Assassin’s Creed 4 hands on – making a killing however you want on PS4

Assassin's Creed 4 comicon assets

A pirate’s life sounds very exciting, but what does such a man do on his downtime, in-between all the plundering and cutlass fights? It’s an age-old question that’s plagued us for literally minutes. And it’s one that’s hugely pertinent with PS4‘s Assassin’s Creed 4: the series lives or dies as much by what it offers outside of the core missions as the quality of those key killings.

Assassin’s Creed 4 hands on

Well, Black Flag looks set to absolutely excel in this regard but before we get to the private life of Edward Kenway, it’s important to hammer home just how beautiful the game looks on next-gen. And the answer? Like a mythical hybrid of Kate Beckinsale and January Jones straddling a Hawaiian sunset while cradling a newborn child. Or, in other words, possibly the best-looking PS4 game we’ve seen. Yep, we went there.

Assassassin’s Creed 4 PS4 gameplay. Subscribe for more PS3 & PS4 videos.

Edward Kenway’s first act when we play is to pick up a nice assassination contract from – in classic series fashion – a bird box. His targets are twins currently inhabiting the local tavern, and both need a taste of the local ale, Death By Pointy Thing. Identifying them with Eagle Vision is classic Creed fare, but the options for offing the pair show just how much more freedom Assassin’s Creed 4 gives you. Stabbing one causes the other to flee: in previous incarnations you’d have had to follow the game’s pre-set idea of how to tackle him, lest desynchronisation strike.

In other words, possibly the
best-looking PS4 game we’ve
seen. Yep, we went there

This time? He can be shot, chased and stabbed, or allowed to abscond on his boat… after which that boat can be sunk, boarded, captured by your faithful band of merry men… and then absorbed into your fleet, broken up for scraps, or have its crew harvested. This time you have actual options, rather than just their illusion.

Assassin's Creed 4 comicon assetsFollowing this, Teddy explores some nearby islands, coming across a treasure map. Sailing to the specified location he’s faced with a Spanish fleet – these can be dealt with using stealth that actually works, or avoided altogether. Climbing ruins reveals the treasure’s location, plus two men being held hostage. Alert the guards and it’s dead o’clock; take the silent approach, and you can free and recruit them.

After which it’s time for a sky-high dive into the ocean. And then… whatever you want. The world is your big, blue, action and intrigue-filled oyster, just waiting to be tipped into your greedy gullet come November. That’s a good thing, by the way.