There has been criticism directed towards the Assassin’s Creed series games for sticking to their ‘modern day people re-living ancient memories’ instead of simply creating a historical action game. Ubisoft does have their own reasons, but they still claim that there is one massive story still being told.
Even with that, Ubisoft isn’t blind. They know that their contemporary stories of the series are not a high point for every player. For Black Flag, the writers have crafted a brand new twist on the fiction: players are no longer Desmond Miles, but themselves a recruit of Abstergo Entertainment, the secretly Templar-run company letting test subjects re-live genetic memories for recreation.
Even with the new layout, fans are not particularly thrilled by the office architecture. That’s the reason, explains director Ashraf Ismail, that they’re leaving it up to the player this time around to determine how deep they’d like to dig in today’s world:
“In total, if you were to do everything in the present day – find everything, hack every computer, access every room – it’s a solid three to five hours. For the main path – the stuff you’re required to do – it’s somewhere between 20 and 25 minutes. You leave the Animus five times during the game’s main path and each time you’re there for about three to four minutes.”
Ismail also goes on to promise that fans who actually value the greater part of the story will not be left out either. There is still a mystery to uncover in the Abstergo offices – and even some closure for the previous game’s protagonist.
“It’s there to progress the story because there’s this meta story that we’re telling. Why are you researching Edward? Why him specifically? What did he do that’s interesting? There is a story that connects everything together. We pretty much tried to boil it down to its most core essence because we know there are people out there who really don’t like the present day, and that’s okay. You don’t have to like it, but it’s part of the brand. For the people who like the present day and are big fans, we put in a lot of fan service and a lot of fun optional content. You get to choose if you want it or not.
“You have to hack computers and figure out how to access certain rooms and get through security. There is gameplay in just being able to access that stuff. When you access it, the content you find is a reward for us. Through this content you see what happens to Desmond after Assassin’s Creed III. We used it as an opportunity to say goodbye to Desmond.
“The First Civilization, Juno… all that is part of the brand and yes, there’s progression in it. It’s not just a nod that we make to it. It’s actually part of the meta story. You see what happens after Assassin’s Creed III – you see the ramifications of that, and we push it further.”
While the tease may not be enough to convince all players to dig further into Abstergo, the ‘First Civilization’ allusions throughout the series have ranged from jaw-dropping to confusing. We can only hope that the gameplay required to unlock the information is less frustrating than the ‘Memories’ portion of Revelations.
With all the mentioned, Ubisoft has been focusing more on their ‘pirate-centric action surrounding Edward Kenway’ in their marketing and little to no reference to the Assassin’s or Templars. At this point, we are really unsure of how Edward fits into the core story at all. We expect Ubisoft to employ some clever writing to connect the dots between not just Edward, but his first mate Adewale, and the return of AC3: Liberation heroine Aveline in her own PlayStation exclusive missions
“She’s not from the same time as Edward, of course, so her story is not really directly connected to Edward. There is a connection in the brand but I won’t say what it is. You get to see it when you play as Aveline. Aside from Aveline… There are awesome cameos. Let’s put it like that.”