Assassin’s Creed 4: Black Flag PS4 hands-on from Gamescom
Fresh from the kill the next part of the game involves more of an open-world demo, which starts on the Jackdaw. The controls are similar to AC3 but slightly easier this time and there’s an even faster sailing speed called ‘travel speed’ where the camera pulls out and you really rock along at quite a pace. It didn’t take long though before I eventually come across some other boats, who start attacking me. The problem being is there’s now a GTA-style wanted level. The more people you kill or the more high seas battle you get into, your wanted level goes up, and that means more ships will come looking for you. Apparently when it gets really high, you’re basically screwed, because loads of massive military grade vessels come and attack you.
Like the ships’ new speed, sea battles have had a re-think with more guns this time to shoot people with so you’re not endlessly trying to line up your cannons like before. Now you’ve got a gun on the front, which shoots forward, you’ve got cannons, you’ve got the swivel guns, and you’ve also the mortar which has a large range across the sea. All of these guns are much easier to use making the sea battles much more snappy this time.
After I successfully sink some ships it’s time to board one of them. This throws up some different options (and you don’t have to board boats, you can just sink them). You can basically let your men go ahead and fight for you, you can go on yourself and take down a certain number of targets or you can man the guns yourself. Whatever you choose, you need to do is take out ten of the opposition crew and then the rest will surrender. You can either use bits of their ship to repair yours or you can take their crew members and assimilate them into your own army, where you can take the resources and so on.
“There are tense underwater sections with sharks and barracuda”
There are loads of little islands all over the place, each with stuff to do – treasure maps, assassinations, contracts and more. There are also tense underwater sections. These are one part of the game that isn’t free-form – you go to a marker on the map and your men throw out a big diving bell for you to descend in. The mission I take involves seven treasure chests to unlock while keeping an eye on your oxygen supply. Slight problem: there are also quite a lot of nasty sea creatures. Sharks and barracuda, for example.
The section sees you trying to swim around unseen as best you can so the sharks don’t munch you while you keep your oxygen meter topped up, either by going back to the diving bell or using little floating barrels with air pockets inside. It’s actually really hard – the sharks kept finding me and although I punch a couple, I very nearly die. Overall it’s fun and good for variety, but the swimming is difficult to control at times.
Outside of the main game I also see some of the tablet second screen gameplay. You can set waypoints using tablets, where you can check your progress. The app also allows you to manage your fleet when you’re away from your PS4. It’s much like Brotherhood where you could send your assassin recruits out on missions, except you can now send ships. Every boat you defeat, gets absorbed into your armada and you can send them out on missions to bring back resources. The money you earn can be used to upgrade your ships – there’s loads of different things you can use to boost its speed, and gun strength. You can also buy accessories to make it look different, like sails. Kenway can also get a makeover with new guns and outfits for.
Assassin’s Creed 4 on PS4 is fast shaping up to spectacularly shiver our timbers as the open-world game to beat on Sony’s next-gen console.