Critique of Assassin’s Creed IV: Black Flag

The question as to what extent an individual goes to attain what one wants has been given a different meaning with each passing generation, but the idea was explored across the Caribbean Sea by pirates in the 18th century. This is the historical setting in which Assassin’s Creed IV Black Flag explores some of the events within the Golden Age of Piracy that feature three main cities: Nassau, Kingston, and Havana. In a time where a Republic of Pirates was established to be free from the authority of British and Spanish government, the game also presents a historical narrative in the fictional plot amid the struggle of the Templars and Assassins; templars intended to achieve peace through control, while Assassins saw free will as the means to peace. That being said, it seems that gameplay of Assassin’s Creed IV is one that agrees most with its narrative. The game lets us play as Welsh pirate, Edward Kenway, who unwittingly joins the battle and finds out a dark secret of the conflict as the plot and character development of various figures unfold. The motives of Edward Kenway as a pirate seem to be in alignment with the gameplay options, which are leaning more towards any means of profit gaining and reputation building. It also is useful to know that the plot presents him through his flashbacks as a peasant farmer who wanted greater things. As it relates to the ludic aspects, the game allows players to engage in historical gameplay that consists of naval warfare, hunting sea animals and fish, and discovering treasure underwater through the new aspect of the player controlling the Jackdaw ship. In addition, the player will encounter many jungles, naval forts, Mayan ruins, and small villages as the world in Black Flag is built to allow players much more freedom. Moreover, the game uses the typical third-person combat and stealth systems of the Ubisoft franchise. Although exploration is big part of the game’s ludic aspects, it is also the agency of choice (or freedom to do as you please, being a pirate) that is considerable within the game’s structure. Players can collect loot, animus fragments, rob other ships and annihilate their crew members if they choose to, and even collect sea shanties that help historically recreate what pirate life might have been like as a simulation. Something else that is considerable is how the actions of the players may show that actions possible in the game were not available in other time periods to perhaps help explain why certain events unfolded as they did; in a counterfactual lens, you could kill all of the inhabitants and slave master of a plantation’s house, but this would not necessarily mean the slaves would be free. The deed was just done for money (at least, that’s how it would seem at an earlier time in the game before the narrative changes). This could be done to mimic one of the aspects of control, as the templars would see it. Similarly, it seems that the free and unshackled nature of the game is meant to reflect the pirate philosophy the Assassins organization agreed with in this open world. At the same time, however, players come to see that Edward that is just motivated by his selfish nature. He has allies within the pirate community and at times does help them out in Nassau but is doing so for reputation and profit rather than commitment. As it progresses, we can also see that the gameplay’s use of human motives is meant for us to sympathize with the protagonist on the ability of free will. For example, in the naval battle we are allowed to engage in battle with higher level ships but usually will be done by a player to attain greater treasure. This does, however, teach us about the virtue of patience with ship enhancement, which could really pay off when players take on the four legendary ships that have some of the greatest treasure. The narrative as well puts into question the morality of power due to the ability one could have if a Templar gains the Observatory—a First Civilization structure and historical artifact the game centers the unraveling conspiracy behind. Overall, the agency and ludic aspects in Assassin’s Creed IV Black Flag allows the narrative framework to intertwine with the various roles in the game; this allows for an understanding of what players could understand the history of piracy to be in its Golden Age.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *