Tonight I finished the story line of Assassin’s Creed: Black Flag. I’ve started a few Assassin’s Creed games, but I’ve never finished one or even come close. I’ve always known that the games were about the endless war between Assassins & Templars, but I had no idea how deep down the rabbithole they went. Not that Black Flag offered a lot of answers, but it certainly posed some questions that I look forward to having answered via other games.
Overall I had a blast with this one but I think it’s a little unusual for an AC game. For one thing the main character, Edward Kenway, isn’t an assassin. He’s a pirate who got caught up in the struggle after he tried to pass himself off as a templar in order to get a reward.
What I really enjoyed is that at least the first part of the game is based on history. In fact it’s the same basic story that the Starz TV show Black Sails tells. You’ll encounter the same characters, from Charles Vane & Ben Hornigold to Woodes Rogers and Edward “Black Beard” Thatch. Even Anne Bonny shows up. The pirates occupy Nassau, England sends Rogers to offer amnesty to any pirate who’ll swear to give up the life, and Hornigold takes the Crown up on its offer, to the dismay of his fellow pirates.
So that was fun, though by about 2/3rd of the way through the game we’ve left that story behind, and Edward is more actively working with the Assassins. I felt like the game was a little long for the amount of story it held, but with open world games I never know if that’s really my fault. Maybe I spent too much time dithering around chasing side quests. My save file was at about 35 hours (and 65% completion) as the credits rolled.
The “outer” story wasn’t as compelling. This time the modern day part of the tale has you as employee of Abstergo Entertainment. You’re using an animus to gather material that Abstergo will use to make an entertainment product out of. You don’t know that Abstergo is run by the Templars and it’s not clear how many (if any) of your co-workers know it either. There’s one dude who is undercover — an assassin — and he uses you as a pawn, but that story doesn’t go very far. Although you do meet Juno briefly. Who or what Juno is, I don’t know. But she (?) seems to predate humanity.
I think all in all I enjoyed the Black Flag part of the game more than I enjoyed the Assassin’s Creed part. By the end I was really sick of tailing people and eavesdropping on their conversations. Exchanging broadsides with a Man ‘O War never got old, though.
I started playing this game back in 2013 when it came out. When I picked it up again a few weeks ago, I started fresh. In some respects the game still looks great. The character models haven’t aged that well, but the ships and the sea and the weather all still look great. Playing on a 60″ TV, I’d get up and feel like I needed to get my land legs back. Y’know when you’ve been on a boat all day then you come ashore and it feels like the ground is rising and falling? The feeling of sailing the Jackdaw was authentic enough to give me that feeling.
At first I felt like ship-to-ship combat was too shallow, but by the time I’d been in 50 or 60 naval battles I appreciated that each one wasn’t a long, drawn-out affair. Sure it doesn’t feel authentic to have ships constantly ramming each other and dropping tons of mortar rounds on the enemy, but it kept things fun.
Oh and the music! First rate. Your crew is constantly breaking out in sea shanties and by the end I’d be singing along with them.
I’d give the piratey parts of AC: Black Flag a 5 out of 5 rating. The assassiny parts were just OK. Like many of the AC games, your character seems way too sticky. I was constantly jumping onto things I didn’t want to jump onto. Plus as mentioned, tailing bad guys grew stale pretty quickly.
Still, no regrets. I’m really glad I went back to it. Well worth playing, IMO.