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YMMV / Assassin's Creed IV: Black Flag

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  • Alternative Character Interpretation: Surprisingly, for a blank-slate protagonist, the Abstergo Entertainment employee has this going. The story makes it seem as though John from IT is bullying you from one hacking operation to the next, threatening to scapegoat you if you don't go along. If you've been taking advantage of the hacking skills he's taught you and used the security access he's granted you to gleefully hack your colleagues' terminals and computers, then what does that say about you as a character? Are you just in it because of John's threats? Are you just a bit overly curious after seeing the tidbits that John had you dig up for him? Or, are you gleefully exploiting everything that John has done for you because you enjoy accessing restricted information? Or, at least after a certain point, are you just pissed that your employer has drugged and imprisioned you and, as the final insult, your annoyingly perky boss comes on the intercom to tell you to get back to work?
    • Abstergo Entertainment and its employees as a whole. Are Olivier Garneau and Melanie Lemay simply decent people who are an Unwitting Pawn to their Jerkass bossesnote  or are they Punch Clock Villains who are Just Following Orders no matter how bizarre and illegalnote ? Are the employees merely interested in working to make a good product or are they consciously spreading Templar propaganda. Word of God is that Olivier may be the only one who 'does know who his bosses are', while 'most people at AE' are indeed the Unwitting Pawn. It's later revealed in Assassin's Creed: Rogue that Lemay, at least, is indeed a Templar. And given that a file for Otso Berg, who plays a big role in Rogue, shows up in Black Flag, it seems that Word of God was misleading. For all that she's quite perky, it appears Lemay knew from the start. Although she may only have been promoted after the Assassins had Olivier contract-killed by Aiden Pierce.
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    • Oliver Bowden's tie-in novel which adds an epilogue to the events of the game muddies Edward's redemptive story to some. It's hard to accept that Edward truly learned that "money wasn't everything" as the main game insists when at the end of the book, after becoming an Assassin, he takes the Prime Minister Sir Robert Walpole's pardon and offer of money and business in exchange of sparing some Templars, justifying this on grounds of it serving as a foundation for his 'Assassin business'. Is Edward a morally ambiguous Anti-Hero who was a Jerk with a Heart of Gold, or a mere opportunist with Delusions of Eloquence and self-importance?
    • Edward Kenway is unique in being largely mercenary in motivation, a more-or-less normal person thrust into the ongoing Assassin/Templar conflict. The Templars are appalled that Edward would prefer piracy over their ideas of a One World Order, while the Assassins regard him as a selfish jerk who's wasting any potential he might have. Even his own beliefs about making money to provide for his wife is suspect, since she loved him for who he was and it was he who wanted "a good life, and easy life". Whether he's a good man who's a Jerk with a Heart of Gold or a self-destructive Failure Hero who wasted many of the best things that happened to him is up to fans to decide.
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    • That decision usually informs their opinions on the Caribbean's Assassin Order. Those who think Edward is a good man led astray bristle at the Assassins presumption that he owes them anything. Keep in mind, the Assassins who didn't know Duncan Walpole's face would most DEFINITELY be given a description. As far as they knew, Edward was simply a hired guard, like the hundreds of faceless and clueless nobodies the Assassins have been gutting for centuries. If you consider this interpretation to be true, their indignation doesn't seem to stem from a desire to see Edward better himself, but rather a horrible sense of jealousy and shame that some of their specially trained Assassins were floored by a lucky drunk. That shame is disguised by an insufferable self-righteousness that has plagued the Assassin Order in later games.
  • Annoying Video-Game Helper:
    • A downplayed example. Adéwalé constantly shouts advice Edward's way during naval battles, but as Edward's quartermaster, that's pretty much his job. Moreover, the only reason that he wasn't captain of the Jackdaw to begin with... is because he's black. (Edward admitted that their initial crew of rescued prisoners was too racially prejudiced to accept Adéwalé as captain, even though Adéwalé was obviously more experienced, so in a sense Adéwalé was also The Man Behind the Man.)
