Assassin’s Creed Franchise, Part 3 – Black Flag

883 words.

Continuing my epic playthrough of all of the Assassin’s Creed games in my Steam backlog in order, and archiving the tweets I wrote about them. Last time it was Liberation HD. This time it’s the pirate game that I knew I wasn’t going to like, and the main reason I stopped playing Assassin’s Creed games in the first place.

Assassin’s Creed IV: Black Flag (2013), May 28

Get used to this sight. There's \*a lot\* of sailing in Black Flag.

Next on the Assassin’s Creed extravaganza is Black Flag, the one I’ve been dreading for so long because the ship stuff in Assassin’s Creed III was so annoying and I can’t even fathom why anyone would want *more* of that.

Going well so far. Crashes immediately.

Naturally the very first thing in the game is putting you on a ship in combat. :|

Well Assassin’s Creed IV Black Flag appears to be an unending source of misery and frustration, but at least it has a boring story with a main character who has no redeeming qualities to hook you in. But, you know, there’s pirates singing sea shanties so I guess that explains the game of the year nominations?

I was on the brink of rage-quitting Assassin’s Creed IV several times yesterday but the epic playthrough of all those games in order continues.

I simply can’t wrap my mind around making a fast-paced video game to simulate slow and sluggish ship combat. You make a decision to attack a ship and like a minute passes before you can actually damage the ship. Constantly spinning around in circles to get broadside. Smashing into tiny islands in the way. Ugggggh.

Not to mention the up-down axis is somehow *backwards* when aiming the cannons.

Edward Kenway, the pirate dude bro clone of Chris Hemsworth on the left there, is our protagonist. He thought it was a noble idea to leave his pregnant wife to go get rich as a pirate. He became "an Assassin" by killing an assassin (easily, ahem) and taking his clothes. The other guy is a fun comic relief character who was quickly tossed aside in favor of more pirates.

But when you’re not on a ship, there’s a lot more focus on stealth than any previous game. Not super fond of that either. I rather liked the old games when you could just run in and kill everyone. I prefer it when you can *try* to be stealthy, but if everything goes to hell, you can still finish the mission. The thing where it instantly fails the second you get caught is maddening.

Hit a gated content spot in Assassin’s Creed IV Black Flag. Can’t proceed until I engage with the open world stuff and make some money to buy upgrades. Annoying. Peak 2013 single-player gaming. [The offending mission is Sequence 6, “Devil’s Advocate.”]

So I’ve discovered that if you just ram the enemy ships in Black Flag, it shortens the time of ship combat considerably. Also if you get on the swivel cannons and blast all the enemy crew on deck during the grappling process, you need not bother fighting [the swashbuckling sword combat to take out the crew on the deck of the disabled ship].

I spent two days doing repetitive grindy open world stuff to upgrade my ship, it still said I should upgrade my ship before I could do the mission, I did the mission anyway, and it turned out I never needed to use my ship for anything during the mission. [Sequence 6, “Devil’s Advocate.”]

Obviously the best sea shanty in Assassin’s Creed IV so far is the “jiggy jiggy ha ha” one.

Finished Assassin’s Creed IV last night. Train wreck of a game, story-wise. We’re expected to root for the redemption of a man who left his pregnant wife to become a pirate with no moral compass, who only starts to get a clue at the very *end* of the story. [By then of course I couldn’t have cared less if our protagonist died horribly in a fire, after spending the entire game acting like an idiotic frat boy.]

Gameplay-wise it was a repetitive open world grind with way way way too much ship combat and way way too many “follow this person without getting caught” missions. Overall I was correct to put off playing it for seven years.

But hey at least now I know what happened to Rebecca and Shaun [after the events of Assassin’s Creed III].

In retrospect my favorite part of this game was the voice acting performance of Mark Bonner playing Blackbeard. Otherwise I spent most of my recording time in this game commenting on all the story and character and gameplay flaws that made it generally unpleasant at every turn.

One other thing: I didn’t appreciate how they made both Assassins and Templars look like Keystone Cops the entire game. Our pirate friend, who spent most of the game on neither side, with no training whatsoever, could easily dispatch hordes of them.

But if you like pirates and maximum-tropey Libertarian pirate lifestyle, then you might like this game. I, for one, am glad it’s behind me.

Memorable additions to the franchise: Sages? I guess? Though they seemed to be made up out of thin air for no compelling story reason.

This page is a static archival copy of what was originally a WordPress post. It was converted from HTML to Markdown format before being built by Hugo. There may be formatting problems that I haven't addressed yet. There may be problems with missing or mangled images that I haven't fixed yet. There may have been comments on the original post, which I have archived, but I haven't quite worked out how to show them on the new site.

Note: Comments are disabled on older posts.