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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, "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.

On September 4, 2019, it was announced that Black Flag, along with Rogue would be released together on the Nintendo Switch as a compilation known as Assassin's Creed: The Rebel Collection.[2][3]


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, Maya 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.

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.


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, heavy 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.


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.


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.



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.

After an attack on the ship he was aboard, Edward found himself stranded on a deserted island with an Assassin. The man ran off into the jungle, after which Kenway chased him down and killed him. Among his possessions, he found a letter addressed to Duncan Walpole, from the Governor of Cuba, Laureano de Torres y Ayala, promising him a reward for some maps he was carrying. Edward donned Walpole's robes, heard shots in the distance, and proceeded to investigate, leading him to a ship with its crew being held by British soldiers. Edward killed the soldiers and rescued a merchant named Stede Bonnet, later accompanying him to Havana.

Having arrived in Havana, Edward, still posing as Walpole, met with Governor Torres and his associates, hoping to claim his reward. Edward learned of the existence of the Templar Order and a Precursor site known as the Observatory, with the power of locate and monitor every person on Earth with a vial of blood. According to the old tales, the blood of a Sage is required to enter the Observatory. Afterwards, Edward was inducted in the Templar Order.

Edward met with the Templars at the docks in the next morning to meet a Sage named Bartholomew Roberts and escort him to the governor's mansion. During the journey to Torres' mansion, the group was attacked by Assassins, allowing the Sage to escape. Edward fought the Assassins and managed to capture the Sage. He later claimed his promised reward, but was unhappy with its quantity. Edward decided to free the Sage and find out more about the Observatory, hoping to make more money. However, as he snuck into Torres' mansion, he found his cell empty and scattered with dead bodies. While investigating the area, Edward was knocked out and identified as an imposter by the Templars. He was taken prisoner and locked up on one of the ships of the Spanish Treasure Fleet.

Edward awoke to find himself in leg irons together with a fellow prisoner, Adéwalé. After freeing themselves, the men rescued the fleet's prisoners and stole a brig, which Edward decided to keep afterwards. He named his new ship the Jackdaw and made Adéwalé his quartermaster. Following this, the pirate set course for Nassau. After assembling a crew, he met with Edward Thatch and Benjamin Hornigold, who took Edward out to sea to teach him how to plunder ships. He then met with James Kidd, and devised a plan to rob a plantation. Edward and Thatch set out to acquire a galleon for Nassau's defense. The pirate assassinated its captain, the Templar Julien du Casse, and claimed his vessel for Nassau's defense and his island for himself.

While exploring Edward’s memories, the analyst was enlisted by IT head John Standish to hack computers, Animi, security cameras, and servers around Abstergo Entertainment's Montreal facility in order to obtain information on Abstergo's actions for the Assassins, and pass it on to Rebecca Crane and Shaun Hastings, who routinely collected it at Shaun's coffee stand in the building's lobby, though the analyst wasn’t originally aware of this.

A few weeks later, Edward set course for Tulum, looking for Kidd, who was expecting him in the Assassin hideout. Upon Mentor Ah Tabai’s behest, Edward navigated a Mayan ruin to identify the return of a Sage. Upon confirming Roberts’ identity, Edward and Kidd exited the Mayan ruin to discover both the Assassins and the Jackdaw's crew held hostage by slave traders. Edward freed the Assassins and his crew members. Ah Tabai absolved Edward of the deaths of his fellow Assassins in Havana, but exiled him from Tulum.

Edward devised a plan to find Roberts and earn some money by using Torres as bait. He set out to Kingston, where he planned to tail Torres and Laurens Prins, hoping to find the Sage. He found Kidd trying to assassinate both men and stopped him, allowing them to escape. Edward then prepared to assassinate Prins after having promised Kidd he would do so. Suddenly, Kidd removed his bandana and reddened his lips with his blood, revealing himself to be a woman named Mary Read. Edward found Prins and assassinated him, but Roberts appeared, holding Mary hostage. The Sage managed to escape once again.