    • If you want to board a ship, don't engage it near a captured fort. The fort will blow it out of the water well before you can get into position.
    • The game keeps reminding you that you can pick up floating crates and castaways by pressing [insert console-specific button] even after dozens of hours of playing, during which you've probably done this very thing hundreds of times. Same goes for numerous similarly trivial hints that never stop popping up at inopportune moments.
  • Anti-Climax Boss:
    • By now, a staple of the series with Laureano de Torres being a Platform Puzzle boss, who as an old man, dies with a single air-assassination. But it's also played straight with others like Benjamin Hornigold and Black Bart who you would expect to put up more of a fight. The game's Legendary Ships are far more tough than any story-mission boss, either on land or at sea. Especially galling in the case of Hornigold since his sea fight is against a Schooner, the weakest class of ship, when in real life, he had a 30 gun sloop (although given the Jackdaw's capabilities by this point, even 30 guns wouldn't have made much of a difference).
    • Bartholomew Roberts is especially a disappointment since he's made out to be the Greater-Scope Villain of the Caribbean and Edward's Always Someone Better as a pirate, and he's also a Humanoid Abomination, a reincarnation of the God of Death in many old religions. Given this buildup, you would be forgiven for expecting, at the very least, a Magic from Technology based Boss Fight on the order of the Altaïr-Al Mualim or Ezio-Rodrigo Borgia or even Connor's fight with King Washington in the DLC.
  • Badass Decay: Retroactively this comes into play. In the Assassin's Creed: Forsaken novelization, Edward's final fate is shown, dying in battle in a fight against a bunch of random mooks (one of whom is killed by ten year old Haytham) when as a captain he was a scourge of the navies and could easily tackle multiple enemies at once and he was still fairly young. There's the fact that he was attacked at the dead of night and maybe hadn't been active for years, and he did put up a fight but still, all in all, a fairly ignominious end.
  • Big-Lipped Alligator Moment: The PC/PS3/PS4-exclusive Aveline missions feel like this all around - as AC4 content, as a tie-in to the AC3 saganote , and as part of the setting's overall narrative.
  • Broken Base:
    • Is setting an Assassin's Creed game in The Golden Age of Piracy a good idea, or just over-the-top and out of place? Was it a good idea to release another numbered sequel just a year after Assassin's Creed III? Was it a good idea to make IV a prequel instead of going forward in the timeline?
    • The emphasis on sailing. A welcome expansion to a fun but underutilized mechanic of the last game, or just frustrating and awkward? Does it detract from the Assassin's Creed experience, and even if you think so, do you still enjoy it as a pirate game?
    • After the game came out, people liked the game but debated on whether it was a true Assassin's Creed game or just a pirate game with the main series holding on as an Artifact Title, with some wondering if it would not be better as a pure pirate game with all the Assassins Vs. Templars stuff taken out... a prospect Skull & Bones seeks to fulfill.
  • Crazy Awesome: Blackbeard. He's violent, he's ruthless, and he's impulsive, but damned if he isn't likeable! Sadly, he's Too Cool to Live.
  • Creepy Awesome: Bartholomew 'Black Bart' Roberts has this shtick, he's Edward's Always Someone Better as a pirate and is so charismatic that he goes From Nobody to Nightmare with one single awesome speech that is an Awesome Moment of Crowning in itself, and moreover has Villainous Valour in asserting "a merry life but a short life."
  • Demonic Spiders:
    • Water spouts deal an insane amount of damage to anything caught in their large area of effectnote , move around erratically, always happen in heavy weather that makes navigating difficult anyway, and there's absolutely nothing the player can do about them except running away, which isn't always an option and harder than it sounds in any case. They're also much, much faster than any ship including the Jackdaw. The storms that spawn them can happen anywhere at any time outside of story missions, so there's always a chance of a random spout completely ruining your day in 30 seconds or less. Oh, and they usually come in packs of three, with you caught right in the middle. They do sometimes help the player by destroying enemy ships, but the odds are much higher that they'll go after the Jackdaw instead.
