The unveiling of the next game in Ubisoft’s Assassin’s Creed franchise didn't exactly go as planned. Early leaks of the game's poster and nautical plot hook -- along with some earnest hand wringing by gaming media outlets -- lessened the impact of the reveal, but that doesn't mean the game is any less intriguing.
Ubisoft has now formally pulled back the curtain on Assassin’s Creed IV: Black Flag, due out October 29. The new game takes the popular franchise in a different direction, this time turning gamers into pirate assassins rampaging on the high seas. While there will be plenty of dry dock skullduggery to perform, developers say roughly 40 percent of the game will be spent sailing the ocean blue.
Set in the Caribbean, Black Flag will follow the series' trademark of incorporating real-world historical figures into the action. Among the pirates you'll run into are Blackbeard, Ben Hornigold, Charles Vance and Calico Jack (no word on Jack Sparrow yet). Since the game's set in the early 18th century, Assassin's Creed III hero Connor Kenway has yet to be born. Instead, you'll play as Edward Kenway, Connor's pirate grandfather trained by the assassins.
The game is aiming for a more open-world feel, letting players explore islands at their leisure and offering different features on each. In classic Assassin’s Creed fashion, you’ll roam about on foot in cities like Havana, Nassau, and even Kingston Jamaica, though much of the action takes place aboard your ship. You'll be able to harpoon a whale, for instance, and you'll also be able to go underwater to loot wrecked ships (and, inevitably, tussle with a shark).
The naval focus makes a great deal of sense considering that the sailing sections of last year’s Assassin’s Creed III (which met with somewhat mixed reviews) were largely praised. It’s apparently much more complex, however. If, for example, you come across a ship that's too powerful to tangle with, you can try to outrun it, build up your skills, and pick that fight at a later time. Or you could try luring that ship into chasing you and sailing into a storm where the weather would be an ally, should you be so bold.
Black Flag also marks some new ground for the company. Ubisoft has confirmed the game will appear on the PlayStation 4 (and, while not confirmed, likely the new Xbox) as well as current generation consoles.
Check out the game's first official trailer: