Assassin’s Creed IV: Black Flag Revealed (Last Week)

By Brendan Caldwell on March 4th, 2013 at 11:00 am.


When Man In Suit came on stage and said that Ubisoft were the best possible company to tackle piracy, I roared with laughter. But the other two billion journalists sitting in the ornate hall stayed deadly quiet. I didn’t understand. Then six black flags (six black plastic posters) were dramatically unravelled over the balconies to either side of us and Man In Suit announced the making of Assassin’s Creed IV: Black Flag. ‘Ohh,’ I said loudly to my neighbour. ‘He means the THEME of piracy.’ I nodded knowledgably and took some notes for you.

As you all know by now, the next Ass Creed will be set around the Caribbean islands, mainly Cuba and Jamaica. The year is 1715 and you play as pirate captain and Englishman Edward Kenway, the grandfather of the previous hero, who has been trained by the order of assassins. What you DON’T know – and what Ubi is very keen for you to understand – is that this isn’t your stereotypical cutlass-waving adventure. “We will shy away from clichés that have coloured our perceptions,” said Ubisoft. We are dealing with the TRUE STORY of piracy here. Just check out this sweet trailer.

Oh man. I don’t know about you guys but my preconceptions have been, like, completely blown away. Like, almost as if by cannon fire. Pirates aren’t just the murderous villains you and I think they are. For instance, the game includes the TRUE-TO-LIFE pirate haven of Nassau as a significant location. This is where pirates founded their own democratic republic, said Ubisoft. That’s right, pirates were democratic. “For example,” said Ubi, “if they didn’t like their captain, they could kill him.” Hurray, democracy!


The cast of fearsome characters isn’t limited to Blackbeard. Benjamin Hornigold, Anne Bonny and Calico Jack are some of the other privateers that will feature in this definitely true story of piracy. Historical events of the game’s tale include the single-handed assault on 42 Portuguese ships, the wreck of the Spanish Armada (er…), and the marooning of Charles Vane, which certainly isn’t a pirate cliché.

But never mind the story. The actually interesting thing about the new Ass Creed is the open ocean. The developer is promising that, rather than warping from one city to another or travelling along a single road, as in previous games, you will be able to set sail on a freely available ocean and visit 50 locations around Cuba, Mexico and Florida. The franchise is going from confined ‘maps’ to one large connected world. Before the presentation a friend said all he wanted from Black Flag was Wind Waker: Murder Edition. If Ubisoft delivers on this promise of an open world, then he might actually get what he wants. Although to imagine the game without loading screens might be a tad too optimistic.


The idea is that you can get on your ship in Havana and set sail to Kingston, stopping off at little islands, coves, plantations, forts, jungles and villages along the way – all of which you can explore after dropping anchor and swimming ashore. (Yes, swimming. Assassins can swim now. They can even swim underwater using pirate diving belts to explore shipwrecks.) Each of these locations types is likely to have their own purpose. Villages and coastal settlements will harbour sidequests and the chance to upgrade your ship with bigger cannonballs, while jungles hide Mayan ruins which will almost certainly be used for Ass Creed’s terrible Chariots-of-the-Gods-meets-Dan-Brown metaplot.

Interestingly, it was hinted that coconut islands might be places to pick up new crew members, who had been abandoned by other ships. This process of keeping your crew at a healthy number is important to the ship-to-ship combat you’ll be seeing a lot more of. This won’t be constrained single missions like the last game but will also take place on the open sea. By looking through your spyglass from the deck of your ship, the Jackdaw, you can get a bead on distant vessels – how tough they are, how much treasure they have, their fighting strength and so on – then approach them or ignore them as you please. Enemy naval ships will have different archetypes in the same way troops do but so far we were only told of one, called the ‘charger’, which seeks to ram the Jackdaw full-force. Presumably, you’ll have to switch up your tactics for each fight.


The reason you want to keep your crew members plentiful is because if you decide to pull up alongside a target ship and board it, your entire crew will follow you. Crew will be lost in these tussles as well as in the cannon fire of naval battles. Sometimes they will go overboard in stormy seas, although whether these storms were part of a dynamic weather system or limited to a few scripted events was not made clear.

