Assassin's Creed IV: Black Flag

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Assassin's Creed IV: Black Flag
Assassin's Creed IV - Black Flag cover.jpg
Developer(s)Ubisoft Montreal
Ubisoft Milan
Ubisoft Kiev
  • Jean Guesdon
  • Ashraf Ismail
  • Damien Kieken
Producer(s)Martin Schelling
  • Eric Baptizat
  • Jean-Sebastien Decant
Artist(s)Raphael Lacoste
Writer(s)Darby McDevitt
Composer(s)Brian Tyler
SeriesAssassin's Creed
Genre(s)Action-adventure, stealth
Mode(s)Single-player, multiplayer

Assassin's Creed IV: Black Flag is an action-adventure video game developed by Ubisoft Montreal and published by Ubisoft. It is the sixth major installment in the Assassin's Creed series. Its historical timeframe precedes that of Assassin's Creed III (2012), though its modern-day sequences succeed III's own. Black Flag was first released for PlayStation 3, Xbox 360, and Wii U in October 2013 and a month later for PlayStation 4, Xbox One, and Microsoft Windows.

The plot is set in a fictional history of real world events and follows the centuries-old struggle between the Assassins, who fight for peace with free will, and the Templars, who desire peace through control. The framing story is set in the 21st century and describes the player as an Abstergo agent. The main story is set in the 18th century Caribbean during the Golden Age of Piracy, and follows notorious Welsh pirate Edward Kenway, grandfather and father of Assassin's Creed III protagonist Ratonhnhaké:ton and antagonist Haytham Kenway, respectively, who stumbles upon the Assassin/Templar conflict. The attempted establishment of a Republic of Pirates utopia (free from either British or Spanish rule) is a significant plot element.

Unlike previous games, gameplay elements focus more on ship-based exploration of the seamless open world map, while also retaining the series' third-person land-based exploration, melee combat, and stealth system. Multiplayer also returns, albeit with only land-based modes and settings. The game's setting spans the West Indies with the three main cities of Havana, Nassau, and Kingston, along with numerous islands, sunken ships, and forts. Players have the option to harpoon large sea animals and hunt land animals. For the first time in the series, naval exploration is a major part of an Assassin's Creed game, where Edward Kenway captains the Jackdaw, a brig he captures from a Spanish fleet.

Assassin's Creed IV: Black Flag received positive reviews and was one of the best-selling games of 2013, with more than 11 million copies shipped. Critics praised the massive open world gameplay, numerous side-quests, graphics and improved naval combat. The light-hearted pirate theme and engaging story were well received by critics. The modern day story, however, received a slightly more mixed response, while criticism fell on aspects of the historical story missions which were considered repetitive. The game received several awards and nominations, including winning the Spike VGX 2013 award for Best Action Adventure Game. It was followed by Assassin's Creed Unity and Assassin's Creed Rogue in November 2014, which were set during the French Revolution and Seven Years' War, respectively.


Assassin's Creed IV: Black Flag is an action-adventure, stealth game set in an open world environment and played from a third-person perspective. The game features three main cities; Havana, Kingston, and Nassau, which reside under Spanish, British, and pirate influence, respectively.[9] In addition, locations like Port-au-Prince and smaller locations like Greater Inagua are used as main story points. It also features 50 other individual locations to explore, including atolls, sea forts, Mayan ruins, sugar plantations, and underwater shipwrecks, with a 60/40 balance between land and naval exploration.[1] It has a more open world feel, with missions similar to those found in Assassin's Creed, as well as fewer restrictions for the player. The world opens up sooner in the game, as opposed to Assassin's Creed III, which had very scripted missions and did not give players freedom to explore until the game was well into its first act.[9][10][11][12] The player will encounter jungles, forts, ruins, and small villages and the world is built to allow players much more freedom, such as allowing players to engage, board, and capture passing ships and swimming to nearby beaches in a seamless fashion.[1][13] In addition, the hunting system has been retained from Assassin's Creed III, allowing the player to hunt on land, and fish in the water, with resources gathered used to upgrade equipment.[1]

A new aspect in the game is the Jackdaw, the ship that the player captains. The Jackdaw is upgradeable throughout the game, and is easily accessible to the player when needed.[10] In addition, a new underwater component has been added.[9] The player has access to a spyglass, allowing the examination of distant ships, along with their cargo and strength. It can also help determine if an island still has animals to hunt, treasures to find, high points to reach for synchronization or additional side-quests to complete, such as assassinations and naval contracts.[9] An updated form of the recruit system introduced in Assassin's Creed: Brotherhood has returned,[9] allowing Edward to recruit crew members. While Kenway's crew will remain loyal to him, they can be promoted to captain acquired ships, and are needed to assist in boarding enemy vessels, they cannot assist in combat or perform long-range assassinations, as in previous games. Ubisoft removed this aspect of the brotherhood system, believing it allowed players to bypass tense and challenging scenarios too easily.[14]

In the present day, at the offices of Abstergo Entertainment—a subsidiary of Abstergo Industries—in Montreal, Quebec, players engage in modern-day pirating through the exploration of Abstergo's offices, eavesdropping and hacking, all without combat. As well, various "hacking" games, similar to previous cluster and glyph puzzles, are present, that uncover secrets about Abstergo.[15]

Multiplayer also returns, with new settings and game modes, though it is only land-based.[9]



The main character of the game is Edward Kenway (Matt Ryan),[16] a Welsh[17] privateer-turned-pirate and eventual member of the Assassin Order. Edward is the father of Haytham Kenway, and grandfather of Ratonhnhaké:ton (Connor), the two playable characters of Assassin's Creed III. Real-life individuals that are encountered include the pirates Edward "Blackbeard" Thatch[note 1][18] (voiced by Mark Bonnar),[16] Benjamin Hornigold,[9] Mary Read,[9] Stede Bonnet,[9] Anne Bonny,[9] Calico Jack,[9] and Charles Vane[9] (Ralph Ineson).[16]


As is the case in previous games in the Assassin's Creed series, the story is divided into two intertwined halves, with one in the present day, one in a historical setting, and the events of each influencing the other. Although the present-day story had previously established that an Animus was required to view one's ancestors memories, the ending of Assassin's Creed III reveals that Abstergo can now view a host's genetic memories simply by sequencing the host's DNA. As such, the player character is hired by Abstergo Entertainment to investigate a pivotal character in Desmond's ancestry, the Assassin Edward Kenway.[19] A notorious pirate and privateer operating during the Golden Age of Piracy, Kenway's story is set in the Caribbean, and mixes open-ended ship-based exploration with combat and land-based adventures in Cuba and Jamaica, and on a number of Caribbean islands, parts of southern Florida and eastern Mexico.[20][21][22]


Samples taken from Desmond Miles' body in the moments after his death have allowed Abstergo Industries to continue exploring his genetic memories using the Animus' newfound cloud computing abilities. The unnamed player character is hired by Abstergo Entertainment, from their Montréal headquarters, to sift through the memories of Edward Kenway, an eighteenth-century pirate, the father of Haytham Kenway and the grandfather of Ratonhnhaké:ton. Ostensibly, this is to gather material for an Animus-powered interactive feature film. In reality, Abstergo—the Templars of the present time—are searching for a First Civilization structure known as the Observatory, and are using Edward's memories to find it.

