Assassin's Creed 4: Black Flag Features

Assassin's Creed is a series all about history - well, that and stabbing people in the neck. So, for the release of Origins, we thought we'd celebrate by delving into the history of the series. It's a lot less messy than doing the stabbing in the neck thing ourselves.

FeatureAssassin's Creed: the story so far

Everything is permitted.

There will likely never be a better entry point to Assassin's Creed than Origins, released today. A prequel set a thousand years before the events of Assassin's Creed 1, Origins can be enjoyed as your first experience of the series.

FeatureDevelopers' Games of 2013

CD Projekt! Blow! Bithell! Molyneux! More!

We've had our say on 2013's best video games. And so have you. Now, it's the turn of the developers, the makers of the virtual experiences we so love. Read on for the games of 2013 according to the creators of the likes of Super Meat Boy, Assassin's Creed 4, XCOM, Oculus Rift and more, complete with Twitter bios.

PS4 Assassin's Creed 4 1080p patch analysed in-depth

Digital FoundryPS4 Assassin's Creed 4 1080p patch analysed in-depth

44 per cent more resolution - with no performance penalty.

With next generation tools and system resources often in a state of flux before the final hardware is ready for release, game development continues right down to the wire, in some cases with last-minute optimisations and graphical tweaks completed after a title's master disc has been pressed and duplicated for the final release. The end result is that some launch titles are effectively finished via the release of patches and updates designed to fix various bugs and glitches, or to improve noticeable performance issues - as we saw recently with Call of Duty: Ghosts.

Ubisoft recently revealed that the PS4 version of Assassin's Creed 4 would gain an update shortly after the game's release, bumping up the rendering resolution from 900p to 1080p, along with some improved visual effects and a new anti-aliasing solution, with all of this possible via further optimisation work carried out after core development was completed. With the patch now available in the US, are we looking at a noticeable upgrade in visual quality, or a more modest refinement to the original, unpatched presentation?

We kick off with a 1080p head-to-head video showcasing a number of clips from the first hour of the game. On first impressions, the differences between running the game upscaled from 900p and natively in 1080p are actually quite subtle: there's a slight but noticeable boost in sharpness, and images appear a little more crisp, but nothing that immediately grabs you as amounting to anything approaching a sensational upgrade. The original 900p framebuffer is actually upscaled well to 1080p without introducing much in the way of unwanted artefacts, and the anti-aliasing solution in both versions helps to give the game a smooth appearance.

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Love it or love to moan about it, the latest annual chapter in the Assassin's Creed franchise has once again advanced the increasingly labyrinthine narrative, provided answers to a number of outstanding mysteries and dropped new clues as to where the series may be heading.

Assassin's Creed 4: Black Flag preview: how Ubisoft plans to hook you back in

FeatureAssassin's Creed 4: Black Flag preview: how Ubisoft plans to hook you back in

Sail to more than 50 locations, cities and islands in a huge open world.

If Ubisoft's leak-ridden reveal of Assassin's Creed 4: Black Flag was a ship, it would have already sunk to the bottom of the ocean. While hundreds of journalists queued last week for their first official peek, details of the game's what, where and who were already available online: product art showing a new assassin buccaneer, a map of the Caribbean and a name - Edward Kenway, grandfather of Assassin's Creed 3's Connor.

So it was with expectation and an air of predictability that the lights dimmed and the show began. It was started, bizarrely, by an extended monologue remembering the series to date, delivered by the actor who played Finchy in The Office. Remember the original game's Masyaf, we were told. Remember the tall spires of Renaissance Italy, the crowded streets of Boston. Well, we do - for gamers, these events happened fairly recently. AC3's launch still seems particularly fresh in the memory - Ubisoft is only a third of the way through releasing that game's episodic King Washington DLC.

After the theatrics and a sales pitch, after the Assassin's Creed 4: Black Flag name was announced and banners unfurled bearing its skull-adorned logo, then - finally - a more detailed and encouraging picture of the game emerged.

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