Apart from all that I really don’t know what else to tell you. Uh, you can harpoon whales? And stab sharks? That’s something. They want to bring back the “open-ended” assassinations of the first game, which is…. I guess… yeah.


Oh! Oh! No, I’ve got one, you’ll like this: the protagonist is YOU. That’s right, the frame story of this Assassin’s Creed is no longer that of a bland, hoodied bartender but of you, sitting right there, YOU. “We are now in the present day,” said Ubisoft, smiling postmoderningly. “You will be the hero of the game, working for Abstergo Entertainment.” The game developer’s spokesperson then suggested that Abstergo Entertainment is a real-world company, which they have very close links to. This is it, ladies and gentlemen. Ubisoft, in a terrifying and shocking acknowledgment of just how dystopian this industry has become, have actually started to believe their own game fiction.

The presentation ended and I felt the thoughts of two billion journalists turning to alcohol and snacks. As we drank, we noticed that we began to feel tired and very agreeable to suggestion. By the time we realised what was happening, it was too late. We had, each and every one of us, been drugged with Endiay – known to chemists as endiaymine trioxide – which has a fascinating and very specific effect on journalists. First, there is the memory loss, followed shortly by seizures of the tongue, gums and teeth. Then the victim lapses into a state of catatonic denial and eventually coma. It would be days before we would awake and get our senses back. But when we did, we discovered we were – all two billion of us – trapped inside a small wine cellar in rural Northumberland. It was worrying yes, but we played cards and drank Médoc to pass the time (and even became very good friends – hello Barnaby!) until some stranger came and released us earlier today.

I am pleased to report the effects of the drug have now worn off. The release date for Assassin’s Creed IV: Black Flag is scheduled for ‘Fall 2013’.

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80 Comments »

  1. kael13 says:

    Article overlap!

  2. Premium User Badge

    drewski says:

    I’m kinda getting bored of the annual franchise update model. Doesn’t build any anticipation.

    I’ll probably play this in 2020 or something.

    • Maxheadroom says:

      I only buy every 3rd itteration of Call of Duty so that it’s changed enough to warrent buying.
      (But then still quit after a couple of hours due to it’s throughly hateful, child infested community. I’ve yet to play a match where someone isnt shouting ‘noob’ ‘fag’ or ‘retard’ in chat).

      Not played an assassins creed since #2 so #5 will be the next one I look at

    • Kambyero says:

      I’m in the other boat (har, ha-aaarr). After the rubbish of Assassin’s Creed III, I was ready to cast the series ashore (I wrote about it here: http://kambyero.com/2013/02/27/dumping-assassins-creed/), but the announcement of this game changed my mind.

      The game is sounding like a mix of Just Cause 2, Sid Meier’s Pirates, and Wind Waker, all excellent games. The micromanagement the series has been bogged down with will actually make sense now– you’re the captain of a ship, and there should be a working economy.

      Let’s just hope that their promises of a true open world ring true.

      • Premium User Badge

        drewski says:

        I’d be so much more amped if I hadn’t just played a merely OK AC game, though.

        This way, it’s just “oh more AssCreed huh ok thanks.”

        • wererogue says:

          If it were on PC, I’d suggest cleansing your AC palette with ACIII: Liberation, which is a much more to-the-point, fun and interesting affair, albeit somewhat short.

          Sadly, it is only on the Vita, and thus nobody will play it. I had to borrow one.

          • Kambyero says:

            I actually bought a Vita so that I could play this game (among other games, but this was chief among them). I played it as I was playing mainline ACIII, and couldn’t stand either of them. I eventually stopped playing Liberation because of the horrible framerate and audio. I loved the costume system, though.

            I’ve since been hearing good things about the game. Now that I’m free of ACIII (uninstalled it even!) I think I’ll go back to it. Aveline is an intriguing character.

    • lordfrikk says:

      I would agree if the only thing Ubisoft ever did was take the old game and make it look like a new one and tried to sell it for full price. However, except for the basic outline (you are an assassin, you can free-run around and it’s open world) and reiterated engine they always update, improve or, indeed, degrade the formula.

