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 time frame 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 Nintendo 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 and antagonist Ratonhnhaké:ton and 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 spans across the Caribbean 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 was positively received and was one of the best-selling games of 2013. It has sold more than 11 million copies. 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, set during the French Revolution and Seven Years’ War respectively, with both released in November 2014.
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. 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. 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. 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. 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.
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. In addition, a new underwater component has been added. 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. An updated form of the recruit system introduced in Assassin’s Creed: Brotherhood has returned, 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.
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.
Multiplayer also returns, with new settings and game modes, though it is only land-based.
The main character of the game is Edward Kenway (Matt Ryan), a Welsh 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] (voiced by Mark Bonnar), Benjamin Hornigold, Mary Read, Stede Bonnet, Anne Bonny, Calico Jack, and Charles Vane (Ralph Ineson).
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.
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.
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 retrieve 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.