View Full Version : Black Flag: Immersive Gameplay Guide

09-10-2017, 11:39 AM

AC Black Flag is an older game now, and I assume that all of you have played it more than once. But here in 2017 Black Flag is still the best pirate themed game ever made. Besides of my +1200 hours in this game - I have studied the real life pirates for over 5 years now, so here is my guide how to play the game the immersive way, so you really get the feeling of living the life of a pirate. Now first of all I have to say, that this guide is absolutely not for all! (!!!!) - playing the game this way is really really slow, so if you are the kind of player that only loves to sail around on travel speed and running around on rooftops, jumping down and assassin your targets, this guide is not for you.
Second, this is just tips to pick and use as you see fit, I’ll not necessarily recommend to do all of it, all of the time. Allow yourself to run, fast travel and sail on high speed from time to time. But have in your head, that you want to play it immersive so long that your patience allows you.

1) Setup your mindset
Playing the game this way will be harder and take much longer time than you are use to. So even before you start playing the game, have in your mind that everything you do will go much slower than ever before. This is not a way that will rush you through the game, this is about enjoying the details and living the life of Edward Kenway almost on a 1:1 scale.

2) Setup your HUD
Before you even get started, you want to remove most of the HUD hud on your screen. This is important if you want an immersive feeling. I’ve seen some suggestions that you remove it all. I can say that I don’t, my setup is like this:

Breath Meter: ON
Crew Meter: ON
Health: ON
Mini-Map: OFF
Puppeteer: OFF
Tutorials: OFF
Updates: ON (mostly for social events)
Weapon Indicator: ON
Character Icon: ON
Sails: ON
Wanted Meter: OFF
It can be hard to get around without your mini-map, but this is the age of sails, they didn’t have a GPS at that time! If you have an iPad i suggest that you use the map from the app and put it on “locations” the arrow on Kenway's map marker will always point the way you look, so you can use that as an compass (dear ubisoft, why didn't we just get a compass from the start!?)

3) Gear (Kenway's upgrades)
The game sadly forces you to have two swords and two guns and not just one of each. Even though I love boarding other ships with four pistols, I’ll recommend not to have more than the two you are forced to have. A man walking arond in Havana or Kingston geared up for battle with four guns, would stand out a lot, and get arrested on sight no doubt.

4) Outfits
One of the places where Black Flag really lacks on immersiveness is on the outfits. All of them reminds me of some LEGO pirates or something like that. But there is a few that is ok, and feels just a bit realistic. The first time you get to Nassau, the first thing you wanna do is to go and buy the materials to craft the ‘shark hunter's outfit’. That is a good starter outfit all though you don’t have boots but sandals (Ubisoft.. sandals? SANDALS!!? why? just why? :’( )
I’ll recommend that you use the ‘shark hunter's outfit’ until you have the money to buy the ‘Politician's outfit’ and/or you find a social chest and get the (best outfit) ‘Governor's outfit’. Wait until late game to use the Legend outfit, and if you have the DLC’s, I’ll recommend that you use ‘Captain Morgan's redingote’ mid game. (like after Nassau’s fall)
Last thing on this subject; only change your outfits where you have them; in your captain's cabin :)

5) Getting around on land
Now first of all if you want an immersive feeling, you’ll NEVER climbing around on buildings unless it is absolutely necessary! use the streets instead. And if you have to go to a rooftop, look out for a ladder instead. Most places where you have to go up on buildings, there will be one. And when you are just getting from A to B - don’t run, walk! I find walking around to be pretty hard. The temptation to run is just so big. But your outcome, is that you’ll notice how beautiful Ubisoft created this world, and never the less - after 3 years with this game, after just a few days of playing, I can finally find myself around in the city’s without looking at the map all the time. It is boring at the start, but try it mate, it will be slow but good :)

6) Getting around at sea
What I used to do when sailing, was to strike to full sails all the time, and on long distance go to travel speed. And at the same time I was complaining about the sea was to small, and the AI ships just sailing around in circles.. That was just stupid of me! If you look at the AI ships speed, it is almost the same as when the Jackdaw sails with its main sail (half sails) so it make sense for you to do the same. It is only when they are in battle that they sail faster. And what I found was that most of the AI ships actually have routes. Earlier today I was sailing from Nassau to Cuba with two AI sloops as companions almost all the way. So when you are just sailing around from A to B do it with only your mains out. You will get much more feeling of sailing a vessel with sails. And yes it is slow, but guess what, sailing that kind of ships IS slow! ;) And if you look at movies like ‘Black Sails’ or ‘Master and Commander’ you will see that they only strike to full sails when it is absolutely necessary. But when you find a prize to take, strike to full and hunt her down! (or get the hell out)

7) Eagle vision
Pretty simple, don’t use it, unless you are forced to in a mission. Though I find it useful on tailing missions, to get rid of the timer (remember, you don’t have your mini-map and you don’t climb on buildings)

8) Taking a prize
In this game, taking a prize is almost as far from real life, as it can be. But you can get a bit closer, than the game wants. This guide will tell you how:
From the age of sails and up until today, the international signal to stop a vessel, is to shoot two shots over the bow of the ship you want to stop. So use your chains to do just that.
After the real life pirates started to use a black flag, to signal prizes that they were pirates, they would raise the black, and shoot two shots over the bow of their targets, and in 95% of the times, the prize would surrender when they saw the black. Surrendering and the flag tactics, is not a part of this game but, you can stop a schooner by shooting two chains on her sails, and give her one shot with your Swivel Gun, start the boarding, and give the crew 2-3 shots with the Swivel Gun and they will surrender before your crew gets over there. It's not all realistic, but it's closer.
When the boarding starts on bigger ships it is tempting to just use the Swivel Gun all the time. But if you were a real life pirate captain, that just stayed on the bridge of your ship, using a cannon when the fighting starts- you’ll be voteded out the next time you set foot on land! A real life pirate captain would go down on the deck with his crew, and be in the front line with them. Use your pistols to take out their front muskets, and jump onboard with your crew. It is not just more realistic, but also more fun, if you ask me :)

