"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."
— Edward Kenway
Assassin's Creed IV: Black Flag is the sixth main entry and fourth numbered installment of the Assassin's Creed series.This game features an all-new assassin protagonist within a brand-new time period. Unusually, the Time Skip is backwards from the previous protagonist Connor - a first for the series - to the life of his grandfather, Edward Kenway.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.Note that due to what happened at the end of the last game, be warned of Late Arrival Spoilers.
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Achilles' Heel: None of the five legendary ships stocks fire barrels. Think about it...
The Alcoholic: Jack Rackham, though he's in good company with pirates in general being depicted as drunks. Edward himself is fond of the drink.
All Your Base Are Belong to Us : Happens to Nassau, which starts as a pirate zone but gets retaken by the English. Likewise the Assassins in Tulum suffer several attacks on their base thanks to Edward's unwitting aid to the Templars. Edward later establishes base at Great Inagua which thankfully doesn't get taken in the game.
Ancient Conspiracy: Downplayed Trope for once. The Templars are rich and powerful in the Caribbean but not so much that the similarly rich and powerful English Navy and local plantation owners can't ignore them at their leisure.
Played with in modern times. Abstergo 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.
As well as for most of the game you don't even play as an Assassin, Edward just killed and stole the robes off of an Assassin who tried to kill him and works with the Templars said assassin was on his way to meet. The only reason he actually is against the Templars is for money and the fact that one of them REALLY pissed him off. Almost all of his moves that seem to be the trademarks of previous protagonists are a mix of pirate techniques and skill, as by the time he meets the Assassins the game is a third of the way through and he doesn't join until the final act. The exception is the use of the Hidden Blades. When Edward kills Duncan Walpole and takes his belongings and discards the broken Hidden Blades. Later, when arriving at a bunch of Templars that Walpole was to defect to, Edward is called out upon the lack of the infamous Assassin weapons, which he explains away as their having been damaged beyond all repair. Cue the Knights Templar actually giving Edward a new pair of Assassin Brotherhood hidden blades taken from dead Assassins and giving him an impromptu lesson in how to use them by mentioning the famous Assassin techniques and asking Edward to demonstrate them on straw dummies.
And Your Reward Is Clothes: Black Flag is unique for the number and range of alternative costumes. In addition to Edward's Assassin's Robes and the alternative choices of dye, there are optional cloaks and jackets, DLC provides more classical pirate outfits like Henry Morgan's Redingote and the Edward the Legend outfit (as well as Stede Bonnet's gentleman outfit) in addition to the Templar Armour and the Mayan Armour which can be unlocked by completed by unlocking tasks, a Stealth outfit(which is the same worn by Ah Tabai) for completing the Assassins contracts, and Shark and Whale Hunter outfits which make Edward look like a sleeveless fisherman and sailor.
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.
On a more straight note, the letters in the bottle ascribed to Thom Kavanaugh, and one of the collectibles is 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.
"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 look for possible hiding spots like haystacks or hiding door if they lose sight of you. However...
Artificial Stupidity: Enemies will not react to sound from low-profile actions and running in close range. Stalking Zone also serves as a magical hiding place because of this trope.
Enemy ships may sometimes ram you even when it's completely futile to do so, such as when a level 4 schooner does it and goes from full health to disabled on impact. Not only will enemy ships not fire on the Jackdaw while you're boarding a disabled shipnote effectively making the Jackdaw invincible for the duration of the boarding action, but completing the boarding action will grant you the option to repair the Jackdaw even if the boarding was during an ongoing multi-ship battle, meaning that the ramming was effectively in vain.
Artistic License: This is a video game, so Rule of Cool is enforced but despite this the game is filled with a greater degree of period authenticity than most pirate adventure stories. Some examples include:
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.
