Assassin's Creed 4: Black Flag is still many months from release, but Ubisoft has been extremely forthcoming about their plans with the game.
In AC4, players take on the role of Edward Kenway, a descendent of Connor Kenway's who just so happens to be a pirate who lives his life on the high seas, looting and plundering and living as pirates do.
Speaking to Examiner's Steven Ruygrok, the game's director Ashraf Ismail said that Edward will be a "really unique" character with a strong personality to set him apart from the rest of the series' protagonists.
"He is charismatic and brash but also selfish and immature. In a way we wanted to show a character who is a teenager in terms of maturity and who eventually becomes a man. As the game progresses Edward needs to figure out his role in life and what taking responsibility means.
"In terms of personality and motivations we did not reference other 'AC' heroes. Honestly one of our biggest references was Bodhi from 'Point Break,'" Ismail said.
If you've never seen the movie, Bodhi is the character played by the late Patrick Swayze. Bodhi is the leader of a gang of surfers who dress up as ex-US Presidents who go on a string of bank robberies.
As for why Ubisoft chose the Caribbean setting for AC4, Ismail responded that the brand new setting allowed for them to offer a "unique and fresh" world to the game. He further revealed that AC4 would offer three major cities, each with its own unique flavor—Havana, Kingston, and Nassau.
Havana is European in its flavor and offers tight streets, providing Edward with opportunities to do a lot of roof-running. Kingston, meanwhile, is said to merge "urban and nature" with trees intermingling with the buildings and the streets. Players can free-run from buildings to tall trees. Finally, Nassau—the pirate haven—is designed to be as chaotic as possible. The streets are both wide and narrow, disorganized and organic, built upon slopes with a wide variety in building heights.
"How they all link together with the 50 plus locations was a major challenge because we wanted the seamlessness to be there. It is very important for us that people feel this world is credible and something they want to explore.
To that end, players will commandeer the Jackdaw, Edward's ship. According to the developers, the Jackdaw is a brig class ship that players will be able to both upgrade and customize—a core element of AC4. It will be necessary to do so as players will go up against tougher and more challenging ships through the course of the game.
"They will have new abilities and more firepower as you progress forward. You will need to keep up with them. To finish the main path story you do need to upgrade the Jackdaw, but you don't need all the upgrades," Ismail said.
He added that the land and sea experiences will blend seamlessly into each other, citing naval forts as an example of how this might work.
"These are locations that you have to battle in the sea, fight against turrets, towers and other ships defending the fort," he said. "When you breach the defenses of the fort you can let go of the wheel, get on to the land and raid the fort using stealth, navigation and ground fight. And all this happens seamlessly."
The game's naval combat has been overhauled from what players experienced in Assassin's Creed 3, with a lot of work being done towards improving the physics. It is now possible to ride a wave and use it for cover, and players will have access to a much wider array of weaponry while at sea, each of which provide different strategies and require different skills to master.
"It's up to the player to upgrade these weapons and push for the play style they enjoy. To support this we have many new AI ships that will challenge the player in different ways," he said.
Ismail said that there will be different types of ships to go up against, including the Charger, a ship with very little firepower but comes equipped with a powerful ram; and the Tank, a massive ship that has difficulty turning but carries a wide array of weapons.
Assassin's Creed 4: Black Flag is set for an October 29, 2013 release on the PC, Xbox 360, PS3, Wii U, and PS4.