Ubisoft’s Assassin’s Creed series has been around for six years now. The latest instalment in the franchise gets released worldwide today, and despite the game being called Assassin’s Creed IV, it is in fact the sixth game in the series.

I’ve been a fan of Ubisoft’s Assassin’s Creed right from the moment the series got off to a somewhat shaky start back in November 2007. Last year’s Assassin’s Creed III, however, left me feeling cold and on the cusp of burnout with the franchise. That being said, I have reason to suspect that Assassin’s Creed IV might just be what the series needs in order to shake things up a bit.

For a start, Desmond Miles is out and you are in as the present-day protagonist of the story. Does anyone even care about what goes on in the present day narrative of the Assassin’s Creed series? I certainly couldn’t tell you much about it because for me the series is about history and the various settings; Desmond Miles and his band of misfits were, to be honest, a little boring. With that in mind I’m glad they’re gone and we can start a fresh story in the Assassin’s Creed series. That also means that those who have no experience with Assassin’s Creed will be able to pick up the franchise with Black Flag; it’s a clean slate, and in my opinion the series desperately needs that.

Then there’s the mere fact that they’ve built an entire game around naval combat; arguably Assassin’s Creed III’s crowning achievement. That’s a good reason to be excited. That and there’s pirates; who doesn’t love pirates? Considering the current dearth of piratey games, Ubisoft may have just sent Black Flag out at the right time.

So, what are the standout bits from the game? What should you know before you jump into the shark-infested waters of Black Flag? Well, we’ve been covering the game since it was announced in March this year. The April edition of NAG Magazine had Black Flag as its cover feature, and hardly a week went by without us posting some sort of Black Flag information here on NAG Online. We’ve had a couple of hands-on sessions and it’s probable that some of you have as well if you attended rAge this year. Long-time friend of NAG’s, Grant Hinds, has had ample time with the game already and has put together a nice overview of what to expect when you fire up the game. You can check out his video, “How to Play Assassin’s Creed IV: Black Flag in 60 Seconds”, below.

I’m cautiously optimistic for this one. I readily admit to being a fan of the series, but I’ve also become increasingly critical of Assassin’s Creed since its last instalment. I’m hoping a new team, new protagonist and new present day story can reignite something for me.

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