That said, this is justified since those records apply to merchant and naval sailors which were more well disciplined and would likely not allow for singing "vulgar" or "bawdy" music whereas pirate ships under generous captains like Edward might have allowed looser standards of decorum and discipline and as noted below, there isn't any actual first person record of life aboard a pirate ship by any sailor or captain.
As in the case of the naval section in III naval warfare was far less adventurous and in-your-face here. Indeed it was more a matter of attrition than what we see here. 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 favoring subtlety and Guile Hero tactics than going all One Ship Armada.
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."
Asshole Victim: 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 at all. Laurens Prins, a Dutch slaver is another one. There's also an Italian diplomat who eases the guilt of shuffling him off the mortal coil by being a snob and a Dirty Old Man.note (Though the character, voiced by Roger Craig Smith himself, is clearly a spoof of Ezio, whose longing for the architecture of Florence over the colonial architecture in Kingston is an affectionate Take That, Critics! to audiences who pine for Assassin's Creed II) Averted for most of the targets, generally, who have some redeeming qualities.
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.
Awesome But Practical: Berserk darts. Earlier games had a melee-based poison attack that made enemies stand in one place and groggily swing their weapon around for a little bit before keeling over dead. Berserk darts can be shot from far away and, as the name suggests, drives the target into a berserk rage that greatly boosts their offensive power and actively seeks targets and tries to kill them. Not only is it a handy way to eliminate targets by getting their fellows to defend themselves, but they can draw the attention of various guards away from where you want to go. You can even kill assassination targets this way.
Can potentially double as Hoist by His Own Petard if said target runs out of enemies to kill before he dies and goes after you. Given that a single hit from a berserk enemy automatically sends you into Last Chance Hit Point mode, the encounter will not be a long one.
Badass: Like all Assassin Player Character, 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. The trailer as Blackbeard speak in glowing terms as to how awesome Edward Kenway is, that he can clear "a Spanish Galleon as if it were nothing" which you can do in game yourself.
Badass Crew: Well, obviously but the crew of the Jackdaw are badass enough to survive a battle and go on to sing shanties as if nothing had happened and it was an everyday occurrence. And Adewale, Edward's quartermaster is his equal as a fighter and sailor and will be Hero of Another Story in the DLC.
Averted with poor Stede, whose database entry mentions that he wasn't very good at piracy, even after coming out from under Blackbeard's tutelage and ends up blundering his way into captivity and getting himself executed while blubbering and crying for mercy.
Stede is Truthin Television. His real life counterpart was a moderately wealthy landowner who randomly ordered a sloop to be built and became a pirate, and was quite incompetent at it.
World of Badass: The Caribbean waters are so dangerous, with hurricanes, rogue winds, water spout and filled with sharks and whales in addition to dangerous ships like Man O'War and Frigates that being a badass is a basic minimum requirement for survival and all the characters, both heroes and villains, have various levels of badassery.
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, though 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 becomes a full time Assassin.
Beef Gate: The Level 49 Man o' War ships that patrol the south of the map are this to lower level players, while Level 60 pirate hunter ships 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. 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 piratesnote Lampshaded in the in-game database . Most of the pirates were illiterate sailors and left no contemporary first-person record. The major record of the time, Charles Johnson's book note A General History of the Robberies and Murders of the Most Notorious Pyrates 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 of Charles Vane,Benjamin Hornigold's mysterious death and Bartholomew Roberts' Awesome Moment of Crowning as The Captain and his eventual death.
A major What Could Have Been, as per Darby McDevitt is the initial idea of Edward witnessing Mary Read and Anne Bonny fighting off the British Navy. In the final game, Edward witnesses their sentencing and their pleading their bellies and eventually Mary's death.
Bifauxnen: James Kidd aka Mary Read. Admittedly less of a surprise if you know your pirate history.
Or couldn't just tell. It's really quite obvious from the first time you meet him.
Bittersweet Ending: Despite preventing the templars from gaining use of the observatory and returning home to start a family, Edward loses nearly everyone he was ever close to during his career as a pirate.
