Assassin's Creed 4: essential tips for conquering the high seas

So, you’ve picked up or are at least thinking of picking up Ubisoft’s Assassin’s Creed IV: Black Flag? Fancy the life of a pirate, do you? In that case, to get the most out Edward Kenway’s nautical adventure, there’s a few things you need to keep in mind in order to plunder as many riches as possible while defending yourself against cannon-happy Spanish and English ships. After all, the last thing you want as a pirate is to be out of pocket, stuck in the middle of a storm, and at the mercy of an armed-to-the-teeth Frigate without means to defend yourself.

See below for our quick guide on how to rule the high seas in Assassin’s Creed IV: Black Flag.

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Easy Money

Money is the corner stone for any pirate, and you’ll need bags of the stuff if you want to upgrade the Jackdaw and Edward’s arsenal. Players should make a concerted effort to loot as much as possible early on, so be sure to plunder all chests and cargo you come across, and pinch cash of anyone you kill -- you’d be surprised how quickly it all adds up. The best way however is to take on Assassination Contracts. These are available very early on, and not only are they simple enough to complete, they’re not time consuming and reward with some nice cash. Not only that, but you get even more dough if you meet specific parameters, such as staying out of combat. Lastly, taking on enemy ships is a fantastic way to rake in the cash by selling the booty they hold, but only if you are sufficiently equipped to do so. However, with practice, you can easily take on Schooners and Brigs early in the game if you isolate them, and reap the rewards.

Essential Jackdaw upgrades



The Jackdaw is your workhorse throughout the game. Not only is it your primary method of transportation, but the only way you can capture enemy forts and board ships. As such, you need to keep her ship shape at all times (pardon the bad pun), allowing you to take down the biggest and baddest of foes. Early on, you’ll want to spend all your cash on three essential upgrades: Hull integrity, Mortar and Heavy Shot. First up, the hull of your ship needs to be as robust as possible; this is self-explanatory, as you won’t take much of a beating without a reinforced ship. Mortars meanwhile are instrumental in getting the upper hand over your opponent(s), as it allows you to strike first and most importantly, avoid proximity battles. These are especially valuable in the early stages of the game, when the Jackdaw is more vulnerable and may not survive going toe-to-toe with enemy ships and forts. Finally, the heavy shot is like the Shotgun of the navy, capable of dealing high damage in close quarters; just sail past your foe and blast away, exposing crucial weakpoints in the process. Once you have these upgrades, you can attack bigger ships and even take over forts, the latter of which unveil Naval Contracts to take on and earn even more cash.

Hunting Time

Buy a boat and harpoons as soon as possible, because it’s the only way you are going to acquire some of the game’s more valuable skins, such as Humpback Whales, Great White Sharks and Hammerhead Sharks. These are used to craft some of the better upgrades for upgrading Edward’s health and pouches, letting you take more of a beating and carry more guns. Not only that, but they fetch a fair price too, so if money is more your focus, you can sell them for cold cash to fuel Jackdaw upgrades. Hunting isn’t too difficult either; just land a shot to allow the animal to drag you along, and then simply lob harpoons as the creature attempts to tow you around the ocean. We recommend flogging your skins early on so you can earn as much cash as possible for the upgrades for your ship, and then work on upgarding Edward himself.

Read our review of Assassin's Creed 4 here.

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