The Assassin’s Creed franchise has traditionally been made up two line of events: those that take place within the real world, and those that are chronicled within the simulated reality of the Animus.
Both the historical and modern-day events intertwine and affect one another, chronicling the major events of each game’s story and building on the mythical lore of the franchise.
With Assassin’s Creed IV: Black Flag, Ubisoft is once again utilizing this structure–despite the misgivings that many gamers have regarding the modern-day sequences–and four new screenshots have come to light that depict the title’s futuristic, modern day world.
The screenshots showcase the interior of Abstergo Entertainment, a subsidiary of Abstergo Industries–the massive corporation that funds the Templar Order. It has been revealed that players will take the role of an Abstergo research analyst in Black Flag, where they are given the task to conduct in-depth investigative research on Edward Kenway; thus explaining the initial link to the present and the past.
Being a part of the enemy faction is an interesting move in itself, and affords Ubisoft many possibilities in terms of character development and story progression. Will our research analyst learn the horrors that the Templars have committed in the past and spark a revolution within the heart of their headquarters? Or will he thwart them using the Animus as the famous privateer Edward Kenway in some sort of virtual attack?
Interestingly enough, Ash Ismael (Game Director for AC4) told Eurogamer that the present-day sequences will feature online capabilities wherein players will be able to see and possibly interact with one another.
“The hero is yourself,” Ismael began. “You’re working for Abstergo Entertainment, and you’re using the Animus technology. You’re a research analyst, and you don’t know why, but you’re told to research the life of this guy Edward Kenway.”
“The feeling and the mood of the present day will be a big surprise for people,” he continued.
“Imagine when you exit that [Animus] workstation, you have this building that you can explore and you can find stuff. So we really push it. For us, that part is an homage to our fans.”
It has also been revealed that the present-day portions of Black Flag will allow players to hack various mainframes within within the Abstergo building, unearthing secrets on the Templars that dates back to its origins–basically letting players to take part in some digital pirating in the modern age.
Additionally the hacking mini-games will be somewhat like the glyph puzzles featured in previous titles, however it has not yet been revealed how (or if) the hacked data will affect gameplay as a whole.
It will be interesting to see how expansive the modern-day environments will be in comparison to the incredible open-world crafted by the Animus, and if Ubisoft has curtailed the present-day sequences in favor of popular demand.
While the present-day levels were fundamental to each game’s story arc, they certainly felt flimsy at times, and most gamers wanted to return to the historical eras and continue on their epic quest for justice (or just wreaking total havoc as they see fit).
The historical gameplay sequences far overshadow those of the present-day in every Assassin’s Creed title, yet it seems Ubisoft is trying to make up for that with Black Flag. They realize that the key moments will always be those that take place within the Animus and during the Golden Age of Piracy, and it appears that they are trying to allow both sequences compliment one another.
We’ve also included the most recent gameplay trailer which features thirteen minutes of open-world footage for Black Flag–just in case you haven’t seen it yet.
Assassin’s Creed IV: Black Flag is slated to release on Oct. 29, 2013 in North America for Xbox 360, PlayStation 3, with a Q4 2013 release window for its PC and next-gen releases. For more information please visit the game’s official website.
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