Review: Assassin’s Creed IV: Black Flag – Freedom Cry DLC
The first batch of story DLC for the rather brilliant Assassin’s Creed IV: Black Flag has been released and has a lot to live up to. The DLC’s protagonist, Adéwalé, has a tough act to follow after the enjoyable exploits of our lovable rogue, Edward Kenway.
Set 15 years after the main game, we assume control of the Jackdaw’s first mate, Adéwalé, who’s now a trained assassin and ends up at Port-au-Prince, a new location in the game. Full of French (a new enemy but essentially just a reskin of the British and Spanish),this tale is a far more serious outing that’s all about liberating slaves and dealing with their captors, a far cry from the drunken and swashbuckling antics of Kenway’s adventure. It’s a serviceable story but one that really needs more than nine missions to have made a slavery tale standout.
The best part of the main game was sailing around the Caribbean and certainly not the over used tailing and eavesdropping missions. Sadly it’s still too prevalent in this DLC package with a good percentage of the nine new missions involving following a target NPC and listening to their conversations whilst hiding in a bush. Not at all what springs to mind when thinking about the roles of an assassin.
Thankfully, like the main game there’s the side activities which is where most of the fun is had. In the DLC these all revolve around freeing slaves from cells, plantations and helping escapees on the run. They’re perfectly serviceable missions but they are essentially light variants on the warehouse looting, pirate liberation and catch the courier missions in the main game. Meanwhile, out on the high seas you now have slave ships which need to be left unharmed, during naval combat. In the heat of battle this can be quite tricky, but adds something extra to the challenge making it more fun than an annoyance.
There’s also a new unlock system based upon the number of freed slaves. Once you’ve freed 20 or so you get a bigger ammo pouch, free a few hundred and you get free ammo. It’s actually quite a good system as it means that there’s more direct positive feedback from completing the side missions which can sometimes be in games just to pad it out. It’s a nice gradual progression with lots of different perks along the way so it’s different from some of the bigger tasks in the main game where you spend hours and get the unlock at the end.
You’ve also got a few new pieces of equipment such as firecrackers to distract guards and the awesome new blunderbuss which is basically an old fashioned shotgun which can come in handy in moments of desperation when you’re surrounded.
The fact that Ubisoft has created a brand new city is commendable when they could have just mixed up existing locations like they did in Assassin’s Creed III. Port-au-Prince is comparable in size to the other cities in the main game and the world map is probably a quarter of the size, maybe a bit under. Still it’s a hefty chunk of new places to explore. It’s not all that different to what we’ve seen before but it’s such a fun game that it’s still fun to search a few new shipwrecks and not feel cheated.
To sum up
A solid if unremarkable piece of DLC for a brilliant game. What made Black Flag special is still intact and present here with a few spins on what we’ve done before. The one thing that I should point out is that at no point did it feel as this content was cut from the main game to sell on for extra cash. There was so much content in the main game and this is different enough that it feels worthy of the investment.
Version reviewed: PlayStation 4
Assassin’s Creed IV: Black Flag – Freedom Cry DLC is out now on PlayStation 3, PlayStation 4, Xbox 360, Xbox One and PC.