Also his first wife, Caroline, who he had been hoping to reunite with throughout the entire game is revealed to have died some time ago. But not before giving birth to their daughter, Jennifer, who Edward meets at the game's end.
Players of the previous game also know that no matter that Edward turned over a new leaf and became an Assassin full-time, his son ultimately wreaks far more havoc on the Assassin cause than his blundering ever did, by becoming a Templar Grand Master in his own right. But if you dig into the Expanded Universe, however, things get downright bleak: Edward somehow loses the Jackdaw, is murdered in 1735 by five random mercenaries after having only killed two of them (a far cry from the sword-swinging, dual-blades-wearing ultimate badass able to stride implacably across the deck of a heaving ship in a driving maelstrom and stabbing fools in the face by the hundreds,) and his daughter - that's right, Jennifer, the sweet little girl who was so interested in her Daddy's ship when you sailed her back to England, quite likely wearing a gleaming set of ancient plate armor - gets sold into sex slavery because she correctly identified the man her father was trying to hook her up with as a Templar. Oh, and he refused to train her as an Assassin, so he probably could have avoided all that if he'd just taught his little girl how to use hidden blades and sail a ship like she wanted to.
Meta-plot wise, the unnamed and voiceless Player Character doing research for Abstergo in the present day has finally revealed to the Templars the location of the Observatory that Edward had worked so hard to hide.
Moreover, they now have the body of John, the new Sage, meaning they not only have the location of the observatory but also the key to open it. Though Olivier Garneau notes that the Observatory itself is So Last Season compared to modern surveillance and that the real interest of the Templars would be the Blood Vials of the First Civilization which are missing and coveted by both groups.
It can't really be said that the observatory is completely useless compared to modern surveillance, however. While it's a lot less practical, it can still let someone see directly through the eyes of his enemies, its usage cannot be detected, and it does not require any physical bugs, nor does it require any kind of wireless connectivity. In short, the Observatory can see through someone's eyes whilst they're in an air-gapped faraday cage, something that will completely shut down any form of modern surveillance.
Blatant Lies: 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.
Lying is a company policy since they seek to remove and 'correct' those points of view which differs from their pre-set story and conditions. They reject Altair, Ezio and Connor's stories to make games because they aren't "propaganda friendly". One in-game email notes that this revolutionary technology could deepen appreciation of history by showing the likes of Einstein and Darwin at work, but instead the game wants to devote to pop-culture clichés of familiar periods. Which can also a Take That, Us from Ubisoft regarding the series itself.
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 canons, mortars, and swivels...for some reason. There is also a set of "golden pistols" which can be earned for completing naval contracts.
Bookends: The game ends with Edward at the theater with a young Haytham. The same location the previous game begins with Haytham.
Bounty Hunter: Getting too much notoriety at sea will cause pirate hunters to come after you.
Bread and Circuses: In one of the hacked conversations, we see a chat log where Olivier Garneau describes Abstergo Entertainment's management strategy as being just like this. Offer some token form of good cheer and feel-good company while secretly eroding labour laws and getting their staff overworked.
End of an Age: At the end of the game, when little Jenny asks her father Edward if they can see any pirates, Edward sadly laments, "No I'm afraid there's not much chance of that."
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."
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.
Controllable Helplessness: After being smacked in the face with a skull made of First Civilization materials and technology and falling fifty feet into water, Edward makes his way down to his ship to confront Roberts for betraying him, and has to take a shortcut down a steep hill. As he slides down he is impaled by a branch, and he crawls his way out of the water and rips the branch out, leaving his health at 20% and dropping even lower every second. The player has full control as he stumbles over to where Roberts is at, and is confronted by dozens of pirates, a challenge for even a heavily-equipped and fully upgraded Edward. At best you can kill half a dozen with pistol shots if you are EXTREMELY fast, but either way Edward collapses and is dragged to Roberts, who puts him on a ship to a Jamaican prison, where he remains helpless until he receives help from Assassins. Extra mention for the sequence right after, where in present-day the Abstergo analyst nearly collapses due to being drugged, and wakes up in a shelter where they are trapped with no escape.
