No matter which platform — or generation — you decide to play Assassin's Creed IV: Black Flag on, you'll be playing a beautiful game. (It launched at the end of October on the Xbox 360 and PS3, and will be coming to both the PS4 and Xbox One when they're available later this month). The series' shift to the Caribbean has allowed the artists and designers at Ubisoft Montreal to craft an experience that's much different than past games in the series, both in terms of how it plays and how it looks. The big, wide open seas are dotted with islands and cities to explore, from Havana to Kingston. To add a layer of authenticity, the art team travelled to Costa Rica, the Dominican Republic, and other tropical locales, to check out the jungles and cities that would be featured in the game.
"We took many pictures and recorded sounds to have the most documented base to work with," says art director Raphael Lacoste. "Later, a team of illustrators including myself studied the references and also traditional paintings to bring a more artistic and stylized vision of the Caribbean. We don’t want to do a documentary, but more a stylized and memorable version of this beautiful location."
The result is a game that maintains the look and feel the Assassin's Creed series is known for, while taking it to a very different location. If you're interested in checking out the art behind the world of ACIV, we've included a selection of concept art below — you can check out even more in The Art of Assassin’s Creed IV: Black Flag from Titan Books.
- Artist Donglu Yu describes this piece as a "seascape piece depicting colorful sky and an impressive ship on the deep sea."
- A vision of Havana by Martin Deschambault. “I did this concept to find a way to dress the plaza in front of the Cathedral, even if it’s not like this in reality," he explains.
- “This is one of the inspirational concepts I did for Sofia studio, who was in charge of the Mayan temple environments," says Deschambault.
- "The intention was to give a singular, organic shape to the island topography while playing with protruding rocks and cavities, along with abundant vegetation," says artist Maxime Desmettre.
- “Chaotic sea battles — always fun to do," says Deschambault.
- An underground structure that didn't make it into the final game. "The towering structure was originally designed to mix up lots of inside and outside challenges," says artist Eddie Bennun.
- "For the Principe village I took some African villages as references; organic wood fence, red fabric, and some outside stoves," says Deschambault.
- An early concept of the Havana market by Donglu Yu.