Ubisoft knew they had a winner on their hands and brought us one Assassins Creed game after another. I for one wasn't really happy with that mentality as the newer games never truly evolved as much as I had hoped. For example would it not make sense for an assassin to be as stealthy as possible. But for some reason the so called stealth was quite limited and far removed from that other franchise developed by Ubisoft called Splinter Cell. Seeing how Ubisoft copied and pasted several of their game mechanics into other franchises you would think that it would be a no brainer for them to "steal" some of those superior stealth gameplay. Apparently that is simply asking too much. (I have thus far played Assassins Creed, Assassins Creed: Bloodlines, Assassins Creed II, Assassins Creed: Brotherhood, Assassins Creed: Revelations , Assassins Creed III and now just finished Assassins Creed IV: Black Flag. So I have no idea yet how Rogue, Unity and Syndicate are.) However I never could stay away from the games too long since each of them are among the most immersive titles you can play.
I think I was probably one of the few people who wasn't fond of the naval battles in Assassin Creed III. So having those returned and making them more prominent in Black Flag was something that prevented me from buying the title for a long time. Until I found out that the naval combat had improved significantly and Sony was offering the game for a price it would be ludicrous to resist. And I am very happy that I bought it since the naval combat certainly is a lot of fun. Plus you get to play around like an Assassin like in the previous games although not to the extent as in previous games.
Because whether you like it or not Edward Kenway is not a real assassin until much later. He sort of drops into the whole Assassins versus Templars thing (which is a fresh way to combine privateering with assassinations). And while there is a story that involves them it's never as exciting or intriguing as in previous games. But this is only my gripe concerning the main story since the side activities like battling forts and legendary ships will keep me occupied for a long time. It's fun being a pirate and especially if his name is Edward Kenway. He is the father of Haytham Kenway (the main antagonist in Assassins Creed III and thus grandfather of protagonist Connor). Undoubtedly a lot has to do with the fact that he is voiced by Matt Ryan who is a top notch actor. It's a travesty that his show Constantine got canceled. Edward is easily one of the best characters in the franchise since he is mostly driven by riches and fame but then learns there is more to life. Through him we get to experience that. He is charming, witty and loyal.
Next to that he is a total badass combat wise. Dual swords and dual guns make the fights even more fun than before. In previous games I rarely used pistols since they weren't that practical and far too loud. In this game there is no penalty for using guns and sometimes even recommended since you will need all the advantage you can get. It certainly makes naval combat a lot easier because this way you will be able to deal with enemies from a distance. Another fine addition is the blowpipe. You can fire sleep darts and beserker darts with it. Sleep darts will make enemies fall asleep for a few seconds and beserker ones will infuriate them and let them attack anyone who gets close. When the effect of the beserker darts wears off the person will die. This will enable you to put some more stealth and strategy in your missions which is always good. Even if things go awry you won't lose much progress or have to deal with tearing off wanted posters. You just have to wait it out a little so that you can return and continue on the mission. Only in a few missions you will be desynchronized at once. But because of this you have much more freedom when it comes to enemies and aren't forced to deal with them in a certain way. Although there are some missions where you are required to tail people and like always that becomes tedious after a while. I hope that future games won't have those any more. Or at least give you more freedom where you can choose your own path without repercussions. As I stated Black Flag has an emphasis on naval activities and therefore the majority of missions take place at sea. The world that is at your mercy is quite big and once the game is done holding your hand you are allowed to roam and explore it freely. In order to get the most out of this it is recommended to upgrade your ship (once you have attained it) as much as you can since it will make life a lot easier. Don't worry about challenge. You will get plenty of challenge. I can assure you of that. Battling legendary ships is no joke. These are huge ships that can withstand a lot of damage but can dish out death and destruction within a heartbeat. Or if you are lucky you will find yourself surrounded by a naval convoy. Like in Assassins Creed III you can also craft things and is also something I recommend doing early on. For that you simply have to hunt for animals spread out through the world. Only there are some that require a different approach. I am referring to whales and sharks. At one point you get to harpoon these creatures in a mini game that is a lot of fun. Then there are diving missions which I myself did not like that much. But they are worth it though since most of them reward you with prerequisite plans for upgrades to your ship. Lots of treasures to be found also but I only collected them when they were on my path or near my target. There are too many collectibles and I don't have the time or patience to collect them all.
Now after I had finished the main quest I was almost about to quit the game until I got to taste my first battle with a legendary ship. Now I feel compelled to take them out since well you know: PRIDE! Just because your ship is bigger and badder does not mean you get to bully around us little ships. So yes I will still hang around some more.