Videogame: Assassin's Creed IV: Black Flag
"This is a jackdaw... But if you should ask him, he would claim to be an eagle."
"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."Assassin's Creed IV: Black Flag
— Edward Kenway
is the sixth main entry and fourth numbered installment of the Assassin's Creed
This game features an all-new assassin protagonist within a brand-new time period. Unusually, the Time Skip
from the previous protagonist Connor
- a first for the series - to the life of his grandfather, Edward Kenway, and set in the Golden Age of Piracy
. Even more unusually, the present-day story moves forward from the climax of III
, where you now play as a researcher working in Abstergo Entertainment gathering "footage" of Edward Kenway's life for the company to use in making their own spin on the story.
It was released on October 29, 2013 on the PC, PlayStation 3
, Xbox 360
, and Wii U
platforms, with release dates for the PlayStation 4
and Xbox ONE
on November 15th and 22nd respectively. A PC version came out on November 19th. It also has a non-canon manga adaptation.
The first trailer, released on March 4th, 2013, can be seen here
Soon after the game came out, a DLC campaign was released for it named Freedom Cry
. It stars Adéwalé, Edward's Lancer
from the main game fifteen years after the events of Black Flag
. Tropes for it go at the bottom of the page.
Note that due to what happened at the end of the last game
, be warned of Late Arrival Spoilers
open/close all folders
- The Alcoholic:
- Pirates in general are depicted as heavy drinkers. Edward is one such, even in his pre-piracy flashbacks, but apparently manages to avoid full-blown alcoholism.
- "Calico" Jack Rackham channels Jack Sparrow for his love of debauchery and is never once seen sober. Both in the game and historically, he is captured while he and most of his crew are passed out below decks.
- Charles Vane tells Edward how his father died of drink before he managed to fulfill his dream of sailing the seas.
- Alternative Character Interpretation: In-universe, this is Played for Laughs when Abstergo Entertainment's internal market feasibility analysis videos' narrations depict Altaïr as a hypocritical, murderous fanatic with Abbas Sofian as a Token Good Teammatenote , Ezio as a corrupt, violent sleazebag who tries to put the moves on the supposedly "impressionable" Shao Jun, Connor as a stoic bore whose early years would be too foreign for "normal" audiences to relate to, and Aveline de Grandpre as a dutiful daughter to Madeline de l'Isle, with all four videos using wildly out-of-context clips from their respective real-world games and Assassin's Creed: Embers. Moreover, at least two other Abstergo Entertainment internal videos confirm that Edward Kenway's doomed to be similarly mischaracterized, and you are tasked with garnering the material with which to mischaracterize him.
- All There in the Manual: Players who are curious about Edward's post-game life can read the canonical novel Assassin's Creed: Forsaken, which bridges the gap between IV and III. Likewise, Assassin's Creed IV: Black Flag the novelization of this game contains Edward's backstory and origins and provides an epilogue for the game.
- All Your Base Are Belong to Us:
- As the English progress in their anti-piracy campaign, they eventually move on Nassau, offering the King's Pardon to any pirates who wish to renounce their "wicked lives" and the hangman's noose to any who don't. This forces Edward to move his base of operations to Great Inagua. Ah Tabai and his Assassins eventually move there as well after Torres's men ravage Tulum.
- Thanks to unwittingly selling out the locations of the Assassin strongholds in the area to the Templars while disguised as Duncan Walpole, Edward is recruited to defend them against Templar attacks throughout the main story and several side missions.
- Ancient Conspiracy:
- Downplayed Trope with the Templars. While they maintain a presence in the Caribbean and are reasonably wealthy and influential, they aren't doing nearly as much grandiose scheming as in previous games, having had their operations severely hindered by Assassin attacks. This is why they seek the Observatory, so they will be able to spy on anyone they want. Further, the English Navy is a much more powerful presence.
- Played with in modern times. Abstergo Industries is implied to be doing all manner of ridiculous nastiness by the player's contact. Abstergo Entertainment, however, is primarily a video game company. Doubles as Rule of Funny, as they're using a device which can read the memories of the dead through their descendants for the Mundane Utility of making VR games similar to Assassin's Creed.
- And Now for Someone Completely Different:
- Alongside the obvious jump to a new protagonist, this installment marks the end of Desmond as the central character. Although his DNA and memory are used, the new protagonist is a Heroic Mime Player Character who is a simple researcher for a company, rather than a badass hero with a Secret Legacy.
- This game marks the first historical Player Character who is not an Assassin throughout most of the story, instead becoming one near the end.
- And the Adventure Continues: The last scene before the credits has Ah Tabai inform Edward that Woodes Rogers is Not Quite Dead. Cue Edward sailing off to London, his young daughter, Jenny, in tow.
- And Your Reward Is Clothes: Black Flag is unique for the number and range of alternative costumes. Edward's Assassin robes can get accessory cloaks and jackets; DLC provides more classical pirate outfits like Henry Morgan's Redingote, the Edward the Legend outfit, and Stede Bonnet's gentleman's outfit; you can unlock outfits like the Templar Armour and the Mayan Armour through side quests; and you can craft various hunter outfits. Buying a certain number of prior Assassin's Creed installments on XBox Live, PSN, or Steam, also unlocks the previous series protagonists' outfits.
- Animal Motifs: An in-story example. At one point the entirety of Aesop's Fable, "The Eagle and the Jackdaw" is retold in the game. It very obviously leads to Applicability on Edward's own story. Edward admits to naming his ship, the Jackdaw after a "sly bird" he loved to see as a boy. It comes to symbolize Edward's defiant over-reaching struggle to rise above his station, a "Jackdaw who'd have you believe he's an Eagle" or a "pirate who'd have you believe he's an Assassin". Years later, on his retirement, he names his son, who he wishes to raise as an Assassin, Haytham, Arabic for Young Eagle.
- Antiquated Linguistics: The 18th Century Caribbean features a bevy of period and nautical slang with old fashioned locution. The result is that even the language of working-class English and Welsh pirates sounds fancy to modern ears. The letters in the bottle ascribed to Thom Kavanaugh, and one of the collectibles are written in Augustan Era English and for Rule of Fun the Animus mission summaries are also done in the style of Chapter Titles, In Which a Trope Is Described. Furthermore, if you put on subtitles, nouns are capitalised much like in books of this era - Edward might say "We must find our target quickly", but the subtitles will read "We must find our Target quickly", for examplenote .
- Arc Words: After not being mentioned all throughout the previous game, "Nothing is true and everything is permitted" is discussed once more, the true meaning of the phrase being pondered again by the protagonist.
- Bartholomew Roberts has some:
"For I have dipped my hands in muddied waters, and withdrawing them find 'tis better to be a commander than a common man!"
- Armor of Invincibility: There are two you can get over the course of the game. The Templar Armor, which is unlocked by completing all of the Templar Hunts, gives you 25% damage reduction. However, it's topped by the Mayan Armor that you get by solving all the Mayan Stele puzzles, which makes you completely Immune to Bullets, thanks to the fact that it's built from salvaged First Civilization technology. It's much like the Shard of Eden from the previous game, only it always works. There's also the Stealth Outfit, which reduces the ability of guards to detect you.
- Artificial Brilliance: As with preceding games in this series, guards will search nearby hiding spots if they lose sight of you, and will frequently cover each other when doing so, guaranteeing that you'll be spotted if you attempt a stealth assassination. If grenadiers suspect that you're hiding in a haystack or a patch of foliage, they'll toss a grenade in there rather than endangering themselves by going in after you. If there's an alarm bell nearby, a guard will attempt to ring it when alerted. After a grenade is tossed, all enemies immediately back away from the blast radius.
- Artificial Stupidity: Also typical to the games, enemies will not react to sound from low-profile actions and running in close range. Stalking zones also serve as magical hiding places where you are invisible unless someone literally runs into you. Enemies also forget about you within a minute, even if you had just murdered a dozen of their friends, and will merrily patrol past the warm bodies of their former companions.
- Artistic License: While Acceptable Breaks from Reality apply as always, this game goes to a great deal of effort to establish period authenticity. Some exceptions remain, however.
- The "sea shanties" and tavern music are all actual folk music, with antiquated locutions and alternate lyrics which date to the early 18th Century, with some Anachronism Stew (Johnny Boker is from the 19th Century) thrown in for good measure. However, the tradition of singing sea shanties or folk music on a deck is only recorded in the 19th Century. Folklorists hold that sailors in the 17th and 18th century sang a generalized chanting hymn rather than full songs. Those records come from merchant and navy vessels, though, not pirates, so it's entirely possible that discipline was more lax.
- Naval warfare in the Age of Sail was more a matter of maneuver and attrition than what we see here, with cannon volleys exchanged on a scale of minutes, not seconds. More to the point, the rather violent, take-the-fort style approach to plunder that's part of the gameplay is way off from the way pirates actually operated; most of them favored subtlety and Guile Hero tactics rather than going all One Ship Armada. Furthermore, historian Bryan Glass noted after seeing the game that most of the times Pirates never attacked or battled ships as the game asks you to do before you plunder it, since it defeated the purpose of salvaging and selling proper quality goods. He does however praise the game overall for its broader accuracy in showing the egalitarian nature of the Pirate life.
- As the Good Book Says: Edward's memorably terse elegy to Thatch, "He drinks damnation," sounds like badass pirate lingo, but traces its roots to the King James translation of the New Testament, 1 Corinthians: "For he that eateth and drinketh unworthily, eateth and drinketh damnation to himself."note
- Asshole Victim: Most of the targets you kill have some redeeming qualities or at least believe that they are doing right. There are some exceptions.
- Duncan Walpole, an Assassin who was pulling a Face-Heel Turn and, whose identity Edward hijacks, is an in-Universe one. The Assassins admit to Edward that he's no loss.
- Laurens Prins, a Dutch slaver, is another fellow that all sides admit they are better off without, even the Templars who seek to deal with him directly.
- There's an Italian diplomat, Ruggiero Ferraro, who eases the guilt of shuffling him off the mortal coil by being a snob and a Dirty Old Man. note
- Attack! Attack! Attack!: The complete Charles Vane doctrine of naval warfare. He manages a surprise attack against the English fleet blockading Nassau simply by being so crazily aggressive that they don't see him coming.
- In one mission where the Jackdaw has to track a Spanish ship of the line/man-o'-war, Vane is insane enough to take the 100-gun beast head-on with just a brig (his Ranger) and a pair of smaller ships.
- Award Bait Song: Anne's song during the ending. Hits especially hard during the part where Edward sees a vision of all his dead pirate friends sitting together happily. The song is an actual Irish folk song, The Parting Glass.
- Like all Assassin Player Characters, Edward is a fighter who can take on many mooks at once and is a Walking Armoury with four pistols, two swords, two hidden blades, blowpipe and later rope darts. As The Captain, he invokes Asskicking Equals Authority by leading the Boarding Party and taking out most of the crew, captains and forts himself. In one cinematic trailer, Blackbeard relates that he can clear "a Spanish Galleon as if it were nothing", which you can do in game yourself.
