Aspects of Play: Assassin’s Creed IV: Black Flag

As part of the module, the task for the duration of 3 weeks, was to look into the various types of games within the 3 specific bands of play. The band this game I shall be discussing ‘Assassin’s Creed IV: Black Flag’ belongs to is the Console.

When playing Assassin’s Creed IV: Black Flag, I personally found that it belonged to the following categories of play in relation to Roger Caillois’ theory of play; Mimicry, Illinx and¬†Alea

In terms of Mimicry, it allows the player to take the helm of one Edward Kenway, a Pirate/Assassin in the Golden Age of Piracy. Additionally, this game particularly has an enormous amount of attributed Mimicry as you also take the helm (literally) of Mr Kenway’s pirate ship, the Jackdaw. Of which you can sail around the Caribbean and do regular pirate-things, such as plunder other ships and generally take in the breathtaking views of the locale. Illinx takes its form within the game during a segment near the latter part of the story-line upon which the player protagonist is unable to walk at regular pace and can be construed as Illinx. Agonistic elements aren’t generally promoted within the game as this is primarily a single-player game, seeing as I didn’t play the multi-player, I can’t say it does from personal experience. Alea does make an appearance in some elements as the ship battles aren’t scripted and you can lose in them.

In terms of the elements within the game that I like, I really enjoyed the fluidity of exploring the world. Now obviously, the main cities within the Caribbean (Nassau, Kingston and Havana) required loading screens because the cities have far greater individual detail then the entire Caribbean sea. The ease of sailing out into sea and just disembarking the Jackdaw at anytime is something that I really like.

State of Flow, was it achieved?

Yes. Countless hours of my day have been lost simply to roaming around the Caribbean sea looking for miscellaneous things. Even the iOS companion app that allows you to manage the protagonists fleet of ships that give the player extra resources after a certain period of time, had me hooked to the extent of continually checking it every hour at one point.

If I were designing a game similar to this, I would remove the pre-existing lore that is attached to the series. It’s a great pirate game that is diluted by needing an already overflowing amount of knowledge to the series previous narratives. Which in turn can deimmerse those simply looking for a pirate experience, although the argument thus can be made that they are buying an Assassin’s Creed game in the first place and not simply a pirate game.


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