Assassin's Creed IV: Black Flag Revisited
Ranked as my favorite in the Assassin’s Creed series, Assassin’s Creed VI, Black Flag still gets my highest recommendation to those who are Creed curious. It has all the gameplay expected of the series without getting too bogged down in the Assassins Vs. Templars lore. The modern-day scenarios got pared down in this title to the point where I could not say what even happened in Abstergo during those breaks from the high seas. Black Flag had the one of the largest areas to explore in a Creed title and while fast travel was an option, it was often more fun to sail in real time. During these open sea journeys you could attack enemy ships which ended in exciting boarding actions, brave harsh weather, or just sail along as the crew sang pirate shanties to pass the time. All while helping Edward Kenway realize his dream of being as rich as possible when he returned to England.
Black Flag had a unique release on the Xbox, straddling the Xbox 360 and the Xbox One. At the time many retailers allowed Xbox 360 owners to turn in their copy for the updated Xbox One release. I bring this up because Assassin’s Creed Origins, releasing at the time of this writing on Xbox One, is close to the time of the Xbox One X release. Coincidentally both titles get a graphical update from the new system launch. The graphical update of the next generation systems made it easy to get swept up in the world of Black Flag. Black Flag also perfected the crafting system and was the last Assassin’s Creed title to feature online multiplayer.
Crafting in Black Flag has two facets, one for Edward’s gear and the other to upgrade his ship, the Jackdaw. The materials for Edward’s gear was largely gained from hunting. This included many common and exotic animals but most exciting were the large sea animals that had to be hunted in a special dinghy with harpoons. Harpooning hunts required skill and strategy to be successful and were unlike anything in prior installments. Upgrading the Jackdaw required material from attacking enemy ships. Some upgrades were unlocked as part of progression, while others were acquired using treasure maps. These maps had the coordinates of the general area on the world map but being hand-drawn approximate instructions, it made finding these treasures a fun side activity.
As in every Creed title, Edward met some of the more famous figures operating in the Caribbean at the time. Blackbeard and Charles Vane acted as mentors for Edward while Captain Kidd introduced him to the Creed. Being an opportunist, Edward never took the Creed seriously outside of the “Everything’s Permitted” clause. Content to plunder the shipping lanes he amassed a fleet to grow even richer until leaving the pirate life and the Creed behind. He then retired to a mansion in London while leaving his son, Hatham, to run with the wrong crowd.
Assassin’s Creed VI, Black Flag remains a stand-out for me in all the Creed games I have played. It has all the core elements of the series from free-running, hidden blade assassinating and the iconic “leap of faith.” Black Flag combines the classic Creed elements with the superior crafting, exciting hunts, and the centerpiece, the Jackdaw, as the mobile headquarters. Black Flag features a charismatic anti-hero set in a romanticized setting with hours of swashbuckling adventure. Assassin’s Creed VI, Black Flag remains a staple to any game collection.
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