Edward's vessel, the Jackdaw. Which has several competitors and many a Worthy Opponent in terms of coolness. Blackbeard's Queen Anne's Revenge( you get to pilot it and its myriad guns in one of the missions), Black Bart's Royal Fortune and the game's legendary shipsnote Optional encounters on the four corners of the map which is a Super Boss challenge that veers close to Nintendo Hard - La Dama Negra, El Impoluto, H.M.S. Prince and the twin ships H.M.S. Fearless and Royal Sovereign all of them are more than capable of making even a Fully Upgraded Jackdaw into a wreck.
Adéwalé gets his own ship in Freedom Cry, the Experto Crede.
Cool Versus Awesome: If we accept the Assassins as Western/Middle Eastern ninja, then this is the closest we may get to seeing a AAA game that answers the question: "who would win in a fight, pirates or ninja? ...Or ninja-pirates?"
Cut His Heart Out with a Spoon: Edward playfully threatening 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: This is played with since technically Abstergo is cutting themselves a check by making public products using the Animus technology. Still, given a breakthrough that can broaden human understanding (even if they censor the Piece of Eden and conspiracy stuff)note one in-game email has them pondering showing Darwin and Einstein at work, they use it to make lame virtual movies and pop culture junk.
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.
Dead Person Impersonation: Edward gets his call to adventure when he crashes on an island after his ship had a scuffle with an enemy 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. Cue Edward donning the guy's costume and trying to get to Havana...
Deconstruction: While the series has always shined a brighter light on received ideas of history, Black Flag drastically deconstructs our familiar ideas of pirate life.
Rather than fearsome criminals, pirates are merely ex-sailors and soldiers who turn to piracy because of poor pay, little chance of meritorious ranking and terrible treatment and poor conditions aboard the navies of England, France and Spain. 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 was high sea robbery, the economy in the region falters as a result of their actions, leaving them to struggle for medicine supply and basic living. 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 three 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. Slave ships from Africa, human cargo, is a far more profitable endeavor than piracy, and yet at the time this game is set, slavery was still legal while piracy is persecuted by the same governments who enable these laws and profit from this cruelty.
The game parodies how history becomes pop culture fodder. With Abstergo Entertainment Comically Missing the Point about the very memories of ancestors they seek to exploit. Seeking to make Pirates of the Caribbean knock-offs rather than tell the true story.
The game also parodies some of the Pirate character archetypes. Showing that a reckless Lovable RogueWild 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.note The Pirates films themselves involved a high degree of backstabbing and distrust. 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: You can invoke this after completing a boarding. You will anyway impress some of the captives into service aboard the Jackdaw but you also have options to salvage the ship for material to repair ship damage on the Jackdaw or you can bribe them to get rid of your wanted level or you can make them part of your fleet which involves them changing their outfits and wigs from sailors for the British and Spanish navy into pirate crews.
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 the Jackdaw 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.
One of Adewale's first instructions as Jackdaw quartermaster to newly-captained Edward is, bluntly speaking, how he's being selfish in first intending to fashion himself a pistol holster when the Jackdaw is physically falling apart around him. Realesnote the in-game currency that you spend on personal weapons for Edward of course can't be spent on upgrades to the Jackdaw — all of which require money — nor can materialsnote mostly metal, sometimes wood, and cloth in the case of Crew Quarters sold for mere coins, so you will feel it if you splurge on fancy swords or pistols instead of upgrading the Jackdaw.
There is no way to equip a single sword instead of Edward's duel swords. The only way to use one is to disarm an enemy or pick one up from a corpse. Even because of this, single swords have their own unique kill animations, most of which are not simply reused from III.
