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"I once sailed for a king. I obeyed men of privilege and wealth. Now, I bend my knee to no man. My only oath is to my crew and together we will take back what is rightfully ours. With blood and steel, we shall stand up to the powerful. Captains will curse our flag, and kings will fear it. As long as empires generate wealth and riches, we will be there to bleed them dry."
―Edward Kenway, Assassin's Creed IV: Black Flag's "Under The Black Flag" Trailer.

Assassin's Creed IV: Black Flag is a 2013 action-adventure game, and the sixth main installment in the Assassin's Creed series. A sequel to 2012's Assassin's Creed III, the game has the player take on the role of an Abstergo Entertainment research analyst as they explore the story of Edward Kenway – father to Haytham Kenway, grandfather to Ratonhnhaké:ton, and an ancestor of Desmond Miles.

Assassin's Creed IV: Black Flag is set primarily on and around the islands in the Caribbean Sea during the Golden Age of Piracy in the early 18th century, with the three major cities consisting of Havana, Nassau, and Kingston.

Development

Assassin's Creed IV: Black Flag producer Martin Schelling and Mission Director Ashraf Ismail both stated that they began the project in the summer of 2011, with a pirate game as their focus.[3] Ismail also stressed that they aimed towards a more historically accurate take on the era, including staying away from the stereotypical image associated with pirates, such as parrots, Krakens, and plank-walking.[4] The pair also explained that because the game was so radically different from its predecessor and that the scope and open-world gameplay was so different from the previous game, they opted for the project to be a numbered sequel as opposed to a spin-off that followed in the footsteps of the last numbered game, Assassin's Creed III.[3]

Ubisoft's Montreal-based team, in conjunction with 7 other studios from Singapore, Sofia, Annecy, Kiev, Quebec City, Bucharest and Montpellier – accompanied by a band of developers of Far Cry 3 – contributed to the completion of the game, with each studio focusing on different elements.[4]

Writer Darby McDevitt began writing the game soon after completing Assassin's Creed: Revelations, after being suggested to do a game expanding the "Kenway family saga", instead of Connor's life story as they did with Ezio Auditore da Firenze. He considered beginning the story with Edward as a boy during the William Kidd and Henry Morgan era of piracy, but decided he felt skeptical as to whether Assassin's Creed II convincingly portrayed a similar span of time, and so opted to simply focus on the Blackbeard era towards the end of the Golden Age of Piracy.[5]

McDevitt stated the game's primary history resources were A General History of the Pyrates (1724) and The Republic of Pirates (2008). As a homage to the former book, the game's subtitles rendered each noun with capital letters. Republic author Colin Woodard was invited to consult on the game.[6]

Lorne Balfe, who was the sole composer for Assassin's Creed III and secondary composer for Assassin's Creed: Brotherhood and Assassin's Creed: Revelations, did not return to score the soundtrack for Assassin's Creed IV: Black Flag. The score was instead composed by Brian Tyler, the composer of Far Cry 3.

Gameplay

Locations and navigation

About 60% of the game takes place on land; players can explore 50 locations ranging from fisherman villages, plantations, jungles, forts, islands, Templar hideouts, Mayan ruins and exotic Coconut Islands. Furthermore, there are around 75 beaches and sandbanks, which can hold various treasures and marooned sailors to add to Edward's crew.

Other activities include hunting, harpooning, and exploring underwater environments. The game aims to blend between its land and aquatic experiences seamlessly, to the point where players can simply dive off Edward's ship, swim to the shore and explore the land, as well as dive under the surface to loot underwater ship wrecks.

Viewpoints are also in Black Flag. As in the previous games, viewpoints have to be synchronized so as to reveal information about an area and its surroundings. Furthermore, they now also serve the function of fast-travel locations. Synchronizing with a viewpoint unlocks more loot and area of "interest" to Edward and can also be used as a faster way of locating a specific target.

Combat

Black Flag's combat has been upgraded to include free aiming. While previous installments relied on the game's built-in auto aim, in Assassin's Creed IV: Black Flag, players are able to just aim and fire, similar to third-person shooters.

Dual-wielding weapons has also been implemented, with Edward being able to carry four flintlock pistols and be able to use them all together, chaining up to four gunshots into a combo of attacks to take down more enemies. Aside from the pistols and his Hidden Blades, Edward can equip dual cutlass swords and chain their attacks together. Other weapons include a blowpipe with multiple effected projectiles and rope darts. Accompanying this, the stealth system has been remade and is encouraged in-game. 

Combo attacks are achieved through chaining multiple attacks in a row while uninterrupted. The game includes many different ways of combo moves, with some available through running towards an enemy or jumping onto an enemy from the high ground.

Naval combat

The game also includes naval combat, with 40% of the story taking place on the water, which includes numerous side missions. After checking out a ship with Edward's spyglass from the Jackdaw's crow's nest and evaluating the information and statistics, players can launch an attack using various scenarios; one can simply shoot the opposing captain, board the ship by leaping from mast-to-mast and performing an air assassination, or charge into the fray to cut down foes using Edward's swords. Once the objectives for each boarding process, all of which include killing a certain amount of soldiers, are completed, the player has three options - reduce the Jackdaw's notoriety, send the ship to Edward's fleet, or salvage the ship to repair the Jackdaw. Players are also able to exploit weather patterns, luring the opposition into less than ideal conditions, such as rogue waves, to their advantage. Naval combat also features a trajectory-based aiming system that requires knowledge of distance and the speed of an enemy.

Upgrades

Players are also able to upgrade Edward Kenway's Jackdaw through pillaging, taking over enemy ships, and completing missions, granting the Jackdaw new weapons and abilities. Of these, weapon upgrades include round shot, heat shot, chain shot, fire barrels, mortars, swivel guns, and a ram. Edward can recruit crew members for the Jackdaw via side missions that include bar fights and battle missions. It is also possible to simply rescue them while just sailing across the map. However, the crew members are also expected to die in the game while braving storms and boarding enemy ships, forcing Edward to continuously recruit more members. The game also has six different enemy archetypes at sea that all behave in vastly different ways and require the player to have different upgrades to deal with them.

Memories

Instead of Desmond Miles, the modern day portion is centered around the players themselves, who act as Abstergo Entertainment research analysts that are reliving the memories of Edward Kenway. The Animus no longer constrains the players with its barriers whenever they attempt to interact with an environment the ancestor has not; instead tougher enemy ships will block the way, with the only way around them being to actually explore the world, and finding things that can go towards upgrading the Jackdaw. In addition, players are able to connect with other players in the modern day, which will allow them to interact and share information with each other.

Other

Assassin's Creed IV: Black Flag includes many historical figures such as Benjamin HornigoldJack RackhamAnne Bonny, Charles Vane, and Edward Thatch.

The notoriety system featured in previous Assassin's Creed games was remade in Black Flag, as a "worldwide alert" for a pirate sailing between islands was deemed illogical. In its place, a system of pirate hunters were introduced, with four tiers of increasingly difficult ships appearing to attack the Jackdaw depending on how many robberies Edward has committed.

The new "Horizon" open-world system dynamically creates side missions, such as merchant ships to rob, whales to hunt, or pirates to rescue, dependent on an individual's playing style.

Edward will put his hood on when in a restricted zone or in a city, and take it off when on the open seas or as soon as he is incognito.

Multiplayer

The multiplayer aspect of Black Flag includes cooperative and competitive multiplayer modes, some of which that are reused from previous games, along with all new maps and new characters.

To date, the characters are as follows:

Adding to this, the locations are:

Furthermore, players can create custom game modes alongside default and Game Lab modes and share it to their friends.

Plot

Prologue

Using the DNA collected from Desmond Miles’s corpse, Abstergo Entertainment developed an initiative called the Sample 17 Project to explore the genetic memories of Desmond’s ancestors to gather material for the production of various Animus Omega products and feature films. The project was started with the ulterior motive of locating various Precursor sites and Pieces of Eden. In 2013, the company hired a research analyst for scouting the memories of one of Desmond’s ancestors, Edward Kenway, a British privateer-turned pirate who later went on to become an Assassin.

While engaged in a naval battle near Cape Bonavista in June, 1715, Edward saw a hooded figure standing aboard one of the enemy ships. As the hooded man boarded the pirate-ship to fight them off, a magazine of gunpowder exploded throwing Edward overboard. Edward regained his consciousness while drowning and swam ashore Cape Bonavista, followed by the hooded man who was the only other survivor of the battle. When Edward denied the man’s offer of a reward in return for taking him to Havana, he tried to shoot Edward and then fled into the island.

Edward chased the man through the island and killed him. While looting his body, Edward found a letter from Governor Laureano de Torres y Ayala addressed to the man, Duncan Walpole, offering him a reward in return for some information. Edward put on Walpole’s clothes, took a prism-shaped vial off of his body and threw away his Hidden Blade. On the seashore, Edward saved a merchant named Stede Bonnet from some English soldiers, introduced himself as Duncan Walpole, and travelled to Havana aboard Bonnet’s schooner.

After completing this memory, the Research Analyst was pulled out of the Animus by Melanie Lemay, who was in charge of the Sample 17 Project. Melanie introduced the Analyst to Olivier Garneau, the Chief Creative Officer of Abstergo Entertainment, and John Standish, an IT technician. The Analyst was then directed to is Animus workstation for further exploring the memories of Edward.

Templar-Turned-Pirate

Edward and Stede arrived at Havana in July 1715 and the duo went to a tavern where Bonnet was supposed to meet a merchant. One of the customers at the tavern recognized Edward as a pirate, leading to a brawl between Edward and the other customers. When Spanish soldiers arrived at the tavern to handle the situation, Edward fled the area and met Bonnet back at the docks. Bonnet informed Edward that the soldiers seized his sugar crates at the tavern along with the package containing the vial.

Edward eavesdropped on a soldier and a merchant and learnt that his belongings were under the custody of a captain named Mendoza. He identified Mendoza at a public execution using his Eagle Vision and pickpocketed his keys. Edward then proceeded to infiltrate a fort occupied by Spanish soldiers and retrieved the vial but chose to leave the sugar behind and then rendezvoused with Bonnet at the docks. Before parting ways, Edward revealed his real name to an unsuspecting Bonnet and advised him to go to Nassau.

Continuing his pretense as Duncan Walpole, Edward went to Torres’s residence where he met with Julien du Casse and Woodes Rogers, who remarked that Edward looked different from his wife’s description of Walpole. After Edward took up Rogers’s shooting challenge, Du Casse noticed that Edward did not have his Hidden Blades and provided him a pair that he had kept as souvenirs. Using the blades, Edward demonstrated some certain assassination techniques to his hosts.

Edward, Rogers, and Du Casse then met with Governor Torres. Edward gave the vial to Torres who then officially inducted the trio into the Templar Order. Torres went on to explain his goal of locating a Precursor site called the Observatory that had a device which was capable of monitoring any individual in the world and remarked that he had in his custody a Sage, a man named Bartholomew Roberts, who knew how to access the Observatory. Edward made use of this opportunity to pickpocket all three Templars.

While interrogating the Sage for information, they were ambushed by a group of Assassins, providing Roberts the opportunity to escape. After fighting off the Assassins, Edward chased Roberts through the town and captured him; earning him a reward from Torres. However, at night, Edward expressed his dissatisfaction with Torres’s reward to Stede Bonnet and made up his mind to find the Observatory by himself and sell it to the highest bidder.

Edward infiltrated the prison where the Sage was being held only to realize that he was missing. He was captured by the Templars who had realized that he was not, in fact, Walpole. While in captivity, Edward thought back to the time Caroline’s father mocked his aspirations to be a sailor. He woke up in a ship and broke free from his shackles with the help of his fellow prisoner, Adéwalé.

Edward, in return for their allegiance, freed the prisoners held in the Spanish fleet. He, along with his new crew, stole one of the ships and managed to escape amidst a hurricane that sunk the rest of the fleet. Once out of the storm, Edward decided to keep the ship for himself and named it Jackdaw. He appointed himself captain and Adewale as his quartermaster and the crew set sail to Nassau.

After a brief stop at Abaco Island, the Jackdaw arrived at Nassau in September, 1715. Edward introduced Adewale to his associates – Edward Thatch, James Kidd, and Benjamin Hornigold. While James Kidd appeared receptive to Edward’s plan of finding the Observatory, Hornigold dismissed it as a mere fantasy. Edward then moved about the island freeing prisoners, recruiting them into his crew, and went plundering in and around Nassau with his companions to gather resources for their “Republic”.

Sharing Thatch’s concerns about Nassau’s defenses, Edward went with him to steal a Spanish Galleon called Arca Del Maestro and tailed to Great Inagua and realized that it belonged to Julian Du Casse. Fearing Du Casse might recognize his ship, Edward anchored at the other side of the island and made his way to Du Casse through the jungle and assassinated him inside the ship.