As Edward, the player unravels a conspiracy between high-ranking Templars within the British and Spanish empires who, under the guise of cleaning up piracy in the Caribbean, have used their positions to locate the Sage—later identified as Bartholomew Roberts—who is the only man that can lead them to the Observatory, a First Civilization device which can monitor anyone anywhere in the world when provided a blood sample, which they intend to use to spy on and blackmail world leaders. Edward becomes an unwitting player in their plot when he kills a rogue Assassin, Duncan Walpole. Seeing an opportunity for profit, Edward takes Walpole's place at a meeting of Templars in Havana, where he meets Woodes Rogers as well as Cuban Governor, and Templar Grandmaster, Laureano Torres. His recklessness endangers the entire Assassins' Order, prompting him to pursue the Sage and the conspirators from the Yucatán Peninsula to Jamaica, eventually catching Roberts on the island of Príncipe off of the African coast.

Meanwhile, a band of notorious pirates—including Edward "Blackbeard" Thatch, Benjamin Hornigold, Mary Read (under the alias "James Kidd") and Charles Vane, among others—dream of a pirate utopia where man is free to live beyond the reach of kings and rulers. With Edward's help, they seize control of Nassau and establish a pirate republic. However, poor governance, a lack of an economy and an outbreak of disease bring the pirate state perilously close to collapse, with the founders divided on the best way forward. Edward attempts to resolve the dispute, but is too late to stop the Templars from exploiting the situation for their own ends.

Eventually, Edward and Roberts uncover the location of the Observatory and retrieves the artifact powering it, but Roberts betrays Edward at the last moment. After a brief stint in prison for the crimes of piracy, Edward escapes with the aid of Ah Tabai, the Assassin Mentor, and elects to join their Order. Chasing down and eliminating Roberts and the Templar conspirators, Edward retrieves the artifact and returns it to the Observatory, sealing it away for good. He is left facing an uncertain future with his newfound convictions until he receives a letter informing him of the passing of his wife and the imminent arrival of his hitherto unknown daughter, Jennifer Scott. Edward travels back to England, promising Ah Tabai that he will continue the fight against the Templars back home in England. Some years later, Edward, Jennifer (using her mother's surname in her memory) and Edward's young son Haytham attend a play in an English theatre.

In the present day, the player is contacted by John, Abstergo Entertainment's information technology manager. John convinces the player that their employers know more than they are telling, and encourages them to investigate in more detail. He convinces the player to hack several Animus terminals and security cameras, and then has them deliver the information taken to Shaun Hastings and Rebecca Crane, who are working undercover to infiltrate Abstergo. When the facility is locked down after the hackings are discovered, John arranges for the player to access the Animus' core, at which point Juno materializes into an incorporeal form. She reveals that although it was necessary to open her temple to avert disaster, the world was not ready for her, and she is unable to affect it or possess the player character as her agents intended. John is unmasked as the reincarnated form of the Sage and attempts to murder the player to cover up the failed attempt at resurrecting Juno, but is killed by Abstergo's security before he can do so, thus implicating him as the one responsible for the hacks. As Roberts, the Sage admits to Kenway that he owes no allegiance to the Assassins or the Templars and instead uses whoever he thinks represents his best chance of achieving his ends. With the Sage dead, the player is contacted by the Assassins as they continue their infiltration of Abstergo, but neither side is able to explain the Sage's presence or identify his followers, the Instruments of the First Will.[note 2]

Freedom Cry[edit]

The Freedom Cry downloadable content is set twenty years after the events of Black Flag and follows Adéwalé in his mission as an Assassin.

While attempting to intercept Templar activities in the West Indies Sea, Adéwalé is shipwrecked off the coast of Haiti. Making his way into Port-au-Prince, he establishes that the Templars are working with Bastienne Josèphe, the proprietor of a local brothel and a sympathiser to the Maroons, a faction of freedom fighters made up of liberated slaves led by Augustin Dieufort. Despite his obligations to the Brotherhood of Assassins, Adéwalé becomes sympathetic to their cause, and joins with the Maroons in hijacking a vessel, Experto Crede, in order to interrupt the slave trade.

Whilst working for Bastienne, Adéwalé begins to uncover a conspiracy within the French provincial government ruling Port-au-Prince. The local governor, Pierre de Fayet, plans a clandestine scientific expedition to measure the curvature of the earth and gather geographical data, which they intend to sell to the highest bidder with the promise of naval superiority. Adéwalé successfully sabotages the expedition by substituting the illiterate slaves being used by the expedition for literate members of the Maroons.