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.
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. Coincidentally, ACIV's Italian diplomat, with whom Ezio shares a voice actor, turns out to be an old lecher in his own right.
Disc One Nuclear Armada: 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 pretty much smooth sailing from then on. So 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..."
The Tavern songsnote They are played by a live band in the taverns you visit, "The Trooper and the Maid" and "Blow the Candles Out" are more upfront.
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 ships: The 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 This is one of the first signs that, like in Assassin's Creed III with Haytham Kenway and his companions, something's up with "Duncan Walpole" and his contacts...
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.
Dysfunction Junction: The reason the pirate republic fails, all of them have wildly different personalities and a range of personal issues. Benjamin Hornigold believes, 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.
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.
Executive Meddling: In-universe. Some of the bits you get from the hacking games involve marketing execs saying why they feel releasing games about Altair, Ezio, and Connor would be bad ideas, though they did give a pass to Aveline.
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.
Final Exam Boss: All four legendary ships, the option Super Boss which are placed on the four corners of the game map test your skills in navigation, strategy and use of resources. The ship El Impoluto in particular is a wave joust fight that tests your skills in basic steering.
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. note This feature was itself lifted from yet another Ubi game, Rainbow Six: Vegas, the director of which went on to direct Conviction.
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 as funny as Shaun's snarky commentary, filled as it is with Entertainingly Wrong conclusions and vapid marketing lingo.
Foreshadowing: 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 voice 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.
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.
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. Moreover, certain levels require him to leave his gear behind to dive to them, despite the fact that he apparently has no problem swimming in heavy clothing the rest of the game. Both of these can be explained by Rule of Fun, in-universe; you are playing a game, after all.
Note also that after all four pistols have been fired, they're reloaded essentially all at once in a single animation... which looks rather similar to the hand motions of feeding shells into a pump-action shotgun with internal magazine, and it's noticeably fasternote at only three seconds than it took in Assassin's Creed III to reload a single pistol or musket (whose animation and reload times were both closer to realistic). Presumably, Abstergo sped it up to make it look more "cinematic".
Some of the outfits you can get for the game, particularly the Templar and Mayan Armors, do not come with hoods. However, during cutscenes, Edward will still sometimes make the motion of pulling up his hood, even if he's not wearing a hooded outfit.
The Ezio, Altair, and Connor outfits do come with hoods, but they were not programmed to slip on and off. So in scenes where the hood is supposed to be off it will be on, and Edward will still make the scripted motion of pulling it over his head.
When raiding warehouses you get a "stealth bonus" of extra cash if no alarm bells were rung. However, if you disable all the alarm bells you can throw stealth completely out the window and be as loud and un-stealthy as you want. Even if you alert every guard within a hundred miles, so long as none of them can ring the alarm bells you'll still get a bonus for how "stealthy" you were.
Genre Savvy: If grenadiers suspect that you're hiding in a haystack or a patch of foliage, they'll simply toss a grenade in there rather than endangering themselves by going inside.
More than any other game, there are a fair number of missions (main and side) where enemies suspect they were followed, and rightly so.
Ghost Pirate: The ''Deceased Crew" cheat gives the Jackdaw a literal skeleton crew.
Grand Theft Me: Already happened to John and Bartholomew Roberts by Aita, if they weren't clear cut examples of reincarnation. John's plan is to help Juno's consciousness do this to R-L.
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 Tiburon, and only applies to that specific fight sequence, so expect a few frustrating reloads.
Guns Akimbo: With eventual access to four pistols, Edward can and likely will do this a lot. Like in Assassin's Creed III, this is justified by the firearms of the day lacking an internal magazine. Carrying multiple guns at once was the only practical way to fire several shots without stopping to reload. This was especially important in boarding combat, where quarters are cramped and no one has time to stuff powder and shot in the middle of a hectic melee.
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.
