Assassin's Creed IV: Black Flag has lots of optional content for those who prefer hacking computers over pirates and scurvy.
Assassin's Creed is best known for its historical settings and parkour-themed assassinations, but the franchise still has a strong modern-day component. The series previously followed assassin-descendant Desmond Miles as he experienced flashbacks of series protagonists and investigated Templar activity in our own time. Assassin's Creed IV: Black Flag will continue the time-traveling trend, but the time spent in the present is significantly longer than you may expect. Black Flag contains 3-5 hours of optional present-day content, encompassing a side campaign where the player studies Assassin's Creed lore as an in-game character.
In modern-day levels, the player is a recently hired Abstergo Entertainment employee using the Animus to research history. Upon exiting the Animus, the player will find themselves in an Abstergo office, stocked with various statues that mark your in-game progress and an exit to the larger facility. While you're free to bypass these segments quickly and get back to piratey assassinations, you also have the option of exploring your surroundings, talking to co-workers, or hacking computers to learn of the larger Assassin's Creed universe.
"In total, if you were to do everything in the present day - find everything, hack every computer, access every room - it's a solid three to five hours," says game director Ashraf Ismail. "For the main path - the stuff you're required to do - it's somewhere between 20 and 25 minutes. You leave the Animus five times during the game's main path and each time you're there for about three to four minutes."
Players who are normally tempted to skip extraneous content may wish to reconsider, as the information learned could be its own reward. Despite being unnecessary to advance, Ismail adds that hacked data explores the ramifications of Assassin's Creed III's ending, including the ultimate fate of Desmond Miles. "It's actually part of the meta story," Ismail explains. "You see what happens after Assassin's Creed III - you see the ramifications of that, and we push it further."