Assassin's Creed IV Impressions From a Newcomer

Here we are, on the verge of the new generation of consoles from Sony and Microsoft, and yet there are a lot of games of the current generation that I haven't even tried yet. And despite the fact that Ubisoft has continually thrown Assassin's Creed titles at us since 2007 (I mean, seriously, look at how many of these damn things they've made!), I never actually got around to playing any of them. I just sort of admired them from a distance while I was playing other games that interested me more at the time.

Isn't it kind of false advertising to call this the fourth one?

Well, I've finally decided to jump in with Assassin's Creed IV: Black Flag. And I have to say, it's pretty fun. I'm playing the Wii U version, and in the technical sense, the graphics are sharp and the framerate is smooth. Artistically, the game is quite beautiful, with plenty of environmental variety and detail to the characters. It also scratches that historical itch that gets scratched in a similar fashion while playing the Dynasty Warriors series and its ilk. So just based on that, it's off to a great start.

I'm still early on, having just arrived at Nassau and have yet to do any of the story missions at that location. However, this has still given me plenty of time to get used to the gameplay. And it did take me a bit to get used to it. The control scheme, which I imagine is standard for the series, was kind of foreign to me, and I'm still not great about switching between weapons and so on. But after a while, it's become mostly intuitive. Naval combat is a different beast and, while I've had less time to get used to it, it's also pretty fun. Though trying to steer the ship in the middle of combat while also aiming the cannons and firing on target while in rocky waters is pretty crazy.

Step 1: Aim. Step 2: Hurl from Seasickness. Step 3: Fire.

On the other hand, there are some things I'm not so hot about. Missions have been hit or miss for me; there's one mission in particular where I had to defend someone from a large-scale assassin ambush, and I kept failing because I would get wrapped up in fighting the assassins, lose track of my allies, and end up getting left behind because they moved on far faster than I was ready for. From my experience thus far, the mission have so far ranged between passable and a lot of fun, but that early defense mission kind of leaves me wary. Maybe it would have helped to use eagle vision? I'm not sure.

It also takes a bit more time than I'd like to get used to the flow of combat. I was aware going in that it was a counter-heavy combat system, but in situations where I'm outnumbered five to one, it can be difficult to really get out. I'll counter an enemy, only to be forced to counter someone else before I can go on the attack, and then suddenly a do a really flashy assassination move without really understanding what I did. Still, it has gotten easier for me, so while it has been rough learning, the frustration has gone down.

I'm really enjoying the story so far. Edward is a fun character, as are most of the secondary cast I've encountered, and it's an entertaining pirate yarn. As for the modern day, I really don't know what to say yet. I haven't exited the Animus since after reentry following my first "visit" to the real world, where I was shown around the offices of Abstergo Entertainment. I have no idea where this is supposed to lead or if the story will even force me out of the Animus again at any point. I also only have a vague idea of what happened in Desmond's story in the previous games and have no idea how that plays into any of this, aside from the fact that the memory I'm diving into is another one of Desmond's ancestors despite the lack of Desmond.

"Wait, wasn't I supposed to be the hero of this series? What the fuck, Ubisoft?"

As for Wii U-specific things, the touch screen on the Gamepad is mostly used as a mini-map. It's nice, in that the map doesn't clutter up screen space, though it doesn't really go into any innovative directions with the controller. Still, not a bad feature. I have yet to try multiplayer out, and since I lack a UPlay account, I have no idea what sort of benefits (if any) that grants me in the game, or if it's even worth signing up for one. I honestly don't buy Ubisoft games that often and so I've never really felt the need to create an account.

All in all, it's really fun. I definitely see why people enjoy the series (though apparently Assassin's Creed III is the worst thing ever? So I'm kind of glad I skipped out on it.), and there looks like there's plenty to see and explore, so it should definitely keep me busy. I'm probably forgetting to mention some things since this is all kind of a massive brain dump about my experience thus far, but there you have it.

13 Comments Refresh
Posted by ArbitraryWater

Don't worry about the combat. Once you get the timing of counters down (along with the whole "chain kill" mechanic), it becomes something of a joke.

Posted by Hailinel

Don't worry about the combat. Once you get the timing of counters down (along with the whole "chain kill" mechanic), it becomes something of a joke.

Well, that's good to know.

Edited by Fredchuckdave

Counters are tougher in ACIV and you'll frequently have to kill 15-20 guys to take a ship so it can get hairy from time to time; still not a particularly difficult game though. It feels more like a chaotic ship battle would than just you murdering everyone instantly, 4 guns aside.

Edited by MEATBALL

Glad to hear you're enjoying it, I think it's a pretty good entry point and one of the series' best, really.

