Home Strategy AC4 Black Flag multiplayer strategy #17: Abilities Guide (perks overview)

Welcome to Part 17 of WiNGSPANTT’s Assassin’s Creed 4: Black Flag multiplayer strategy guide!

Your passive perks don’t get the same kind of spotlight your active abilities do, but they still play an important role in determining your score, your survivability, and your playstyle. There certainly are no “must-have-best-number-one” perks… thought there are certainly plenty of stinkers.

Since perks are passive in nature, there’s no reason to rate them by versatility, reliability, and high-scoring potential. Instead, I will simply rate each one on its general usefulness in Deathmatch, Wanted, and Assassinate.

Sixth Sense

  • Deathmatch: 2/5
  • Wanted: 4/5
  • Assassinate: 1/5

Right off the bat, Sixth Sense is useless in Deathmatch and Asssasinate. For DM, the maps are too small and the players are too easy to spot for it to be any value. In Assassinate, there is no contract system, so there won’t be any targets or pursuers to reveal until the second you’re interacting with them.

In Wanted, however, Sixth Sense can save your ass, especially when you have multiple pursuers. It’s all too easy to accidentally run into one enemy and straight into another. With Sixth Sense, you’ll have instant notification of persons of interest moving in high profile outside of your field of view. As such, you can move through the map with a much more informed idea of which areas are safe and which aren’t.

To best utilize this perk, you should have your camera control sensitivity up high, at least to 7. This effect only works behind you, but you can just move the camera away from your actual area of interest to “ping” the area for enemies. When it picks up a bogey, swing your camera around quickly to identify them.  Even if you can’t nail down your exact pursuer, you should be able to eliminate all but a small number of characters to avoid.

Additional notes

  • Unlike the normal high-profile prompt, which only goes off after your pursuer has depleted most of their approach meter, Sixth Sense works on players regardless of approach.
  • Sixth Sense can detect players running from behind obstacles.
  • Sixth Sense will not be triggered by Decoy or Bodyguard.

Copycat

  • Deathmatch: 1/5
  • Wanted: 1/5
  • Assassinate: 1/5

Copycat is a waste of a perk, since relying on other players’ ability sets means you could end up with something completely useless. Only equip Copycat when if you’re a low-level player who hasn’t unlocked any better perks yet.

Hint: Literally every perk is better than Copycat.

Fast Recovery

  • Deathmatch: 4/5
  • Wanted: 3/5
  • Assassinate: 2/5

Fast Recovery is the hugely misunderstood cousin of Overall Cooldowns.

Unlike Overall Cooldowns, Fast Recovery only triggers when you activate an ability a few seconds before your demise. On the plus side, Fast Recovery provides a massive cooldown boost… about half… which is much more than what Overall Cooldowns offers.

If that doesn’t float your boat, consider its effect on something like Decoy. With Fast Recovery, you can spam Decoy whenever you’re imperiled, knowing that even if it fails, Decoy will be ready for use again just a few seconds after you respawn. It makes using long-cooldown abilities like Smoke Bomb significantly less risky, too. And combined with Overall Cooldowns, you can probably fire off 25% more abilities per match than the default!

I’ve rated Fast Recovery higher in Deathmatch since this is a mode where using abilities nonstop (and getting assassinated nonstop) is pretty much the status quo. In Wanted and Assassinate, having a strategic or positioning edge is more important than burning through abilities constantly. That said, Fast Recovery is a decent pick for any situation where you’re trying to maintain a lead.

Sentry

  • Deathmatch: 2/5
  • Wanted: 3/5
  • Assassinate: 2/5

Sentry has so much potential, but its narrow focus just isn’t good enough to make it worth equipping.

Before the cons, let me just say this: having more time on your default lock duration is great. It helps you track and lose your pursuers. It makes stalking and eliminating your targets easier. It indirectly counters common tactics like corner stunning.

Unfortunately, even these scenarios are just too infrequent to rely on. If Sentry provided an additional bonus, like shorter focus time, faster approach meter gain, or pretty much any other boon, it would be worth equipping. As-is, it’s a one-trick pony that can’t carry you out of town.

Hot Pursuit

  • Deathmatch: 2/5
  • Wanted: 4/5
  • Assassinate: 3/5

Most of the time, running straight at your prey isn’t the best idea. But sometimes, that’s not really up to you. If the person you’re after is fond of morning, afternoon, and evening jogs, you might need additional ways to catch her.

Hot Pursuit gives you the edge in a chase, boosting both your score and your running speed. This obviously has limited use in Deathmatch, where players typically take contested stuns over cardio runs, but can be a useful tool in other game modes.

I wouldn’t recommend keeping Hot Pursuit in your primary ability set, but having an anti-runner/roofer set that includes Hot Pursuit isn’t a bad idea. If your lobby is full of Sonic the Hedgehog wannabes, equip that set and chase’em down.

Additional notes

  • Hot Pursuit will give you a speed boost even if you have no intention of immediately killing your target. This means it can help you outrun a pursuer, but only if your target’s also close by.
  • Since Hot Pursuit only activates when you have LOS on your target, it can act as an additional indication to help you identify your target.

