Most videogame trailers are purely promotional tools, but Ubisoft’s latest teaser for Assassin’s Creed IV: Black Flag couches its capitalist goals in the pleasant haze of an arguably accurate history lesson.
The Assassin’s Creed franchise has always relied heavily on actual, real-world history. The first game focused on the late-medieval middle east, while the second was set within Renaissance Italy. The third, in turn, took place during the American Revolution, and Assassin’s Creed IV: Black Flag transports players to the pirate-infested waters of the 18th century. While none of these games could double as a quality history text, this reliance on reality gives the series a unique identity, which Ubisoft seemingly wants to expand with Assassin’s Creed IV.
Thus, the firm is offering prospective fans something of a primer on the era the game portrays. The clip embedded at top-right serves as the first part of a three-vignette series of short lessons focused entirely on the history of piracy (before the term was corrupted to describe basement-dwelling media hoarders). More specifically, this video focuses on “the brutal life of a sailor in the 18th century, the ‘Pirate King’ Henry Avery whose exploits grew to legend and inspired a generation, and the Spanish War of Succession which sowed the seeds of piracy in the Caribbean.”
As far as historial accuracy, Ubisoft does a pretty solid job of covering its subjects, though the clip’s two-minute runtime hampers its ability to portray the events of the time period in full. More egregious though is Ubisoft’s subtle attempt at painting Assassin’s Creed IV as a historial retelling of these events, when it’s almost certainly going to include all kinds of tiresome references to the Animus, golden apples and whatever Dan Brownian conspiracy theory the developers can attach to Blackbeard et alia.
That said, the video is still a refreshing change of pace as far as promotional clips go. We’ll take a short history lesson over non-stop explosions, swears and vaguely cinematic camera angles any time. Propers to Ubisoft for at least attempting to teach players a bit of history, even if most are only interested in the game insofar as they’re able to stab dudes in the neck in hilariously brutal fashion.