I'm one of those crazies that has managed to enjoy Assassin's Creed every year since they started doing the annual thing (it's crazy that this is the fifth straight holiday where they've released an Assassin's Creed game). I've never actually considered the series particularly fantastic, but I enjoy the core gameplay and the various settings you get to explore, have fun with the plot and all of the wider-scope ridiculousness as well as just being a sucker for all of the various collectibles and side activities there are to track down and do.

It's a fun series that has yet to burn me personally - Assassin's Creed 3 was certainly flawed, but I also think it gets a harder time on the internet than it deserved. But then I also liked Connor and the way his character compared and contrasted with the people on both sides of the conflict, as well as the way AC3 treated the Assassins/Templars conflict as a situation that is much less black & white (whereas Ezio's opponents were much more two dimensional - this isn't a bad thing, I just like both takes on it). I also really appreciated the really unique structure to the story for the series and the real slow burn. It seems everybody else needs the main character to be a joking Nathan Drake-esque dude, though. Assassin's Creed IV delivers another character more like Ezio in Edward though his motivation can be frustrating, but the payoff is nice when it comes. Anyway, Assassin's Creed IV essentially takes all of the things about Assassin's Creed 3 that were either great or had potential, builds on them and does away with many of the flaws. Stealth missions are also just a lot better designed in general, with fewer instant-fail states and more stalking zones/hiding places peppered about. And the changes made to marking opponents in eagle vision and tailing have made tailing missions far more tolerable than they've ever been in the series.

I *just* finished the game this evening after spending a good 50 hours (that's with just about everything completed), honestly, the game's story overall was probably one of the worst in the series (but saved by a bunch of memorable characters and performances) but the game itself was pretty dang good all told.

Edited by impartialgecko

AC3 is as bad as people say it is. Take all the missions that you're a "miss" on then imagine an entire game based around that but with twice the cutscenes. Glad to here AC4 is delivering where its predecessor didn't (i.e. fun).

Edited by Hailinel

Counters are tougher in ACIV and you'll frequently have to kill 15-20 guys to take a ship so it can get hairy from time to time; still not a particularly difficult game though. It feels more like a chaotic ship battle would than just you murdering everyone instantly, 4 guns aside.

Yeah, I've just gotten to the part where the game really introduces ship hunting and plundering. It gets pretty hectic with Edward and his crew all running around the enemy vessel fighting enemies, but it is really fun and not that difficult, really.

Edited by me3639

@hailinel said:

(I mean, seriously, look at how many of these damn things they've made!)

You sir just might have summed up the perfect quote for this generation. I like the Assinsans Creed series and a lot of the yearly franchises that are released, but have not revisited a lot of them for years now. Everything from Nintendo to EA need to stop milking everything until they are dry. Unfortunately, too many fans of these franchises will not change that thinking anytime soon.

Posted by fetchfox

@hailinel: It's great to hear you enjoying it, I'm personally waiting for the PC version or perhaps it getting together with the PS4. I'm sort of an Assassins Creed veteran, having playing and 100 percent completed them all (main releases) since they started coming out. I initially got into the series for the first games setting (The middle east and the crusades, some of my favorite history to read about). I stayed for the crazy and fun though. What I would recommend you to do is to go back and check out AC2 and AC: Brotherhood. They still hold up, and they are, in my opinion, the best games in the series (excluding AC4). They don't look as nice, and there's a lot of gameplay features you won't have, but I think you'll love Ezio and his story.

Edited by Kazona

@fredchuckdave: What annoys me about combat on a ship is the camera. It is more zoomed in so I find myself frequently blindsided by attacks that start just off-camera.

Edited by Fredchuckdave

@kazona: Yeah the camera isn't great sometimes, but if you prioritize countering it usually works out okay regardless. If you get irritated with a dude you can always just unload on him with the pistols as a sort of "fuck you asshole."

Posted by AlecOfTheWest

I was having fun with it until they started throwing "tail this guy" missions at me left and right. The worst was when you have to tail a ship through a hostile area, and fighting back against the random dickhead ships would get you detected.

I also wish Ubisoft would stop doing the "this ancestor didn't kill innocents" bullshit with their games (even Farcry had this!). I'm a pirate, for fuck's sake.

Posted by rahulricky

@alecofthewest: the tail this guy / eavesdrop missions on land are super easy once you just hire courtesans to walk with you. But yeah, the ship ones suuuuuuuuuuuuuuuck.

Posted by WebScud

This is also my first Assassin's Creed experience of an significance and I'm loving the hell out of it.

I've been having a tough time with ship battles myself. "Raise the Black Flag" took me a good 10 attempts. I also can't figure out what weapons are worth buying. Are stats surfaced somewhere?