Assassin's Creed 4: Black Flag single-player mode connects with friends

And you'll find out more about what Desmond's been up to.

The single-player mode of Assassin's Creed 4: Black Flag will allow you to connect with your friends' games.

As in Watch Dogs, Ubisoft's other big open world game this year, Assassin's Creed 4's story will involve other real-life players at specific times. There will also be a companion phone app.

"The biggest thing that we were getting into with Assassin's Creed 4 is the concept that even in a single-player story - we still have multiplayer, to be clear - but even in the single-player, that you're connected," game director Ash Ismael told Eurogamer.

"You [will] feel that there's other people also playing the game and somehow you can interact, or somehow you can take advantage with each other."

This connectivity will be limited to the game's modern day section, where you play a version of yourself working for the Templar-fronted Abstergo.

"The hero is yourself," Ismael continued. "You're working for Abstergo Entertainment, and you're using the Animus technology. You're a research analyst, and you don't know why, but you're told to research the life of this guy Edward Kenway.

"The coworkers with you - we want you to feel that your friends are co-workers. So other people playing Black Flag are also research analysts. So when they can find stuff in the world, they can share it with you. When they do research, and when you're doing research, you can share that information and you get a boost for it. Even in a single-player story where there's a narrative, this is a really big strength of next gen."

But it is completely up to you if you want to take part, Ismael stressed. For those who want to play offline, that option is available too.

"It's not like the game is going to stop functioning or that you're not going to be able to experience Assassin's Creed because you're not connected," he reassured. "[This feature], the companion app - all of this stuff is extensions of the game. It's adding comfort or it's adding new layers that you can delve deeper if you choose to, if you want to.

"I completely understand that people have misgivings about being forced to be connected."

Ash Ismael, Assassin's Creed 4 game director

"I completely understand that people have misgivings about being forced to be connected. For our games, we're not forcing that. It is optional, if you don't like it that's OK, you don't have to deal with it."

We've seen much of Black Flag's pirate-themed Carribbean historical setting, but the game's modern day portion remains more mysterious.

"Definitely the gameplay, the feeling and the mood of the present day will be a big surprise for people," Ismael teased. Perhaps the action takes place in first-person as you're playing as yourself? The Assassin's Creed series has gone there before.

"We're pushing the narrative of the Assassin/Templar feud," he continued, "both in the present day and in the past. The reason you're researching Edward Kenway is he did something very special in the past, very specific.

"Fans, especially people who know the deep, deep details of the lore, they'll see what his purpose was. He did something very significant that actually touches upon the other games. If you're not into that kind of stuff it's OK, they're just details.

"Imagine when you exit that [Animus] workstation, you have this building that you can explore and you can find stuff. So we really push it. For us, that part is an homage to our fans."

SPOILERS FOR ASSASSIN'S CREED 3 FOLLOW.

There will also be answers for players left wondering about Desmond's story, which came to a head at the end of Assassin's Creed 3.

"Desmond is an important part of the franchise. Even though his story ended, his legacy remains. We're still jumping into his ancestry. So Edward being Haytham's father and Connor's grandfather, it's still Desmond's bloodline. So now the idea is the Animus technology has progressed so anybody can use it to delve into someone else's ancestry. In this case, we're still with Desmond.

"For the people who did enjoy Desmond, we do pay respect to that. There's extra side content that you can find that kind of fleshes out what happened with Desmond, even post-AC3."

Better online connectivity is but one advantage of the game running on next-generation consoles. Another more obvious difference is how the game will look.

"There's a lot more technical art and artistic work that's being done for next gen because the horsepower allows us to. Our jungles, we always say the mood needs to be claustrophobic and dense and heavy, and definitely you see it in the next gen version.

"The torrential downpours, the fog, the heat... you really feel the environment. The physics that's involved - all the foliage has much more accurate physics on it. Where maybe in the current gen version it either doesn't react or it plays an animation - in next gen it's actual physics. So if you're trying to be stealth, you see that impact on the world."

Additional reporting by Oli Welsh and Wesley Yin-Poole.

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