Assassin’s Creed IV: Black Flag was released in 2013 and is the sixth major installment in the Assassin’s Creed series. Its historical timeframe precedes that of Assassin’s Creed III (2012), though its modern-day sequences succeed III’s own. Black Flag was first released on the PlayStation 3, Xbox 360, and Nintendo Wii U in October 2013 and a month later on the PlayStation 4, Microsoft Windows, and Xbox One.
The plot is set in the 21st century and describes the player as an Abstergo agent. The main story is set in the 18th century Caribbean during the Golden Age of Piracy, and follows notorious Welsh pirate Edward Kenway, grandfather and father of Assassin’s Creed III protagonist and antagonist Ratonhnhaké:ton and Haytham Kenway respectively, who stumbles upon the Assassin/Templar conflict. The attempted establishment of a Republic of Pirates utopia (free from either British or Spanish rule) is a significant plot element.
Unlike previous games, gameplay elements focus more on ship-based exploration of the seamless open world map, while also retaining the series’ third-person land-based exploration, melee combat, and stealth system. Multiplayer also returns, albeit with only land-based modes and settings. The game spans across the Caribbean with the three main cities of Havana, Nassau and Kingston along with numerous islands, sunken ships, and forts. Players have the option to harpoon large sea animals and hunt land animals. For the first time in the series, naval exploration is a major part of an Assassin’s Creed game, where Edward Kenway captains the Jackdaw, a brig he captures from a Spanish fleet.
Assassin’s Creed IV Black Flag was positively received upon release, and was one of the best selling games of 2013. It has sold more than 11 million copies to date. Critics praised the massive open world gameplay, numerous side-quests, graphics and improved naval combat. The light-hearted pirate theme and engaging story were well received by critics. The modern day story however, received a slightly more mixed response, while criticism fell on aspects of the historical story missions which were considered repetitive. The game received several awards and nominations, including winning the Spike VGX 2013 award for Best Action Adventure Game. It was followed by Assassin’s Creed Unity and Assassin’s Creed Rogue, set during the French Revolution and Seven Years’ War respectively, with both released in November 2014.