9) Selling your cargo
No! A merchant in Havana, Kingston or any other civilized harbor would never buy pirated goods, never! So what you wanna do, is to only sell your cargo in Nassau at first, and Great Inagua later on. A small thing to provoke realism. If you wanna go a small step further, pirates were known to party after selling their prize goods. So after selling your cargo, go to the tavern, play some minigames and drink till you are so piss drunk, that you pass out. (I do that every time i make port, no matter where it is. Capt. Kenway loves his Rum)

10) Upgrading your ship
A common mistake thinking of pirates (thanks for nothing Jack Sparrow) is that they were sailing around in huge black ships, with a lot of guns, black sails and with their pirate banner up all the time. That is so wrong. A typical pirate ship was small, fast and with as few guns as possible. They wanted to use there hull space for cargo more than guns. Besides of that they didn’t want there ship to stand out. Otherwise the prize would run before they had a chance to get close. The way I do that in the game is to upgrade my ship in this order:
1 Cargo storage - all the way
2 Crew’s quarters - all the way
3 Harpoon storage - all the way
4 Harpoon strength - to lvl 2 (Not to lvl 3. I think the harpoons looks too proff on the last lvl)
5 Fire barrel storage - all the way
6 Fire barrel strength - all the way
7 Round shot strength - all the way but the last (a gun like that can only fire one shot at the time!)
8 Hull armor - only one lvl up
9 Late game I’ll swift between hull armor and broadside cannons and get them all the way up. Just for the role play that Kenway is moving up and kind op taking Blackbeard's place in the world. But it would be late game as in after you kill Robberts.

Motar’s and Ram I’ll never upgrade as they have absolutely nothing to do on a pirate ship! (wtf Ubisoft?) And the chain shots strength and numbers I’ll neither upgrade, because I only want two shots from them (see tip nr 8)

Yes - the game will be much harder this way, but why not? Are you not up for it landlubber? ;)

11) Great Inagua - your hideout
You get access to it early in the game, but don’t use or upgrade it before after Nassau's fall. “Nassau is the place to be” - As Kenway says. But after Nassau's fall, you and your fellow pirates will need a new place to call home, a new place to sell your goods and live life as you see fit. So after Nassau is history, Great Inagua seems like the perfect place for just that. Edward is no doubt the ‘Governor’ of this new pirate heaven, and therefore also responsible for selling the cargo to the civilized merchants, which lead us straight to the next tip.

12) Your fleet
Most Nassau pirates only had one ship. It was only a few pirates like Blackbeard and Charles Vane who had a fleet in real life. So I don’t find it realistic, that a common pirate like Kenway should have a fleet at this point. But as mentioned in the last tip, it is a fine way to manage Great Inagua’s trade. When Kenway flee to this place, the pirates of Great Inagua, would have to sell their goods to new markets, and the fleet is a perfect setup for that.
Manage the fleet as you see fit, but personally I don’t put Man’O’War’s in it. If I had a Man’O’War in my fleet, I would sail her myself!

13) Warehouses and plantations
When sneaking around in a plantation may not feel much pirate like, but it is. The real life pirates was known to sneak into a plantation, only kill a few guards, and then sneak out with the goods, so do that as you like. But when it comes to the warehouses in Kingston and Havana I’ll strongly recommend to find some drunken pirates and just storm the place with them. Besides of the boarding, you do not do much else with your crew. This is a perfect way to get a feeling that your crew is not just waiting on your ship, but are on land with you ready to work together with you. When it comes to the warehouse in Nassau, wait until the British take back the island , and storm the warehouse before you flee the island. You don’t wanna leave all that fine goods for the redcoats are you?

14) Freeplay
As the last thing I’ll come around in this guide, is the freeplay. Black flag’s storyline lead you to go out and plunder as you see fit, a lot of times with in the storyline. And when you get back to the story you’ll see that a year or two has passed. Use that time to do your freeplay, and take care of the story when it wants you to. Just remember. It was absolutely not common for a pirate to set foot in Havana or in Kingston at the time (50 years earlier Port Royal actually was a free port, also for pirates) and never with a black banner in your mast (like come on ubisoft!? where is my false flags?)
The storyline lead you to these places more than once - so don’t go there unless the story forces you to. A real pirate would not.

This is the end of my guide to play AC Black Flag in a much more immersive way. If you do all of it, I can guarantee that the game would feel much different than normal, with the huge contrast between the slow moving around and fighting for your life when taking a prize is priceless. And you will get the feeling of really live the life of Captain Edward Kenway.

If you have comments, questions or even more ideas for a more immersive gameplay, let me know in the comments below.
Happy pirating :)

09-10-2017, 04:20 PM
That's a really good post. I like the hud settings and the ship upgrades.

09-10-2017, 07:29 PM
Thanks :)

09-11-2017, 10:39 AM
Thanks man!

09-13-2017, 03:14 PM
np :)

09-13-2017, 05:44 PM
This is really cool! Reminds me of the "Regular Life" Skyrim variant.

Do you have any videos of this gameplay?

09-22-2017, 06:47 AM
This is really cool! Reminds me of the "Regular Life" Skyrim variant.

Do you have any videos of this gameplay?

Thanks man
Nope not yet, but I am thinking of making some 'immersive gameplay youtube guides' to games like this that lacks of the same.