Blender

  • Deathmatch: 5/5
  • Wanted: 4/5
  • Assassinate: 1/5

Blender is one of the most overused perks, and with good reason. The ability to summon a lookalike at any time without having to use an ability is hugely useful (well, not in Assassinate) for defense. In Deathmatch, it provides a free 50/50 guessing game for your opponents. In Wanted, it cuts down on the time it takes to find a suitable hiding spot, since you can create one anywhere.

Even against smart enemies that won’t take an uninformed guess, Blender provides a time buffer. Instead of instantly picking you out of a crowd, they now have to use an ability or screen you with an obstacle, essentially giving you the precious seconds you need to formulate the rest of your defensive plan.

You must be cognizant, however, that Blender can give you away. If, for instance, a pursuer knows you’re somewhere in line of sight but hasn’t found you yet, walking into a crowd and activating Blender will draw her eye to your area. Worse yet, she will know exactly who you are… the character that didn’t just morph into a copy of you. Plan your Blender timing carefully, or you’ll end up getting juiced!

Additional notes

  • If you enter an NPC group while wearing a Disguise, Blender will still activate, potentially ruining your stealthy movement. It will also cause the morphed NPC to copy your Disguised persona.
  • If you use Disguise after your Blender has activated, the morphed NPC will remain a copy of you, leaving it as an easy-pickings target for your pursuers.
  • Blender will not activate if an NPC group already contains a copy of your persona.
  • If you have Blender equipped and enter a group that contains your target and a lookalike, the lookalike will morph into a copy of you, revealing your target.
  • The answer to “will it blend?” is always yes.

Determined

  • Deathmatch: 4/5
  • Wanted: 4/5
  • Assassinate: 5/5

Determined is a stupid, lazily designed perk, but it’s too strong to ignore. The ability to ignore the contested penalty on kills can garner hundreds of points over the course of a single match. That’s more effective than many abilities are!

Part of what makes Determined so strong is that it’s equally powerful against good and bad players. When you’re facing someone who’s truly skilled (cough), you understand the odds of getting an uncontested kill aren’t that great. With Determined, you can simply build up a perfect approach at distance, then waltz up to your multi-prestiged target and duke it out for 450 points. They could use Disruption to drain your approach meter… but nobody does that (other than me).

Against lesser-talented foes or runners, you’ll find Determined is equally useful. If you’re chasing down people on rooftops regularly, there’s nothing sadder than finally nabbing the bastard in question and getting 50 points for the kill. Determined helps salvage some of your time and effort from such encounters. And it’s obviously great in Assassinate, where you need the base score of every kill to be as high as possible, no matter what.

I will caution that Determined isn’t a magic bullet. It won’t maintain your bonuses like Hidden or Bench, so you can still lose more than half your score from a contested kill. Additionally, it doesn’t really help you against clueless targets (who don’t contest you) or on defense. If you’re used to relying completely on Determined, consider switching it out for something else. You might find the added utility of another perk makes up for the score differential.

Resilience (abilities)

  • Deathmatch: 4/5
  • Wanted: 4/5
  • Assassinate: 4/5

There isn’t much to say about Resilience. It’s an overall great ability that can throw off your adversaries’ mathematics. So many players, especially good players, rely completely on the timing of certain abilities and effects. They’ve memorized exactly when to stun you following a Time Phase, or exactly how long they have to approach you during Firecrackers, etc. Resilience completely throws their practice out the window, meaning you’ll earn more contested actions when you would’ve been killed or stunned, and more clean kills or stuns when you would’ve been contested.

Resilience would’ve gotten a 5/5 rating across the board, but it does have downsides. First, it should be obvious that if your opponents aren’t spamming you with lots of abilities, Resilience will have no effect whatsoever, and another perk would clearly be better. Second, Resilience can identify you, since its icon appears over your head when you’re recovering from an ability. In many situations, that’s a non-issue, but if someone drops a Smoke Bomb into your blend group, the jig is up!

One more thing to note: Resilience will not halve the time that abilities like Poison or Poison Dart affect you. So don’t worry that you’re handicapping yourself with it!

Resistance (stuns)

  • Deathmatch: 5/5
  • Wanted: 4/5
  • Assassinate: 4/5

Resistance is similarly straightforward: recovering from stuns and contested kills in half the time is a big deal, especially in Deathmatch where being stunned or contested almost always happens within line of sight of your pursuers. There’s nothing worse than being knocked out, then watching your killer stroll into an adjacent hay bale for an easy 1000 points. Similarly, Resistance helps you maintain momentum when you’re on a kill streak.

Survival

  • Deathmatch: 3/5
  • Wanted: 2/5
  • Assassinate: 1/5

It’s not that Survival is awful… being rendered invisible could definitely protect you from an opportunistic opponent. But players should focus more on correctly identifying their targets so they don’t end up killing NPCs or getting clean-stunned. If you find yourself regularly eating dirt or murdering computer characters, equip more revealing abilities and practice your target screening skills.