- Adéwalé, Edward's quartermaster is his equal as a fighter and sailor and is the Hero of Another Story in the Freedom Cry DLC.
- Becoming the Mask:
- Edward learns how to use the Hidden Blades by putting on an act for the Templars who think he's an Assassin defector; they want to see his stuff on a training course and he rolls with it. So, through the sheer power of bluff, his sailor's ability to climb agilely ("every finger a fishhook!") and some improvisation, he's become just like the guy he's impersonating.
- A recurring theme is Ah Tabai telling Edward that he has to earn the outfit he had taken for himself. By the end he does, and he becomes a full-time Assassin.
- Happens literally and often in the multiplayer, as morphing civilians to look like you is the easiest and most effective way of avoiding detection.
- Beef Gate: The level 49-and-above Man o' War ships that patrol the south of the map are there to stop players who venture out of familiar waters without upgrading the Jackdaw, while level 60 pirate hunter ships (which appear at Wanted Level 3) discourage players from letting their wanted level get too high.
- Been There, Shaped History: This feels less prominent in this game than in the earlier titles, with the simple reason being that there isn't a lot we know about the Golden Age of Piracy and there are many missing details about the early lives, backgrounds and circumstances of historical pirates, both of which are lampshaded by the in-game database. Most pirates were illiterate sailors and left no contemporary first-person records. The major record of the time, Charles Johnson's book note came several years after the period was over. As such the game takes much advantage of this lacuna in telling this story. Despite this Edward does participate in a few key events.
- Edward and Adéwalé acquire the ship that becomes the Jackdaw in the midst of the hurricane that causes the sinking of the famous Spanish Treasure Fleet which caused a gold rush and a frantic search by sailors for buried treasure and provided much inspiration for later stories about pirates.
- Edward also witnesses and participates in events like Blackbeard's last stand, Jack Rackham's mutiny against Charles Vane, Benjamin Hornigold's mysterious death and Bartholomew Roberts' Awesome Moment of Crowning as The Captain and his eventual death.
- Betty and Veronica: Edward is the Archie to four different women. Going from most "Betty" to most "Veronica" they are Tessa Stephenson-Oakley, Caroline Scott, Anne Bonny, and Mary Read. Caroline and Tessa end up his first and second wives respectively.
- Bifauxnen: James Kidd, aka Mary Read, looks quite masculine even once her secret is out. This should come as less of a surprise if you know your pirate history. The surprise is also lessened by the voice actor's halfhearted attempt at androgyny.
- Big Fancy House: Edward's manor in Inagua; after it's been upgraded, it becomes a pretty white manor, filled with Mayan art, and with a huge, colourful garden filled with tropical flowers, and a guest house because why not. It becomes especially lovely when the skeleton wearing Templar armour is removed.
- Bittersweet Ending:
- Anyone who's played Assassins Creed III and/or read the Expanded Universe novels knows that, regardless of Edward's success as a pirate, he dies ignominiously and his son, whom he raises as an Assassin, becomes a Templar.
- Within the game's story, Edward succeeds at his goal of finding the Observatory and stopping the Templars from using it, but loses nearly everyone he is ever close to during his career as a pirate.
- Edward's first wife, Caroline, is revealed at the end to have died a long time ago, but leaves him a daughter.
- In the modern-day story, the Templars gain access to the location of the Observatory through your efforts, exactly as the Sage predicts, although the internal memos you can read show that it may be of limited use given that Tech Marches On. Perhaps more importantly, they now have access to the Sage's DNA, and through him, genuine First Civilization DNA.
- Blatant Lies:
- Lying is Abstergo's stock in trade. In the introduction to the Sample 17 Project, Desmond Miles is called a "very generous donor". Anyone who knows about the earlier games can see just how far from the truth this is.
- Abstergo's executives also seek to remove and "correct" those historical points of view which contradict their agenda. They reject Altaïr, Ezio, and Connor's stories to make games because they aren't "propaganda friendly".
- The naval contracts you get from Milo Van Der Graaff. While he claims to be an "Honest Businessman and Friend" it's clear he's as much of a crook as any pirate and is merely outsourcing his criminal activities through Edward.
- Bling-Bling-BANG!: Getting the elite upgrades for your ship's weapons outfits it with golden cannons, mortars, and swivels, despite this being incredibly impractical for actual weaponry. There is also a set of golden pistols which can be earned for completing all naval contracts.
- The majority of multiplayer characters get gilded, gem-studded, or otherwise extremely flashy signature weapons as you gain prestige.
- Book Ends:
- The first time Edward meets Woodes Rogers in-game, it's at a governor's (Torres') home in a dead man's (Walpole's) clothes. The last time it's at a governor's (Rogers') home in a dead man's (Ferraro's) clothes.
- Edward's first visit to the Observatory has him beat up the native Guardians. His last visit has him saving them.
- Edward first comes to Tulum from the beach and arrives at the Temple, where he fights off invading Redcoats, Ah Tabai chastises him and tells him he's unwelcome, and he is shown where the Mayan armour is kept. His last visit begins at the Temple, where Ah Tabai forgives him and tells him he is welcome, and ends at the beach where Edward defends the base from the invading Spanish. And if the player has kept up with his Mayan Stele puzzles, this is Edward's first opportunity to get to the Temple and put the armour on...
- The game ends with Edward at the theater with a young Haytham, the same location that the previous game begins.
- Bounty Hunter: Getting too much notoriety at sea will cause pirate hunters to come after you.
- Bragging Rights Reward: Beating all four of the Legendary Ships unlocks a stronger ram attack. Of course, your regular ram attack, when fully upgraded, is enough to take out most ships in the game anyway, so there's nothing left worth using it on.
- Bread and Circuses: In one of the hacked conversations, we see a chat log where Olivier describes Abstergo Entertainment's management strategy as being just like this: offer the staff some token form of good cheer and feel-good company while secretly eroding labour laws and overworking them. He even takes the "bread" part literally, suggesting that Melanie should give the employees pain au chocolat breakfasts and "secretly" sneak coffee liqueur.
- Bribing Your Way to Victory: Just like Assassins Creed III, Assassin's Creed IV multiplayer allows you to spend real money to purchase Erudito Credits to unlock skills, character customization items, and emblem unlocks before you are high enough level to unlock them naturally. There are also download packs on the XBLA and PSN stores to unlock all skills and/or customization options.
- Cain and Abel: The Travers brothers, Upton and Vance; the latter tries to kill the former to possess his half of a treasure map. Gets a bit heavy-handed when Vance's girlfriend, Jiang Ling, references the story in a bid to get Vance to kill Upton personally.
- Call Back: In Assassin's Creed: Brotherhood in one of the chats you can have with Shaun he stated that he wished for amazing things, like a private espresso bar. In Abstergo he runs an espresso bar.
- Call Forward: Since Edward is the father of Haytham, several of their actions parallel each other in ironic ways. He also has similarities to his grandson Connor.
- Both of them come in by ship and were tasked by their superiors to deliver something valuable. However, Haytham had this his whole time, whereas Edward stole this from an Assassin.
- The first few moments of the game reveal the supposed Assassin is actually a Templar. Strangely, Haytham was this originally, while Edward does this for personal gain.
- Like Connor, Edward develops a lot of his core fighting skills and freerunning and climbing skills from his prior experience as a sailor, similar to Connor who could run on trees and is a capable hunter because of his Native American upbringing and heritage. Both Edward and Connor become The Captain of the Cool Ship. Edward is likewise very Hotblooded and reckless, closer to Connor than Haytham who is an Imperturbable Englishman.
- This game creates a 3-for-3 of Kenways sentenced to death by hanging and later rescued. Like Connor, Edward is rescued by the Assassin Mentor.
- Canon Immigrant: One of the Crystal Skulls makes their first appearance in an Assassin's Creed game, first appearing in Project Legacy. Though they are mentioned in Abstergo Emails in Assassin's Creed as "Mitchell-Hedges Communicators."
- Canon Welding: An Easter Egg the Abstergo analyst can find while hacking computers puts Watch_Dogs into the The Verse of Assassin's Creed (and all other Ubisoft games that were in the game's universe).
- Capital Letters Are Magic: Nigh-every noun in the game is capitalized in the subtitles. This is a Shout-Out to the main reference for the game, "A General History Of The Pyrates".
- Color-Coded for Your Convenience: All unnamed NPCs wear colors indicating their faction. Friendly pirates dress in blue "sea clothes", while hostile pirates and privateers dress in black. Soldiers and sailors for each country wear color coded uniforms: English in red, Spanish in yellow, and Portuguese in blue.
- Combat Pragmatist:
- Edward Kenway, befitting his background and profession, won't hesitate to pull out (several) pistols in the middle of a swordfight or a number of other "ungentlemanly" fighting moves.
- Brutes who catch you hiding in bushes or stalk zones often prefer to lob a grenade in with Edward rather than face him head-on.
- Controllable Helplessness:
- After being betrayed by Roberts at the Observatory, Edward has to make his way back to his ship, but is badly injured while sliding down a hill and can only stagger. While you control him for the duration, it's obvious that he won't last long. This scene is highly reminiscent of the penultimate memory of Assassins Creed III.
- In Sequence 11, Edward falls into a Heroic BSOD and drinks himself into a stupor. During the ensuing Mushroom Samba, you can control his actions to a limited extent, but it's clear that you're in a hallucination and that Edward is really lying on the floor in a tavern somewhere, raving. The scene looks somewhat similar to the experiences of the protagonist of another Ubisoft game, Far Cry 3.
- When trapped in a gibbet, all Edward can do is rattle the cage and cry out. He uses this to distract the guards so Ah Tabai can kill them undetected.
- Cool Ship:
- Edward's vessel, the Jackdaw, starts as an ordinary brig but has multiple upgrades which eventually turn it into a dreadnaught of the seas capable of defeating legendary ships and taking on whole fleets singlehandedly.
- Blackbeard's ship, the Queen Anne's Revenge, is a galleon with forty guns, as its owner proudly proclaims. You get to pilot it in one mission and, while it lacks mortars, those guns do a masterful job of tearing apart anything that gets in its broadsides.
- The aforementioned Legendary ships are each a Super Boss challenge waiting for you at the four corners of the world. Each has its own particular gimmick and all of them are faster and more heavily armed than you.
- Costume Porn: This instalment may have the most gorgeous costume designs yet. From the costumes worn by the pirates (Black Bart, Blackbeard, Mary Read and Anne Bonny deserve special mention), to the cool Assassin uniform, to the sumptuous outfits worn by the Templars. Edward's wardrobe alone is remarkable, featuring various pirate outfits, Assassin robes, and fashionable outfits of the day. Then there's the Templar and Mayan armour - the former is sleek and black and badass-looking, while the latter pairs golden First civ armour plate with ornate, electric blue robes.
- Country Matters:
- This phrase is uttered by the "dancers" - they are "well-versed in country matters."
- Vane slips the C-word into a particularly gnarly threat.
- Cut His Heart Out with a Spoon: Edward playfully threatens to cut an adversary's lips off and feed them to him if he doesn't reveal some sensitive information. As it turns out, the historical pirate, Edward Low, did this exact thing to a captured ship's captain who had thrown his gold overboard rather than allow it to be captured.
- Cut Lex Luthor a Check: In a subversion, Abstergo is using the Animus technology to make lame pop culture junk as a cash grab, rather than to broaden our understanding of human history, something pointed out by the internal memos you can read. This is partially deliberate, as they are trying to control the masses, not educate them.
- Cutscene Incompetence: The scene in which the mutinous Jack Rackham has his mooks hold Edward and Vane at gunpoint wouldn't have posed much difficulty had it happened in-game. Same goes for Thatch's death scene.
- Damn, It Feels Good to Be a Gangster : The in-game Abstergo promos project this image of piracy note and Stede Bonnet initially signs up with Blackbeard longing for adventure and excitement. The game plays both angles: a pirate's life is full of freedom and adrenaline but it comes at the price of living in a Wretched Hive like Nassau, having to cope with Chronic Backstabbing Disorder vis-a-vis mutiny and Dysfunction Junction and the vast ocean filled with Everything Trying to Kill You.
- Dead Person Impersonation: Edward gets his Call to Adventure when his ship is sunk during a battle with a ship crewed by an Assassin. They eventually fight, the wounded Assassin loses, and Edward finds a note that the guy was going to get a huge reward for showing up in Havana. Not one to waste an opportunity for profit, Edward dons his costume.
- Deconstruction: While the series has always shined a light on popular history, Black Flag drastically deconstructs our familiar ideas of pirate life.
- Rather than fearsome criminals, pirates are mainly ex-sailors and soldiers who turn to piracy because of poor pay, little chance of meritorious ranking and terrible treatment and poor conditions in the navies of the major nations. They are neither evil nor are they The Pirates Who Don't Do Anything. Rather, they practice a form of democracy reminiscent of Union politics and the Nassau Republic was technically the first attempt at democracy in the New World. However, because the main form of income is high seas robbery, the economy in the region falters as a result of their actions, leaving them to struggle for basic living supplies like medicine. Most pirates live in wretched slum conditions in Nassau.
- Rather than a fearsome pirate of legend, Blackbeard is simply a desperate sailor who in his own words barely survived four decades and is trying to survive the next one. He also rarely kills people, relying on theatrical effects. Most pirates, with the exception of Charles Vane, rely more on reputation and Large Ham displays to get across the message than actual violence.
- Furthermore, the game places pirates in a larger context of colonialism. The African slave trade is a far more profitable endeavor than piracy, and yet at the time this game is set, slavery is still legal while piracy is persecuted by the same governments who enable these laws and profit from this cruelty.
- The game satirizes how history becomes pop culture fodder with Abstergo Entertainment Comically Missing the Point about the memories of the ancestors they seek to exploit. They are more interested in making Pirates of the Caribbean knock-offs than telling true stories.
- The game also deconstructs some of the classic pirate character archetypes, showing that a reckless Lovable Rogue Wild Card pirate who plays both sides, a la Jack Sparrow, would end up alienating and compromising the people around him, making him The Friend Nobody Likes at best, and The Millstone at worst. Furthermore, The Mutiny, which is treated as a great crime in nautical stories, is merely shown as democracy in action in the game, since if the sailors no longer trust their captain to give them good work and keep them from needless danger, they have every right to depose said captain and choose another. By the way, you're playing that guy for most of the game, until some Character Development.
- Defeat Means Friendship: When you capture an enemy vessel, you can impress some of its crew into your service, and you may further choose to give the crew control of their ship if they swear loyalty to you and join your pirate navy. Considering the terrible conditions sailors were subject to during the period, this would have represented a fantastic turn of fortune for most of them. Amusingly, this results in an instant costume switch for your freshly minted pirate recruits.
- The Dev Team Thinks of Everything:
- Trying to take down a ship that outclasses the Jackdaw? If you can swim over to it and take out the deck crew in hand-to-hand before entering naval combat, one shot from your cannons will win the battle automatically, just as if you'd disabled it in normal naval combat.
- If you intervene in a battle between Spanish and British ships but only attack one side, the other side will assume you're a friendly privateer and leave you alone.
- You can't equip a single sword, axe, or musket, but they each come with a complete set of unique kill animations thanks to your ability to steal them from enemies.
- Like in previous games, you can drop money as a distraction. However, monks won't pick up a single coin, even if you literally throw it at them.
- Democracy Is Bad/Democracy Is Flawed: The game highlights the pirates as being, from a modern perspective, slightly more egalitarian than the navies of the British and Spanish Empires who combat piracy solely to maintain routes for the lucrative slave trade. They practice meritorious advancement, racially integrated Badass Crew and Anne Bonny, who becomes an in-universe Memetic Badass as the ur-Pirate Girl. However the fact that they are a Dysfunction Junction note and their income coming from high seas robbery means they are not able to sustain their ideals, with even an initial Wide-Eyed Idealist like Benjamin Hornigold pulling a Screw This, I'm Outta Here!.
Benjamin Hornigold: We had here a rare opportunity; a chance to take something base and shape it into a government, made and maintained by men of vision. But in two years we pissed it away.
- The game also defines The Mutiny not as a great crime of treachery but merely Democracy in action, respecting the right of the crew, more or less, to exercise franchise over their captain who, however badass he may be, must rely on them finally.
- Different for Girls: Discussed by Vidic and Subject One, the descendant of Aveline de Grandpré, in a recording you can find. Subject One notes that his center of gravity is lower, and he can feel the eyes of everyone looking at her attractiveness, and finds the roles society expects of a woman restricting. He is also really uncomfortable with attraction she has to men, and asserts that he is not gay. Another peculiarity he discusses at length is how Aveline's body language during social situations might be a hint that she does think about sex, though he has a lot of trouble differentiating it from his own biologically male tendencies.
- Dirty Old Man: The Abstergo Market researchers tasked with reviewing the various ancestors' suitability for new intellectual properties speculate that Ezio Auditore may have had something of "the old lecher" in him in his later years (supplemented by out-of-context screenshots from Assassin's Creed: Embers). Coincidentally, Ruggiero Ferraro, an Italian diplomat Edward tracks down, with whom Ezio shares a voice actor, turns out to be an old lecher in his own right.
- Disc One Nuke: If you are diligent in upgrading the Jackdaw and exploring the map, by the time you reach sequence 6 and complete the memory "Diving for Medicines" (which unlocks diving missions giving you access to the Elite Upgrades) you will have everything you need to fully upgrade the Jackdaw, complete all assassins contracts and naval contracts and the Templar Hunt missions. At the end of which you will have a One Man Armada captained by a guy who holds dual pistol swords (which fire bullets as a finishing move) and gold-plated pistols which has the best stats and the Templar Armour. There's still half the game left, which is smooth sailing from then on. Happy pirating!
- Double Entendre: Not surprisingly, some of the sea shanties are rife with this.
"She's lovely aloft, lads, she's lovely down below..."
- Door to Before: A couple of the pirate dens which can only be entered through underwater caverns have this. The exit is clearly visible from outside but can't initially be reached due to its higher elevation.
- Dual Boss: One of the Legendary Ship battles involves fighting the sister man-o-wars H.M.S. Fearless, and the Royal Sovereign.
- Dual Wielding: Both swords and pistols are sold in sets, and Edward even receives two Hidden Blades together instead of only one, "As is the custom, (yes)?"note
Sword sets: A pirate with only one sword set is no true pirate.
Pistol sets: A pirate can - nay, MUST - be judged by the number and the quality of the pistols he carries.
- Dummied Out: There was clearly intended to be some hanky panky in the game, which was cut for unknown reasons. In Great Inagua, after building the town brothel a drunken woman will appear in Edward's bedroom. If the player hits the "Interact" prompt, the screen will go black for a few seconds and she will be in Edward's bed. A similar event happens with a female Assassin after Edward saves Tulum.
- Dysfunction Junction: The reason the pirate republic fails. All of them have wildly different personalities and a range of personal issues. Benjamin Hornigold believes, at least initially, that Nassau can be a functioning democracy and that they can transcend their pirate origins and become legitimate. Blackbeard believes the same but he has been at it for so long that he can't think of any other form of life and ultimately decides to retire. Charles Vane is a Bomb Throwing Anarchist who sees the pirate life as license to be The Unfettered while Edward Kenway is Only in It for the Money and longs for One Last Job, a score so bountiful that he never has to rob or work again. Rackham has no aspirations beyond his next bottle of rum, while James Kidd is a pirate only nominally.
- End of an Age: At the end of the game, when Jenny asks Edward if they can see any pirates, Edward sadly laments, "No, I'm afraid there's not much chance of that." This is because the Golden Age of Piracy is now over.
- Everything Trying to Kill You: The underwater segments. Swim carelessly in the open? Shark will hurt you. Swim carelessly near the sea floor? Moray eels will hurt you. Swim carelessly inside a wreck? Sea urchins will hurt you. Swim carelessly outside a wreck? Jellyfish will hurt you. Swim carelessly for too long? The lack of air will hurt and kill you.
- Evil Counterpart: Black Bart Roberts to Edward. Both are legendary pirate captains, both wear outfits filched from dead men (The Princess' captain and Duncan Walpole respectively), both are targeted for their supernatural powers (Edward by the Assassins for his Eagle Sense, Roberts by the Templars as a Sage.), and both are kidnapped by the Templars. To hammer the point home, both are even Welsh! The key differences lie in Roberts' cruelty, lack of honour, and their outlooks on life - Roberts wanting a short and glorious life and Edward a long and easy one.
- Exactly What It Says on the Tin/Bilingual Bonus: Île à Vache has... cows on it. (It's French for "isle of cows".)
- Assassinate in Multiplayer. Your goal is to find a target, and assassinate it.
- Executive Meddling: In-universe. Some of the bits you get from the hacking games involve marketing execs saying why they feel releasing games about Altaïr, Ezio, and Connor would be bad ideas, though they did give a pass to Aveline.
- Eyepatch of Power: Only Stede Bonnet wears one, the Edward the Legend outfit allows Edward to do this too. Averted though.
- False Flag Operation: Done quite literally in one mission where a captured Portuguese flag is used to infiltrate a restricted area. Disguise is a common theme too with Edward twice stealing a dead man's clothing to assume a false identity.
- Fashion Dissonance: All Sages eventually grow a long moustache, regardless of race or time period. Even among the Maya, who didn't grow out facial hair, and even in the modern era.
- If that wasn't enough, John is made to look even more of an outsider by adopting elements of Black Bart Roberts' costume.
- Final Exam Boss: All four legendary ships, the optional Super Bosses which are placed on the four corners of the game map test your skills in navigation, strategy and use of resources. Each ship, once sunk, yields a loot of 20,000 reales (though the man-o-war tandem reward is split amongst both ships), and defeating all four gives the Jackdaw the El Impoluto's charging ability.