      The AC franchise is the kind of game that’s painfully misrepresented even if you were to stretch the genre definition a lot and include things like Mirror’s Edge.

      Even if I wasn’t always and entirely satisfied with the direction Ubisoft was taking, it’s far cry from games that completely forgot what game they were allegedly a sequel to (the new Hitman, Splinter Cell, Gothic, the list goes on).

  3. SurprisedMan says:

    “You don’t become a pirate just by ASKING. You’ll have to go through… THE THREE HOUR TUTORIAL!”

  4. Artista says:

    *Raises white flag* I give up, I can’t take it anymore. A new game every year is too much. And to think that AssCreed used to be my favourite series.

  5. McDan says:

    Unlike 3 this actually peaks my interest, because pirates and booty and seas. Even though I haven’t been bothered to finish revolutions (yes I know it’s pretty much irrelevant) but I like the meta-plot bit. Apart from the fighting that’s what I like best.

  6. derella says:

    I’ve enjoyed most of the AC games, though I avoided them for years after disliking the first one.

    AC3 was definitely the low point of the series for me… The towns, while gorgeous, weren’t much fun to run around, and really discouraged you from using the rooftops. Combined with a bland protagonist, and a historical period I wasn’t really interested in, and it just didn’t click for me. I played through it, but avoided all of the side stuff and will probably never go back and re-play it.

    I’m hoping that AC4 will be able to draw me in. A main character with a personality would be great, and I do enjoy pirates. So that’s a start.

  7. Premium User Badge

    RedViv says:

    Huh. This sounds proper pirate-y, which surprises me. 1715 is a really grand year to start in, too. Give us Bonny/Read tension, please!

  8. CaspianRoach says:

    Bit by bit they’re removing the pieces of the game I used to love and making it into something I cannot recognize. Where are my puzzles from 2&Bro? Where are my big urban cities from 1-Rev? Why have they decided to make ships the cornerstone of the game? That’s like making Assassin’s Creed 3: Istambul Tower Defense because someone liked the tower defense from Revelations.

    This game should be called “Ubi’s Pirates”.

  9. Maxheadroom says:

    I still dont get it. Surely Sid Meier would be the best possible company to tackly piracy?

    • The Dark One says:

      They had better sneak in a Baron Raymondo character somewhere if they know what’s good for them.

  10. Lemming says:

    You’d think being a pirate captain he’d drop the stupid hood. Also, since when is it normal to swim ashore from your anchored ship? What, no row boat?

    • brulleks says:

      He looks pretty pissed off. Maybe someone scuppered the row boat, so he had to swim?

      And maybe his Mum is making him wear the hood as it was a present? It does look bloody stupid. But he has to be ‘in wit der kidz’, so has to have some kind of hood, because, you know, they all wear them nowadays…

    • norfolk says:

      I hate the hood too. It makes him look like a homicidal teenager.

  11. brulleks says:

    ‘ “We are now in the present day,” said Ubisoft, smiling postmoderningly. “You will be the hero of the game, working for Abstergo Entertainment.” ‘

    Surely, for that to work, I would actually need to be descended from the main character in the Animus?

    As far as I am aware, there are no pirates in my lineage. Maybe when I boot the game up I will find myself in Assassin’s Creed: Roma or Assassin’s Creed: Scottish Clan Feuds.

    You know, thinking about it, this could actually be the way forward: we all get a different game, depending on who our descendants were.

    (And while I’m thinking of it, surely it should be ‘Assassins’ Creed’, not ‘Assassin’s Creed’, as the creed belongs to all assassins, not just one?)

    • Cat Hackforth says:

      Hm, in my case that would be Assassin’s Creed: Agricultural Labourer.

      With a hidden spade.

      • Sian says:

        Oooh, is it telescopic or foldable? The AC games would be quite enjoyable if I could clock my targets over the head with a shovel.

        That being said, I actually do have a pirate in my ancestry, but he was not a captain.