Heel Realization: The story of the game is a gradual developing of Edward's hidden conscience and his dawning realization of what his ambitions and desires have cost people around him.
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.
Historical-Domain Character: The following pirates turn up throughout the game: Blackbeard (Edward Teach), arguably the most famous English pirate and ally of Edward Kenway; Benjamin Hornigold, an English pirate; Anne Bonny, a famous Irish female pirate; Calico Jack (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.
A straight example is Blackbeard. He's shown to be Lighter and Softer in comparison to all his other depictions and is shown to be Not Evil, Just Misunderstood. Indeed of all the pirates of the Nassau Flying Gang, Benjamin Hornigold, Charles Vane, Stede Bonnet, Jack Rackham, 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.
Interquel: The Animus portion takes place between Ezio 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.
It Makes Sense in Context: At one point, you have to go up a windmill just to start a sequence. When you finally reach the top of it, Edward complains to James Kidd aka Mary Read, the Assassin about why they couldn't just go to the bar and talk there.
Jump Scare: When Edward, Roberts and his men arrived at the Observatory, Roberts suddenly kills his men with successive pistol shots. Edward calls him out on this, but he claims that the men would gone mad if they were to see what's hidden inside.
This is also invoked in the underwater and harpooning segments where sharks get in your face very literally and whales can jump out right next to your boat, knocking you down. And yes, you're gonna need a bigger boat or at least a rowboat with better armour if you hope to stand a chance against the Humpback Whale, the Killer Whale and above all the Great White Shark.
Kick the Dog: The Protagonist gets this when he's required to kill the surrendering enemy fort commanders.
John the IT guy when he threatens to destroy you while you're helping him hack Abstergo.
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 Assassin's 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, 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 survelliance 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 Civlization. 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 head start on finding the rest of the blood vials.
Meaningful Background Event: You'll probably notice of all the reused characters for all the employees and pedestrians at Abstergo, the barista is a completely unique NPC. That's because it's Shaun from the previous games.
Moby Schtick: You can get an achievement/trophy for successfully harpooning a white sperm whale.
The database entry for the White Whale all but says "Yes, we put Moby Dick in the simulation, because why not?"
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 Tiburon 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.
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 Carribean are boring and lame. A nod to the fans who prize the franchise's most popular game.
Another one, 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 (upcoming) PS 4/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.
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".
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..
One Steve Limit: Already averted in the trailer, with Edward "Blackbeard" Teach talking about Edward Kenway's exploits.
Panthera Awesome: Jaguars appear in the game, including black and unique white variants.
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, as per writer Darby McDevitt a 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.
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.
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 the Observatory is this. Nothing Is the Same Anymore after that, for one thing, Adewale 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.
Reality Subtext: The MacGuffin in this game is, for all intents and purposes, magical NSA, with the Templars believing that it would help bring justice and order to the world. Which is ironic, since the PRISM scandal broke when this game was well into development.
"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 retells the entirety of Aesop's The Eagle and the Jackdaw obviously using it to mock Edward's pride and ambitions.
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 Adewale, 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). Not to mention 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."
ReverseForeshadowing: 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 does some time in prison. He also 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.
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.
Similarly, 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.
A discussion between some guards on the left side of Laurens Prins's mansion, during the mission where you have to infiltrate this mansion, reminds us very much about the sword teacher from The Secret of Monkey Island :
"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"
This also refers to the Intel x86 CPU architecture.
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.
"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!"
Suicide by Cop: played straight with the demise of John in the final present day segment.
Sword and Gun: Edward's pose on the cover art, to some extent in gameplay as well.
Sidekick Graduations Stick: A theme in the game, 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 snobbishness. 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.
Anne Bonny starts as a waitress in the Nassau before attracting Jack Rackham's attention and ends up as Mary Read's Number Two and after her death and Adewale 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.
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.
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. Like Ubisoft Montreal itself.