- In the northwest corner of the map is the ship El Impoluto, a ship with the firepower of a man-o-war and the speed and maneuverability of a much smaller ship. Its main offensive tactic is to charge straight at you, reaching speeds the Jackdaw could never reach even at travel speed, and ram you into submission. And in the process of getting back into ramming position, its broadsides will keep you busy in the meantime.
- The northeast has two man-o-wars, the HMS Fearless and the Royal Sovereign. They tend to attack in tandem, first attempting to sandwich you between their individual broadsides, and after they pass you, they turn around in front of you, continuing their broadside assault as they get back into position and keep you between their paths. And once you defeat one of them, the survivor's cannons all become heated and deal about twice as much damage.
- The southwest corner features La Dama Negra, a man-o-war whose hull is practically invincible to any cannon fire, barring one particular weak spot. it also has mortars with no warning markers, and it likes to use them A LOT.
- To the southeast of the map is the HMS Prince, described by the Jackdaw crew as a ghost ship. The main challenge for this encounter is that once it spots you, the weather immediately takes a turn for the worse, plunging you in the midst of a thunderstorm and severely lowering your visibility. As you struggle to find it, it will bombard you with mortars.
- Follow the Leader: Although the franchise in question is made by Ubisoft, the upgrade to Eagle Vision in this game over other ones makes it capable of "marking" targets to easily follow them through walls with Eagle Vision off, almost identically to the "Mark and Execute" function of Splinter Cell: Conviction, barring the ability to call in a barrage of One Hit Kills (which was included back in Assassin's Creed III: Liberation). note
- Footnote Fever: Since Shaun is working as a barista on Abstergo Entertainment campus, the database is done by the Kenway Line Team, filled with wiki-like notes and gossip about old historical figure, and is almost — almost — as funny as Shaun's snarky commentary, filled as it is with Entertainingly Wrong conclusions and vapid marketing lingo.
- Less of a storyline reveal, and more of a bit of humor. The main designer for the in-game "Black Flag" prototype complains to Abstergo analyst that Edward Kenway's Welsh accent is unattractive and offputting for audiences, and wishes to replace it with a voice like "James Bond." Cut to the ending, and Edward has put on a Bond-like British accent to fit in with the high-society aristocrats for about the same reason.
- During Edward's "Delirium" sequence, a hallucination of Woodes Rogers on a pedestal speaks to a crowd. The next time we see the real Rogers, he is giving a speech to Kingston high society at a party, and after this Edward stabs him.
- In the same sequence, Edward swims in the sea, through dozens of drowned corpses. He sees a similar sight when on the hunt for Roberts at Principe.
- Foregone Conclusion: Next to everything about Edward's post-assassin life, including how and when he dies, was revealed in Assassin's Creed: Forsaken, the novelization of III.
- For Massive Damage: Volleys of cannon fire may expose weak points in an enemy ship's hull or rigging which can be targeted with your swivel guns for major damage.
- Framing the Guilty Party: Partway through the Abstergo sequences, you become a suspect in the rash of hacking and are imprisoned (but still allowed to continue your Animus research). After John's psychotic breakdown over Juno's failure to possess you, he tries to kill you, but is instead shot dead by Abstergo security. The material revealed in his files is sufficient to clear you completely, despite the fact that you are the person who did the hacking.
- Friendly, Playful Dolphin: Although they are non-interactive, dolphins follow ships and play around in their bow waves.
- Gambit Pileup: Every faction in the game, Assassins, Templars, Pirates and royal navies of England and Spain has an angle and their own long-term plans with each side ruining the other's plans. Add a Humanoid Abomination like a Sage who goes From Nobody to Nightmare and everything gets even more tangled. There's also the fact that pirate captains on treasure hunts have to be worried about being mutinied or shanghaied while on land. Good times.
- Often happens in the multiplayer, such as when a single player is targeted by several others at once.
- Gameplay and Story Segregation:
- In the intro, Walpole tries to shoot Kenway with his gun, only for it to fail on account of just being dunked in the ocean. Kenway, once he gets his own pistols, can swim, get out of water, and immediately fire his weapons.
- Characters are seen in cutscenes to use pistols as Throw Away Guns, only bothering to reload them once well out of combat. In gameplay, Edward keeps the same set all the time and can reload all four of them in about three seconds. (For extra fun, the animation looks like he's breech loading all the shells into a single gun, unlike Connor in the previous game who had to load each barrel of each gun he had.)
- Edward can swim in full gear, but must remove it all in order to do the diving missions, including his swords and hidden blades, which would come in very handy against sharks.
- It is assumed in most scenes that Edward is wearing Assassin robes with a hood. He will make the motion of raising and lowering it whether the outfit he's currently wearing has a hood at all, or if the hood has a "lowered" animation. Strangely, this happens in Nassau when he's canonically in pirate clothes and cannot change.
- "Stealth bonuses" for raiding warehouses are earned by not allowing any alarm bells to be rung, even if you disabled them and then openly murdered every single guard.
- No matter how upgraded the Jackdaw is or how well you perform in combat, cutscenes in main memory sequence missions will assume Edward's ship to be as strong as you'd reasonably expect a normal pirate brig to be.
- In-Story, the pirates are at their strongest at the beginning of the game, with Blackbeard, Hornigold, and the full of Nassau at your back. However, you are at your strongest at the end, capturing fort after fort one after the other with hordes of pirates appearing out of nowhere to raise the black flag and actively defend the immediate area against Spanish or English ships. After the fall of Nassau, you are reduced to being on your own and should not only been unable to capture any more forts, but lose control of any that you did have (which obviously does not happen).
- Generation Xerox: The Sages, as reincarnations of the deity Aita. Physically, they look the same, with heterochromia and long black moustaches. They also share some personality quirks: John has Black Bart's infatuation with Juno, his insanity, and his violent streak, as well as Thom Kavanagh's hobby of leaving notes.
- Genre Savvy: More than any other game, there are a fair number of missions (main and side) where enemies suspect they were followed, and rightly so. This is given a Lampshade Hanging in the mission "Imagine My Surprise" by having one of your targets specifically call you out once he spots the Jackdaw in port.
- Ghost Pirate: The ''Deceased Crew" cheat gives the Jackdaw a literal skeleton crew.
- Global Currency: While other currencies, such as English pounds, are acknowledged in the story, Edward's wealth is tracked in Spanish reales, which appear to be good everywhere.
- Good Scars, Evil Scars: Edward has a number of facial scars, but they mostly just reinforce his rough-and-ready personality rather than mar his appearance. Woodes Rogers, on the other hand, has a mass of ugly purple scar tissue, which makes him look very creepy.
- Grand Theft Me: Due to Juno's meddling, in every human generation the Sage appears, due to a special combination of genetic patterns in a zygote that triggers his genetic code to overwrite the child's (destroying whatever person that zygote might have become). As the Sage is the memory-ghost of Juno's husband, Aita, this is also a form of reincarnation.
- Gory Discretion Shot: The camera pans down as a British sailor administers the coup de grace to Blackbeard's neck. Historically, Thatch was decapitated at Lieutenant Maynard's orders after being overwhelmed in battle. The cutscene shows his hat poignantly falling to the deck behind him.
- Guide Dang It: The instructions for the "optional objectives" needed for full synchronization are not always clear. "Disarm three guards and kill them?" OK, but where did you mention having to kill them with their own weapons? Similarly, the requirement that you remain undetected while looking for Hornigold fails to specify that it only applies to the sea segment and one odd requirement for the penultimate mission flashes up briefly at the beginning of the climactic fight with El Tiburón, and only applies to that specific fight sequence, so expect a few frustrating reloads.
- Also, one of the best ranged weapons (possibly best weapons period) is the throwing knife. Even though you can only hold one at a time and can only snap-shot them, they are completely silent and, unlike their previous counterparts, will kill anything (with the possible exception of certain bosses) in a single hit. Nowhere in the game are you told that they exist, let alone that you can only obtain them by disarming agile guards and/or picking up their discarded weapons.
- Guns Akimbo: Although Edward never dual-wields pistols in the traditional sense, he and other pirates can and do carry multiple pistols at any given time, allowing chained pistol kills (with a corresponding achievement for getting a four-kill streak). This is justified historically: as firearms of the day lacked an internal magazine, this was the only practical way to fire multiple shots in a row, and nobody had time or space to reload in the close-quarters combat found on a ship.
- Hanging Judge: The judge in Kingston sentences every pirate to death without much in the way of a trial, as was common during the era. At the very least, they do give consideration to women who "plead their bellies" (claim pregnancy during the trial) and delay their sentences until they give birth.
- Have a Gay Old Time: If the subtitles are switched on you can hear the leader of the graverobber you are sent to assassinate telling his men to leave no bush unmolested.
- Have I Mentioned I Am Heterosexual Today?: Vidic's interview with Subject One gives us our first glimpse of an Animus user viewing someone of the opposite sex's (Aveline's) memories. Subject One is a straight white man playing a black woman in the 18th century, and experiencing sexual attention from men, and Aveline's attraction to men, makes him audibly uncomfortable.
- Heel Realization: The main story is centered on the slow maturation of Edward's conscience and his dawning realization of what his ambitions and desires have cost people around him. This comes to a head when Mary Read dies.
- Heroic BSOD: Edward suffers a mental and emotional breakdown after Mary Read's death, becoming a drunken mess for what appear to be several months.
- Highly-Visible Ninja:
- Edward's pirate cloak might meet the color code, but with a giant skull and crossbones emblazoned on the back, it's not exactly inconspicuous. For bonus hilarity, through the Animus interface he can be dressed in Altaïr's, Ezio's, and/or Connor's costumes if you played those games. This is, of course, not what he would have actually been wearing in the memories in question.
- The multiplayer characters are usually dressed in colorful outfits and war paint. The only thing keeping them from being stabbed on sight is that everyone else has the same outfit.
- Historical-Domain Character: The following pirates turn up throughout the game: Blackbeard (Edward Thatch), the most famous English pirate and ally of Edward Kenway; Benjamin Hornigold, an English pirate; Anne Bonny, a famous Irish female pirate; "Calico" Jack Rackham, an English pirate; and Charles Vane, another infamous English pirate. Additionally, Laureano de Torres y Ayala, the Spanish Governor of the Caribbean; Mary Read, a second famous female pirate, and Bartholomew Roberts, the most successful pirate of the Golden Age of Piracy; all play major roles in the plot.
- Historical Hero Upgrade:
- Since you work for Abstergo Entertainment, a front company for the modern-day Templars, it comes as little surprise that they are trying to do this to the Big Bads of all the previous games, under the caption of "Great Minds of History": Robert de Sable, Rodrigo Borgia, Haytham Kenway and Madeline de l'Isle. While Haytham is ambiguous enough to qualify for a pass, the Rodrigo Borgia one is remarkable for its self-delusion in calling him a "progressive, bon-vivant who cared about family values". They even praise him as a man of faith when the Assassin's Creed version of Rodrigo Borgia was an atheist. It's even more surprising given that the modern-Templars are said to view the Borgia's reign over the Templars as Old Shame, considering how he and his underlings abandoned all of the Templar principles.