      • TsunamiWombat says:

        Assassin’s Creed: Pennsylvania German Coal Miner

      • Dorako says:

        Assassin’s Creed: Mennonites on the Run

    • zeekthegeek says:

      IIRC they’ve actually mentioned in the series that the technology no longer specifically requires genetic links.

  12. lizzardborn says:

    And judging by ACIII both humor and stabbing will be less than in The Curse of Monkey Island.

    Does anyone really like the sci-fi part of these games? I always hated it.

  13. 28843253 says:

    Is Ass Creed a thing now?
    Speaking of which, where’s Gol D. Roger?

  14. SuicideKing says:

    ASSFACE

  15. Premium User Badge

    stahlwerk says:

    Every successful franchise has to take the pirate route, sooner or later. I’m fine with it, really, if they can deliver on those promises of scale.

    • Koozer says:

      We’re sailing for adventure on the big blue wet thing!

    • Arkh says:

      You are kinda right. So this means Assassin’s Creed 6: Zombie Apocalypse.

  16. jealouspirate says:

    I played the first game in this series but could never continue. I’ve tried but seem to spend most of the time pleading with the game to stop the endless boring exposition and let me do parkour and stab people.

  17. Parge says:

    I was at this press event too – I also couldn’t believe that no one else saw the irony! I whispered to my workmate ‘the gaming press are going to have a field day with this’.

    Looks like I was right!

  18. Michael Fogg says:

    The soap opera continues. Another episode of faux-platforming, context-sensitive quicktimey bullshit and neverending exposition before linear missions. In a new exotic location! Again!

  19. chackosan says:

    Interesting. Assassin’s Creed + Pirates! + Wind Waker sounds like it could work swimmingly well, even if that’s a very optimistic best-case scenario. Since I skipped Revelations and AC3, this could be the game for me to try out the series again. Still, I’ll wait and see what the general sentiment about this one is after release before loosening the purse strings.

  20. man-eater chimp says:

    So basically it’s plain old Assassin’s Creed with a bit of Wind Waker thrown in. And Pirates. I haven’t played an AC game since Brotherhood so I may well pick this up.

  21. Premium User Badge

    Erithtotl says:

    I love how half the complaints are ‘Ugh, same old same old year after year’ and the other half are ‘I wish they’d just go back to the basics of the first couple of games’.

    There hasn’t been a good pirate game in forever and pirates are awesome, so I am looking forward to this, and I’m glad they keep trying to mix it up rather than put out the same title over and over with a different city, though I’ll admit I really wanted them to do a Victorian London or a Napoleonic Europe one.

  22. Bluestormzion says:

    I have to say, though, the Subtitle implies that it’s actually a branch of Assassin’s Creed 4, and not the actual numbered installment. Much like Assassin’s Creed 3: Liberation was not Assassin’s Creed 3.

    Also, am I the only one who’s disappointed that we’re leaving off Connor’s Story before he ever became a really engaging character? I mean, I disliked both Altair and Ezio at the beginning of each of their first games, but by the end of their stories I absolutely loved them both. With Connor I started out feeling like he ranged from ignorant of how to be a man to okay, and ended up… almost in the same place. I don’t know, I just think that the Assassin’s Creed 3 Storyline didn’t go out with enough resolution to actually be wrapped up, and I was personally hoping to see Connor do some more stuff perhaps leading up to the War of 1812.

    • Xanthu says:

      I’d love to see more of Connor. I can certainly understand the complaints that he was completely flat, though I prefer to read it as subdued. Ezio became more interesting because of the opportunity to grow through three games (though Revelations was weakest, it redeemed itself with the Altair bits) and I think Connor could benifit from the same.

      Also, I want to know what happens to his little town, damnit! I like those folks.

      That said, I was surprised at how enjoyable the naval segments of AssCreed3 were. Expanding on them seems very promising, so I am pretty happy with this announcement.

  23. Ravenholme says:

    Pretty sure when they say the Spanish Armada, they mean they 1715 Treasure Fleet, which was famously lost in a hurricane off the coast of Florida.

