When we posted the most recent cinematic trailer for “Assassin’s Creed IV: Black Flag,” I mentioned that it’d be neat to be able to climb the rigging of the Good Ship Jackdaw and then swan dive into some unsuspecting mark or landlubber, which would unify the game’s naval themes and its trademark combat mechanics.
Imagine my surprise when that’s exactly what happens in a new, 13-minute (!) “Black Flag” gameplay walkthrough that shows off the game’s ship combat, open world Bahamas, and stealth mechanics.
There’s a lot to like about what game director Ashraf Ismail shows off in this video. There’s a seamlessness of geography, but also of systems and gameplay: protagonist Edward Kenway transitions from an on-foot chase to a naval battle to some exploration and into some stealth action without so much as a loading screen, as far as I can tell.
What’s a bit less seamless is Kenway’s Videogame Vision™ that periodically turns enemies red, allies yellow, and potential marks silver. I know that there’s an entire techno-babble, cyber-reality backstory to justify the way “Assassin’s Creed” uses quest markers, but I’ve always kind of resented it: let me muck about among the unwashed for a second without straight up telegraphing what I should do.
On that same note, I almost wish I hadn’t watched this gameplay video. The way the Carribbean storms work, for example, is really interesting, but it’s something I think I would have rather discovered on my own. “Black Flag” seems to have a wealth of interesting gameplay mechanics, but Ubisoft undercuts some of them by showing their hand too early.
Still, I’m already in love with the Jackdaw. It’s kind of like “Mass Effect”’s Normandy, but the crew is always drunk, and upgradeable. Kenway will apparently be able to commandeer ships and build a fleet, which means I’ll be rolling into Far Tortuga with my own Spanish Armada as soon as possible.
So, anyway, there’s a lot going on in this quarter-hour slice of “Black Flag” — at one point, Kenway mans a cannonball turret (ugh!), and then snipes an enemy pirate with a 17th century blunderbuss (aw yiss!).
“Assassin’s Creed IV: Black Flag” will be out October 29th for Wii U, Xbox 360, and PlayStation 3, and sometime next year on PC, Xbox One, and PlayStation 4.
Joseph Leray is a freelance writer from Nashville. Follow him on Twitter