- This article is about the video game. You may be looking for the novel.
- "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.
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. 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. 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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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:
- Lady Black
- Night Stalker
Adding to this, the locations are:
- Saba Island
- Santa Lucia
- Saint Pierre
- Tampa Bay
- Virginian Plantation
- Fort St-Mathieu
Furthermore, players can create custom game modes alongside default and Game Lab modes and share it to their friends.
As with its predecessor – Assassin's Creed III – Assassin'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.
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. The manga however contradicts many points of the game's actual storyline in both the modern times and the 18th century.
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 announced several collector's editions of Assassin's Creed IV: Black Flag.
- Best Action/Adventure Game
- 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.