The game follows Edward Kenway, grandfather to Assassin's Creed III protagonist Connor Kenway, and the pirates as they try to realize their dream of a Pirate Republic. However, a lack of government, economy and an outbreak of disease bring the colony to collapse. Kenway seeks to find a solution, but is too late to stop the Templars from taking advantage of the situation and take control over the Caribbean.
As with the previous games in the series, AC IV begins with some linear events that will introduce the player to basic gameplay controls. For seasoned players this should be a refresher course and a low difficulty introduction for new players. After a few linear chapters, the sandbox style gameplay will open up and allow the player multiple options.
Like the previous games, AC IV is split up into sequences made up of memories. In order to progress, the player must complete the main memories to progress the story. These memories are the core of the game's story, but there is a lot of Side Quests that the player can do to get the full game experience.
Secondary Memories are events that are optional and are made up of all the games Side Quests. These will flesh out the gameplay and make the players experience that much more enjoyable.
Full Synch & Memory Replay
All memories have Full Synchronization conditions that the player must fulfill in order to get the "Full Synchronization" and 100% the Progress Tracker. If the player does not complete the optional objectives, or only completes a few of them, they will receive a percent equal to their achievements. No worries! The player can always replay a memory by selecting it from the Progress Tracker to retry the objective.
Health & Desynchronization
Edwards's health is indicated by the gauge in the top left of the screen. When damage is taken, Edward will regenerate the health back fairly quickly as long as he is not in combat. Desynch occurs under certain conditions and will cause the player to have to replay the sequence from the last checkpoint.
- Fail an objective such as losing a target or not following an ally
- Running out of bounds (indicated with the fractured Animus visual)
Movement & Navigation
Due to the game covering most of the basic movement controls in the tutorial chapters, I am only going to cover advanced information or controls that are not covered in the control section above; this will mostly cover common game features that were introduced in AC III with adjustments for AC IV.
Freerunning Through Trees
Although intimidating at first, once the player learns the visual signs for freerunning through trees they will find that it is easy and quite fluid. Unlike normal freerunning in the previous games or freerunning in town, where paths tend to end abruptly with nowhere to go, tree paths tend to link to each other seamlessly to reach cliff sides, bent trees leading back to the ground, or Leap of Faith destinations. The following are a bullet point set of tips:
- Bent trees with a stump at its base or rock outcroppings that create a ramp usually signify a freerunning course.
- Some larger trees with v-shaped notches can be used to climb to a higher section.
- Other small v-shaped notches must simply be jumped through
- Trees with branches on both sides of the trunk can be quickly passed around the trunk.
- Thin branches and vines can be swung across in most cases.
Fast Travel Networks
Fast Travel has remained the same since AC III, with you only having to select a viable location from the map:
- Any visited location will be allowed to fast travel to unless a memory negates this ability. This includes towns, islands, shipwrecks, caves, and Naval Forts.
- Most viewpoint can also be fast traveled to, allowing you to easily travel directly to, or rather close, to anywhere you want on an island or town.
Unlike the previous games, AC IV spends much of the time in water, though the controls have not changed. Holding the High Profile Button will allow Edward to swim faster while the Interact button will dive him under water for stealthy approaches. That being said, when you are in shipwrecks of diving through deep areas, Edward has more advanced controls that will be covered in the game.