- A straight example is Blackbeard. He's shown to be Lighter and Softer in comparison to all his other depictions, deliberately putting on a mask of terror because it keeps him from having to kill people. Of all the pirates of the Nassau Flying Gang, he is the most heroic and competes with Stede Bonnet for being the most likable.
- I Am Very British: Edward swaps his native Welsh accent for Received Pronunciation when he meets Torres in the guise of Duncan Walpole. At the very end of the game at the Opera, after becoming an English nobleman, he speaks in a very polished tone. Though he lets it slip when he tells his son, that they should leave "this posh gig" and go to White's Chocolate House.
- Impossibly Cool Clothes: Outfits that should make stealth, blending into a crowd and/or crazy freerunning impossible are a staple of the series already, but the Crimson Cloak outfit takes it a step further by adding an extremely opulent cape that looks like heavy brocade. Trying to swim in that thing should take you to the bottom within seconds, and how Edward keeps all that salt water from ruining the color is anybody's guess.
- Insistent Terminology:
- Interquel: The Animus portion takes place between Ezio's and Connor's eras and stars Connor's paternal grandfather. That said, the actual present day Framing Story is a sequel to III.
- It Is Pronounced Tro-PAY: The Abstergo market researcher in charge of reviewing the suitability of the ancestor stories for future projects mispronounces every single one of the characters' names, in a Take That Me at the culturally myopic entertainment industry. For reference, he calls them Al-tear, Enzio, and Ratoka(garbled gibberish).
- Jump Scare:
- When you finally arrive at the Observatory, pistol shots ring out, completely unexpectedly. It turns out to be Roberts shooting his own men because they would Go Mad from the Revelation of what's inside. Edward is horrified, but has no choice but to follow him.
- Shark attacks in the diving sequences can seemingly come out of nowhere, as can animal attacks while hunting in the jungle. In whaling missions, your prey may sometimes leap out of the water right next to your boat, damaging and possibly sinking you if you don't harpoon them very quickly.
- To say nothing of moray eels, who can't even be fought off.
- Just Shoot Him: Actually the easiest way to solve chase scenes in this iteration. You do, after all, have up to 4 pistols and each one is instantly fatal to unarmored foes when shot in the back. Most every chase can be completely avoided by quick aim right at the beginning while the target is turning to run.
- Lady Not-Appearing-in-This-Game: The two buxom women from Edward's bed in the cinematic trailer have nothing to do with the actual game, though they are evoked somewhat by an odd piece of post-completion content whereby Edward can interact with women around his house and have them appear in his bed.
- Leaning on the Fourth Wall: The Abstergo emails discussing future settings to explore is a direct parody of the fan discussions of the series as well as the various issues involved in the use of some settings. Indeed much of the present day is filled with jokes and gags about video game development. The game's writers noted that the Abstergo Employee Handbook is modeled on Ubisoft Montreal's which also serves as the model for Abstergo Entertainment.
- Lighter and Softer: Despite having a Gray and Gray Morality and much Nightmare Fuel as well the most ruthless Assassin protagonist yet, Black Flag is considerably lighter than Assassins Creed III which ended on a real downer in both the past and the present. The Animus music is also very light and uplifting compared to the more somber and downbeat moods in the past games.
- Also, compare the cover art with that of the preceding title: where AC3 had Connor poised to tomahawk an unambiguously British redcoat to death, AC4 ha Edward standing above a dead body of vague nationality. All in all, much less provocative.
- Lightning Bruiser: Once fully upgraded, the Jackdaw becomes this. It's faster and more maneuverable than almost any other ship in the game, hits harder than any of them, and can soak up entire broadsides from Man of War-class ships (heavy shot broadsides no less). The only ships that outclass it in terms of sheer stats are the Legendary Ships. Not even Black Bart's Royal Fortune measures up.
- The Level 60 Man o' Wars deployed by pirate hunters at higher wanted levels technically outclass an upgraded Jackdaw (Level 50), but are easily overcome with the right tactics.
- Lowest Common Denominator: Abstergo Entertainment market their products in-universe on this belief and the game deconstructs this mentality for all its Unfortunate Implications. Namely that Aveline ought to be a nice role model for girls, that is quiet, listens to mother and doesn't hang out with roughnecks, implying that she can't think and take care of herself.
- Likewise, Olivier Garneau, while endearing expresses confusion about the game's content in the database entries, such as lamenting the fact that Edward Kenway is a Lower-Class Lout and that Mary Read is a Wholesome Crossdresser. He also expresses confusion on whether to treat Caroline as a nag and shrew or justified in her criticism of Edward as too much moral ambiguity for their audiences to deal with.
- The game has strong female characters in Mary Read, Anne Bonny and even Caroline, and the final Devils of the Caribbean trailer might as well be Michael Bay directed, with women merely reduced to pleasure objects for pirates and the Pirate Girl not present in the group.
- That's to say nothing of the Market Analysis video about Ratonhnhaké:ton/Connor Kenway, specifically when the devs considered focusing on his pre-Assassin years.
- MacGuffin: Instead of being an esoteric tool with a thousand uses like the Apple, this time the Macguffin is surprisingly simple and straightforward in its use and intent: it's something that can be used to spy on anyone, anywhere in the world. The ultimate surveillance tool, which would make anyone able to rule the world with an iron fist.
- The game actually has two such things, the irony being that on account of Society Marches On, what is a MacGuffin in one century becomes irrelevant centuries later and vice versa. For instance, the Observatory would have had deadly uses for the Templars in the 18th to 19th Centuries but Abstergo researchers note that 21st Century surveillance technology more or less allows them to the same. Their real interest is...
- The rows of blood vials which Black Bart or Aita tells Edward has the blood of the First Civilization. He tells Edward that it's not worth anything in the 18th Century but will be in "a later epoch". Abstergo has no useful samples to sequence the genome of such a being. With the possession of John from IT's body and his memories, presumably, in Cloud they have a headstart on finding the rest of the blood vials. Assassin's Creed: Unity confirms that this is indeed the next quest for the Assassins, Templars and Juno and her Instruments.
- Madness Mantra: All around the Abstergo Entertainment office building, you can find sticky notes which contain rambling messages, presumably from someone brainwashed by Juno. Every instance of her name is suffixed with "MAY SHE GUIDE US INTO THE GREY". The Sages from both the past and present — Bartholomew Roberts and John from IT respectively — say something along those lines right before their deaths. Interestingly, another Sage, Thom Kavanaugh, never uses the phrase, presumably since he retained his humanity and prevailed over his First Civilization alter-ego, Aita.
- Meaningful Background Event: You'll probably notice of all the reused characters for all the employees and pedestrians at Abstergo, the barista at the lobby and the courier that shows up on occasion are completely unique NPCs. That's because they're Shaun and Rebecca from the previous games.
- Meaningful Name: Edward Kenway means "Prosperous Brave royal fighter". His ship, the Jackdaw, has a meaningful name as well. (see Animal Motifs).
- Mind Rape: John and Juno conspire to have the latter possess the Analyst. May even involve the physical sort, based on your interpretation of John's comments on the Analyst's "tender" body.
- Mission Control Is Off Its Meds: John from IT starts going a little crazy in later present day missions.
- Moby Schtick: You can get an achievement/trophy for successfully harpooning a white sperm whale. In fact, the database entry for the White Whale all but says "Yes, we put Moby Dick in the simulation, because why not?"
- Mook Chivalry: In naval combat, all hostile actions against the Jackdaw cease the instant you initiate a boarding maneuver, meaning that you can, should you choose, fully repair your vessel in the middle of a pitched fight, then resume fighting the enemy ships who have apparently been sitting at anchor, patiently waiting for you to finish. The Jackdaw is also immune to damage while in port, or indeed any time you are not at the helm.
- Combat as Edward averts this: the guards with guns are all too happy to shoot you while their buddies try and make mincemeat out of you with swords and axes. It also sort of happens in the multiplayer, in that several players will line up behind each other to let you finish murdering so they can get to murdering you.
- Mooks but No Bosses: Although the major assassination targets are all top fighters (unlike in III where many were non-combatants) they are all only on par with Elite Mooks. Only the Climax Boss El Tiburón puts up a genuine boss fight, and even he doesn't have Contractual Boss Immunity and can be instant-killed with a backstab if you can manage one. All of the other Templar bosses have to be assassinated with a One-Hit Kill for full sync, except for Torres, who is a decrepit 77-year-old who can be air-assassinated or thrown off a cliff, sometimes by accident.
- More Dakka: The Edward Thatch approach to weaponry: his frigate has over forty cannons, and he carries six pistols on his person. Edward's smaller brig does have fewer cannons, but can be upgraded with more, and has additional mortars. Edward can have four pistols with an additional two pistol swords.
- Musical Episode: Considering the number of folk songs in the game and the numerous ones you listen while piloting the Jackdaw, this is as close as the series will get to "Assassin's Creed: The Musical".
- Mythology Gag:
- The Woodes Rogers assassination level has you tail an Italian diplomat voiced by Roger Craig Smith, who longs for the architecture of Florence and its streets, complaining that the buildings of new colonial cities like Kingston and the Caribbean are boring and lame. A nod to the fans who prize the franchise's most popular game.
- Melanie Lemay takes the Research Analyst up an elevator and talks about putting a trailer together that's exactly like ACIV's launch trailer, with Blackbeard narrating to prospective sailors about working with Edward Kenway.
- During Edward's Mushroom Samba and the retelling of the Jackdaw Fable (see Nightmare Fuel for more), you have to assassinate three targets. One of the random choices they turn into afterwards looks a lot like Abbas.
- Never Trust a Trailer: More like "Never Trust a Gameplay Preview." With the attack on Blackbeard's party, the preview video and the actual gameplay differ significantly, including a different opening cutscene and the trail being much less wild. It is highly likely that the trailer footage comes from the PS4/One version gameplay, as the comparatively limited graphical power of the PS3/360 probably could not keep up with the rendering of such high-definition details.
- Nice Hat: There are a few on display, as befits a game set in the 18th century, but special mention goes to the hats included with Captain Morgan's Redingote and the Edward the Legend outfit, as well as the Wayfarer's, Lady Black's, and, of course, Blackbeard's hats in the multiplayer.
- Ninja Pirate Zombie Robot:
- Literally. Edward Kenway is an assassin, a pirate and an ancestor of a contemporary protagonist whose life is being relived via technology.
- An in-game Abstergo Email discusses how they can do a Ninja or Pirate story but laments how Zombies are ahistorical. In reply, a colleague cites historical basis for Zombies, further feeding fuel to the fire for the crazy directions the series can take.