The Research Analyst went to meet Oliver Garneau and was instructed by him to prioritize the identification of the Observatory’s location. The Analyst was then contacted by John Standish who convinced the Analyst to hack an Abstergo employee’s workstation to obtain a video of Desmond Miles’s post-mortem and deliver it to Rebecca Crane and Shaun Hastings who were disguised as a courier and a cafeteria owner, respectively.

Meeting the Assassins

At Great Inagua, a sleeping Edward thought about the time Caroline left him. He was woken up by James Kidd, with whom Edward shared his plan of setting up residence at the island. Kidd led Edward to a Mayan stela where the latter used his Eagle Sense to uncover a treasure, and then to an underground tunnel leading to the Du Casse manor and the Templar armor. Before leaving the island, Kidd promised Edward information about the Observatory and asked him to meet Kidd at Tulum.

At Tulum, Edward met with James Kidd and was confronted about the death of Duncan Walpole by Ah Tabai, the Mentor of the West Indies Brotherhood of Assassins. Ah Tabai let Edward explore the island only after Kidd told him about Edward’s Eagle Sense and Edward assured him that he could identify the Sage. James Kidd led Edward into a ruined temple beneath the island while telling him about the Assassin-Templar conflict and the Assassin Order's Creed. At the temple, Edward solved a puzzle which revealed the statue of a man’s head that looked identical to the Sage.

The duo returned to the island’s surface only to be informed by Ah Tabai that the Templars had discovered the Assassins’ hideout using the maps they got from Edward and that they took the Assassins and Edward’s crew as prisoners. Edward freed the prisoners from the Templars and saw a ship leave the island carrying Laurens Prins, one of the Assassins’ targets. Ah Tabai pardoned Edward’s offenses against the Assassins in return for his help, but told him that he was not welcome at Tulum any more.

On the Sage's Trail

In January 1771, Edward and crew attacked a fort based on Charles Vane and Jack Rackham’s information that Torres was staying there with a large amount of gold. After taking over the fort, Edward was informed by Torres that the gold was the ransom due to Laurens Prins, whom the Templars had tasked with capturing Bartholomew Roberts. Edward devised a plan to use Torres and the gold as bait to lure out Prins and capture the Sage.

At Kingston, however, Edward saw that James Kidd had also arrived there following Torres and Prins. Kidd agreed not to assassinate his targets until they had the Sage’s location and tailed them for a while until they were ambushed by Prins’s guards. The duo tracked Prins down to his heavily guarded residence. With not many alternatives to get past the guards, Kidd revealed herself to Edward as a woman and took it upon herself to distract the guards.

Edward infiltrated the manor and assassinated Laurens Prins. Afterwards, he was surprised to see that Roberts was actually not imprisoned. Roberts held James Kidd at gunpoint and revealed that he was working for Prins. Upon learning from Edward about Prins’s intentions to sell him to the Templars, Roberts let Kidd go and alerted the guards. After escaping the manor, James told Edward that her real name was Mary Reed and warned him to not share her secret with anyone else.

Marketing

As with its predecessor – Assassin's Creed IIIAssassin's Creed IV: Black Flag features an additional 60 minutes of downloadable gameplay for Sony's PS3 and PS4 consoles, which features Aveline de Grandpré.

During the 2013 San Diego Comic-Con, Ubisoft hired the Star of India to stand in for the Jackdaw.

McFarlane Toys' action figures of characters from Black Flag and Assassin's Creed III come with unique codes to unlock in-game weapons, outfits, and sails for the Jackdaw.

Other media

A Japanese manga adaptation of the game, written by Takashi Yano and illustrated by Kendi Oiwa, began serialization in Shueisha's Jump X magazine on 10 August 2013.[7] The manga however contradicts many points of the game's actual storyline in both the modern times and the 18th century.[8]

Controversy

BlackFlag promo 4

Edward aboard the Jackdaw as a whale breaches the water ahead

After this screenshot (right) was released, PETA issued a statement condemning Black Flag as "disgraceful" as it "glorified" whaling.

A Ubisoft spokesperson provided this response to IGN.

