Assassin’s Creed IV: Black Flag is a truly expansive game. There is plenty to see and do on your piratical journey. Vast oceans await the player, replete with hostile, swashbuckling nemeses, leading to an inevitable slew of fraught sea battles. Meanwhile, shipwrecks and tombs are available for exploration, Templar secrets are strategically stashed throughout much of the unmapped terrain, whilst flotsam can be snaffled up from the open seas to repair the player’s ship, the Jackdaw; combined with optional side-quests, this diverse array of activities enables the player to apply vital upgrades to their illustrious vessel.
Ubisoft Montreal has upped their game in immersing the player in a genuinely open-world, fully-fleshed experience, more so than any of the franchise’s predecessors.
The graphics too have been nicely polished, with improved lighting and draw distances helping to showcase the picturesque scenes of Black Flag’s immense archipelago, from sprawling urban hubs to jungle landscapes, richly packed with lush vegetation. The water effects are equally beautiful, making setting sail a pleasurable experience.
This is all nicely topped off with dynamic weather events and greater emphasis placed upon physics; leaves flutter in the wind and the particle effects from mortar-shelled buildings and ships are just a few of the small, yet impressive, features.
With Assassin’s Creed IV: Black Flag having been recently released on Oct. 29, for the Xbox 360, PlayStation 3 and Wii U, we thought we would take a look at some of the top tips for surviving the perilous, scallywag-riddled vistas of the Caribbean.
Play Black Flag Online
If you are able, try to make sure you play the single-player campaign online. Playing Black Flag online gives players a much easier time when it comes to picking up money, presenting challenges that are exclusive to the online experience; these include harpooning missions and hidden treasure challenges, as well as the Fleet minigame.
If you want to avoid unnecessary grinding, it would be advisable to remain online to pilfer loot with greater ease.
Assault as Many Enemy Ships as Possible
Some players have a tendency to rush through the single-player campaign to get to the end. Although this is an understandable, as much of the action is condensed into the main quests, this would be a disservice to the game and closes off many of the exploration elements that the developers have worked so hard to implement.
In the long run, the game becomes less frustrating when dedicating a little time to voyaging across different parts of the map and looking for new items and loot. Attacking and boarding as many enemy ships will, likewise, yield significant boons, from loot to extra crew members, and make upgrading the Jackdaw a more straightforward experience. Since the Jackdaw is critical to the player’s success, upgrades are imperative for some of the harder missions that crop up later on in the game.
During incredibly intense battles, featuring large numbers of enemy ships, it’s always a good idea to try and board the opposition’s ship. This will buy you a certain degree of protection from other ships in the area that are converging upon your position, forcing them to pull back. Furthermore, successfully boarding a ship will yield supplies that can be used to perform ad hoc repairs on a battle-weary Jackdaw, allowing the player to endure protracted sea battles.
Attacking several ships will bring about a GTA-style wanted level. Maintain this wanted level for as long as possible, as it will attract the attention of a number of loot-bearing ships, which you can pillage. Once you’re done, however, board a Hunter ship and then opt for a “reduced wanted level.”
Loot Pawning Tip
Getting rid of surplus and unwanted loot can generate revenue. Sugar and rum are two resources that are of little use. Therefore, make sure you loot as many ships containing these materials and pawn them off as quickly as possible to put the earnings to good use.
Travel to the many stores scattered across the map and you will have the opportunity to procure all manner of items. For example, animal hides, necessary for crafting ammunition pouches, can be purchased at these locations; this allows you to play for longer, without having to constantly restock.
Leveling up the Jackdaw’s Armor and Weapons
When sinking your cash into the Jackdaw, it’s prudent to really think about the most effective use of your resources. Upgrading your ship’s armor and cannons is an absolute must. Similarly, leveling up the swivel guns is also important, allowing you to take on multiple ships, simultaneously.
Mortars are also great for annihilating both enemy ships and forts, and are provided to the player during the early stretch of the game. Mortars represent an accurate, powerful means of dispatching your enemies, and should be used in combination with the swivel guns to punish fellow seafarers. Mortars are also essential weapons for dispatching clusters of enemy ships, helping to end battles quickly and efficiently.