- No Man Should Have This Power: How Edward feels about the Observatory towards the end, and he expresses the same to Woodes Rogers. Though initially he was giddy about it potentially making him and Roberts "masters of the ocean".
- No Name Given: The Analyst. Done to preserve the idea that the player is the Analyst. Lampshaded by Juno, who calls them a "cipher".
- Ocean Punk: The Caribbean sea of the early 18th Century is a real-life and in-game example, with civilization scattered across small islands of varying distances that have to be crossed by ships across waters filled with sharks, whales, dolphins and jellyfish.
- Oh, Crap: The Jackdaw's crew are clearly freaked out by the HMS Prince and its ghost ship-like appearance.
Crewman #1: What's that in the fog? It looks like a ship!
Crewman #2: Aye, risen from the dead to sink us!
- One Steve Limit: Averted-ish, with protagonist Edward Kenway joined by Edward "Blackbeard" Thatch. But the latter is never simply called "Edward" in the game; he's generally called Blackbeard or by his surname alone, while Kenway introduces him to Adewale as "Ed" Thatch.
- Only in It for the Money/Not in This for Your Revolution: Abstergo Entertainment's executives, even those who are in the know about the true nature of their company, are more concerned with making money and good products (for certain definitions of "good") than forwarding their Templar superiors' visions. Edward Kenway himself starts out with this mentality, and the game basically chronicles his long and arduous Character Development.
- Panthera Awesome: Jaguars appear in the game, including black and unique white variants. Ocelots can be found as well, though they're not as hostile.
- Painting the Medium: The subtitles for the game capitalize all nouns as was the written custom during the early 18th century, and spell out certain words such as "awful" in the form of "awe-full" to represent language drift. It was also an homage to Charles Johnson's A General History of the Robberies and Murders of the most notorious Pyrates, the seminal book on the Golden Age of Piracy which served as a main source for Black Flag.
- Physical God: The Sages are avatars of the First Civilisation "god" Aita. The Sage of the present-day conspires to make Juno one as well.
- Pirate: A given for the Golden Age of Piracy. The game's pirates are a solid middle ground between Type 1 and Type 2, they seem to avoid large scale Rape, Pillage, and Burn but will shank and plunder ships for salvage, crew and or add them to their fleet.
- A Pirate 400 Years Too Late: John the IT guy, a Sage and reincarnation of Black Bart Roberts. His jeans and hoodie are accessorised with an ornate belt and old-fashioned cameo necklace, and he has a big black moustache. He even speaks in Black Bart's accent in his final moments.
- Pirate Girl : The originals, Anne Bonny and Mary Read who for much of the game poses as Sweet Polly Oliver James Kidd. Lady Black, The Rebel, and The Firebrand are present as well in the Multiplayer.
- The Pirates Who Don't Do Anything: Totally averted. The game makes it clear that pirates do in fact plunder ships for material, goods and will press enemy crew into their service with survivors left to the mercy of the sea. Even the Player Character Edward Kenway participates in the pirate's life.
- Plot Parallel: To Aesop's The Eagle and the Jackdaw which is retold in its entirety in the game.
- Point of No Return: The mission where you go to the Observatory is this. Nothing Is the Same Anymore after that, for one thing, Adéwalé will no longer be your first mate, leaving you first alone in the ocean to do all kinds of pirate activity with no First Mate and then after doing the mission in Tulum you get an Assassin Skull logo as a flag, showing that you have joined them and Anne Bonny becomes your quartermaster and all that's left is one final sequence. That said, nearly the entire map is open till then so you can fully upgrade your Jackdaw into elite and upgrade your hideout by that, and can definitely fight the Legendary ships by then.
- Ragnarok-Proofing: The Observatory has clearly seen better days. But for a facility that's several thousands of years old, it's held up remarkably well, with its security defenses and even lighting still functional. Roberts himself lampshades this as he guides Edward inside it.
- Reality Ensues: Edward, upon being stranded on an island with an increasingly deranged Vane and without any sort of armor or protection, becomes much more vulnerable to gunfire.
- "The Reason You Suck" Speech : Edward gets from one from nearly everyone he meets. But the most cruel and resonant one comes from himself or rather his Mushroom Samba where he imagines Black Bart, his Arch-Enemy tell him he never had it in him to be a pirate, and then Woodes Rogers retells the entirety of Aesop's The Eagle and the Jackdaw obviously using it to mock Edward's pride and ambitions.
So with a great flapping and rustling of feathers, the jackdaw came down swiftly and clutched at the coat of a large ram. But when he tried to fly away, he found he could not lift the animal, for his size and strength were not up to the task. And even as the jackdaw struggled, the ram hardly noticed he was there. Nearby, just across the field, the shepherd saw the fluttering bird and was quite amused. Running up, he captured the jackdaw and clipped its wings. That evening he gave the jackdaw to his children as a gift. "What an odd little bird this is, father!" they laughed and shouted. "What do you call him?" "This is a jackdaw," the father said. "But if you should ask him, he would claim to be an eagle."
- Red and Black and Evil All Over: The Templar armour is apparently designed around this principle. That and Evil Is Cool, because it looks awesome.
- Red Oni, Blue Oni: Edward often pleads with the fiery, impulsive Thatch to be more cautious and discreet in his actions... to little avail. Edward is the Blue to the Red of Thatch and Vane but is himself the Red to Adéwalé, James Kidd, Benjamin Hornigold and the rest.
- Refuge in Audacity: Of all the Assassin protagonists in the series so far, Edward seems to do the Brotherhood the least favor in preserving their low profile given that he's a notorious pirate who conceals barely any of his weapons (his four flintlock pistols and two massive cutlasses being the most overt ones on his person). Then there's the giant Assassin logo on his flag. Then again, this arrogance is part of why the Assassins plain don't like him at first, and James Kidd doesn't mince words about Edward's "Prancing about like one of us, bringing Shame to our Cause."
- Retirony: Blackbeard is attacked by Woodes Rogers' fleet on the day of his retirement party.
- Right Under Their Noses: The modern day Assassins (save William, who is undoubtedly too conspicuous even for this brazen plan) have taken to hiding from the international Templar manhunt targeting them by working in the lobby of Abstergo Entertainment — Shaun as a barista and Rebecca as a courier.
- Rule of Cool:
- The Jackdaw can have heated cannon shot. In real life, heated shot was generally too dangerous to use on ships, due to the high risk of setting them on fire, and was largely restricted to shore batteries. But setting enemy ships on fire is so cool.
- The naval rams which are so ubiquitous in the game did not play a major role in 18th century naval warfare. While more commonly used in earlier medieval naval combat where a ship's speed was supplemented by oars, the advent of common cannons made ramming an impractical maneuver, as its use involved literally charging into an enemy's cannon-bearing broadside. Ramming would also pose a nigh-suicidal risk to the attacker's bowsprit, the spar projecting over a ship's bow to which the foremast is stayed, as well as several sails important to control of the vessel. Which goes to say, damage to the bowsprit would be a potentially battle-ending calamity. Rams also have the unfortunate tendency to hole a target below the waterline, and it's difficult to capture or plunder a ship that's busy letting the sea in.
- Acrobatic and Aerial kills don't give much of a score boost in the multiplayer, and are probably the second most attention drawing way to do it next to Contested kills, but they're so badass that it's one of the most common sights in any match.
- Sanity Slippage: John the IT guy. Well, for a set value of sanity. Most evident in the stickies he leaves around the office - already really odd behaviour, but it gets worse. The sticky notes make up a pledge of allegiance to Juno, which starts off quite composed, but soon loses grammar, syntax, and finally composure, so towards the end John is simply writing in barely-articulate ranting walls of text.
- Scary Black Man: Downplayed by Adé, who is a very friendly person, but can be scary when he wants to be. Played completely straight with Antó, leader of the Maroons and a 7-foot-tall Master Assassin with a gravelly voice.
- Scenery Porn: The Caribbean sea and islands are gorgeous, if largely inaccurate.
"The way I see it, sword fighting is a little like making love. It's not always what you do, but what you say"
"A pity for you then, you're the most inarticulate bugger I've ever met"
"Oy, man. That ain't... that ain't... nice."
- The name of one of the missions is Commodore Eighty-Sixed. This also refers to the Intel x86 CPU architecture. During the mission, Kenway even complains about workers 'lagging'.
- Abstergo Entertainment is a media company who is secretly at the service of an Ancient Conspiracy, tasked with manipulation the truth through medias and their building occupies the spot of the former Montreal Olympic Stadium. Not unlike Deus Ex: Human Revolution's Picus Entertainment, a media company who is secretly serving an Ancient Conspiracy (The Illuminati), tasked with manipulating and altering the truth and is also based out of Montreal's Olympic Stadium.
- Abstergo apparently owns the company that developed ctOS. This background ends up being more funny than it should.
- The title of one of the missions is Vainglorious Bastards, a pun that combines the Mission giver Charles Vane with Quentin Tarantino's film Inglourious Basterds.
- One of the achievements at the end of a sequence is called "Been Down So Long", a reference to Richard Farina's novel, Been Down So Long It Looks Like Up to Me.
- And of course the entirety of Aesop's Fable of The Eagle and the Jackdaw is retold in the game.
- One of the possible names for a Pirate Hunter frigate is Thriller Bark.
- The achievement for killing Laurens Prins Death of a Salesman.
- Sidekick Graduations Stick: A theme in the game (drawn directly from real life), where sailors are shown to initially apprentice under experienced captains before becoming legends in their own right. This is also an invoked trope because the Pirates became pirates because the British Navy had a Sidekick Glass Ceiling with low-level officers unable to advance in rank because of social status or nobility. That's one thing the pirates have over those who pursue them.
- Edward Kenway initially is a mere sailor aboard a crew who first sailed under Captain Benjamin Hornigold and, after getting the Jackdaw, briefly interns under Blackbeard's flagship, the Queen Anne's Revenge and learns the ropes from Edward Thatch on how to maintain crew discipline.
- Stede Bonnet, who Edward recruited to the Pirate gang of Ragtag Bunch of Misfits is shown to undergo the same procedure, finally being promoted as captain of his own ship by Blackbeard which is Truth in Television.
- Blackbeard himself served as Hornigold's Number Two before becoming The Captain and The Dreaded.
- Likewise with Edward Kenway, Adéwalé serves as The Lancer and his Number Two before pulling off a Screw This, I'm Outta Here! as a result of Kenway's It's All About Me attitude and his own interest in the Assassins. He becomes a Hero of Another Story in the DLC Freedom Cry.
- Anne Bonny starts as a waitress in Nassau before attracting Jack Rackham's attention and ends up as Mary Read's Number Two and after her death and Adéwalé quitting the Jackdaw, becomes Edward Kenway's quartermaster.
- Averted in the case of Jack Rackham, the team Butt Monkey who pulls The Mutiny on Charles Vane but immediately makes his incompetence clear to his crew. After James Kidd outs herself as Mary Read, she becomes the captain with Rackham as her beard and puppet.
