Assassin’s Creed IV: Black Flag – Freedom Cry Review – PlayStation 4

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What’s a pirate to do when all the booty has been plundered, all the enemy ships have been sunk, and all the rum has been drunk?   Well, you can sit around the bar reminiscing about the “good ole days” over a pint and a game of checkers or Nine Men’s Morris or you can fire up Freedom Cry, the first DLC content package for Assassin’s Creed IV: Black Flag and see what your quartermaster, Adewale was up to after you and he parted ways near the end of the main game.

The DLC starts off much like the main game with its own ship battle resulting in Adewale getting washed ashore as the camera pans up over the city to reveal the title logo.  This is more than a DLC – this is a miniaturized version of Black Flag with its own emotional story and unique set of characters.

The majority of the gameplay in Freedom Cry takes place in Port-au-Prince, a mid-sized coastal city about half the size of Kingston, but when you factor in the three surrounding plantations, ends up being about the same size.  Your main goal in this DLC is to free as many slaves as possible while checking off all the story objectives and secondary goals.    Slaves are almost like a unit of XP in Freedom Cry, with a tiered structure of Liberation goals that reward you with new weapons, gear, and other rewards at regular intervals all the way up to 500 freed slaves.

There are endless rescue missions available at almost any time during the game.  You might find an escapee fleeing through town, or perhaps a slave is being beaten, or there could be a small caravan of slaves being marched through town, or slaves being held in outdoor cages, or even a live slave auction block.   Killing their masters allows you to set them free adding to your ranks.  Later in the game you will uncover the Maroon hideout and after that certain slaves willing to fight back will actually join the resistance movement, which unlocks its own set of tiered rewards.

These random and reappearing freedom activities only net you a few slaves at a time.  To really increase your numbers you will need to raid plantations, first the three in Port-au-Prince, and later the plantations on surrounding islands around the limited scope of the map from Black Flag.  Plantation raids are quite exciting and can be tackled in two unique methods depending on the time of day.  A nighttime raid will have you seeking out the one guard with a key then opening all the slave quarters.  A raid during the day will require you to stalk 20 slavers as you sneak through tall crops, disable alarm bells, and defeat the entire plantation crew without being discovered.   If you are spotted or an alarm is sounded the slaves will start fighting and dying reducing your overall reward at the end.

Near the end of the 9-memory DLC you can set sail to explore the surrounding lands which include three other plantations, roving slave ships where you must first destroy their escort before boarding and freeing the slaves.   Ships, much like the plantations, can yield upwards of 80-90 slaves at a time.  There are also forts and random beaches with the occasional treasure chest and even a sunken shipwreck that just might be the Jackdaw.  You can hunt and fish but without any crafting option this can only lead to money, which isn’t hard to come by in more rewarding ways.

Many of the missions take place in Port-au-Prince where the game does a good job of showing you what it was like to be a black man during a time of slavery.   You are constantly being watched and those yellow alert circles are almost indicating watchful eyes are upon you, and the roving jailers with their circle of awareness are a constant thorn in your side.  Needless to say, much of Freedom Cry is played as stealthily as possible, which means lots of back alleys, rooftops, and hiding in bushes.

I really enjoyed the story arc and especially the bits of conversation where Adewale was reminiscing about his adventures with Edward.   It really is as nice follow-up piece to the core game and a nice exploration of this new character and his trials and tribulations during a time of rampant slavery.  Naturally, they throw in the obligatory Templar artifact and a corrupt governor, so you definitely have a defined villain and clear mission objectives, but there were times when it did seem like I was “grinding for slaves” just to hit that next reward tier.  But no matter what I was doing or how many times I did it the game was always fun and challenging.  Chasing down a slave ship in mission 8 was the highlight of the game, which made the finale a bit anticlimactic, but overall I enjoyed the 6-8 hours of additional adventure contained within Freedom Cry and look forward to more high-DLC adventure soon.

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