    • The Brutes with their axes and grenades, and their tendency for their counterattack to hurt you rather than simply parrying your strikes can be a nightmare to fight when they're surrounded by other Mooks. Counterattacking them is merely a dodge rather than a chance to fight back. The best way to deal with them is to break their defense, but when there are many other enemies around, striking them afterward can become tricky. They can often appear in Smuggler's Dens too.
    • Any footman with a ranged attack can be this, especially when traversing narrow ledges. A single shot can send Kenway falling to his death, notably in ship raids.
  • Draco in Leather Pants:
    • While not shirking from emphasizing the fact that Pirates live off plunder, the game's perspective on the pirate's republic and the relative egalitarianism of their life over that of the Law enforcers like Woodes Rogers and Julien du Casse makes many players openly root for the Pirates over the Templars and the Assassins, with some lamenting Edward joining the Assassins and becoming a Reformed Criminal, preferring him to remain a pirate forever instead.
    • Edward Kenway in the game is a Wild Card who care more for obtaining a fortune at the cost of those he consider friends and family. To the fans, he's a daring rebel badass, fighting against those in power for their own greed and corruption.
  • Ensemble Dark Horse:
    • Blackbeard unsurprisingly, though whether he's a darkhorse when he's an obvious crowdpleaser is up for debate. Still the Lighter and Softer, The Mentor who is A Father to His Men approach to this legendary bad guy made him incredibly endearing and cool while making him no less awesome.
    • Benjamin Hornigold, like Haytham Kenway, has a Jerkass Has a Point standing among fans, the fact that he dresses, speaks and acts more like the hero than Edward Kenway himself doesn't hurt either. That and he gives Edward an epic "The Reason You Suck" Speech.
    • Charles Vane, who even has his own fanclub (the "Vaneglorious Bastards"). A good portion of his appeal comes from his voice actor, Ralph Ineson, who has a very deep, guttural voice (sort of in the same zone as Commodore Norrington).
      • An oft-heard cry in fandom is the desire to see Vane, Hornigold and Thatch get their own DLC where they can be properly awesome.
    • James Kidd / Mary Read in both aspects is very awesome.
    • Adéwalé is pretty cool too and arguably more likable than Edward. This was likely intentional, as he now has a DLC campaign named Freedom Cry out.
    • Ah Tabai for his Altaïr-like dignity and sense of understanding has also attracted a few fans.
    • Woodes Rogers is a more minor example of this, he's usually seen being slashed with Julien Du Casse.
  • Evil Is Cool: Bartholomew Roberts once he becomes a pirate. Charles Vane pre-Sanity Slippage is also cool.
  • Fan-Preferred Couple: Kenway/James Kidd or Kenway/Mary Read is one of the most popular pairings of the game, if not the most popular. Even though the game sets them up as Platonic Life-Partners, their endearing chemistry and Edward's grieving following Mary's death made them a popular ship.
  • Foe Yay:
    • Black Bart seems to be very flirty with Edward, noting that, "I see in you a touch of untested genius."
    By jove, Edward Kenway! How can I not be impressed by the attention you've paid me! May the best of we two sing praises of the second!"
    • Likewise, John makes some remarks about the Analyst's "tender body", which he wants Juno, whom he is obsessively in love with, to possess. The Analyst's gender is deliberately never stated...
  • Game-Breaker:
    • The Templar and Mayan Armor. Templar armor goes hand in hand with Disc-One Nuke, as it is available after doing some easy, if lengthy, missions lines unlocked in the first fourth of the game, and makes Edward a walking tank that takes an extreme amount of damage to take down. Mayan armor makes Edward Immune to Bullets, albeit without the damage-reducing effects of the Templar armor, and can let the player snipe enemies without getting damaged by riflemen.