Tensions begin to arise within the Maroons when Adéwalé plots further raids against the slave trade. Bastienne objects, as de Fayet will only punish those trapped in slavery further as punishment. Adéwalé ignores her, but is horrified when he witnesses a frigate fire on an unarmed slave ship to prevent the slaves from joining the Maroons. Adéwalé boards the slave ship and manages to save a few slaves from drowning before the ship capsized with the rest. He plans retribution, but Bastienne cautions that taking revenge will weaken the Maroons' cause; if Adéwalé is to kill de Fayet, then he should do so acting as an agent of justice. After assaulting the Governor's Mansion, pursuing him through the city and fighting off a local garrison, Adéwalé finally corners and kills de Fayet, who claims that slaves are incapable of self-governance and turn to armed uprising at the slightest provocation. Adéwalé points out that none of the slaves or overseers came to his aid, and instead let him die. After killing de Fayet, Adéwalé returns to say goodbye to Bastienne before returning to the Assassin Order, but pledging to use his newfound convictions to aid people who are oppressed rather than the cause of their would-be liberators.


In early February 2013, during its quarterly financial call to investors, Ubisoft CEO Yves Guillemot confirmed that the next Assassin's Creed game, due for release some time before April 2014, would feature a new hero, time period, and development team.[23] On February 28, 2013, Ubisoft posted their first promotional picture and cover for their next Assassin's Creed game, following leaked marketing material days before.[24] It announced the title of the game as Assassin's Creed IV: Black Flag and featured an unnamed character holding a flintlock and a sword with a black flag in the back ground containing the Assassin's symbol with a skull.[24] A reported glitch on the official Assassin's Creed IV website suggested the game will release on next-gen consoles and October 29 as the release date,[25] which was confirmed by the first trailer for the game, released on March 4, 2013 (originally leaked on March 2, 2013, but was quickly pulled by Ubisoft).[1][26][27]

Assassin's Creed IV: Black Flag was announced with a cinematic trailer on March 4, 2013.[26] Development began in mid-2011 at Ubisoft Montreal by a separate team from the one on Assassin's Creed III, with additional work done by Ubisoft studios in Annecy, Bucharest, Kyiv, Milan, Montpellier, Singapore and Sofia.[9]

Lead content manager Carsten Myhill stressed away the sentiment that the sequel should have been a spin-off in the same vein as Assassin's Creed: Brotherhood or Assassin's Creed: Revelations, given the ostensible similarities with Assassin's Creed III. He stated "The whole feeling of the game is completely fresh and new. It will feel very different from Assassin's Creed III. I think it completely warrants the Assassin's Creed IV moniker, not only with the new name and setting, but the attitude and the tone of the experience."[28] Assassin's Creed IV is the first main series numbered title to carry a subtitle, a decision which Myhill says was made to clearly distinguish the pirate theme from the rest of the franchise.[28]

By utilizing the AnvilNext engine, the development team is able to work with one engine for both the next-gen and current-gen versions of the game, as the AnvilNext engine was designed with next-gen capabilities in mind, while still working on current-gen systems.[1] In addition, each system will have their own intricacies and feature sets, with support for the different controllers and utilizing features specific to each console.[1] The PC version supports Nvidia's TXAA.[29]


Assassin's Creed IV: Black Flag (Original Game Soundtrack)
Soundtrack album by
ReleasedOctober 16, 2013 (2013-10-16)
GenreVideo game soundtrack
LabelUbisoft Music

Assassin's Creed IV: Black Flag (Original Game Soundtrack) was composed by American composer Brian Tyler, who also composed the soundtrack of the previous Ubisoft title Far Cry 3. Additional compositions and arrangements were provided by Sarah Schachner, Omar Fadel,[30] Steve Davis, Mike Kramer, Jeremy Lamb, Matthew Llewellyn, and Robert Lydecker. The soundtrack was released on Amazon MP3[31] and iTunes on October 14, 2013.[32] Two other soundtracks have also been released:

  • Assassin's Creed IV: Black Flag (Game Soundtrack — Sea Shanty Edition), a second soundtrack containing a set of 16 sea shanties composed by various artists, was released on Amazon MP3[33] and iTunes on October 29, 2013.[34]
  • Assassin's Creed IV: Black Flag (Game Soundtrack — The Complete Edition), a complete soundtrack including the two previous soundtracks as well as the multiplayer soundtrack composed by Joe Henson and Alexis Smith, was released on Amazon MP3[35] and iTunes on December 2, 2013.[36]

The score to the Freedom Cry DLC was composed by French composer Olivier Deriviere. It was recorded at Avatar Studios in New York with La Troupe Makandal, a dedicated group for Haitian music, and at Galaxy Studios in Belgium with the Brussels Philharmonic.[37]

  • ^[a] signifies a song that is included in the "Skull Edition"[38]

Marketing and release[edit]

Assassin's Creed IV: Black Flag was released worldwide for PlayStation 3 and Xbox 360 on October 29, 2013,[5][6][7] while the Wii U was released on October 29, 2013 in North America,[2][6][7] November 21, 2013 in Australia, November 22, 2013 in Europe[3] and November 28, 2013 in Japan.[39] The Wii U version in Europe was delayed from its original November 1, 2013 release date.[3] It was announced on March 1, 2013 that the game will also come to the PlayStation 4, and on May 21 that it will release on the Xbox One.[4] Both versions were launch titles, with the PlayStation 4 version releasing on November 15 and November 29, 2013 in North America and Europe, respectively,[6][7] and November 22, 2013 worldwide for Xbox One.[6][7]

Ubisoft partnered with Sony to bring exclusive content to the PlayStation 3 and PlayStation 4 versions of the game,[40] which will feature the protagonist of Assassin's Creed III: Liberation, Aveline de Grandpré, in three missions. The Aveline content, which was written by Liberation writer Jill Murray, picks up after the conclusion of her story in Liberation.[41] The content is also available on the PC platform, through the Uplay Gold Edition.[42]

On June 21, 2013, it was announced that the Microsoft Windows version had been delayed "a few weeks" from its intended release of October 29, 2013.[43] Its new release dates were later revealed to be November 19, 2013 in North America and November 22, 2013 in Europe.[3] Lead designer Jean-Sebastien Decant explained that the delay was caused by the team working on the "master version" first, making sure it works and then proceeding to the other versions. For Black Flag, the PlayStation 3 and Xbox 360 version was the master, before the team adapted it to the other consoles.[44]

On October 31, 2013 Ubisoft announced that the Uplay Passport requirement would be removed from Assassin's Creed IV and all future games. Uplay Passport came with all new copies of the game and was required for accessing multiplayer and Edward's Fleet minigame. Owners of used copies could download Uplay Passport for a fee before the removal.[45][46]

A Japanese manga adaptation of the game, written by Takashi Yano and illustrated by Kenji Oiwa, began serialization in Shueisha's Jump X magazine on August 10, 2013.[47] The manga however contradicts many parts of the game's actual storyline, despite the manga being an adaptation of the game.