    I’m guessing it wasn’t actually the Hurricane that did for them, but an assassin sailing out of the storm to end their Templar ways [/wildconjecture]

    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/1715_Treasure_Fleet

  24. FedericoV says:

    So, basically we have Sid Meier’s Pirates without Sid Meier.

    The AC franchise has finally jumped the shark.

  25. gulag says:

    Right, well this will be my first Assassin’s Creed game, because: Pirates. Also props for getting Edward Teach’s voice more or less right.

  26. Spider Jerusalem says:

    can you ride around the british and french caribbean abolishing slavery?

  27. The Magic says:

    I feel kinda insulted on Blackbeard’s behalf. There’s no way in pirate hell that he’d say such things. Plus, I’m pretty sure he’s more crazy badass than any of the assassins have been so far… Also, did he shoot those pistols twice? why not just have 4 pistols like a normal pirate?

    • Ravenholme says:

      Er.. he did use 4 pistols? He had the two in the rear holsters and two strapped to his chest. He used the chest ones, tossed them, and then took the ones from the rear?

      Or am I missing a joke or something?

      • The Magic says:

        no, just me forgetting. i was mostly focusing on blackbeard, and during the action, it’s hard to see him drop pistols.

  28. MadTinkerer says:

    As long as we finally learn the secret of Monkey Island, I’m sold.

  29. Masterpwny says:

    Great article, funny intro.

  30. Jimbo says:

    “The actually interesting thing about the new Ass Creed is the open ocean. The developer is promising that, rather than warping from one city to another or travelling along a single road, as in previous games, you will be able to set sail on a freely available ocean…”

    *High fives* to them for passing the first test.

  31. F3ck says:

    Someone explain something to me (not meaning to be sarcastic) but I’m going to describe two items/themes I’ve noticed in these threads and maybe someone can help me reconcile these somewhat contradictory sentiments…

    1) AssCreed4 is announced and – between claims of “I was too smart to buy 3″ and “the last good one was back in __” – the general attitude is favorable with many, even most, indicating that they’d buy this game.

    Even though the last one is still hot from the shelves and was apparently mostly shit…with no apparent plans on the part of the developers to even bother to fix…and statements about how parts of the recently released shit-game were actually teasers for this upcoming game…still going to reward these apparent purveyors of bullshit?

    2) Skyrim is apparently terrible. Even though the people who dared to bring us this open world atrocity are apparently still working, along with a devoted modding community, to improve the game, releasing patches every month or two.

    Saying something good about Skyrim around here is tantamount to dropping an “F” bomb in church (i.e., it will be noticed and likely unappreciated) which has me puzzled…

    …were this merely a collection of contrarians we’d see more of this sort of thing (blatant hatred for obviously good games) so what gives?

    • PopeRatzo says:

      It was the high praise of Skyrim I found on RPS that got me to buy the game in the first place, so I don’t believe you.

  32. captain nemo says:

    Instead of more Ass Greed, we need more Call of Booty

  33. Adekan says:

    Considering the only thing I found enjoyable about Asscreed The Third were the ship missions, this might be worth a look. Now if only they could do away with that miserable melee “combat”. I can only hope they take some inspiration from Sleeping Dogs for that.

  34. The Random One says:

    Is it just me or did Ubisoft get some Jack Sparrow on my Blackbeard?

  35. HeroJez says:

    I hope you can hack the sound files to play the Ocean Theme from Wind Waker when you’re sailing around in your little boat. Dum duh duuuuuum… duh duh duh duh duh duuuuuum…. duh duh dum duh duuum, duh duh duh duh duuuuuuh!

  36. PopeRatzo says:

    He’s way overdressed for Nassau.

  37. nld says:

    Just in case anyone’s interested in actual (OK, possibly fictional) pirate republic – https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Libertatia

  38. MeestaNob says:

    I love it when a new AssCreed comes out, the games one or two sequels prior become so much cheaper and I can keep up for a fraction of the price.

    Seriously, these games are horseshit for $80, but at about $20 for everything they’re ok. Still a bit put off by the yearly releases, if they at least advanced the story in a well told and meaningful way I’d feel a lot better about my purchase.