Assassin's Creed 4: Black Flag launches for Xbox 360 today, for Xbox One on 22nd November, and it's blown us clean out of the water. This is a hearty return to form after the troubled Assassin's Creed 3, care of a freer campaign structure, enthralling naval combat and a likeable leading man.
Reviewer Log has carved some time out of his piratical schedule to bring you a selection of tips, including thoughts on which resources to prioritise and how to nobble larger naval opponents. Have a look, and don't forget his complete Assassin's Creed 4 Xbox 360 review.
1. USE YOUR MONEY ON THE JACKDAW
I bought the 14,000R swords a little early, and I didn't notice any great difference. This was a stupid mistake, and it hobbled my purse for a while. I'd recommend saving your money for Jackdaw upgrades, with a priority on strengthening your hull, and banks of cannon. Metal is the scarcest commodity, so if you find a ship with 65 Metal on it, get over there and start firing.
2. UPGRADE YOURSELF WITH SKIN
Unlike the money you can waste on swords, there's no conflict of interest with hunting - those skins can only be used to upgrade Kenway. Health upgrades, ammo capacity, and a better holster, are gained through a Far Cry 3 system of hunting and skinning. All of this is optional, after the first mission-based upgrade in Sequence 3, but if you find yourself relying on weapons rather than Assassin blades, it's useful stuff.
3. IT'S NOT ALL CANNON
The battle system is intuitive, choosing the weapon based on the direction you're pointing the camera. But don't forget you've got more options. Aiming with the LT will give you a useful firing arc, to help you hit your target. But if you're close, pressing RT without aiming fires off a much more powerful blast of shot. Watch out for special objectives, that might require you to ram your enemies, or cripple then with a front-facing blast of chain shot. And if a British Navy vessel is trying to ram you, you can usually get out of the way with full sail, or turn quickly and drop fire barrels in their path.
4. GET WANTED
Small ships tend to carry fire barrels, and heavy shot. Ammo's useful, but not in such short supply or essential enough to make this a big deal. It's the mid-sized ships that carry the five commodities we're after. Rum and sugar, apart from being two ingredients of a lovely Scurvy-busting Caipirinha, are only useful to sell. (Time-saving hint - you can sell them from your Captain's Cabin.)
Cloth, Wood and Metal can be sold, but don't - they're also required to upgrade the Jackdaw. You can get bigger ships to approach you by getting a wanted level. Crimson-sailed hunters will then start to track you down, and they've got better cargo. Remember to use your eyeglass, whenever you see another ship - it might be loaded.
5. REPAIR MID-BATTLE
Luckily for Kenway, the larger battle is forgotten during the boarding process. So if you're low on ship health, and get the chance to board, do so immediately. You can use your victim to patch your ship before taking on the rest of the fleet. Hopelessly unrealistic, but useful.
6. STOP BEING WANTED
When you've got enough supplies to get the upgrades you want, board a Hunter ship and select "Reduce wanted level", instead of "Send to Kenway's Fleet", or "Repair the Jackdaw".