Assassin's Creed IV: Black Flag

Game review by
Chad Sapieha, Common Sense Media
Assassin's Creed IV: Black Flag Game Poster Image
Rich, epic, historical action game with very mature themes.
Parents recommendPopular with kids

Parents say

age 12+
Based on 52 reviews

Kids say

age 12+
Based on 99 reviews

A lot or a little?

The parents' guide to what's in this game.

Educational value

Although elements of Assassin's Creed IV: Black Flag focus on historical figures and strategic reasoning, we don't recommend it for learning because of its graphic violence and mature themes.

Positive messages

Morality is gray throughout this tale in which the cost of freedom and happiness is explored in both historical and modern settings. It touches on themes of responsibility and righteousness while glamorizing pirate-age violence. 

Positive role models & representations

The game's hero has light and dark sides. There are people he cares for and defends, but he also spends time as a pirate and privateer, ransacking and looting ships. He spends much of the game in combat and performing dangerous acrobatic and athletic feats that few people in the real world are trained or qualified to safely emulate.  

Ease of play

Tight and responsive controls, excellent maps and menus, and plenty of in-game instruction make this game pretty easy to get into, even for rookies. The difficulty of both melee combat and open ocean battles slowly ramps up, albeit at a pace roughly mirroring the growth of the player's skill. 

Violence

The player's character, viewed from a close third-person perspective, is an assassin who kills his human prey using hidden blades and swords. Primitive pistols and rifles are used as well. Red blood often gushes from wounds, and defeated foes cry out in pain. The camera sometimes shifts to provide a better angle of some kills, emphasizing the vicious nature of the attack. In addition to melee combat, the game shows cinematic sea battles wherein entire ships filled with crew quickly sink and disappear into the ocean.

Sex

Sex is implied to have taken place just prior to at least one scene, which begins with a man and a woman in bed together. Dialogue occasionally references prostitution and rape, with one character mentioning the "violation" of women.

Language

Strong language isn't heard frequently, but words including "f--k," "s--t," and "c--t" are spoken.

Consumerism

This game is part of Ubisoft's blockbuster and prolific Assassin's Creed franchise, which now has associated comics, toys, and even an upcoming film.

Drinking, drugs & smoking

Beer and wine are present. Players can make their character imbibe alcohol, which compromises his vision and mimics real-world drunkenness.

What parents need to know

Parents need to know Assassin's Creed IV: Black Flag is a adult-oriented historical adventure filled with pirate warfare and melee fights. Players use knives and swords in bloody and brutal close-quarters combat while firing cannons and explosives to sink enemy ships loaded with crew. The game strives to accurately emulate many historical elements of the early 1700s and includes characters and locations modeled after those of the era, but its vicious combat, mature themes, and adult language make it suitable only for older players.

User Reviews

Parent of a 12 year old Written byLDonegan November 1, 2013

Not that bad

This game is very great game, and I was impressed when I got it for my 12 year-old-son. He had been begging for it and I finally pre-ordered it when I saw gamep... Continue reading
Parent of a 11 year old Written byparentofyoungchildre February 7, 2014

good for kids 10 and up

Detailed and informational review of Assassin's Creed 4: Black Flag Ok... First off, let me say that i personally believe that common sense is highly stri... Continue reading
Teen, 13 years old Written byBrady Branham November 10, 2013

Detailed and informational review of Assassin's Creed 4: Black Flag

Ok... First off, let me say that i personally believe that common sense is highly strict and untrue/dramatic about their reviews. In other words, i don't t... Continue reading
Teen, 15 years old Written byMovie Nerd November 2, 2013

Not supporting

It ain't too bad in the beginning but contains something really surprisingly unacceptable for kids later.

What's it about?

ASSASSIN'S CREED IV: BLACK FLAG continues the rich and historical narrative established by its predecessors but introduces new protagonists. As with previous Assassin's Creed games, it has two very distinct settings. One is the present, where players take control of a rookie researcher working for a game company in Montreal who explores the genetic memories of Desmond Miles, the modern-day protagonist of past games in the series. But the bulk of the game takes place in the past, within the genetic memories of Desmond's ancestor, Edward Kenway, who lived during the golden age of pirates in the Caribbean. Kenway was a privateer, a pirate, and an Assassin -- a member of an ancient order pledged to protect the freedom of humanity through the ages. As Kenway, players explore a massive open world in which they can take on missions that further the story, or they can choose to simply explore. Activities include sailing the seas, searching for treasure, hunting animals, melee-fighting on land, and epic ship-to-ship battling on the ocean. A multiplayer component pits assassin against assassin, with players trying to track down and identify one another in environments crowded with civilians.

Is it any good?

Assassin's Creed IV: Black Flag stands apart from its predecessors in plenty of ways, but none more evident than its focus on sea-based exploration. Building on the terrific sea ship mechanics of Assassin's Creed III, nearly half the game is spent sailing around the Caribbean, exploring small islands, and getting into spectacular cannon battles with other boats. It's an exciting, visually sumptuous, and undeniably fresh way to approach both sandbox play and water-based combat. There's little else like it in the world of games.

Beyond the piratical element, the primary draw remains the series' rich storytelling and immersive, historically accurate world. Players get to explore virtual versions of cities including Havana, Kingston, and Nassau -- recreated using maps, images, and artifacts from the era -- and interact with historical figures such as Blackbeard and Anne Bonny, all while working through a complex and engaging story that seamlessly jumps between modern and historical eras and is filled with unexpected twists and turns. If you're a mature player with an interest in history, few games are likely to satisfy as much as Assassin's Creed IV: Black Flag.

Talk to your kids about ...

  • Families can talk about violence in media. Why do you think so many stories, regardless of format, include violence? What is its narrative significance? Does extreme violence have a valid place in works for more mature audiences? Does violence belong in any stories meant for children?

  • Families also can discuss history as it's portrayed in this game. What aspects of the golden age of pirates did the game get right? What did it get wrong? Do you think that the game glamorizes the pirate lifestyle?

Game details

Themes & Topics

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