Assassin’s Creed IV (Yet Again)

Some of you might be wondering why I’ve decided to write about Assassin’s Creed IV again, seeing as I’ve written about it twice before.

The reason for this little revisit is that I decided to play through the game again recently. And on a second playthrough, where I wasn’t distracted by the story and character development, I started noticing some new things about the game, which got me thinking.

Which brings me to the points I’d like to talk about today.

Now, one observation I planned to write about, but decided not to was that, to me, the Jackdaw seems a bit… small.

You can perhaps see my reasoning. After all, let’s go over, in brief, what the Jackdaw carries when fully upgraded.

  • 46 cannons.
  • 4 chase cannons.
  • 2 Mortars
  • Ammunition for all of those.
  • 40 Fire Barrels
  • Accomodation for 40 men
  • 1 heavy whaling boat
  • 1 massive metal diving bell
  • space for a total of 10 000 pounds (roughly 4.5 metric tons) of sugar, rum, wood, metal and cloth.
  • presumably supply storage for food, weapons etc

And with the exception of the mortars and 12 cannons, all that would be kept below deck.

All that, to me, seemed at best unlikely for a brig.

However, I’m not comfortable going into that in detail, because I don’t know enough about ships of the era to make decisive, informed statements.

(It doesn’t help that apparantly, standardization for ships wasn’t really a thing at the time, so researching it was a lot of effort that amounted to exactly fuck all…)

All I will say on the subject is that firstly, considering a cannon of the period required 3 gunners, and the jackdaw has 23 guns per side and a maximum crew capacity of 40 men, at least 9 of whom are needed to simply sail the ship?

By my count, I am missing at least 38 people for an effective crew. And that’s not counting officers.

And secondly, there’s the idea of a ”cargo upgrade”. Again, not an expert on ships, but how the hell would that work? How do you upgrade cargo capacity in a ship with a finite amount of space? Shouldn’t I already use the maximum amount of room?

Beyond those two points, I will make no claims in terms of the Jackdaws construction.

So, instead, I will talk about a point which, while admittedly unfair in terms of programming, at least is more valid in terms of logic.

And it is this: why can’t you switch ships?

In this game, you are playing as a pirate. A fictional pirate, I admit, but a pirate nonetheless. Now, we know for a fact that pirates didn’t just stop by ships, steal stuff and then leave. Many times, they would seize the ship, especially if they felt the new ship was superior to the old. It makes sense, seeing as a pirate can’t exactly pull into a wharf and comission a new ship when the old one is worn out.

The most famous historical examples of this would probably be Blackbeards ship, the Queen Anne’s Revenge, and Bartholomew Roberts’ Royal Fortune, a name that would often pass from ship to ship as they were seized. Note that both of these pirates appear in the game.

So you would think that, if anyone would follow a similar practise, it’d be Edward Kenway, who throughout the majority of the game seeks wealth and power, as part of his character arc.

Over the course of the game, Edward captures brigs, frigates and Men o’ War left, right and center, and in fact, he seizes several ships to form his own personal fleet.

And yet, over his 7 year piracy career, he sticks with the same ship, through hell and high water.

I mean, it’s not like the game prevents you from climbing onto another ship and kill all the soldiers on board without harming the ship first. At that point, I’ve captured the ship!

I’m just saying, it’d be a pretty cool mechanic, to be able to decide ”I don’t want to use a brig anymore. I want to use a Man o’ War now. Let’s capture one!

True, there are missions in the game that has you controlling a frigate and a Man o’ War, so clearly the mechanics are there. However, it’s just one of those mechanics you toy with briefly in the game, rather than something more incorporated in the game.

Now, you can see how this mechanic could work, right? Different ships would have different perks, of course. Bigger ships like frigates or galleons have more guns and armor, but are much slower and less maneuverable, and prevents access to certain areas because of size. Brigs would be faster and more maneuverable, but more vulnerable, with a ramming attack, and schooners would be very quick and nimble, relying more on darting in front of the enemy and dropping fire barrels.

If nothing else, that would actually give the fire barrels a legitimate use, whereas now, they’re more trouble than they’re worth. After all, you can either drop a fire barrel on a pursuer, hoping they hit it, or just turn the ship round and blast them with a few broadsides.

Not a difficult choice.

And schooners and brigs would of course be a bit too small for, say, a diving bell or for whaling. Decently balanced, no ship would be perfect, but all would be unique and useful in their own way.

And if you want to get another ship? Just head out and get a new one! You’re a pirate, it’s what you do!

And finally, I’d like to share another observation about the Legendary Ships, a subject I’ve mentioned on previous occasions.

Now, these ships are legendary and special and awesome, supposedly the most fearsome ships to stalk the West Indies. So surely, ships like that would be pretty famous, right?

Well, you can imagine my surprise when I discovered that not only are they not famous, but there is no evidence they ever existed at all!

The only one vaguely related to a real ship is HMS Prince. There WAS a ship around that period with that name, originally the HMS Ossory, then renamed HMS Prince, HMS Princess and finally HMS Princess Royal.

And while that ship was around in the early 1700’s, it wasn’t sunk, but was broken up… in 1773…

Now, maybe this is just me, but wouldn’t it be more interesting to have legendary ships that actually WERE legendary?

In fact, I believed that was the plan when I first encountered a legendary ship, namely HMS Prince. In the game, the crew cry out that it’s a ghost ship risen from the sea. Of course, I got excited, until I realized that no, it just LOOKED like a ghost ship. That’s all.

But that begs the question: Why wasn’t that a thing? Imagine if, instead of El Impoluto, you fight the fucking FLYING DUTCHMAN? Wouldn’t that be pretty damn cool?

And yes, I know what some of you are thinking. This is supposed to be alternate history, not some fantasy stuff. Ghosts aren’t real, so how would they justify that?

Simple! The framing device for the game is that you’re working for a video game company. Just have an email or an encounter where your boss tells you the programmers have been working on some concepts for the ”Devils of the Carribean” game, and seeing as you’ve done such a good job, they’re giving you a sneak peak, which if anyone asks, they can just call ”Beta testing”.

Cue appearances of the Legendary ships on the map!

And finding examples of ghostly ships? Not a problem.

The Flying Dutchman

Palatine

HMS Eurydice

Caleuche

That’s four different ghost ships, and finding them took LESS THAN 2 MINUTES.

You literally just need a name, and the rest you can make up! The design, the quirks, the tactics… Even the fact they’re not accurate for the period can be handwaved by actually lampshading it in the game. Have an email where someone points it out, and a response that players won’t care about details like that, artistic license and/or ”the programmers just wanted to show off”.

And just like that, you have covered yourself, while simultaneously making some really interesting naval battles with legendary ships that actually ARE legendary! Worst case scenario, people fighting the Flying Dutchman get upset there isn’t an tentacle faced Bill Nighy on board!

Or… you know, make up a ship, call it ”legendary” and forbid us from replaying it, for no adequatly explained reason.

That works too, I guess…

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