That busywork is easily sidestepped in favour of the dozens of available alternative tasks. Much the same can be said of multiplayer, which returns in familiar form. As in previous editions, you can take part in up-to-eight player sessions that cast players in predator and prey roles. In predator mode you have to hunt players as they attempt to disguise themselves and hide in small city-block arenas, scoring extra points for exotic kills. As prey, you take up a hidden position and hope for the best. It's still an interesting idea for a multiplayer mode, but there aren't enough ways to bluff and counter-bluff opponents to keep it interesting for more than an hour or so, and more traditional modes such as control-point capture are too chaotic to sustain competition. There's a cooperative 'Wolfpack' mode as well, in which up to four players charge around killing labelled foes to add seconds to a rapidly expiring timer. The rush to murder enemies before your allies removes any coordination or finesse you might want to bring to each objective, which means you're not assassins, you're just a stabby mob. Multiplayer is a novel diversion for a few hours, but there's plenty more entertaining action to be getting on with in the singleplayer portion.
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Black Flag stands above the best of the series is because it carries forward what Assassin's Creed II and Assassin's Creed: Brotherhood did well, while also forging new ground for the franchise. Edward Kenway is as charming as Ezio in his own way and his journey from opportunist to heroic outlaw is a good one. Stealth and climbing remains as solid as it was in the past entries. The Caribbean offered Ubisoft a chance at a bit more color than the darker American Revolution, and moving to the next generation of consoles meant it looked amazing. Black Flag was even so good that it may have ruined the franchise for some folks; those who simply want another pirate game, instead of one involving the assassins.
Black Flag presents as a prequel to ACIII, taking place in and around Havana, Kingston and Nassau, and emphasizing oceanic exploration and ship-to-ship combat. Everyone loves pirates, everyone loves assassins, so imagine the allure of playing as both in the most freeform vamp on this crypto-historical series to date. 2b1af7f3a8