A new version of Assassin's Creed Pirates, the Assassin's Creed 4: Black Flag mobile spin-off, is now available to play for free in web browsers, thanks to a partnership between Ubisoft and Internet Explorer.
The browser-based title was built with open-source framework Babylon.JS; it's based on gameplay from the mobile game, which launched for $4.99 last December. Players race a ship through the Caribbean sea while avoiding land mines and other obstacles. The game, available in five different languages, offers players nine options for weather and three difficulty settings. Assassin's Creed Pirates also features social options; players can invite friends to play via Facebook and participate in leaderboards.
Assassin's Creed Pirates is a browser first for the series, but another partnership with a game developer for Internet Explorer. In October of last year, the company announced a modernization of Hover, a mashup of capture the flag and bumper cars made popular in 1995. Speaking with Polygon during a recent demo of the game, Internet Explorer senior product manager Justin Garrett offered insight on the company's partnership with Ubisoft. According to Garret, Assassin's Creed was the perfect franchise to test the tech out.
"The Assassin's Creed franchise was a very natural fit because of the beauty of the Caribbean ocean and the pirate adventuring," Garrett said. "It was the perfect story and experience to tell — a technology story through the browser."
"You don't have to be a super professional developer to try this out."
With Hover, Garret said, the goal was to take a classic game and demonstrate that it could be built with WebGL and 3D graphics. Assassin's Creed is, simply put, a continuation of that path.
"What Assassin's Creed does is it takes it to the next level," Garret said. "With Assassin's Creed, we took a beautiful native game with all the richness of Ubisoft and really sought to bring that to the browser itself.
With the game's release, Internet Explorer is also holding a contest. Developers who create their own shader for the game's pirate ship with the framework could win the Assassin's Creed 4: Black Flag Black Chest Edition and an Xbox One. The competition is part of an effort to encourage developers to think about how they can use Babylon.JS to create their own content.
"What this is about, with Babylon, is it's going to make it easier and easier for game designers and developers to build more games on the web," Garrett said. "You don't have to be a super professional developer to try this out ... This is about is pushing the limits of what is possible in the browser. The browser is something that is available on most if not all devices out there."
Assassin's Creed Pirates can be played with a mouse and keyboard or touchscreen device. Those interested in competing in the Babylon.JS contest can check out the editor's website; entries must be submitted by June 20.