    • Berserk darts can veer into this from time to time. Why chase an assassination target down when you can snipe them from the bushes and watch as their own guards cut them down in self defence?
    • There's several tricks with regards to boarding gameplay that can make dealing with non-Legendary enemy shipsnote  a lot easier than presumably intended:
      • First, enemy ships will stop shooting once you come alongside and grapple an enemy ship — evidently none of their captains decide to sacrifice their disabled ally to ensure the sinking of the Jackdaw — and you'll 'leave' the naval combat phase, which effectively makes the Jackdawnote  invincible for the duration of the boarding action.
      • Second, you're almost never required to cross over to the enemy ship, only to kill a number of enemy crew and complete certain other objectives (i.e. destroy the enemy ship's powder reserves, kill enemy sharpshooters, kill the enemy captainnote ), with no special restrictions as to how to achieve these other than destroying an enemy ship's flagnote . In practice, if you've got enough ammo you can almost always stay on the Jackdaw and plink away with Edward's personal ranged weapons... or if you've got a high enough Crew, you could very well just let the Jackdaws handle the enemy crew!
      • Thirdly, not only can swivel gun shots kill multiple enemies in one hitnote , but you're not required to use up all five swivel gun shots in one go, so if Edward took enough damage aboard the enemy ship to risk desync, you can have him flee back to the Jackdaw to regenerate healthnote  while manning the gun. Moreover, if the enemy ship is sufficiently small and your shots sufficiently precise, you may carry out the boarding objectives entirely with swivel gun shots!
      • Fourth, the post-boarding prompt for what to do with a captured prize will still appear — in particular, "Repair the Jackdaw" — even if a multi-ship combat is still ongoing. Combined withe the Jackdaw's invincibility during boarding, a player can keep the Jackdaw afloat in a drawn-out battle for as long as they can make it to the next boarding, i.e. "nibbling one's way up the food chain" against a high-level enemy ship by focusing on disabling, then boarding and capturing lower-level allies to "recover health" whenever needed.
      • Finally, you can avoid naval combat with non-Legendary ships in free-roam altogether if you're not already in naval combat... by releasing the Jackdaw's wheel, diving over the side, swimming to the target ship and wiping out its crew in personal combat single-handedly, then swimming back to the Jackdaw; your first cannonball impacts against the cleared ship will immediately disable it, and you'll even get a special slow-motion camera view of the shots, and upon the boarding prompt you may even get the success lighting/crew animations/what-to-do-with-the-prize prompt with everyone still on the Jackdaw'''s decks'... even if the disabled ship is a level 60 man o' war! If you end up having to complete an objective anyway, you'll be able to carry it out without having to kill any (more) crew.
    • Qualified in that you have to be able to defeat a Legendary ship, but in the HMS ''Fearless'' and HMS ''Royal Sovereign'' boss fight both ships drop one half of the normal reward, and if you loot one of them before going down to her sister ship you keep the drop — as long as you can consistently defeat and loot one each time, that's 10000 reales per fight!
    • The Charge attack, gained by beating all four legendary ships. A bit unwieldy to use sometimes, but on a successful ram, the enemy vessel will instantly be crippled to boarding status. Even a man-o-war will be brought down in one hit from a charge.
  • Good Bad Bugs: When entering port, The Jackdaw sometimes enters in a peculiar manner, such as flipping itself over until it's upright, rising from underwater, or dropping from the air on to the ocean surface.
    • Another funny one has Edward becoming invisible during cutscenes. Equipping the Stealth Outfit while piloting the ship can result what seems to be a ghost at the wheel.
    • Under certain conditions,note  the Legendary Ships can be stealth-boarded and then sunk with one cannon just like any other ship. It works best with El Impoluto, but can even be done against HMS Fearless and Royal Sovereign with enough patience and fortuitous wind.