Downloadable content[edit]

On October 8, 2013, Ubisoft announced that a Season Pass would be available for purchase at the launch of the game on PlayStation 3, PlayStation 4, Xbox 360, Xbox One and PC, and would include the Freedom Cry single-player missions, Kraken Ship pack featuring elements to personalize the Jackdaw, as well as additional single-player and multiplayer elements.[48]

Freedom Cry sees the player take on the role of Adéwalé, a freed slave from Trinidad who became Edward Kenway's Quartermaster, and later a member of the Assassin Order. The story mode takes place 20 years after the events of Assassin's Creed IV: Black Flag where Adéwalé has become a trained assassin with the Order and finds himself shipwrecked in Saint-Domingue, where he comes face-to-face with some of the most brutal slavery in the West Indies. The DLC is written by Jill Murray, who wrote Liberation and the Aveline content for Black Flag.[49] In February 2014, it was announced that Freedom Cry would be released as a standalone title on the PlayStation 4 and PlayStation 3 on February 18, 2014 for North America and February 19, 2014 for Europe. It was released for the PC on February 25, 2014.[50]

Blackbeard's Wrath allows the player to play any one of three new characters in Black Flag's multiplayer mode. These characters include Blackbeard, The Jaguar and The Orchid. This DLC is free with the Season Pass.[51]

Guild of Rogues adds three new characters to the multiplayer mode. These characters are The Shaman, The Siren and The Stowaway. It was not released for the Wii U.[52]

The PlayStation 3 and PlayStation 4 releases both contain an exclusive DLC, "Aveline". As an exception it is available on PC in the Uplay Digital Deluxe Edition and Jackdaw Edition only.

A Game of The Year version, called the Jackdaw Edition, was released in the UK for sale exclusively on It was made available for Xbox One and PlayStation 4 consoles as well as PC. The edition includes all previously released downloadable content. No comparable editions were created for territories outside of the UK.


Aggregate score
Metacritic(PS3) 88/100[53]
(WIIU) 86/100[54]
(X360) 86/100[55]
(PS4) 83/100[56]
(PC) 84/100[57]
Review scores
Game Informer8.25/10[63]
Giant Bomb4/5 stars[65]
Joystiq4/5 stars[67]
OPM (UK)8/10[68]
OXM (US)9.0/10[69]
PC Gamer (UK)90%[70]
The Escapist5/5 stars[72]

Assassin's Creed IV: Black Flag received "generally favorable" reviews, according to review aggregator Metacritic, with critics praising the open world gameplay, side-quests, graphics and naval combat. In November 2013, Hardcore Gamer ranked Black Flag as the 70th greatest game of the seventh generation era.[73]

Black Flag was generally praised as superior to Assassin's Creed III,[67][71] with Game Informer's Joe Juba noting that Ubisoft responded to criticisms the previous game faced and rectified them.[63] CVG's Matt Gilman called the game "a return to form for the franchise,"[58] while Mikel Reparaz of Official Xbox Magazine stated that "After weathering the somewhat diminishing returns of Revelations and ACIII, Black Flag is exactly the shot in the arm Assassin's Creed needed."[69] Two days after its release, IGN ranked Black Flag as the 2nd best game in the Assassin's Creed series, only behind Assassin's Creed II.[74]

Several reviewers directed heavy acclaim to the game's open world structure, with the Edge staff declaring that Black Flag "sets new benchmarks not only for Ubisoft's series but for open-world gaming."[59] Eurogamer's Tom Bramwell called the open world gameplay "a surprising breath of fresh sea air,"[61] with Gilman stating it "revitalizes the series."[58] The large scale of the open world was praised,[66] with Greg Tito of The Escapist saying that the game "opens up the whole Caribbean."[72] Reviewers also praised the game's side-quests and collectibles,[58] as it actively encouraged the player to explore the open world,[61][66] with GameSpot's Shaun McInnis saying that "Black Flag presents a world full of adventure and opportunity and full of reasons to go exploring."[64] The side-quests were generally agreed to be superior to the main missions,[60][63] with IGN's Marty Sliva stating that "Black Flag is at its best [when you] set out in search of your own fun."[66] The assassination side-missions were particularly praised.[63][70] The seamless exploration between ship, land, and sea without loading was also praised.[64][70]