In order to make upgrades to the ship, you will require an abundance of cash and supplies. Cash can be found by completing side-quests, and searching treasure chests and corpses of fallen enemies.
Meanwhile, resources can also be collected after successfully attacking enemy ships. It’s best to stockpile cloth, metal and wood, rather than selling them. The reason for this is simple; cash can be generated from a diverse range of missions and activities, whilst there are only a few limited means of obtaining materials for the Jackdaw.
On this basis, it is wise to study potential targets extensively, using the spy glass. Think about whether the ship bears the material that you require, and whether it has a strength level that you are able to handle. Essentially, it’s best to pick off a single, isolated vessel, with low-level strength, which will provide you with the specific materials that you desire. Remember to look out for the color-coded symbol above the ship, highlighting its strength relative to the Jackdaw – green is an easy target; grey is an equally matched target; red is a big no-no, and should be avoided.
The best location for ship loots is situated in the southern seas of the map. However, during the early phase of the game, these can be dangerous territories.
The following YouTube clip, which was uploaded by fightincowboy713, explains some of the basic and advanced tactics of naval combat. He concentrates on all of the Jackdaw’s myriad of weapons, including the Chain Shot, Chase Cannons, Heavy Shot, Broadside Cannons, Fire Barrels, Mortars and ram. He then goes on to explain the relative advantages and disadvantages of each of the available ship upgrades and some great movement tips, before going on to give some examples of combat.
Basic Hand to Hand Fighting Tactics
It certainly pays to use at least a small amount of stealth and cunning during a playthrough, as hand to hand combat is slightly more challenging that previous iterations of the franchise.
The game developers have attempted to make stealth more accessible in Black Flag, granting the player the ability to tag a large number of enemy units, at any given moment. This ensures enemies can be tracked through vegetation and building walls, using Eagle Vision.
If you’re greatly outmatched, and your health is dwindling fast, smoke bombs are a fantastic means of beating a hasty retreat. Dropping a smoke bomb will down three or four enemy units at once. It may seem like a cheap tactic, but it beats having to replay an entire section all over again.
Take Down Forts
There are a total of 11 forts distributed throughout the Caribbean, some of which are much harder to destroy than others. Taking down a fort provides the player with a new port and a number of naval contracts, whilst opening up the map to display all the items within the nearby proximity.
It’s best to wait until you’ve managed at least a few upgrades of your ship’s armor and basic onboard weaponry before attacking forts. Ultimately, when you go in for the kill, ensure that you strike from a distance, using your mortars to bring down the structure, whilst dodging the defensive mortar strikes launched by the enemy.
Treasure Diving and Warehouses
Treasure dives represent a fantastic means of gathering treasure and upgrade blueprints for the Jackdaw. Dives can only be performed at certain predefined areas of the map, once the player has unlocked the diving bell.
Assassin’s Creed IV: Black Flag also provides you with warehouses, stockpiled with lucrative materials that are awaiting shipment. These locations are spread out across the archipelago. Once found, it’s a good idea to find the nearest synchronization spot, which will then reveal the warehouse’s alarm bells, and allow you to repeatedly fast-track back to these regions.
The best course of action is to periodically check the warehouses to capitalize on periods when they are “full.” Use your Eagle Vision to scope out the region to identify the placement of guards, as well as the individual that possesses the key to the building. It’s then merely a case of thieving the key by whatever means necessary, and infiltrating the warehouse.
The materials contained within these warehouses will, eventually, regenerate; this provides a relatively effortless means of quickly grabbing some loot.
Scour for Audio Logs
When leaving the Animus device, and entering first-person mode, you are given an entirely new modern-day setting to explore. Take some time to travel around the halls and offices of Abstergo Entertainment; longstanding enthusiasts of the franchise will appreciate these recordings, which are dotted around the place.
In addition to audio logs, you will also be treated to additional information, in the form of e-mail correspondence and short video clips.
As Assassin’s Creed IV: Black Flag has only just been released unto the expectant gaming community, this is not yet an exhaustive list of tips, and we plan to continue making updates. Please feel free to let us know what you have discovered, so far, in the comments section.
By James Fenner