There's no question that Ubisoft's Assassin's Creed IV: Black Flag is one of the year's most anticipated games. Its vast scope surpasses what previous games have managed to do, and the introduction of a pirating theme is most intriguing, as you'll be able to do anything from hunt for treasure to overtaking rival vessels to gain their loot. The company recently invited us on board a life-sized recreation of the Jackdaw during San Diego Comic-Con to get a better look at single-player gameplay.
The team's emphasis with Black Flag is the open world environment. With protagonist Edward Kenway, you'll literally be able to go anywhere and do anything while gaining loot and supplies to improve your ship and its crew. You can stop in taverns and recruit new faces, you can overtake ships after doing battle with them on the high seas, or you can seek out your fortune through a variety of missions. How you play out your pirating adventure is completely up to you.
During the demo, we were introduced to a side treasure hunt, which began with finding a treasure map from a dead sailor on a nearby island. Once this is acquired, you're given coordinates on where you'll need to go to find it – in this case, a Mayan ruin – and a hint of its location. You can pretty much park your Jackdaw out of enemy viewing range and then swim your way over to shore, then plan your attack carefully.
There are two ways you can go about getting your treasure. You can either fight everyone and take the all-in action approach, or, in traditional Assassin fashion, sneak around the island undetected and take out guards silently. This second approach serves a better purpose, as occasionally you'll find prisoners that need rescuing. Going in silently and killing all the guards let you spare their lives, allowing them to join your crew. If you prefer the violent approach, chances are the hostages will be killed. Like I said, however you want to play it.
Ubisoft and its development teams have revealed the richest open world environment to date with Black Flag. You can literally run for miles on end, or sail the high seas, with barely any interruption in loading times. In fact, throughout the demo, it was simply stunning to see how much detail went into keeping your adventure running smoothly. And as you run around the island, you can travel in a number of ways, whether sneaking through shrubbery, climbing around on rocks, or jumping amongst trees to get from one ledge to another.