The graphics were also widely acclaimed. The Edge staff stated that "From a graphical standpoint, Black Flag's world is built to amaze regardless of which console generation you're playing it on."[59] Reviewers praised the game's open world as "beautiful" and "gorgeous;"[58][64] Sliva called Black Flag "one of the best looking games of 2013."[66] The game's level of detail was also acclaimed,[60] with the open world's water, rain and sea, being cited as "amazing" to look at.[58][63]

The game's naval combat system drew much praise. Reviewers noted that the naval combat was Assassin's Creed III's best feature, and consequently praised Black Flag for improving on it.[59] Tito explained that, while Assassin's Creed III's naval missions were linear and limited, Black Flag offered the player much greater freedom by allowing them to explore, fight or sail whenever they wanted.[72] McInnis said that the game "places a huge emphasis on naval combat," and stated that it "builds on ACIII's naval side missions to create an experience every bit as important as running around on dry land."[64] The naval combat received praise for its additions of boarding ships and attacking forts,[72] as well as the seamless transitions between ship and sword gameplay,[64][70] with Tito calling it "a great dual system that rewards both skill in naval combat, and [in] pirate action."[72]

The stealth in the game was praised for being more flexible than previous games by allowing the player more options to accomplish their goals.[58][64] The Edge staff said that "Stealth games are only as good as the flexibility of their encounters, and in that regard Black Flag is the most generous Assassin's Creed game to date."[59] However, some also criticized the stealth for being frustrating,[63] due to its clunky and poorly defined controls.[61][71] Reviewers noted that fighting as Edward was similar to previous games,[68] with some criticizing it for being monotonous,[61] too easy,[58] and lacking nuance.[72] However, it was also praised for being "an effective and violent power trip,"[70] and for being "fluid and lively."[64] Some also complained about the enemy A.I. for lacking intelligence.[68][70][71] The simplified crafting system was praised for improving over Assassin's Creed III's,[64][69] with reviewers noting it took inspiration from Far Cry 3.[59][70]

The story received a positive response overall. Reparaz praised it as "engrossing" and one of the Assassin's Creed series' best. Reparaz and McInnis also complimented the characters, and praised the way the story explores the human side of pirates, painting them in a sympathetic and relatable light.[64][69] Bramwell felt that the story "flourishes," particularly praising the supporting characters and Edward's character arc.[61] PlayStation Official Magazine's Joel Gregory felt that Black Flag's storyline was nothing unique for the series, though he praised the characters as "far more interesting, more likeable, and more varied" than previous games.[68] While he praised the story's first half, Gilman was more critical of the latter half, adding that its flawed pacing and structure resulted in player apathy towards the characters.[58] Both Sliva and Juba also criticized the main story,[66] with Juba complaining about its lack of purpose, or a compelling antagonist, and felt that most of the supporting characters were underdeveloped.[63]

The story missions had a mixed reception. Reparaz, who gave the game high praise, felt that they were the weakest aspect of Black Flag.[69] Juba and's Steven Burns both felt that most of the story missions were extremely repetitive and were tediously tiring.[63][71] Tito, however, felt that they were varied, and that the frustrating portions compensated by being challenging.[72] One particular aspect that received heavy criticism from most reviewers were the eavesdropping and tailing missions,[59][61][63][64][69][71][72] with several noting that these problems should have been fixed or removed entirely from the series.[58][68] The tailing objectives were also extended to ship/sea missions, with reviewers also criticizing this form of naval stealth, in particular a mission requiring the player to navigate the Jackdaw through a narrow river system despite rowing boats being readily available on the ship for use in whaling side missions.[59][67] The game's pacing and opening were praised, as it introduced the pirate gameplay without the need of an overly long tutorial,[60][66][70] with Juba noting it an improvement over Assassin's Creed III.[63]