Like nothing - the employee manual explicitly states that Abstergo Entertainment was created by Abstergo acquiring Ubisoft Montreal.
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.
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.
The Chick: Anne Bonny (though she joins the band a little later but is clearly the nicest and friendliest of the Nassau crew).
The Heart: Stede Bonnet for whom friendship and loyalty among the pirates matters more than all the gold and rum of the Caribbean.
The Sixth Ranger: Edward Kenway being a Wild Card doesn't entire fit here, being a Honorary True Companion, and only becoming an equal with the rest when he gets his own ship. Justified, since he's the only fictional character with the rest being actual historical figures.
The Templars Who Dont 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.
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.
Trailers Always Lie: Perhaps the first game to come 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 he basically improvises all of the core abilities and techniques well before knowingly meeting Assassins to his flag when Blackbeard tells him to "fly it proud"note He's not an Assassin yet so there's no Assassin symbol, just the black flag and skull...
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.
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 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 which is a racist comment that essentially accuses Torres of being Muslim. 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.
Videogame 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.
Videogame 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.
After you acquire the blowgun, you can use it for hunting, such as putting an animal to sleep with it. You're then given the skin the animal. While it is sleeping, e.g., still alive.
Or the sedative is strong enough to kill an animal while only putting a human to sleep. Animals hit with sleep darts are considered "dead" in game. Edward may also be delivering the killing blow while the animal is asleep.
Note: they are considered dead until they wakeup when the timer ends.
Berserk darts in general. Force your enemies to brutally murder their friends and comrades while you sadistically cackle at them from the bushes! Fun!note In fairness, this canbackfire if the berserk enemy notices Edward... because they'll hit way, way harder than usual.
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 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 CharacterConnor 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 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 R-L about why she is "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 R-L.
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.
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.
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.
Big Bad: Gouverneur le Fayetnote Pierre, marquis de Fayet. 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.
Darker and Edgier: If the main game was Lighter and Softer compared to Assassin's 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 upon seeing an enslaved woman being chased by an overseer, Adewale outright decides that the Templar pursuit can wait, 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 Adewale defeated him — and an achievement for doing so.
Doomed by History: Or Delayed By History, to be more precise. Adewale 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 Adewale'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 Adewale and Bastienne) plays a behind-the-scenes role in the Haitian revolution, much as Edward's grandson did in The American Revolution.
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.
Kick the Dog: Damn near constantly in places like Port'au'Prince. Adewale 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 due to the optional objectives being the canonical outcome Adewale 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 Adewale joining up with them and being inspired by their struggle.
MacGuffin: The Templar package that Adewale 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 Adewale's entire crew, as Adewale claims.
Mood Whiplash: A truly epic case of it given this is the darkest Assassin's Creed ever, and that comes right after the lightest.
Old Shame: How Adewale remembers his pirate days. He admits the skills he learned are great though, and that a pirate's methods can still be useful to the Assassin cause when carefully directed.
In a meta-example, the fact that Ubisoft is a French parent company and the game touches on injustices committed by France in its less well known involvement in the slave trade, Freedom Cry as a whole can be regarded as acknowledgement of theirs.
One-Man Army: Adewale, 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: Adewale 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.
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.
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.
To make matters worse, 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. Oh! 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.
Adewale makes up for it though with his machete and blunderbuss.
Shotguns Are Just Better: Adewale's signature firearm is a blunderbuss, which indeed functions like a shotgun. Being the first area-based ballistic weapon in the series (as opposed to the single-target pistols, throwing knives, bows/arrows, etc...), the tutorial for it is Adewale 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. Adewale, 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 Adewale, 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: Adewale 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.
What the Hell, Hero?: Bastienne gives Adewale one of these. She says that his open murder of Frenchmen and Overseers is inciting retaliation. Adewale shrugs it off. So the Governor destroys a slave ship in retaliation, killing hundreds.
Wretched Hive: If you thought Nassau was bad, its 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.