Two Things You Might Not Know How To Do In Assassin’s Creed IV

Two Things You Might Not Know How To Do In Assassin’s Creed IV

Maybe you spent the last weekend playing Assassin’s Creed IV: Black Flag. Maybe you recently picked got the game for a next-gen console, or for PC. Or maybe Thanksgiving weekend finally provided enough downtime to really dig in. Here are a couple of things you might not know how to do.

Yes, I’ve already written a tips post for this game. (It’s below, actually.) I’ve also written a bonus tip on how to remove some of the UI clutter and make the game more immersive. But after playing a surprising amount of ACIV on PS4 this past weekend, I noticed two more things that I realised everyone miiiight not know how to do, and I thought I’d share them.

Your “Heavy Shot” is super powerful, but you have to use it.

Mortars are very useful in combat, particularly when softening up a large fleet or taking on a fort. But the Jackdaw has one more weapon available from very early in the game that can be devastating: Heavy shot. You know when you take on a powerful enemy ship and it fires those super deadly, flaming cannonballs at you? That’s heavy shot.

Unfortunately, the game does a lousy job of telling you how to use it. In fact, I played my entire PS3 run of the game without once using heavy shot. I’d see it in my inventory and think “Huh, I should really figure out how to use that,” then never did. Every time I’d try to “change ammo” I’d use the d-pad, which would turn off the sea shanties. Who’d want to do that?

Turns out, using heavy shot is almost too simple: You have to fire your cannons (right rigger) without aiming. So, you’ll need to pull right up alongside your target, line it up by sight, then unleash hell. Your swivel-gun targets will light up, and you can clean out a third of a powerful ship’s health right there. It’s incredibly useful as the naval encounters get more challenging.

You can loot abandoned floating ships, and it’s pretty cool.

Here’s something else I didn’t know you could do. Sometimes when sailing around, you’ll see a smoking hulk of a ship that’s been taken down by some computer-controlled enemy or another. You can’t pull up alongside and initiate a boarding sequence, because you didn’t damage the ship — you just found it.

However, you can pull up nearby, dive off the Jackdaw and climb aboard. If you do, a timer will appear, and you’ll have until it reaches zero to make your way around the burning wreckage, looting supplies from storage crates on the deck. It’s neat, in an eerie way: The ship is silent, and the deck is strewn with dead men. As the timer hits zero, the ship will sink.

Maybe you already knew how to do both of those things. But I’m betting that enough people out there didn’t that it’d be worth sharing. Below, the rest of our tips for the game, for those just starting out.


  • I did fire flaming cannonballs once and was amazed, but as i tried to do it in combat, I had no idea. Why wouldn’t I try to aim before loosing a round!
    First thing I do tonight after work, broadside the biggest Man’O’War I can find and see what happens. haha.
    God help me.

    • Yeah, I ram them in such a way that I can immediately follow it up with a heavy shot broadside and finish with the swivel guns. You can take out a regular man’o’war real quick like this.

      But if you want to try this against the biggest man’o’war you can find, try sailing out to the south west corner of the map, there you’ll find a ship called La Dama Negra, she’ll give you a hell of a challenge

        • Yep 🙂 she’s a beauty too, fast, tough, heavily armoured sides and packing a real mean mortar and heavy shot broadside. Took me 5 or 6 tries with nearly all elite upgrades to bring her down. I keep getting smashed by those legendary ships…

      • I found la dama negra to be the easiest of the bunch. La Impoluto (top right of the map) is the real tricky one, it moves fast, its ram is devastating and it can fire many many cannonballs. Incidentally, the twins up top right are kinda frustrating, not overly difficult to take down but occasionally they behave strangely. If you have an X-Box One and find Nexidia I have a clip uploaded of me being bodyslammed by one of them when the games says “I wan’t you at this location right now, not when you get there”

        • Yeah she might be the easiest of all of them, doesn’t mean she’s easy though, plus she’s beautiful. Did that body slam happen to you after you’d killed one of the twins? I was fighting them in a storm and took out the one in white sails first when the other just went nuts and ended up riding a wave to land on top of me… instant death 🙁

          I’m playing on PC, also I’ve turned off all those blasted hints and notifications along with most of the HUD especially when I’m just in a pirating mood and want to wander around blasting Spaniards and British.

          • had it happen once after one was down but have seen it happen while both are up, pissed myself laughing when it lifted up on its ass, pivoted around then leaped on top of me

    • Haha! Go after the Legendary Ships… They’ll be the biggest Man’O’Wars you’ll ever see… Plus, they’re faster and tougher. Sometimes, there are two at once!

  • I like jumping off my own ship and swimming over to other ships, killing all of the crew then getting back to my ship to only have to do a single volley of canon fire before I get the option to board them.

  • I’ve also written a bonus tip on how to remove some of the UI clutter…
    Funnily enough, if you left the UI as is you can clearly see when you’re using round shot and when you’re using heavy shot with the indicator at the bottom of the screen. It still could have been better explained, though.
    Honestly curious as to how many people didn’t try boarding a derelict ship when they first saw one. When I first came across one, my immediate instinct was the explore the hell out of it.

