Assassin's Creed 4: Black Flag preview

Without spoiling things, the end of Assassin’s Creed 3 was fairly definitive in the way it closed down the whole series, so when Ubisoft invited us to take a look at a new Assassin’s game, you can imagine our surprise.

First up lets get the truly exciting bit out of the way: Assassin’s Creed 4 is coming to PS4. While Ubisoft hasn’t specifically told us if the footage shown in current trailers is from Sony’s new console, given the way it looks, we presume so.

Ubisoft also said it would ship on “all available consoles” in 2013. We can only assume, then, that this will be a game for both the Xbox 720 and PS4 and should, hopefully, be a launch title. It will also be arriving on PS3, Xbox 360 and PC.

So what is Assassin’s Creed 4: Black Flag all about? Well the clue really is in the title, it’s about pirates. Not your Jack Sparrow kind either, nor Robinson Crusoe style characters, this is proper real-life pirates with Ubisoft keeping things as historically accurate as possible.

The notorious Blackbeard is at the crux of the story, alongside some lesser-known pirates such as Charles Vane, Benjamin Hornigold and Anne Bonney. Ubisoft was keen to point out that not all pirates are necessarily as bad as the next, so we expect some will form the good guys of the game and others the bad.

You play the as Edward Kenway, the father of Haytham Kenway in Assassin’s Creed 3. Kenway is an out of work British sailor looking to get up to no good in the bustling trade routes off the coast of Cuba and around the West Indies.

READ: PS4 - Everything you need to know

As you have probably already guessed, the new Assassin’s Creed involves boats, lots of boats. You will be able to island hop across 50 different locations in the game, from hidden coves to small fishing villages. On top of this, there will be big bustling cities, like the pirate republic in Nassau or Havana in Cuba and even Kingston in Jamaica.

On top of the island hopping, Kenway will sail around the vast map on his ship, the Jackdaw. The boat will be fully upgradable, have a proper crew and feature an improved version of the already very awesome naval battle system created in Assassin’s Creed 3.

As for Kenway himself, he is a pirate that has been trained by the Assassins, a skilled fighter and sailor and capable of all the acrobatics you have seen in previous games. He also carries a pair of pistols on his chest, which from the look of things, he can dual-wield.

Kenway will be able to leap from ship to ship and swim, a first in the series. In fact Ubisoft tells us that he will be able to use diving bells to go down deep underwater. One of the videos we were shown had footage of Kenway fighting a shark, which looked rather awesome.

READ: Assassin's Creed III review

These naval battles will be far grander in scale than previously and, Ubisoft promises, will make combat far more difficult. No longer will you be able to simply dispatch any foe in front of you, as some of the huge galleons that you will eventually need to take on will require time and investment in your own ship.

Alongside fighting ships you can - in a rather politically incorrect move - also go whale harpooning. You will have a spyglass to help you spot both whale and ship so you can make up your own mind as to which you attack. An innocent sea creature or a boat loaded with gold.

This is going to be a much more ambitious game than previous Assassin’s Creed titles. It is a big open world for you to explore, a proper naval simulator and one of the first titles to run on new home consoles. Graphically it is already looking stunning and we really can’t wait for Ubisoft to start rolling out more gameplay.

At the moment we imagine most developers are stuck under serious non-disclosure agreements about new consoles, so details are still quite thin on the look and workings of the new game. Hold on until E3, it’s going to be one serious show this year and naturally Pocket-lint will be there.