne Bonny, and Charles Vane in their mission to help Kenway defeat the Templars.
Desmond Miles, the main present-day character through much of Assassin’s Creed’s earlier games, is dead, but through his DNA, Abstergo is able to sort his memories to uncover clues as to the location of the First Civilization, and more specifically, the Observatory. A character is hired by Absterog to sift these memories, and the gamer follows this plot-line of the modern-day character as told by their experiences.
Though Kenway does not intentionally become an Assassin, his murder of Duncan Walpole, an assassin that has since gone rogue, thrusts him to the forefront of the Assassin and Templar struggle. Kenway impersonates Walpole at a meeting of the Assassin brotherhood – a move that would jeopardize the entire order. He then pursues a character called the Sage, who knows the location of the Observatory in the First Civilization.
While in his pursuit of the Sage, Kenway interacts with Blackbeard and the other pirates who enlist his help in setting up a pirate “utopia” on the island of Nassau, currently held by Templars. Though Kenway and the pirates are moderately successful in cleaning up the island, the Templar’s influence is too great and Kenway continues with his original mission.
Kenway finds the Observatory but is betrayed at a crucial juncture, which lands him in prison for a certain period of time. He escapes, retrieves the artifact needed to activate the Observatory, and ends his quest. He is then told of his wife’s passing and the arrival of his new daughter, who he decides to raise in England. This marks the beginning of Hatham Kenway’s story, one of the main characters in Assassin’s Creed III.
DLC and Expansion Packs
As with most Assassin’s Creed releases, Black Flag has a season pass that allows the user to access bonus or expanded content, such as the aforementioned Freedom Cry storyline that follows Adewale in his struggle against imperialism. Blackbeard’s Wrath and Guild of Rogues are two other DLC packs that allow the user to access three new characters in multiplayer mode.
While those DLC packs are open to all platforms, the PlayStation 3 and PlayStation 4 contain an exclusive DLC titled Aveline, which follows a French-African assassin as she tries to locate an escaped slave and recruit them to the Assassin order. Eventually, Aveline would also e released on the PC as part of the Uplay Digital Deluxe Edition.
Although Assassin’s Creed: Black Flag is a somewhat mixed bag in terms of repetitive gameplay and canned story elements, it’s still a remarkably addictive game that will make you want to revisit the game over and over again. The naval battles are engaging and strategic, which makes for a refreshing take on a franchise that has gone a little stale in recent years. Still, if you’re a fan of the series, Assassin’s Creed: Black Flag is one title you’ll need to pick up.
Have you played it? What did you think of our Assassin’s Creed Black Flag review? If so, tell us what you think in the comments!