  • Harsher in Hindsight:
    • The mission "Delirium", has Bart Roberts remarking to Edward:
    "Remember my creed, boy? A short life and a merry one. That is all. The world owes us nothing more than this. So take what you will, and then die before you live to see yourself made a fool."
  • Hilarious in Hindsight: The "Team Edward Kenway" jokes became even funnier after Syndicate introduced Jacob Frye. As a bonus, they're both the primary protagonists of their respective games and the first two such primary protagonists to be British (specifically, Edward’s Welsh).
  • Jerkass Woobie:
    • Edward Kenway. He may be a arrogant and greedy Jerkass whose selfishness ends up causing more harm, but as the story progresses, you can't help but feel sorry for him. He becomes estranged from his wife when he travels to the West Indies, and she dies before he could return home and make amends with her, meaning he Never Got to Say Goodbye. Meanwhile, he loses his pirate comrades one by one, including his father-figure and later on his best friend. Not only that, his obsession with riches caused his quartermaster to leave him and nearly cost him the loyalty of his crew as well. Even his Bittersweet Ending where he's united with his daughter and starts a new family becomes Harsher in Hindsight for those who have read Assassin's Creed: Forsaken before this.
    • Charles Vane. He may be a violent and psychotic pirate, but it's pretty hard not to feel bad for him once he gets mutinied by his crew (though you could say he deserved it considering how poorly he treated them.) Then, he begins losing his sanity while stranded on an island with Edward. By the time Edward sees him in prison, Vane has become nothing more than a broken wreck awaiting execution.
    • Benjamin Hornigold. Once a proud privateer forced into a career that he never really had the heart for, he tries to fulfil his goal of making a land for free men, only to see said dream fall into shambles within the span of two years. This caused him to join the Templars and hunt down many of his former comrades, causing him to be feared and hated by the very people he served alongside with.
  • Late-Arrival Spoiler: The game spoils a big plot twist from Assassin's Creed III: Liberation (the main character's mother Madeline is really a Templar), which came out less than a year earlier for the Play Station Vita and was re-released in 2014.
  • Les Yay: Mary Read and Anne Bonny. There was no avoiding it, really.
  • Magnificent Bastard: Bartholomew Roberts is an elusive wild card who ends up becoming the most successful pirate of his time. Pursued by both Assassins and Templars for his knowledge of The Observatory, Roberts helps Edward Kenway locate the Observatory after he gets Edward to free his crew and steal a Man-O-War for him. Reaching the Observatory, Roberts removes the Crystal Skull, leaving the Observatory inoperable to anyone else, before he backstabs Edward and sells him to British authorities once he served his purpose. Eventually getting killed by Edward, Roberts asks that Edward destroy his body before he gracefully passes, having followed his creed to live "a merry life and a short one."
  • Moral Event Horizon: Any pretenses of Torres of sophistication and intelligence and even fair-mindedness goes out the window in the final mission where he and his soldiers charge to the Observatory in Long Bay, Jamaica and massacre what seems to be a hundred native tribesman of the Taino. Edward finds their corpses dotting his path up the jungle.
  • Narm:
    • The Portugese voice actors in the game are awful.
    • Edward Drowning His Sorrows to the point of affecting the Animus loading sequence either furthers the tragedy of the situation... or pushes it into laughably silly.
    • The Abstergo videos and promo material are intentionally narmy and feature Stylistic Suck, but still you can't top their Flanderization of the central tenet of the Assassin's Creed:
    • The Reveal that Kidd is actually a woman may come off as a Captain Obvious Reveal since "Kidd" is obviously voiced by a woman, and looks quite a bit more effeminate than the other male pirates.
    • The near constant Capitalization of certain Words in the Subtitles may be Period-Accurate, but after a While, it stops being Atmospheric and starts being Silly simply because of how it Never Stops.