While staying in Nassau, Edward witnessed the arrival of the Royal Navy and Woodes Rogers, who came to offer the King's pardon to all pirates, and Hornigold and his men decided to accept it. They also lifted a naval block around Nassau, preventing the pirates from leaving. After learning that Commodore Peter Chamberlaine planned to destroy all the pirate ships in Nassau's harbor, Edward assassinated him and escaped Nassau with Charles Vane.

Edward sailed north to meet with Thatch. During a confront with the Royal Navy, Thatch was killed, and Edward barely managed to escape. He also learned of a ship called the Princess, aboard which he could find the Sage. Edward and Vane went after a slave ship to find information about the Princess, but due to Jack Rackham's mutiny, they were stranded on Isla Providencia. Edward was forced to deal with an insane Charles Vane, and managed to leave the island on a ship that had arrived.

After retrieving his ship and crew from Rackham, Edward traveled to Kingston to learn more about the Sage's location. Edward located Hornigold and Rogers, who met with Torres. Through them, Edward learned that Bartholomew Roberts could be found on the island of Príncipe. He traveled to Príncipe, in order to find Roberts. During his search, Edward assassinated Josiah Burgess and John Cockram, freeing pirates from a Portuguese camp along the way. With that, Edward finally gained the trust of Roberts, who in turn requested his aid. Edward met with Roberts to claim a set of vials from a Portuguese fleet. They managed to acquire the blood vials, and Edward was promised a chance to enter the Observatory.

When meeting up with Roberts again, Edward was directed to assassinate Hornigold, who had tailed him. Edward informed Adéwalé of his plan of selling the Observatory for the highest price. Adéwalé suggested inform the Assassins instead, so they could protect it, but Edward refused. Edward arrived at the Observatory, but was betrayed by Roberts and imprisoned in Port Royal.

Eventually, the hacking activity was discovered at the same time that the company's Chief Creative Officer, Olivier Garneau, went missing. In response, Olivier's stand-in, Melanie Lemay, reluctantly imprisoned the analyst and several other employees in bunkers in the basement, where they would continue their work until the hacker could be identified. Subsequently, John raised the analyst's security clearance so that they could leave their bunker, and instructed them to hack the main server in order to cover their tracks. Unbeknownst to the analyst, following John's instructions activated a program designed to transfer Juno's consciousness into another body; unfortunately, Juno was not yet strong enough to maintain a physical form, and this aspect of the plan failed, much to John’s rage. The analyst then resumed exploring Edward’s memories.

Edward was led into the trial of Mary Read and Anne Bonny. They warn that they’re pregnant, so their executions are postponed. Four months after the trial, Edward was locked in one of Port Royal's gibbets. Ah Tabai freed Edward, returned his weapons and requested his aid to free Mary and Anne. Along the way, Edward found Jack Rackham's skeletal corpse in a gibbet and a delirious Charles Vane in a cell. In a nearby cell, Anne shouted for help from the guards, because Mary’s gotten ill after childbirth. Edward helped Mary to reach outside, but she passed away.

After suffering the loss of Mary, Edward tried to drown his sorrows, which resulted in a disturbing dream. Adéwalé woke Edward up on the beach afterwards. Edward then set sail for Tulum to meet with the Assassins and make amends. After aiding the Assassins with a Spanish invasion, Edward earned their trust.

Edward, now allied with the Assassins, set out to Kingston to assassinate Rogers. Then Edward sailed to Principe to kill Roberts. He attempted to assassinate Torres in Havana, but found his victim to be a decoy, El Tiburón. He killed him and set out for the Observatory, where Torres would be. Edward began to make his way towards the Observatory, freeing its guardians as he came across them and killing the Spanish soldiers. Edward found and assassinated Torres, returned the Observatory to its dormant state, and received a letter, learned of his wife's passing.

