Assassin’s Creed IV: Black Flag – Ashraf Ismail Gives Us the Down-and-Dirty at PAX Prime

Ashraf Ismail gives us a new look at what to expect from Assassin's Creed IV Black Flag.

Ashraf Ismail gives us a new look at what to expect from Assassin's Creed IV Black Flag.

The Assassin’s Creed franchise has gathered a large audience since the original and they just keep growing. Assassin’s Creed III was the best selling game in the United Kingdom in its first week of its release. In October of last year, Ubisoft announced that it was the most pre-ordered game in the developer’s history. Assassin’s Creed IV: Black Flag is receiving just as much hype and is expected to do very well, plus pirates!

Assassin’s Creed IV: Black Flag had a panel at PAX Prime today with the game’s director Ashraf Ismail and Ralph Ineson who plays English pirate captain, Charles Vane. They talked about the design of the environments, cities, and ships plus the cast and characters of Black Flag. They also explained a little of how the gameplay is going to work.


Ismail stated that the development team wanted to ensure authenticity in this Assassin’s Creed game. The cities are designed in a way to feel chaotic and fun to the player, meaning the buildings have many Spanish artistic qualities about them. The buildings are built at different heights to make climbing them fun and challenging at the same time. Ismail said he wants the design to help the player to feel the culture within the cities themselves trying to be as accurate as possible.

 Along with the design of the cities they had to focus on the ships as well. The development team tried to get every aspect of these ships correct, even consulting with historians to show them how each individual ship works to ensure credibility of design. Down to every detail these ships are the real deal! The environment of the Caribbean was taken into consideration when designing how these 18th century ships would move in the water and Ismail stated that they got the weather close enough to make the game feel realistic.


The panel then focused on the actors who make the characters come to life and Ineson gave us a look on how the character were developed.

Ineson himself plays Charles Vane who, he says, is a lunatic and the worst among all pirates in the game. Vane loves the violence and will do anything to get what he wants. Mark Bonnar plays the notorious Blackbeard who, according to Ineson, uses pirate fear to his advantage. He says that Blackbeard tries to create a persona to scare people so he doesn’t have to use violence like Charles Vane. The main character Edward Kenway, played by Matt Ryan, is someone who challenges the way people think through his rude and selfish behavior. He presents new ways of living in Black Flag.


While discussing gameplay Ismail stated that the goal was to make a game that was accurate in the history of pirates, or the “down-and-dirty” of what really happened to the characters. He said that this means there aren’t any cheesy gimmicks seen in most pirate games, like walking the plank or parrots on the shoulders of pirates. One of the things they used to bring the game closer to what we know as the pirate persona are treasure maps.

The game will consist of 11 zones that are all defended by 1 fort each and you have to use your ships to seize the forts. All the weapons on the ships are going to be upgradable as well as the ships themselves. When selecting a weapon you only have to look at that weapon so there is no need for a bulky weapons menu. 

 An audience member asked Ismail a question about the costumes seen in the gameplay footage. Ismail then explained that when you walk into red zones your character will automatically flip his hood up. Once you get to a location, you’ll automatically start raiding it and the costume you are wearing is the one you’ll be seeing in the cut scenes, finally!

The team made mention of the companion app, which is an extension of the game but not necessary to the core experience. With it, you will be able to see your map and set waypoints in real time. The app will update as the game updates.

About the story

They changed how many and how long each cinematic scene is in Assassin’s Creed IV. Instead of having 4 hours of cutscenes (as in Assassin’s Creed III) Black Flag only has about 2 hours worth of these scenes. But don’t worry about the dramatic cut! He stated that these scenes are much more “meaty” and are much more “story heavy.” So, we will still be getting our storylines.

 It would have been nice to see new gameplay footage from the panel but I think we are walking away with a good look at what to expect from Assassin’s Creed IV Black Flag. I’m still going to be patiently and excitedly waiting for its release on October 29.

About the author

Miranda Kirk

Former member and Senior Intern of the JTP program, woo!