At Ubisoft's holiday press event in New York City yesterday, game director Ashraf Ismail was on hand to show off "Assassin's Creed 4: Black Flag," as well as answer some questions.
The version of the game I saw (unfortunately, it was a totally hands off demo) was running off a PC, but was told it was running off a high end machine, one that's intended to give off an indication of what the PS4 version would be like. In fact, it was said that the final version would be far even more graphical impressive. Which is saying a lot, because the AC4 I witnessed was mighty pretty indeed.
The demo was somewhat of a combination of two previous ones that many might already be familiar with. It kicked off with a visit to a fisherman village, similar to the one seen at E3 a few weeks back. Except, instead of sneaking around at night, it was broad daylight.
And instead of keeping a low profile in the foliage, we see Edward Kenway just flat out kill a guy right in front of everyone. Was somewhat hilarious that no one paid any real mind, but I guess when pirates hang out, that stuff just happens.
There were actually two targets, and the other runs off. This other individual, a Templar agent, boards his ship and Kenway follows suit. This is where the demo starts to borrow from elements of another, a more recent one, seen above.
Once the target's ship has been stopped dead in the water, the crews of both vessels engage in close combat, with Kenway sneaking onto enemy territory and quickly assassinating the other captain in quick fashion. With the second Templar target snuffed, that mission is accomplished, but there's still a fight going on, so Kenway joins the rest of the crew in getting the necessary amount of kills to officially take over the other ship.
After that, we get to check out the open waters yet again; Kenway eventually comes across a small island, which kicks off the video above. Got to go on the treasure hunt that's also highlighted, but with the added benefit of an up close and personal look at the environment. The insane level of graphical detail just doesn't come through in a YouTube clip.
Like many, I have wondered if next generation systems are truly necessary, since many of the games that we have today are quite capable in the graphics department. But Assassin's Creed 4 was the first game that made me realize, wow, graphics still can be even prettier and more detailed, and how such fidelity can add to the overall experience. Never before did I ever find myself going "hey, nice moss!" I still don't consider myself a graphics whore, but hey, nice visuals are nice visuals.
Other key differences between the video above and what I saw yesterday concerned a hostage scenario that immediately preceded the blueprint's acquisition, which not only demonstrated patented run and slash AC gameplay but also netted two more loyal crewmen for Kenway. There was also a visit to Havana, Cuba, mostly just running along rooftops, another classic Assassin's Creed convention. One that's primarily meant be a nod to fans of part 2.
Though the focus was sailing the seas. I asked Ismail if the popularity of naval warfare, which was introduced in part three played a major part in the development of part 4:
"We started AC4 while AC3 was still in production. When the very first prototype of that game's naval battles started coming around, and we gaged all the play-testers' reactions, we knew we had something in our hands. At that point it was felt that we he had what was needed to finally do a pirate game. We've always wanted to do a pirate game."
Ismail revealed that there had been a desire to do a pirate game, well before Assassin's Creed. But they the wait? The answer was pretty simple:
"Because they're really hard to do."
And the groundwork that was Assassin's Creed 3 finally gave the team all the pieces they've long been looking for, the foundation to build upon.
"Assassin's Creed 4" arrives on the PS3, Xbox 460, Wii U on October 29th. As for the PS4 and Xbox One version, we don't know when those will launch, but when they do, Black Flag will be part of their day one line-ups.