"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
"This is a jackdaw...But if you should ask him, he would claim to be an eagle."
— Aesop, The Eagle and the Jackdaw, as retold by Bartholomew 'Black Bart' Roberts.
Assassin's Creed IV: Black Flag is the sixth main entry and fourth numbered installment of the Assassin's Creed series.This game feature 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. There is also a PC version coming out on November 19th. It also has a manga prequel showing how Edward joined the Assassins in the first place.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.
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.
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. All of his moves that are trademarks of previous protagonists are a mix of pirate techniques and skill, as by the time he meets the Templars the game is a third of the way through.
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.
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.
"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.
The latter might be for Rule of Fun as wouldn't be enjoyable to defend your ship AND boarding others all at once. Still, ability to repair mid-battle is ridiculous if you look at it realistically.
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.
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.
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.
Bifauxnen: James Kidd aka Mary Read. Admittedly less of a surprise if you know your pirate history.
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.
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.
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.
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.
Cool Ship: 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.
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: Arguably, 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.
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.
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.
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 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.
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.
There's also something of a disconnect between Edward's attitude and his characterization later in the game if one chooses to do the Templar Hunt missions post-completion. In particular, the way he behaves toward Anto's slave rebellion is inconsistent with his character development after a certain point.
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.
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.
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: Developers have confirmed the following supporting cast: 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.
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.
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 AC 3 had Connor poised to tomahawk an unambiguously British redcoat to death, AC 4 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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
"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.
Bartholemew Roberts, at one point, shouts that there's "Nothing like the hot winds of Hell blowing in your face!" That being a line from the Ghost Pirate LeChuck.
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' 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.
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 line[[note]]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 Lawful EvilHypocrite, considering that slavery and colonialism have become justifiable Acceptable Targets in the 21st Century, its not hard to root for the pirates and for Kenway.
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.
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.