John then entered the analyst's bunker while they were using the Animus and revealed himself to be a Sage, a reincarnation of Aita. He attempted to poison the analyst, weakening them enough that their body could host Juno. However, he was shortly caught and killed by Abstergo's security guards. The analyst later woke in Melanie's office, where she apologized for imprisoning them. She claimed that while she originally believed them to be the hacker, information recovered from John's computer proved that he was responsible. After Melanie revealed the completed trailer for Devils of the Caribbean as a token of good will, the analyst was allowed to return to work.

Edward met with Ah Tabai and Adéwalé at Great Inagua, awaiting the arrival of his daughter. He passed on his manor on Great Inagua to the Assassins for their new base, and met his daughter, Jennifer Scott, for the first time. Edward then sailed to England with Jennifer. Sometime later, Edward remarried and conceived a son, Haytham Kenway. The post-credits scene shows Edward, Jennifer and Haytham attending The Beggar's Opera at the Theatre Royal.


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.[4] 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.[5] 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.[4]

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.[5]

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. He considered beginning the story with Edward as a boy during William Kidd and Henry Morgan's 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.[6]

McDevitt stated the game's primary history resources were Captain Charles Johnson's A General History of the Pyrates (1724) and Colin Woodard's The Republic of Pirates (2008). As a homage to the former book, the game's subtitles rendered each noun with capital letters, while Woodard was invited to consult on the game.[7]


Lorne Balfe, who was the sole composer for Assassin's Creed III and a secondary composer for both 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. Additional composers included; Sarah Schachner, Omar Fadel, Steve Davis, Mike Kramer, Jeremy Lamb, Matthew Llewellyn, and Robert Lydecker.[8]


BlackFlag promo 4

Edward aboard the Jackdaw as a whale breaches the water ahead

After a screenshot (right) was released showing Edward Kenway watching a whale from the Jackdaw's rigging, PETA issued a statement condemning Black Flag as "disgraceful" because it "glorified" whaling.[9]

In response, a Ubisoft spokesperson provided a statement 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.[10]

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


Assassin's Creed IV: Black Flag was released on PlayStation 3, Xbox 360, and Wii U on 29 October 2013, in North America, and later in November for other regions. The game also launched on PlayStation 4 and Microsoft Windows on 15 November and 19 November 2013, respectively, in North America, with subsequent releases in other regions. Additionally, the Xbox One version became available on 22 November 2013.[1]

An exclusive downloadable content set of playable memories, set around Aveline de Grandpré, the protagonist of Assassin's Creed III: Liberation, was made available from launch for only PlayStation players, a Windows release was made available as a free update in 2023. Similiar to the exclusive memories in Assassin's Creed III.[11] The singleplayer expansion, Freedom Cry, released on 17 December 2013, acts as an epilogue to the base game, and follows Adéwalé after the events of Black Flag.[12]

Assassin's Creed IV: Black Flag was later included in Assassin's Creed: The Americas Collection (known as Birth of a New World: The American Saga in PAL regions), alongside the compiled Assassin's Creed III, and Assassin's Creed: Liberation HD, and was released for PlayStation 3, Xbox 360, and Microsoft Windows on 28 October 2014.[13] A Nintendo Switch port was released on 6 December 2019, in Assassin's Creed: The Rebel Collection bundled together with Assassin's Creed: Rogue, it include all singleplayer DLC.[14]


During the 2013 San Diego Comic-Con, Ubisoft hired the Star of India to stand in for the Jackdaw.[15]

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 companion app was developed for the game, though it was ultimately rendered unnecessary.[16][17]

A Japanese manga adaptation of the game titled Assassin's Creed: Awakening, written by Takashi Yano and illustrated by Kendi Oiwa, began serialization in Shueisha's Jump X magazine on 10 August 2013.[18] However, it contradicts many points of the game's actual storyline in both the modern times and the 18th century.


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

Assassin's Creed IV Black Flag Limited Edition
  • 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




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