    • The scene when Edward pummels Vane. The animation on Edward's punches is stiff and awkward, and the lack of sound effects, along with Vane's almost total lack of reaction, makes it look like he's not even touching him.
    • The Tear Jerker ending runs into narmtastic Mood Whiplash when a chair floats past Anne Bonny in the background just as she starts her song.
  • Older Than They Think: The blowpipe is proudly stated as the new weapon available in this game, much like the rope dart in III. The problem is that not only is the weapon available, albeit in a lesser state in Assassin's Creed III: Liberation, but Aveline, the playable ancestor in that game, is also in this one, making it a bit more than a slight oversight. It's also functionally identical to the dart launcher Ezio had mounted to his hidden blade in Brotherhood and Revelations.
  • Padding: Scraping together the final 2% of synchronization for 100% Completion requires chasing down 46 chests, 30 animus fragments and 3 secrets in uncharted territory. The sequence to do this usually goes like this: open map, mark target, sail 1-3nm to target, bring the Jackdaw about, swim to tiny island, pick up stuff, swim back to the ship, rinse and repeat. Since neither the animus fragments nor the secrets serve any in-game purpose, and the money you get from looting 46 chests is chump change in the post-game, this adds several very boring hours to the game's play time for no meaningful reward whatsoever. That the long time at sea is bound to spawn numerous storms that prevent you from releasing the Jackdaw's wheel at will makes this even worse.
  • Player Punch:
    • Edward and Blackbeard are attacked at the latter's retirement party by British soldiers. Eventually, onboard a ship, Blackbeard is overrun and killed by soldiers while Edward is too far away to help him.
    • Benjamin Hornigold, Edward's former pirate friend, joins the Templars, resulting in him becoming an assassination target for Edward.
    • The entire end of the level when trying to help Mary Read escape from a Jamaican prison. Dying from complications brought about during the birth of her child, Edward tries everything he can to get her out alive, from letting her lean on him, to flat out carrying her. In the end Mary dies despite Edward's best efforts and pleading, and the best he can do for her is carry her body out. Out of all others, this death seems to hit Edward the hardest by far, causing him to go through a massive Heroic BSoD.
    • For readers of Assassin's Creed: Forsaken the entire game is an ironic, Player Punch because of the Foregone Conclusion, especially if you go Gotta Catch 'Em All and go for 100%: Every fort you capture, all those whales and shark you harpoon, the underwater wrecks you scour and those legendary ships and man o'wars and galleons you sink? Well, it's all meaningless in the end. Edward Kenway will lose everything he ever built and achieved, even his Earn Your Happy Ending on which it ends will count for little, and his family will go From Bad to Worse with three generations of Trauma Conga Line.
    • The autopsy video and memos of Desmond Miles, found by hacking your way around Abstergo Entertainment in the modern day segments. The former exists to cement the fact that he's dead, and the latter, a series of messages he recorded on his phone during the events of III for his father, has him reflecting on his life and regrets as he realizes what's to come. As it turns out, this broke William so hard that he quit the Order.
  • Polished Port: In contrast to the Wii U port of the game (see below), the Nintendo Switch version on The Rebel Collection is a MUCH better translation. While taking a slight hit visually, the framerate rarely dips whether docked or in handheld, and it has exclusive Switch features like HD Rumble and gyro-aiming for ranged weapons. The only downside is that Rogue isn't on the cart, thus requiring a download of it.
  • Porting Disaster: Whereas the Wii U port of III wasn't anything special, it wasn't a complete disaster by any means. The same can't be said for this game's Wii U port, however, which runs with a very poor frame rate and suffers from massive input lag, which at best can make assassinations feel clunky and imprecise, and at worst renders the game borderline unplayable. Loads and Loads of Loading, missing graphical effects that make the image duller even compared to the older 360 and PS3 ports, and a complete lack of DLC are also issues.
  • Scrappy Mechanic:
    • Far, far too many of the missions are tail missions, especially in late-game.
