Home Strategy AC4 Black Flag multiplayer strategy #2: Identifying Targets with Abilities and Behavior

Welcome to Part 2 in WiNGSPANTT’s Assassin’s Creed 4: Black Flag multiplayer strategy guide!


After your HUD, abilities will be the most reliable way to identify your target. Sure, they won’t always be off cooldown, but when they are, you’ll have tools that instantly oust player characters from the crowd. Some are primary detection abilities; others can be used with detection as a secondary capacity.

Primary detection abilities are those created by Ubisoft specifically to detect enemy players. While you can learn more about them in the full Top Tier Tactics ability guide, they’re also straightforward enough that basic player ID comes intuitively.

  • Bodyguard: will seek and stun nearby pursuers (defensive use only)
  • Decoy: may lure players into interacting with the Decoy (combat, abilities, fleeing)
  • Firecrackers: causes all NPCs to cower in fear, revealing players
  • Money Bomb: causes all NPCs to run towards and crouch over money, revealing players
  • Tripwire Bomb: detonates when a player enters its proximity, disabling them
  • Wipe: outlines players in a faint glow, revealing them

Many abilities can be considered secondary detection abilities. These are abilities that are not directly designed to identify players, but can be employed creatively to spot players. See the full Top Tier Tactics ability guide for additional details.

  • Bodyguard/Decoy: can be used in a tiny crowd to morph and eliminate a single NPC
  • Distortion/Throwing Knives: can be fired at a target to panic a suspected player into fleeing
  • Morph: can be used in a crowd to morph and eliminate multiple NPCs
  • Smoke Bomb: can be thrown into a crowd to panic players into fleeing
  • Tripwire Bomb: can be thrown to the edge of a crowd to eliminate NPCs near that edge

When using any ability to identify your target, keep in mind you may be identifying him to all his other pursuers, as well. There are few feelings as crappy as using up a high-cooldown skill to find your victim… only to have another player poach your kill (without doing any work!).

Behavioral identification

Abilities are great and all, but you won’t always need to use them. In fact, you should refrain from using them too often since you may need them for emergencies and activating an ability will usually give your identity away to every player in the area (including your own killers).

Once you’ve closed in on your target and are attempting to differentiate her from the crowd, watch carefully for these telltale giveaways.

  • NPCs take predictable, circuitous routes and rarely cut across open areas
  • NPCs rarely walk through chase breakers and never appear on roofs
  • NPCs do not fast walk and cannot appear in the fast walk animation
  • NPCs in static blend groups tend to orient in cardinal directions (N/S/E/W)
  • NPCs have automatic reaction animations to some player actions
  • This is obvious, but NPCs don’t kill, stun, use abilities, taunt, or teabag*
  • Players will often wobble when moving and looking simultaneously
  • Players are more prone to make sudden, 90 or 180 degree turns, especially on PC
  • Players who are spamming the Assassinate button will perform a subtle hand motion
  • Players in a moving blend group are highly unlikely to be at the head of the group
  • Players in static blend groups sometimes stutter or shift if blended poorly
  • You can blend with even one NPC, but you will not be able to blend with a player
  • Hay bales do not typically emit smoke**

Memorizing, recognizing, and mastering these tells is critical to overcoming basic mistakes every new player makes. Behavioral detection is the foundation of the multiplayer metagame, after all: smart opponents will be doing everything possible to blend into the crowd until the last second, and they’ll be scanning for any possible indication that you aren’t one of the digital sheeple milling around on a preset route. Think of it as a reverse Turing Test. And if you don’t know what a Turing Test is, now’s a good a time as any to ask your pal Google about it.

The meta aspect of behavioral blending also means you’ve got to be on the lookout for strange behavior. If your target is a prestige player and you’ve caught her running in circles in an open field, I’d bet you thirty-two million Abstergo credits she’s got a nasty trap set for a sucker like you. Most likely it’s Throwing Knives, Smoke Bomb, Tripwire Bomb, or Bodyguard. Use something like Wipe or Sabotage to shut down her plan, or simply shut down her central nervous system with a Pistol shot to the face.

* Note that Bodyguards do stun other characters, so listen closely for their sound effect and trust your HUD
** This is what’s known as a joke.

Looking for more tips? Head back to the main Assassin’s Creed multiplayer strategy guide index.

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