- Simple Yet Awesome: Berserk darts do the previous games' poison attack one better by being usable at very long range and driving targets into a frenzy, attacking their former allies and anyone else in reach and drawing the attention of guards in a large radius. They also don't cause the guards to raise an alarm, making them the perfect distraction. The only drawback is that if the berserk guard runs out of people to kill, he might go after you.
- The Singularity: Referred to as "The Grey", it is apparently Juno's endgame, to use the technology she now inhabits to usher forth a singularity where she will once more enslave humanity.
- Slippery as an Eel: Spotted moray eels can be found hiding in seaweed, and they do attack Edward.
- Society Is to Blame/Then Let Me Be Evil: How the pirates see their lot. Bartholomew Roberts sums it up:
"In honest service there are thin commons, low wages, and hard labour. Yet as gentlemen of fortune we enjoy plenty and satisfaction, pleasure and ease, liberty and power... so what man with a sensible mind would choose the former life, when the only hasard we pirates run is a sour look from those without strength or splendour!"
- Space Compression: The Caribbean is compressed to only a tiny fraction of its real world size. It also only depicts Cuba, Half of Hispaniola (the Haiti half), Jamaica and the Bahamas. The lesser Antilles and the Northern coast of South America are completely off the map. These colonies were part of the French Empire which historian Robert Whitaker noted in conversation with specialist Dr. Bryan Glass is conspicuous for its absence in the main game, since French sailors and pirates were a major part of the Golden Age.
- Space Pirates: We see different kinds of pirates in multiple generations, from the Golden Age pirates of Edward's era, to the Edelweiss Pirates (the German resistance groups that rebelled against the Nazis), to present-day hackers, a new kind of pirate.
- Super Boss: There are legendary ships to fight which are meant to be fought in endgame.
- Super Drowning Skills: For once, averted for the NPCs. The pirates you rescue just before the 'taking over the Jackdaw' mission jump into the water, and you can see/hear them swimming away.
- Sword and Gun: Edward's pose on the cover art, to some extent in gameplay as well.
- Take That, Audience!: You want some more of that poor lad Desmond for your "entertainment"? Here, have his "generously donated" body parts!
- Take That, Us: Abstergo Entertainment, the Templar front present in the modern day segment of the game and up to all sorts of no good is a French-Canadian video game developer based in Montreal. Abstergo Entertainment was literally created by Abstergo acquiring Ubisoft Montreal. Also, in a bit of meta humor, Abstergo Entertainment is listed in the game's startup as the developer, even starting up its own website.
- Talk Like a Pirate:
- Played moderately, but Blackbeard does have an accent in the trailer. Justified, as he was a native Bristolian, the region from which this practically-requisite accent originates.
- The cheat Arr, Matey! makes it so Edward speaks in a deliberately overblown version of this.
- Tattooed Crook: Edward Kenway himself and most pirates apparently.
- The Teetotaler: Roberts, in keeping with his (possibly apocryphal) depiction in historical accounts.
- The Hunter Becomes The Hunted: Pirate hunters are supposed to be hunting you. The problem is that is that the plentiful amounts of metal they carry make them attractive targets for plunder. And their ships tend to be of a higher quality than their Spanish and English counterparts, making them valuable additions to Kenway's fleet. So players starved for resources early in the game might actually welcome the attention. This is a given in multiplayer, since high scoring players are usually given the most pursuers.
- The Pirates Who Don't Do Anything:
- Earlier games had Templars actively involved in local politics and doing their best to Kick the Dog and making the place they are in a Wretched Hive, in addition to their usual lust after some Magitek. In Black Flag, the Templars are the most sympathetic and least evil of the Assassin's Creed games thus far with none of them getting any Kick the Dog moment and with them performing their governmental appointments with general competence. This is reinforced by the fact that Edward Kenway's Arch-Enemy for the game isn't even a Templar, though the Final Boss of the game is the Templar Grandmaster, Governor Laureano de Torres. Of course, this is discussed in the game itself when Edward and Anne Bonny talk about why they should stop Governor Torres from getting hold of the Observatory. Once he gets hold of it, The Templars never have to Kick the Dog anymore to get what they want and simply be The Man Behind the Man.
- In the game, the Templars are still Visionary Villain who aim to blackmail the world to do their bidding. They are also major aristocratic Jerks with Woodes Rogers calling Kenway a "cretin" and Julien du Casse calling him a "filthy peasant" and even Torres for all his token claims against slavery isn't interested in actively stopping it and is a self-confessed plutocrat who looks down on slaver Laurens Prins for his At Least I Admit It stance.
- The driving force of the plots this time is neither the Templars, nor the Assassins, but the Sages, the genetic reincarnations of Juno's lover Aita. Edward Kenway's exploits center around his quest to find the Observatory and the one person who knows how to use it, Bartholomew Roberts. Meanwhile, the present-day protagonist is being guided by somebody working in Abstergo's IT division, who turns out to be the latest incarnation. His goal is to finally revive the recently-freed Juno by letting her hijack the protagonist's body; unfortunately for him, it doesn't work.
- Threatening Shark: Sharks, including hammerhead, bull, and great white sharks, are the main enemies in the underwater segments.
- Title Drop: A small one, when James Kidd mentions that "there's something in the Assassin's Creed that crosses all Boundaries." A lot of the in-game mission titles are also dropped at some point, deriving from lines of dialogue. The game's subtitle is also dropped early in the game, shortly after Edward acquires the Jackdaw. One of his allies gifts him a jolly roger and says he should "fly the black flag with pride."
- Took a Level in Badass: We get a glimpse of several characters going through this.
- Edward Kenway is a mere crew member in the opening mission who becomes The Captain by luck and accident, and one of the most feared (and successful) pirates in the world by the end.
- Edward's Arch-Enemy, Bartholomew Roberts, undergoes the villainous equivalent and ends up becoming Edward's Always Someone Better as a pirate.
- Anne Bonny goes from barmaid to pirate, standing as Back-to-Back Badasses with Mary Read while their ship is being boarded by the English. The two women are the only ones to come out of the fight uninjured.
- Averted with Stede Bonnet, who jumps at the chance to live a pirate's life, but is frankly awful at it, and the Animus database entry mentions that he is eventually captured and executed while blubbering and crying for mercy.
- Trailers Always Lie:
- This is a rare case when a game comes up with an in-universe justification for this. The entire marketing campaign is ascribed to Abstergo in the modern day portion of the game. From the whole "Pirate trained by Assassins" marketing linenote to his flag when Blackbeard tells him to "fly it proud"note ...
- In-universe, the marketing is lampshaded by Abstergo, Olivier noting that when they release their product they have to clean up the grit and working-class roots of Edward to make him a "ladies man" and James Bond type... possibly due to the Templars' demeanor in the 21st century based on the Subject 16 puzzles in Brotherhood.
- The "final" Abstergo trailer for the pirates project, Devils of the Caribbean.
- Ungrateful Bastard: When the Sage is freed by the Assassins, the first thing he does is stab said Assassin in the neck with his own hidden blade. Later he does the same, when Edward Kenway and James Kidd rescue him from Laurens Prins, where he escapes but not before tripping the alarm bell and leaving them to deal with security. When he becomes a Pirate Captain, Bartholomew Roberts rewards Edward Kenway by knocking of a side of a cliff and then sending him to prison to claim a bounty, this after Edward had helped him steal his flagship, a Portuguese Man O'War. His response is a simple reminder that his Pirate Code has no mention of the concept of loyalty.
- Due to the way that Wanted mode is set up in multiplayer, it is quite possible to be be murdered by another player whom you just moments ago saved from being murdered by someone else.
- Values Dissonance:
- There's an interesting example in-universe between Torres and Prins. Due to their differing cultural and religious backgrounds, they have very different views on the issues of slavery and proper business conduct. Prins claims that, as a Spaniard, Torres's historical connection to the Moors has made him sympathetic to African slaves note . Torres in turn wonders if Prins's odd behavior is motivated by "Protestant piety" though he's more jocular.
- Commodore Chamberlane and his squad also dislike Woodes Rogers because of his Templar affiliation which they consider to be either a sign that he's a "heathen" or that he's a "Jacobite".
- The real values dissonance and a case of Society Marches On is that most of the people the pirates attack tend to be navies of the Spanish and English Empires who essentially fight to maintain their lucrative slave trades with Woodes Rogers himself owning several slave ships. In his day, and other stories, Rogers would be The Hero. Today he's a Hypocrite, considering that slavery and colonialism have become justifiable Acceptable Targets in the 21st Century, and it's not hard to root for the pirates and for Kenway.
- Mary revealing that she and Anne are pregnant would have been scandalous in their time. While they are spared the noose for the sake of their unborn children, these two women (female pirates dressed in men's clothes, no less) have just admitted to being pregnant out of wedlock. Goes even further when Anne declares "We'll be up the duff next time you come knockin'!" To modern audience, this is something of a Badass Boast (with added cute - she's just so eager!), but saying something so brazen (in a strong Irish accent, no less) would have been outrageous in her time!
- Video Game Caring Potential: You can pet and feed domesticated animals. You can also go out of your way to save stranded sailors, even when your crew is completely topped off and picking up stragglers confers no practical advantage.
- Video Game Cruelty Potential:
- While you still suffer desync penalties for killing civilians and domestic animals, your crew suffers from We Have Reserves; any crew lost during a boarding - up to and including swivel cannon friendly fire - is negligible thanks to the ability to recruit replacements. It's even lampshaded in-game; there's an achievement for recruiting a total of 500 crew members called "Cannon Fodder".
- Berserk darts in general. Force your enemies to brutally murder their friends and comrades while you sadistically cackle at them from the bushes! Fun!
- Sleep darts. Usually intended for players to simply knock out snipers or something for a little while, but if you use them on an enemy standing in water they drown immediately.
- And watch what happens when a player with multiple pursuers finally gets downed in the Wanted mode of multiplayer: after being mortally wounded, they have to suffer the indignity of being literally curb-stomped by a small mosh pit of pursuers.
- Plantation robbing sidequests are supposed to be stealth missions, but it feels so good to kill every last guard in a plantation.
- Viewers Are Morons: Abstergo Entertainment clearly believes this, all their products and information promos are filled with barely concealed condescension for their audiences. At one point, an in-story Marketing promo discusses the suitability of former Player Character Connor for an upcoming product but feels that the setting is "too foreign", that is a Native American setting in the Mohawk Valley (contemporary upstate New York). Which could also be a Take That, Critics! to the audiences who complained about the previous game.
- Villain Protagonist:
- On the meta level, R-L and Abstergo Entertainment, especially given that they all technically work for the Templars. On the other hand, at least a good chunk of the staff are generally good people. And even those in the know are much more concerned with making profits and some entertainment than whatever their "superiors" have in store.
- Edward Kenway himself qualifies, as per Darby McDevitt, for most of the game he only cares for money and fame solely so he could have the "good life" and is willing to sacrifice his marriage, his few friendships and risk the lives of his own crew for his obsessions. The game is a long, drawn-out Heel Realization for him.