    • Even less well-received were eavesdrop missions, which are tail missions that force you to stay close (within 20m or so) of your target. While they walk around in areas crawling with guards.
    • Some complain about far far too much emphasis on the sailing, exactly the same problem that The Legend of Zelda: The Wind Waker had.
    • You cannot perform unarmed dual stealth takedowns, making paired enemies your biggest obstacle if you try to play non-lethally, especially since whistling usually attracts the attention of both guards.
    • Wreck diving sucks to some players because all your skill, armor and weapons don't mean squat down there. They're also Timed Missions in areas with numerous invincible patrolling enemies, which doesn't do the feature any favors. Made worse by the fact that most of the Jackdaw's elite upgrade plans can only be found in nondescript chests at these locations, so you're pretty much forced to do them if you want to have a chance at taking on the legendary ships.
    • Smuggler hideouts are similar in that deep diving is required to access them. Once more, Kenway is forbidden from bringing his gear for these runs, but to twist the knife further, he'll have to contend with hostile pirate smugglers armed with the usual sets of weapons. It can be difficult to neutralize them all without swords, guns, or even darts! If that wasn't enough, there's the possibility of treasure maps and assassination missions taking place in these areas. Woe be to those who explored the place to get the usual chests, then having to visit it again to unearth buried treasure, then do it a third time to kill a mark. At least for wreck diving there's no possibility of such a blindsided reason to revisit them.
  • Scrappy Weapon: Firebarrels. Given that in naval combat, you're mostly going to be resorting to broadside attacks, a mortal barrage at the start, and the occasional chain shot and ram for frontal assaults, there's essentially little use for deploying fire barrels in the rear. Enemy ships avoid it with impunity, and you'll end up just maxing out these barrels in your storage with no effort at all, since most enemy ships carry a crapload of them for whatever reason.
  • Squick: Just before James Kidd is revealed to be Mary Read, she cuts her finger and uses her own blood as lipstick surrogate. Her lips then keep this color for the rest of the game, making you wonder if this was really just a quick and dirty method because nothing else was at hand.
  • Surprisingly Improved Sequel: Critics have praised the game for taking what worked in Assassin's Creed III, particularly the sailing while cutting down the railroading, creating a much more open and nonlinear experience. It is generally considered the best title in the Franchise since Assassin's Creed II.
  • Suspiciously Similar Song:
    • What? You expected a pirate game not to have a suspiciously similar version of the Pirates of the Caribbean theme? (Indeed, one of the battle themes)
    • The music that starts playing when you are about to start the harpooning mini-game resembles a lot to the theme from Jaws.
  • Take That, Critics!: The narrator of Connor's video says that Abstergo Entertainment also give thought to the idea of focusing on Connor's pre-Assassin years, but determined that while the setting might interest "educated" viewers, it would be "too foreign" for "normal" audiences to relate to, complete with a claim that the omnipresence of his people (in the context of depicting Connor's early years) would necessarily preclude "balance" with which to tell "the true story of America".
  • Take That, Scrappy!: Played with yet doubling as a Take That, Critics! for those who didn't like Connor: His Abstergo Market Analysis video reeks of this, with the narrator echoing real-world player complaints of the character's nature as The Stoic and the setting of his early years as reasons to pass on making him a Virtual Experience character. Thing is, this is the opinion of the 21st-century successors of his enemies, whose other market feasibility analysis videos wildly mischaracterize the other ancestorsnote .
  • That One Boss:
    • El Impoluto is by far the toughest Legendary Ship of the five. It's just as tough as the other four, but whereas their gimmicks were fairly simple to deal with, the El Impoluto features a massive ram that can do heavy damage to your ship, taking off a full health bar if you don't brace against it. It's also terrifically fast, so much so it can easily catch up to you even if you full speed away from it, and it can turn on a dime at a moment's notice. Finally, it has powerful broadside cannons. All in all it's a Lightning Bruiser of a ship that can take lots of punishment, evade poorly-aimed fire (especially mortars), and use its ram and cannons take you out with only a few shots. Even with elite upgrades, it's a challenge to sink.
