Once you've played a bit of AC4: Black Flag, you may want to delve a little deeper with these advanced tips!
There are many instances in which you must engage in combat as Edward, whether you're boarding a ship, or on land fighting off guards or natives. You can use guns to take down your enemies, but they alert any other enemies in the general vicinity, and you have to worry about ammo restrictions and reloading. This isn't Call of Duty where you can reload in a virtual instant. It takes Edward quite some time to reload after expending his initial ammo stock. This makes swordplay a very good option for combating enemies at close range.
When you're in the midst of combat with Edward's swords, in most cases you'll be fighting more than one opponent. If you see a red mark above an enemy's head, it means that he or she is about to attack Edward. If you press Circle (PlayStation) or B (Xbox), Edward performs a counter. Immediately following a successful counter, you have a variety of options including: kill the enemy (Square or X), use a tool on the enemy (Triangle or Y), disarm and stun the enemy (X or A), or throw the enemy (Circle or B).
In most cases, you want to simply kill the enemy after a successful counter. Not only does this eliminate one of your attackers, it also allows Edward to transition into what is fondly referred to as "kill mode" in which he can kill nearby enemies with a single attack. Just make sure you highlight the next enemy and attack him or her immediately following a kill.
If you're surrounded by a large number of opponents, it may be easier to simply stun the opponent, then get back to the target you were focused on. This is especially useful if you need to kill a specific person, and get interrupted by another enemy in the process. Against armed guards, disarming them is also beneficial if you need a gun or want to avoid taking fire while you're attacking other enemies.
It's highly recommended to move the camera to a position in which you can clearly see all around Edward when he's surrounded by enemies. If there's anything blocking your view, it can be difficult to see another enemy attacking Edward, which makes it far more difficult to execute a successful counter before their attack.
There are two types of darts available to Edward: sleeping and berserk. Sleeping darts put an enemy to sleep, but alert any other enemies who happen to see the sleeping body. An enemy will also only be sleeping for a moderately short period of time. Usually it's long enough to get to the enemy and knock them out (or simply escape to a safe distance), but there is a limited time before they wake up if you can't get over to them for the knock out.
Sleep darts are best used when spotted by a guard in a watch tower. The guard is too high to reach immediately, and you probably don't want to alert the other enemies by shooting the guard. A sleeping dart will put him out of commission long enough to move out of his line of sight, or climb the watch tower and knock him out.
If there are a group of enemies, it's generally better to use berserk darts instead of sleep darts. Berserk darts make an enemy go crazy for a short time, attacking anyone nearby, then eventually passing out. The most effective use of berserk darts is against brute enemies. These are the larger guards who wield and axe and throw bombs at Edward.
Using a berserk dart on a normal enemy will get them killed by a nearby guard with relative ease. Use a berserk dart on a brute and you'll find the brute taking down a few enemies before he's finally brought down himself, or simply passes out following the duration of the darts effectiveness. If there are two brutes in the area, hit them both with berserk darts and watch them take out a good half-dozen other enemies before passing out.
A berserk dart can also be useful against gunmen in watch towers because they have a tendency to shoot several guards before anyone can get to them. It's also worth noting that once you hit an enemy with a berserk dart, the commotion they cause is enough to stop anyone nearby from seeing you. That means if you need to reach a specific location or item, shoot a berserk dart, then you can move freely while the guards are distracted.
Upgrading the Jackdaw
Whether you're randomly plundering and pillaging, or doing so for a specific memory, there's quite a bit of naval combat to be had in Assassin's Creed IV. There are many instances in which upgrading the Jackdaw is very beneficial to the success of your mission. However, money, resources and time are limited, so while upgrading every single aspect of the Jackdaw would be ideal, it's not exactly a realistic expectation for most players.
There are a number of ways you can upgrade the Jackdaw, both visually and functionally. The visual upgrades are purely cosmetic, so let's focus on the functional upgrades. Hull strength should be your first priority. The best offense is a good defense. Even with weak weapons, if you can hold out long enough with a strong defense, you'll eventually win the battle.
Once you've upgraded your hull strength, focus on improving your weapons based on your style of play. If you like to attack from a distance with hit and run strategies, purchase and upgrade mortars before anything else. If you like a more traditional naval combat approach, pick up heavy shots, add more broadside cannons, then strengthen your heavy shots. This gives you a huge power boost to the broadside cannons and allows you to take down most ships with a one or two volleys.
The round shot should be your last big upgrade initially. After a volley from the broadside cannons connects, you'll be able to make a precision shot. This is where the round shot comes into play. The stronger it is, the more powerful your precision shot. If your broadside cannons are already inflicting heavy damage, one round shot could be enough to finish off a ship.
Ignore increasing the strength of your fire barrels, and instead upgrade to chase cannons. Both the fire barrels and chase cannons are only effective if an enemy ship is behind you. If you're good at naval combat, this really shouldn't happen very often, so only use this upgrade if you find that you're being chased more often than not.
When it comes to upgrading Edward's gear, you're mainly looking at his swords and guns. The guns should be secondary as they aren't nearly as useful as his swords in almost every situation you'll encounter during the single player campaign. The difference in the swords is more about your play style than anything else.
It's very plausible to go through the entire single player game without ever upgrading Edward's swords, aside from the initial upgrade you're forced to do early in the game. This is especially true if you're good at countering since that essentially opens up most enemies to an instant kill. Focus on upgrading the Jackdaw before you upgrade any of Edward's gear.
The difference in the available swords comes primarily in their attack speed, combo ability. Damage isn't a huge factor because almost every enemy dies in a single combo once you get the first hit in. Speed plays an important role because the camera sometimes blocks your view. There may be a tree in the way, or on a ship it may be the mast or something similar. If you can't completely see the area surrounding Edward, it's not difficult for an enemy to get the jump on you while you're engaging another enemy.
The speed of your swords can make it easier to counter and enemy at the last second, and it also allows you to kill an enemy faster. Damage also plays a role in taking down an enemy with haste, but speed is the more important factor here. If you have trouble getting attacked from behind while you're attacking another enemy, look for swords that attack faster than your current set. Combo improvement is more for show than anything else, so speed should be your primary focus.
Head back for the rest of our Assassin's Creed 4 guide.