Overall Cooldowns

  • Deathmatch: 5/5
  • Wanted: 4/5
  • Assassinate: 4/5

You can’t go wrong with Overall Cooldowns. It can never hurt to have your active abilities available more frequently, giving your more opportunities to score higher, stun pursuers, and make daring escapes. It’s a little more useful in Deathmatch than in Wanted or Assassinate, primarily because on smaller maps you tend to use your abilities very soon after they’re available. There’s no special strategy to maximizing this perk; just equip it and reap the benefits!

Unstoppable

  • Deathmatch: 2/5
  • Wanted: 3/5
  • Assassinate: 2/5

In the earliest days of Assassin’s Creed multiplayer, Unstoppable was two separate perks, one that opened chase breakers and one that allowed you to plow through NPCs. Ubisoft eventually realized neither perk was good enough on its own, and combined them into Unstoppable. (If only they’d do the same with Sentry!)

Still, Unstoppable got indirectly nerfed in Black Flag due to the removal of chase sequences in multiplayer. Since players can no longer formally win or lose a chase, there is much less incentive to informally win or lose. If your target gets away, you can just hunt him down again. If your pursuer catches you, you can just contest the kill for some extra points.

Unstoppable is also generally mediocre in FFA modes because the situations where it’s helpful are rare. If you’re running through NPCs, chances are you’re about to end up in some kind of contested kill/stun scenario. If you’re following someone through chase breakers, whatever kill you earn is probably not going to be worth much anyway.

Kill Buffer

  • Deathmatch: 3/5
  • Wanted: 2/5
  • Assassinate: 4/5

The value of Kill Buffer is completely reliant on which kill streak you’ve elected and what game mode you’re using it in. In Deathmatch and Assassinate, where it’s more likely you could rack up a huge number of kills and stuns in a match, Kill Buffer can guarantee you trigger high-requirement bonuses like Streak +550 or Animus Hack. Without Kill Buffer, you simply won’t have a realistic chance of activating these effects. In Wanted, or even something like Manhunt, it’s not realistic that you’ll need or trigger something like Animus Hack. As such, Kill Buffer is far less useful here.

Still, many players insist on using Kill Buffer even for 5-point streaks like Revelation or Daze, but this is a terrible mistake. Let’s look at exactly how often kill buffer actually benefits you based on your kill streak.

Revelation benefit by streak count

  1. No benefit if you die without a streak.
  2. No benefit if you die with a streak of 1.
  3. Benefit of +1 if you die with a streak of 2.
  4. Benefit of +2 if you die with a streak of 3.
  5. Benefit of +3 if you die with a streak of 4.
  6. No benefit if you die after completing your streak.

In this scenario, Kill Buffer only helped you in half of all possible death scenarios. And even then, that’s stretching it. If you die with a streak of 2, you might die again and be set back to zero. Under this common circumstance, Kill Buffer actually hurt you because you might have lived if you had any other perk equipped! Overall Cooldowns may have allowed you to stun your pursuer, for instance.

Compare the Revelation breakdown with something like Streak +550 or Animus Hack. You still won’t get any help for dying with 0, 1, or full streaks, but you’ll get a tremendous boost in your momentum at all streaks 2+, which is probably 80% of possible scenarios.

Still, even with high-requirement streaks in high-action game modes, Kill Buffer is generally overrated by the community. There will be plenty of times where you’ll activate your streak without Kill Buffer. And there will be plenty of times where you fail to activate your streak at all. In either situation, it would’ve been better to equip another perk to give you a more guaranteed edge over the competition.
Looking for more tips? Head back to the main Assassin’s Creed multiplayer strategy guide index.

9 replies to this post
  1. I have a different opinion about overall cooldowns: it is not very useful now. It cuts cooldowns by only 8%, which is very low. For example, disguise w/ OCD will come back in 55.2 seconds; without it that is 60 seconds. 4.8 seconds imo is not a considerable reduction to waste a perk slot.

    Also, Fast Recovery is just brilliant with knives and firecrackers.

    • That’s a good point. Still, even getting to use Disguise one extra time in a match could get you the stun you need to activate a streak, or a hidden kill worth 700+ points. It supposed it depends wholly on which skills you’re using, too.
      Either way I’m glad they changed it from a flat amount to a percentage.

    • Loving this advice. I had been using kill buffer switched to fast recovery. If you fail on a knife r firecracker stun jo problem. Plus as wingspan says kill buffer isn’t always helpful imo the biggest help will kill buffer is of you manage to get a streak 3+ or so with revelation up you well on your way to another revelation when you die.

  2. A quick note: the title says part #15 (where it should be #16).
    The DM/Wanted/Assassinate rankings for Blender is misplaced (in the previous section, before the “Blender” section title).

  3. Inspired to try Fast Recovery in place of Overall CD’s now. Also, I always knew 6th Sense was top tier material.

  4. You should do another one of these for team modes – while I haven’t gotten far enough in to know if it’s still the case, I know that Unstoppable was absolutely essential in AA in previous games.
    Also, how incredible would it be if animus hack let you kill your teammates in team modes. (to be fair, I don’t know that it doesn’t, since I’ve never tried it)
    PS in the last paragraph on Determined, you call it Blender by accident.
    PPS loving the guide so far :D

  5. It’s not just a place where the writer ‘ or the publicity
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