  • i recently discovered how to use it when I was against a Man’o’War, I was always curious why my side cannons always highlighted when I went to look at the side for a barrage of regular cannon fodder. I started pressing buttons while looking at the highlighted cannons, but totally forgot that whenever I wanted to fire i had to pull the right trigger and that is how I found out. Still get slaughtered by the Legendary ships though……..Must find all the elite plans. That requires finding the treasure maps and in turn the said treasures. Need a decent amount of time to pull this one off 🙂

  • Yeah, I couldn’t figure out how to do heavy shot. But then during a main mission, one of the sequence challenges was to take out two ships with a heavy shot. Researching into the control layout in the options menu told me how to do it.

    As for the second point, I discovered that the first time I saw a ship on fire. I just jumped off and climbed aboard when the timer started. But it’s only worth doing once, the payout really isn’t worth it.

    • I’ve found two ships that have had 3 or 4 crates (can’t remember clearly) where one crate had about 50 of a random material in it. I’ve also found one with about 15 crates, which was a big race against the clock.

    • That’s exactly how I learned heavy shot, when it was required for 100% synch. Before that I’d just assumed round shot was used automatically when you were close to another ship.

  • Hold A to walk faster.

    It’s never communicated on the puppeteer section of the HUD (I play with every HUD aspect turned off anyway) but yeah, you walk a little faster and you push through crowds in a smoother manner.

    • It’s the fear of new IPs taken to it’s logical and extreme conclusion. Take a new pirate game IP and wrap it up in an Assassin’s Creed skin and sell millions of copies instead of a few hundred thousand. It’s a shame because as great as the game is, I think it could have been so much better without all the Assassins vs. Templar bullsh!t wrapped up over it.

  • Helpful Tips
    – Abstergo challenge sink 5 ships you have previously marked
    when you use your spyglass to look at a ship, you can press A to mark it, just sink it afterwards repeat 4 more times
    – pet 5 dogs can also be pet 1 dog 5 times
    -disarm an agile guard and kill him with his weapon
    find the wig wearing knife wielding guards and engage combat using melee only, counter and attack, hit A to disarm then throw the weapon back at him to kill him

    • The disarm requirement needing you to be empty-handed took me a while to figure out. You can disarm with swords, it just doesn’t count for some reason. They never explain this.

    • I was wondering how to disarm when trying to 100% mission for getting pirates for my new ship never did work it how

      I jumped ship and climbed aboard the destroyed ships when I didn’t the get the board notification, you don’t seem to get much most I’ve gotten so far is like 5 of something waste of time

  • You can also board ships without getting in to a fight first. Just jump off your ship and swim towards it and climb aboard. It takes some practice, but if you can manage to make the ship sail into some land and get stuck you’ll be able to get on board easier.

    This makes looting ships a lot easier as well (Especially a Man O’ War). Just kill all the guards on board, return to your ship and fire one shot at the ship. It will immediately give you the option to board and take whatever is has.

  • Another cool thing, If you manage to swim and board another ship while it still has crew and you kill all of them it only takes one shot to be able to board the ship and in most cases unless you have to destroy the flag its instant capture upon initiating boarding.

    the easiest place to do this is near islands where there is a path through the middle, can sit the jackdaw almost blocking and they have to spend plenty of time turning and trying to get around, seems to work on most ships, captured a man o war with this method.

  • I found the boarding already incapacitated ships to be annoying because the rewards are so small. Same as with the floating crates.

    Me: *Steers in the wrong direction to pick up crates*
    Game: “Sugar x 1!”
    Me: :/

    Agree it explains things badly, had to google to work out heavy shot. It’s also glitchy. I got to the final guy, and couldn’t kill him! So stupid. Love / hate game for me.

  • THANK you for sharing this!! Man, I can’t believe how glaringly obvious it was, yet 15 hours into the game I had NO idea how to actually do this, despite spending money to upgrade the heavy shot several times! Lol

    I always thought “why in gods name would I fire without aiming…? That’s stupid!!” Well maybe *im* stupid…

    Maybe now I stand a chance against some of those epic legendary ships who tear me apart like I’m floating around on a papier-mâché raft… 😛

  • How to defeat legendary ships EASY: 1. Target them on your map. 2. When your about 590-565 meters away let go of the wheel. 3. If you do it correctly the cinematic should play but you won’t have control of the jackdaw, and can roam freely 4. Climb onto the jackdaws masts and when the ship gets close enough, jump to it. 5. Make sure to kill the snipers and climb down and kill all the crew. 5. Jump off the legendary ship once ALL the crew are dead and within seconds it’s health bar should go from full to empty. 6. Return to jackdaw and fire one broadside volley to destroy the ship. I have tested before it works on all if you time it right. Have fun guys 🙂

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