Several reviewers labelled Black Flag a more pirate game than it is an Assassin's Creed one, due to its heavy focusing on pirating in gameplay, story, and characters.[59][67][68][70] Reviewers felt that it was better for the game; they praised Black Flag's more light-hearted fare and tone compared to previous games,[59][66][71] while also believing the game wisely avoided the usual convoluted Assassin's plot in favor of a simplistic pirate story.[66][70] Gilman stated that "Black Flag is a better pirate game than it is an assassin game,"[58] with PC Gamer's Tom Senior remarking that "Black Flag doesn't really want to be an Assassin's Creed game, and [...] that is a welcome move."[70] Reparaz called it the greatest pirate game he had ever played,[69] while Electronic Gaming Monthly's Ray Carsillo declared Black Flag to be "probably the best pirate simulation in gaming history."[60] Tito stated that Black Flag's gameplay reminded him more of a 3D version of Sid Meier's Pirates! than any Assassin's Creed game.[72] Edward Kenway's character as a self-motivated pirate rather than an Assassin was also praised by most.[61][64][66][71] Sliva believed that Edward's character was a "refreshing change of pace from a series that had started to take itself a bit too seriously,"[66] while he and Gilman stated that Edward was a "livelier" and more "palatable" protagonist than Assassin's Creed III's Connor.[58][66]

In December 2015, Game Informer ranked the game as the fifth best game in the Assassin's Creed series to date.[75]


During the first week of sales in the United Kingdom, Assassin's Creed IV: Black Flag became the best-selling game on all available formats, ahead of Battlefield 4.[76] However, the game's opening week sales were 60% down compared to 2012's Assassin's Creed III. Ubisoft blamed the fall in demand on uncertainty caused by the upcoming transition to eighth generation consoles.[77] According to NPD Group figures, Assassin's Creed IV: Black Flag was the third best-selling game of November 2013 in the United States, only behind Call of Duty: Ghosts and Battlefield 4.[78] In May 2014, Ubisoft announced that the game had shipped over 11 million copies.[79]


Assassin's Creed IV: Black Flag has received Game of the Year nominations from media outlets Cheat Code Central,[80] GameSpot,[81] and the Inside Gaming Awards,[82] It won the Spike VGX 2013 award for Best Action Adventure Game,[83] and the GameSpot awards for PS4 Game of the Year and Xbox One Game of the Year.[84][85]

PETA criticism[edit]

The People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals (PETA), an animal rights organisation criticised Assassin's Creed IV: Black Flag for the usage of harpoons and "glorification" of whaling. The organisation said it was disgraceful that the video game industry didn't condemn the addition.[137] Ubisoft responded to the claims by saying that Assassin's Creed is based on history and is a "work of fiction which depicts real events during the Golden Era of Pirates". Ubisoft claimed they do not condone whaling, along with other mechanics and features in the series.[138]

PETA has had a history of criticising video games, some of the notable cases being Mario and Pokémon.[139]

Series continuation[edit]

Assassin's Creed Unity, set in Paris on the eve of the French Revolution,[140] was released worldwide on PlayStation 4, Xbox One and Windows on November 11, 2014.[141]

Additionally, Assassin's Creed Rogue is the sequel to Assassin's Creed IV: Black Flag and the prequel to both Unity and III, following Shay Cormac, an Assassin-turned-Templar who hunts members of the Assassin order. Taking place in North America during the Seven Years' War, the game was released worldwide on PlayStation 3 and Xbox 360 on November 11, 2014.[142]

Other data[edit]

In November 2013, Ubisoft financed the exhumation of the remains of the Spanish corsair Amaro Pargo with the aim of reconstructing his face for a possible appearance in Assassin's Creed IV: Black Flag.[143]. This exhumation had important discoveries on the physiognomy of this mythical corsair.[144]

See also[edit]


  1. ^ The character is referred to as "Thatch" in this game, rather than the more common "Teach". "Thatch" is one of the many variations of Blackbeard's name known to have existed. Please see Blackbeard: Early life for more information.
  2. ^ The player is able to find collectible items scattered throughout both past and present-day game worlds. These items establish the Sage's backstory and are used as a means of communicating with other unidentified agents of the First Civilization.


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External links[edit]