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Drama on the seas: behind the art of 'Assassin's Creed IV: Black Flag'

'We don’t want to do a documentary.'

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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.

'Assassin's Creed IV: Black Flag' concept art


Artist Donglu Yu describes this piece as a "seascape piece depicting colorful sky and an impressive ship on the deep sea."