- Villainous Breakdown:
- When Juno declines to possess R-L just yet during the internment in the bunker, John breaks down big time, screaming at the Analyst about why they are "still here" and letting loose a Cluster F-Bomb. The next time we see him, he's completely given up his Faux Affably Evil facade, full bore into Fantastic Racism, and screaming like a lunatic when guards come in to save the Analyst.
- Woodes Rogers does this after being removed from his post as governor, giving a speech at his leaving party where he calls the King an idiot, resents that his commitment to making the Caribbean a safer place has been overlooked, and predicts a time where he and Torres will witness the British and Spanish empires crumble. Then he walks past Edward's bench and *snikt*
- Welcome to the Caribbean, Mon!: Havana, Kingston, and Nassau are the primary locations, as well as southern Florida, in addition to Cayman Islands, the Bahamas, Cuba and Jamaica.
- Wide Open Sandbox: The northern Caribbean Sea containing the Greater Antilles is fully sailable and filled with all sorts of locations.
- What Happened to the Mouse?:
- Stede Bonnet isn't given much of a send off, though details of what happened to him can be found in the Animus database and those who've read up on the history will also be able to fill in the blank. During the mission where you escape from British captivity, you can overhear a conversation where the guards talk about Bonnet's execution.
- Another pertinent example is Anne Bonny, who seems to have been alive and in America in 1782, around the time Edward's descendants were active there. At the end of the game, she's alive and in one piece and remains in the Caribbean while Edward goes back to England with his daughter. Of course, this is fitting with history, as she disappeared from prison after Mary's death from fever, and we have no record of her afterwards..
- What the Hell Is That Accent?: The Portuguese sailors have accents that don't sound close to Portuguese, sounding more like bad Russian accents. Anne Bonny, despite being played by an Irish accent, nevertheless is speaking with the wrong variant (Irish accents are hugely varied for a country that size. Anne is supposed to have been from Cork but the voice actress doesn't use a Cork accent).
- White Void Room: Subverted in comparison to the previous games, as the memory corridor is now sea green with bokeh sparkles (the latter being similar to III's multiplayer interface, but much brighter). Also justified as it hearkens to the Animus interface in the First game which took place in the Abstergo office. Essentially the Animus of the Assassins favors white(except for the Back Room in Assassin's Creed: Revelations where the colours were inverted) while Templars interface have blue and green.
- Wooden Ships and Iron Men: Perhaps the definitive realization in a game.
- Wretched Hive: Nassau in the Bahamas was a Pirate republic, with elected officials and freedom to vote and initially is shown to be a small shantytowns with thatched houses and a small settlement with wooden support beams but is alive with local colour and character and seems like a cool place. However, in the game we see it get worse when disease and lack of medicine and infrastructure turn it into a slum with rats scurrying around, and people walking on streets in total sickness, which results in the Nassau Pirates Losing the Team Spirit and folding to Woodes Rogers.
- Written by the Winners: What your job profile as Research Analyst for Abstergo Entertainment entails. Unearth the past, find out how it happened and then send your footage to developers who will make a mockery of history and the lives of past figures.
Freedom Cry DLC
Freedom Cry DLC
- And Now for Someone Completely Different: The DLC to Black Flag stars Edward's first mate Adéwalé in his own story set 15 years after Black Flag.
- Big Bad: Gouverneur le Fayetnote . It's a spoiler due to the fact he initially seems to be a politician trying to reduce the violence and less racist than most. No, he's much much worse.
- Big Good: The leader of the Resistance, Augustin Dieufort. Amusingly, this is the rare case of a Big Good having The Dragon as he increasingly learns to rely on Adéwalé as The Heavy.
- Cold-Blooded Torture: The Governor engages in a bit of this. Adéwalé pays him back.
- Crapsack World: Port-au-Prince in Colonial Haiti is a rather hard and bleak place.
- Darker and Edgier: If the main game was Lighter and Softer compared to Assassins Creed III, Freedom Cry is far bleaker than that or any other entry in the franchise, dealing head-first with human cruelty with no varnish, with almost none of the series' Assassins v. Templarsnote , and none of the Magitek hijinks, to back away from it.
- Death by Irony: If you want, you can kill the Governor with the brand he was using to torture a slave a couple of minutes ago. There is even an optional objective for it — meaning that canonically this is how Adéwalé defeated him — and an achievement for doing so.
- Despair Event Horizon: Adéwalé has a downplayed one. The events of the game convince him to retire.
- Doomed by Canon: A case of Delayed By History. Adéwalé hopes to incite a slave revolution before leaving to rejoin the Brotherhood. The revolution he strives for does happen, forming the nation of Haiti as the result, but not until decades later. As per Initiates Adéwalé's actions did lay the foundation for the revolution, and in fact his grandson Eseosa (whose father was the result of a post-game One Night Stand between Adéwalé and Bastienne) plays a behind-the-scenes role in the Haitian revolution, much as Edward's grandson did in The American Revolution.
- Fascist, but Inefficient: Slaves are constantly trying to undermine their masters, escape, or sabotage their efforts. Truth in Television and a major rebuttal to the idea slaves were passive in their oppression.
- Faux Affably Evil: The veneer of French culture over the absolute evil being practiced openly is hard to ignore.
- Foreshadowing: Governor la Fayet talks about trying to make peace with the rebels but, when you deliver a message, you find a small army attacking the Maroon headquarters.
- Guide Dang It: The Mission "A Scientific Inquiry" has an optional objective of not killing anyone. It does not show the player this objective until all other mission objectives have been complete, if the player managed to kill someone before the objective ever came up.
- Historical In-Joke: The Governor makes numerous ludicrous charges at Louis Godin from ridiculous demands to spending a quarter of his expedition's funds on a diamond for his black prostitute mistress. The crazy thing? All of these charges were true and come from recorded real-life history. Doubles as Genius Bonus.
- I Gave My Word: Subverted:
: You are not a man of your word! Adewale
: My word was "perhaps
- Industrialized Evil: One of the most terrible Real Life examples thereof. Port-au-Prince has slavery and oppression down to a science.
- Kick the Dog: Damn near constantly in places like Port-au-Prince. Adéwalé does not have to go out of his way to notice runaway slaves being chased down to be executed, slaves tied up against a wall to be beaten, slaves locked in iron cages, slaves being sold as livestock at auction, etc. The slavers, aside from being bad guys in principle, go about being oppressive bastards with almost sadistic openness.
- Kick the Son of a Bitch: Governor de Fayet is not allowed a gentle passing; canonicallynote Adéwalé struck him down with his own branding iron, then slashed him open with a machete for good measure.
- La Résistance: The Maroon, runaway slaves on West Indian plantations who formed communities, are this in Haiti, with Adéwalé joining up with them and being inspired by their struggle.
- Luck-Based Mission: The stealth missions, especially towards the end of the game, as the random spawning of jailers or slave-saving events (with their associated guards) can make a trailing mission literally impossible.
- MacGuffin: The Templar package that Adéwalé steals at the beginning, then uses as a bargaining chip to get Bastienne to help. The game never says what it is, or why the Governor wants it, or why it is more important than Adéwalé's entire crew, as Adéwalé claims.
- Mood Whiplash: A truly epic case of it given this is the darkest Assassin's Creed story ever, and that comes right after the lightest.
- One-Man Army: Adéwalé, more than any previous heroes, gets this treatment. He canonically slaughters hundreds of Overseers as part of his slave liberations.
- Not in This for Your Revolution: Adéwalé gets this, which he is aware is wrong on a level he can't put into words. He has to do some mental gymnastics to justify fighting for slave liberation over fighting Templars. Then again, the one Templar he encounters has more important matters to handle than trifling with a stranded Assassin.
- Not-So-Harmless Villain: Governor La Fayet seems like a complete nonentity right up until he demonstrates the lives of those underneath him mean nothing.
- Playing Both Sides: Bastienne seems to be doing this. She's actually just trying to help the slaves as much as possible.
- Rule of Symbolism: A machete as a slave liberator's weapon is about as on the nose as a hammer and sickle for Communist revolutionaries.
- The Savage South: Albeit, a bit further South than usual.
- Scary Black Man: Adéwalé invokes this to the French slavers.
- Sequel Difficulty Spike: Freedom Cry is a little tougher than the main game, mostly because the stakes are much higher.
- The plantation missions no longer involve robbing the owners dry, but freeing the slaves who are at the mercy of Overseers who will kill them if you are not stealthy enough. Likewise saving slave ships is harder this time since you can't fire broadsides blindly and risk the people below deck dying. So you have to open yourself to damage when attacking the escort ships of slave galleys. The combat is also hard, with more soldiers, overseers and generally darker edge.
- You can't board the escorts of slave ships, only sink them. This means you can't repair your ship during combat. Since said escorts can range all the way up to a Man of War and two Frigates, this means you're in for a pounding before you can liberate the slave ship. And you're likely to run up your wanted level while doing this, meaning that a pirate hunter can materialize during the battle to add to the overall headache.
- Shotguns Are Just Better: Adéwalé's signature firearm is a blunderbuss, which indeed functions like a shotgun. Being the first area-based ballistic weapon in the series other than Connor's duckfoot pistol (as opposed to the single-target pistols, throwing knives, bows/arrows, etc...), the tutorial for it is Adéwalé approaching a group of four enemies at a campfire, and fatally blasting them all down with a single shot! Notably, unlike the pistols in the main game its shots cause a One-Hit KO against any enemy in the DLC.
- Slave Liberation: Type A, B, and C, all played straight. Adéwalé, coming from a runaway slave background himself, actively liberates people enslaved to others. He can also go to slave auctions and buy the freedom of those being sold. In the end, those liberated wage asymmetric warfare to free yet more, going on to become one of the most successful slave rebellions in history.
- Sudden Sequel Death Syndrome: Not a character from either game but the Jackdaw, your ship in the Vanilla Game sank at some point after Black Flag, in some unexplained Noodle Incident. You can dive down below as Adéwalé, its former quartermaster, and salvage its figurehead. For those who bonded with the ship in the main game or acquired all the Elite Upgrades, this will be quite a Wham Episode and a Tear Jerker.
- Took a Level in Badass: Adéwalé is pretty tough in the main game, but years as an Assassin have made him even more tough than he was as a young man, to the point of being Made of Iron.
- Wardens Are Evil: Overseers are very, very evil.
- What the Hell, Hero?: Bastienne gives Adéwalé one of these. She says that his open murder of Frenchmen and Overseers is inciting retaliation. Adéwalé shrugs it off. So the Governor destroys a slave ship in retaliation, killing hundreds.
- Wretched Hive: If you thought Nassau was bad, it's nothing compared to Port-au-Prince under the tyranny of a French governor who enforces some of the worst racist laws in the world, with slaves sold in the market and runaways hunted down openly by overseers who kill with impunity. More than half of the city is made up of plantations.
- Violence Is the Only Option: Adéwalé is like this with slavery. It's a bad idea.