Ubisoft are tying both elements together so if a mission proves too hard then a ship upgrade from outside in the huge world will solve the problem.
Decant said he couldn't really put a number to how big Black Flag's world is except that it's got 3 major cities, 15 unique locations like continents, and many small islands.
"The size of the map is like fifteen, twenty minutes, if you were just to sail without stopping, so that’s huge. We really tried to increase the feeling of adventure. At the same time it has to be easy to use so we added a number of teleports," and said every objective we do "becomes a teleport. So as you soon as you win somewhere, you can send people there."
The team revisited what makes Assassin's Creed what it is and upped the challenge.
"We spent a lot of time revisiting the core mechanics. Speeding them up was one aspect, but there was also how to refresh challenge in Assassin’s Creed, because up until now it’s been quite easy to traverse the city and do whatever you wanted and we didn’t want to create a hardcore game but we wanted to make a challenge," Decant told .
"Put a bit more “weight” on your steps. And how do we do that? We wanted to have stronger enemies, more accurate enemies, they push you to hide-and-seek, be stealthier to kill them. And part of that is, yes, when you get in trouble you can get away fast. But even if you escape, are you going to die? We wanted consequences."
This is Ubisoft's most gameplay packed instalment yet, assures the lead game designer.
"We have so much content it’s quite crazy to say it. The main story is at least 20 hours. In the open world you have stuff to do for at least 50 or 60 hours. You have super-ships at the corners of the map, which are ships you wouldn’t be able to destroy until you are maxed up, then you have to understand the Captains which are like in-game bosses."
"So 20 hours to finish the main story, 60 hours to kill the ships and we are really trying to sort of tie both in together. So for instance sometimes you need to upgrade your ship to survive in a mission, so then you’ll probably start to wonder outside the main game," he continued.
There's a whole metagame of using captured ships and forming a fleet out of them to perform missions. If you happen to have the companion app, these naval battles can be directed by you or a friend to ensure their success with minimal losses. Apparently these little battles have proven quite popular with play testers.
Assassin's Creed IV: Black Flag releases on Xbox 360 and PS3 October 29th, PC November 19th//22nd.