    • Among the forts, Conttoyor. It is one of the only forts to spawn specific conditions once you get near it. Those conditions? A storm and not one, but two waterspouts that circle the damn thing. One runs a tight ring around the fort, and one runs a more distant ring, and as with all other waterspouts, getting caught in them means certain death, so this means you have to be careful never to leave a very narrow, very specific circle around the fort. You won't be able to stay in that ring at all times due to the fort's mortars targeting you, so in essentials you have to wobble in and out of the nearest waterspout's circuit while making sure not to be hit by it, which is a chore on its own since the waterspout travels faster than your ship does.
    Ryan: Apparently God had a vested interest in that particular fort.
  • That One Level: Ambergris Key is easily the worst Smuggler's Den to go through. The den itself is incredibly tight, small, and narrow, with little room for hiding. Enemies are grouped together, and since Kenway never brings his own swords in Smuggler Den takedowns, it's impossible to do dual assassinations. There's also many Brutes in the map, all too happy to smack you around with an axe and bomb you with grenades, and many of the smaller pirates have pistols. This is one of those areas with both buried treasure and an assassination mark.
  • That One Sidequest:
    • Those damn sea-shanties. They're hard as shit to locate on the map, easily blending into its surroundings so that you'd have to scour every inch of it to find them. Like the Almanac pages from III, they're floating pages that fly away when you get near them, requiring you to run all over the friggin city chasing them down. And if you don't catch them in a certain amount of time they disappear, requiring you to go all the way back to the start and wait several minutes for them to respawn. Most become trivial to catch by simply spawn-camping their respawn point for a minute after their disappearance, but it's still tedious and annoying.
    • As described under Padding above, achieving 100% Completion wouldn't be bad at all if it didn't include hunting down 79 useless collectibles on tiny islands all over the Carribean Sea.
  • Too Cool to Live: Probably the most prominent examples in the franchise as a whole, though historical context probably makes it a giveaway.
    • Blackbeard. Even in death, he still goes down fighting to the end. Do Not Go Gentle indeed.
    • Hornigold, the charismatic Gentleman Thief turned pirate hunter and Templar.
    • Charles Vane, the Ax-Crazy loon that people can't help but root for.
    • James Kidd/Mary Read. Her death is considered by many to be the biggest Tearjerker moment in the entire game, and that's saying something.
  • Uncanny Valley: Deliberately invoked with the Sages' face. Their unnatural blue and yellow eyes are unsettling enough, but in the denouement of the modern-day portion, we're given an up-close look at John's face, with every single blemish, every bit of stubble, being visible and magnified.
  • Win Back the Crowd: After the mixed reactions garnered towards the Contested Sequel Assassin's Creed III, Black Flag managed to surprise critics who found themselves heavily enjoying the open world sailing aspect of the game. Today, it's considered one of the top entries in the series.
  • The Woobie:
    • Blackbeard. He was once one of the most notorious pirates of his time and feared by many. However, like Hornigold, he's simply forced into a career of piracy once Privateers like him were no longer needed. The fall of Nassau, the betrayal of his mentor Hornigold and age catching up to him has him hoping to retire in peace. However, just as he retires, he ends up getting ambushed and killed in a final stand against the British.
    • Mary Read is one as well. Living most of her life longing for freedom in a patriarchal society, she's forced to disguise herself as a man in order fit in. She constantly tries to convince Edward to become a better person than the money-obsessed Jerkass that he was, only for him to constantly ignore her despite her sticking up for him. Then, she loses her lover in their final stand against the British who imprison her and took her newborn child away from her. She then dies a slow and painful death due to illness and the poor treatment by her guards who think she's a lowlife trash that deserved to die. To twist the knife even further, she never got to see Edward become the better person that she long hoped for.


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