"History is our playground in Assassin's Creed. Assassin's Creed IV: Black Flag is a work of fiction that depicts the real events during the Golden Era of Pirates. We do not condone illegal whaling, just as we don't condone a pirate lifestyle of poor hygiene, plundering, hijacking ships, and over the legal limit drunken debauchery."

Ubisoft later established Susan Drayton, a character in Assassin's Creed: Initiates, as being anti-whaling.

Editions

Ubisoft announced several collector's editions of Assassin's Creed IV: Black Flag.

Black chest edition
  • A retail copy of Assassin's Creed IV: Black Flag
  • A collector's box
  • A steelbook case
  • A copy of the world map
  • An artbook
  • A copy of the official soundtrack
  • Two exclusive lithographs
  • Two canvas prints
  • A black flag
  • A 55 centimeter Captain Edward Kenway diorama
  • Three exclusive single player locations, Black Island, Mystery Island, and Sacrifice Island
  • Access to all pre-order packs

Buccaneer edition
  • A retail copy of Assassin's Creed IV: Black Flag
  • A collector's box
  • An artbook
  • A copy of the official soundtrack
  • Two exclusive lithographs
  • A 46 centimeter Captain Edward Kenway figurine
  • Three exclusive single player locations, Black Island, Mystery Island and Sacrifice Island
  • Pre-order pack: Captain Kenway's Legacy

Skull edition
  • A retail copy of Assassin's Creed IV: Black Flag
  • A jumbo steel case
  • Two exclusive lithographs
  • An artbook.
  • A copy of the official soundtrack
  • Two exclusive single player locations, Mystery Island and Sacrifice Island
  • Pre-order pack: Captain Kenway's Legacy

Special edition
  • A retail copy of Assassin's Creed IV: Black Flag
  • An exclusive single player location, Sacrifice Island
  • Pre-order pack: Includes Captain Francis Drake's outfit, swords, and flintlocks
  • Pre-order pack: Captain Kenway's Legacy. Includes dual golden swords and the Treasure Hunter costume for the Navigator multiplayer character

Gamestop edition
  • A retail copy of Assassin's Creed IV: Black Flag
  • An exclusive single player location, Black Island
  • Access to the Black Ship sails, wheel and figurine
  • Captain Henry Morgan's outfit, silver flintlocks, and swords for single player, and additional Captain Morgan items for use in multiplayer
  • Todd MacFarlane poster

  • 18-inch statue of Edward Kenway
  • Pirate flag measuring 28 inches by 48 inches, embroidered with the Assassins' crest
  • Art book
  • Steel game case
  • Original soundtrack

AC4-Lethal Pirate Edition
  • A retail copy of Assassin's Creed IV: Black Flag
  • Black Bart action figure by McFarlane Toys
  • Digital wallpaper by Todd McFarlane
  • The Royal Fortune's sails, wheel and figurine
  • Mystery Island location
  • Stede Bonnet's sails, wheel and figurine

Jackdaw Edition

The Jackdaw Edition is practically the Game of the Year Edition of Assassin's Creed IV: Black Flag. It includes all available downloadable content released so far for Assassin's Creed IV: Black Flag. They are mentioned below:


  • A retail copy of Assassin's Creed IV: Black Flag
  • Freedom Cry single player missions
  • Aveline single-player missions (PS4 and PC only)
  • Death Vessel sails, wheel and figurine
  • Ezio's sails and figurine
  • Altaïr's sails and figurine
  • Kraken sails, wheel and figurine
  • Illustrious Pirates Pack
  • Captain Kenway's Legacy Pack
  • Multiplayer Characters Pack

Awards

Winner

  • Best Action/Adventure Game

Trivia

  • Assassin's Creed IV: Black Flag is notable for being the only main game to have both a Roman numeral in its title and a subtitle, as well as being the first main entry to have the historical element set before the previous one.
  • This is the first Assassin's Creed game to not have a mobile version released.
  • This is the first Assassin's Creed game to both have a complete edition and Game of the Year Edition exclusive to the eighth generation of consoles.
  • As of yet, Assassin's Creed IV: Black Flag is the last game in the series to have been released for Nintendo platforms.

Gallery

Appearances

Appearances
By type
Characters Creatures Events Locations
Organizations and titles Sapient species Vehicles and vessels Weapons and technology Miscellanea

Characters

Creatures

Events

Locations

Organizations and titles

Sapient species

Vehicles and vessels

Weapons and technology


References


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