Why Black Flag Still Reigns Supreme In Assassin’s Creed

Ever wondered what makes Assassin's Creed Black Flag a top contender in the Assassin's Creed series?

Black Flag as the best AC game
Why Black Flag Still Remains At Top of the Franchise.

Recent Assassin’s Creed titles and Ubisoft’s Skull and Bones haven’t quite captured the hearts of all fans, the franchise once dominated the gaming landscape. The early entries, particularly, remain some of Ubisoft’s finest work. 

Key Takeaways

    • Black Flag is widely considered one of the best, if not the best, Assassin’s Creed games ever made.
    • The game offers a unique setting, with a charismatic protagonist (Edward Kenway) who undergoes a significant transformation. The supporting cast is also memorable.
    •  Black Flag retains the series’ core gameplay of parkour and assassination but improves upon it, offering a smoother and more responsive experience.
    • Black Flag excels in this area, letting players truly feel like a pirate captain navigating a vast open world, exploring islands, and overcoming challenges.
    • Players can also engage in thrilling ship-to-ship combat with strategic maneuvering and customization options.

While the “worst” Assassin’s Creed game is a matter of debate, all fans can at least agree that Black Flag is the best game in the franchise. The characters, the setting, and the gameplay mechanics, all came together in harmony to create the best AC experience. 

The Characters & Story

One of the strongest aspects of AC Black Flag is its cast of characters and story. In my opinion, this is one of the most unique settings for Assassin’s Creed that works.

You could say that AC Valhalla and Odyssey have pretty unique settings. However, these games feel too far from the Assassin’s Creed games.

Black Flag trades the traditional Assassin’s Creed protagonist for Edward Kenway. Edward is a Welsh pirate drawn into the age-old conflict between the Assassins and Templars. He is a very charismatic character who can not only fight well but can also talk his way out of situations.

Edward Kenway pirate assassin
Edward Kenway

He has one of the best character developments of any character that has dawned on the Assassin gown. Starting as a selfish pirate who kills an Assassin and steals his clothes, accidentally getting caught up in the complex world.

As the story moves forward, Edward’s morality and purpose are constantly tested. This is quite different from what noble Assassins players were used to by now.

The supporting cast is equally memorable, from the gruff Blackbeard to the enigmatic Mary Read. Blackbeard is a delight to watch whenever he enters the story and could be one of the best side characters in any video game.

Blackbeard AC black flag

Black Flag’s narrative explores themes of loyalty, freedom, and the blurred lines between good and evil, offering a new take within the larger Assassin’s Creed lore.

Combat & Parkour

Black Flag retains the series’ core mechanisms of parkour and assassination. Players can seamlessly scale buildings and navigate bustling port cities, using the environment to their advantage in stealthy takedowns.

Combat is refined, offering a more fluid and responsive experience compared to previous entries.

Assassinating the Target Black Flag
Assassinating the Target

I would consider the combat in Black Flag easier, as few combat mechanics from the previous titles are removed. Allowing a much more streamlined experience, and letting players focus on a few key attacks and parries. Plus, the combat also adds more stealth mechanics, such as letting Edward poke his head out of bushes and pull enemies in for the kill.

Edward utilizes a variety of weapons, from swords and pistols to hidden blades, allowing for diverse approaches to combat encounters. He is the only character in the franchise who carries around four pistols. This leads to some very cool-looking combat moments.

Stealth Gameplay AC

The signature parkour from the franchise feels smooth and responsive here. The environment is designed keeping in mind the parkour, so traversing from one corner to another never feels like too much work. It all feels very natural and intuitive to the gameplay.

Before Skull And Bones

Ubisoft’s newest title Skull and Bones tried to set sail for a pirate adventure but ended up with disappointing reviews and a boring gameplay loop. This is all the more surprising considering Ubisoft already had a treasure map to success with Assassin’s Creed IV: Black Flag.

Naval Gameplay AC
Naval Gameplay

Black Flag established itself as the high mark for naval exploration and combat in gaming. Black Flag’s naval exploration and combat stand as a prime example of how to make players feel like true pirates.

I had a great time commanding Edward’s ship, the Jackdaw. Traveling from one corner of the map to another never felt boring and repetitive. The world is filled with islands waiting to be explored, forts offering challenges to overcome, and enemy ships to be fought.

Naval combat is exciting, putting players directly in the captain’s chair during battles. Players are encouraged to maneuver the Jackdaw strategically to win many naval battles this game throws at them.

Nothing is more satisfying than perfectly aligning with the enemy ship and blasting it to pieces with your several canons. You are allowed to board enemy ships to eliminate the crew and take control of the ship. 

Naval Combat
Naval Combat

Yet, Black Flag offers more than just basic ship-to-ship combat. Upgrading the Jackdaw and its crew allows players to customize their ship for specific tactics. Whether focusing on maximizing firepower, prioritizing swift maneuvering, or finding a balance between the two, players have complete control in shaping their naval experience.

This level of choice and customization contributes significantly to Black Flag’s lasting appeal as a pirate game.

Black Flag Is Still The Best AC Experience

While the Assassin’s Creed franchise has evolved in recent years, Black Flag remains a shining example of what made the series so captivating. Its blend of charismatic characters, a refreshing historical setting, and refined core gameplay mechanics created a truly unique experience.

Black Flag’s naval exploration and combat in particular stand out. It offers players the freedom and excitement of a true pirate adventure. The game emphasizes player choice and customization. This is why Black Flag continues to be a benchmark for pirate-themed games.

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